Planning to do laundry while traveling makes packing light possible. If you bring separate outfits for each of your travel days you will soon find yourself lugging a heavy load on longer trips. Washing clothes while on the “road” enables us to pack light.
You have 3 options when doing laundry while traveling. The first option is to do your laundry at a laundromat. Doing laundry at a laundromat makes sense on longer trips where you have more clothes and an extra afternoon to spend doing laundry.
Your second option is to use a laundry service. In some places it’s inexpensive to have your laundry done for you and you pay by the kilogram. If this is an option – go for it. It’s convenient and easy. However, in bigger cities expect to pay top dollar for laundry service. Nicer hotels offer this option as well but it’s also quite expensive. Research your options before departing on your trip.
Your third option involves doing some of your laundry in whatever sink you have access to. Even if you do some combination of using a laundry service or laundromats chances are you’ll have to do a little sink laundry at some point. If you’ve packed light, at the very least expect to wash out your skivvies and other essentials.
Laundry in Hotel Sinks 101
Doing a little laundry at night doesn’t have to be too difficult even if you’ve enjoyed a little too much vino with dinner. Washing clothes in your hotel room is a quicker solution than going to a Laundromat, which can eat up precious time, especially if you are on a short trip. You only need the following for sink laundry: a travel clothesline, a sink stopper, and small packets of laundry detergent. The travel clothesline ought to be braided so you can just tuck your clothes in between the braids instead of using clips. The travel clothesline will also have clips or suction cups on either end.
You can bring small travel size packets of Woolite or Tide. Campsuds, an all purpose biodegradable soap, also works well (hardcore folks can use it as shampoo/body wash as well). I’ve recently been using very small “sheets” of laundry detergent that dissolve in the water. I like these because they have a very small profile and aren’t liquid. As part of your travel laundry kit it doesn’t hurt to include a small spot remover to carry around to handle any accidents.
The easy part of doing laundry on the road is finding a sink, putting your stopper and soap in and swishing your clothes around in it. The challenge lies in trying to find a spot to hang your clothes. Most hotels discourage doing laundry in the rooms. Careful and considerate behavior ensures that your hotel be none the wiser.
Using a packtowel helps you dry your clothes faster. A packtowel is a small towel made up of a chamois or microfiber material. The packtowels ability to absorb up to 7 times its weight and quickly dry makes it quite useful for the traveler. After wringing out wet clothes wrap them inside the packtowel and wring them some more to soak up excess water.
Finding a space to attach your travel clothesline involves creativity and sometimes straining the laws of physics. Hotels don’t usually like clothes hanging from their windows so don’t take advantage of this option. If you have a room with a bathroom, hanging clothes in there is ideal. Otherwise be careful that drips don’t ruin furniture or carpet.
Despite your best efforts sometimes your clothes will remain damp in the morning. In this case, well there’s nothing warmer than your body, you’ll be surprised how quickly clothes dry once you put them on. If you’re moving around alot in your travels pack your wet clothes in a plastic bag and dry them at your next destination.
Determining when your clothes need washing is a personal decision. For socks and underwear it goes without saying that these should be washed after wearing (sink laundry). Each time you repack your bag if you slip in a few dryer sheets these will help keep your clothes fresh smelling.
Unless you stain an item of clothing I think that most clothes can be worn several times without washing. Sometimes just airing out clothing helps. Basic hygiene protects your clothes from getting too stinky. For trips longer than 7 days budget some time or money to take your clothes to a laundromat or use a laundry service.