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Overhead view of person washing clothes in a barrel of soapy water
Africa Studio | Adobe Stock

How to Do Laundry on Vacation (No Laundromat Required)

If you want to travel light and still be clean, you should know how to do laundry on vacation. But no one wants to spend precious travel time at a laundromat or pay exorbitant fees for hotel laundry service. Here are some quick, easy, and cheap ways to wash your clothes while traveling.

Pack a Portable Wash Bag

Scrubba portable laundry washing bag (left) and Laundreez portable laundry washing bag (right)

When you want your clothes to be washing machine clean, pack the Scrubba. This little, lightweight (five-ounce) bag is a more portable version of a washboard: It has flexible nodules built in to help scrub your items clean. Simply fill the bag with water and detergent, toss your clothes in, rub them to cleanse, rinse, and hang them (and the bag) to dry. The whole process takes just three minutes.

Similar to the Scrubba, the Laundreez is a dry bag for laundry that has a clip closure. To use, fill the bag with water and add a few drops of detergent along with the clothes you’re washing. This portable washer can also be used as a dry bag or cooler. Favorite features include the cap nozzle for easy rinsing, as well as the removable mesh bag interior for delicates.

Use a Ziplock Bag

Stuck without a Scrubba on hand? In a pinch, a ziplock bag will do the trick. Simply add some detergent to a gallon ziplock, work the soapy clothes to a lather, unzip, rinse, and hang to dry.

Use Dry Detergent

Don’t mess around with messy liquid detergents when traveling. We recommend Travelon Laundry Soap Sheets, which start as solids and dissolve in water. Unlike liquid detergents, these don’t need to follow the 3-1-1 liquids rule when flying, and you don’t have to worry about suitcase spills.

Do Laundry in the Shower

Wash yourself and your clothes at the same time by taking an item or two in with you while you shower. You can even substitute shampoo for laundry detergent in a pinch.

Bring a Travel Clothes Line

Travel clothesline and attached clothes pins alongside grey carrying case (left) and travel clothes line hung outside with pieces of fabric drying on it (right)

You don’t want to spend all that time cleaning your clothes and then have to pack wet items when you leave in the morning, so you’ll need to be strategic about drying. Wash your clothes at night, and if possible, do it when you’re staying in a place for more than one night.

Pack a travel clothesline (this one has clothespins attached) and hang it near an open window, fan, or radiator in order to dry your clothing quickly.

Pack a Plain Stain Stick

In case of a laundry emergency, like a food or drink spill, pack a stain stick. These will instantly remove most stains before they have a chance to set and make any lingering spots easier to launder out, even if you have to wait to wash the item until you get home.

For Long-Term Travel: The Wonderwash

The Wonderwash portable washing machine in mint green and light pink

I wouldn’t pack this in my suitcase, but if you’re on a long trip in a boat or RV, the Wonderwash could be a great washing machine alternative. This gadget weighs five pounds and is powered by a hand crank. Your clothes will emerge clean after just a few minutes of work.

Follow Caroline’s travels on Instagram @TravelWithCaroline and on Twitter @CarolineMorse1.

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2016. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.

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