It can be tempting to overpack for your upcoming trip because you want to cut down on the dreaded task of doing laundry while traveling. But carrying around all that extra weight can get tiresome (and it’s expensive if you’re flying!)
With these tips on doing your laundry on the go, you can pack light and enjoy your upcoming trip without stressing about your dirty clothes or being weighed down by all those extra socks that you packed “just in case.”
Table of Contents
How to Manage Laundry While Traveling
Laundry Tips for Staying at a Hotel
It’s most common for travelers to stay in a hotel or motel when planning a trip. There are many options for doing your laundry while you’re staying in a hotel. Some options may not be available, depending on where you’re traveling. But as long as you have running water, you have a way to wash your clothes.
The most common way that people will do their laundry on vacation is by using a self-service option. This includes washing machines that are available for guests to use at hotels or nearby laundromats.
Sometimes, self-service laundromats have vending machines for supplies, such as detergent and dryer sheets, but it’s not a given. To make sure that you’re prepared, try packing travel-sized containers of your laundry necessities.
If you’re staying at a hotel or motel, you can call the front desk to see if there is a laundry room that is available to guests. Whether you will have to pay for the machine varies from hotel to hotel, so make sure that you have cash and coins on hand just in case.
Another option is to look for a local laundromat. Either way, make sure that you have a couple of hours available to do laundry because you’ll want to stick around to keep an eye on your clothes. Vacation can be exciting and distracting but if you forget to pick up your wash at the end of the day, it will likely be donated or thrown away.
Laundry Drop Off
If you’d rather minimize your time spent on laundry while traveling, drop-off washing services are a great option. You can find these at many laundromats, dry cleaners, or even sometimes at your hotel.
For this service, you usually just drop off your laundry and come back the next day to pick it up. Some businesses charge by weight and others charge per load so make sure that you know what you’re getting into.
Of course, this is a pricier option – you’ll probably want to call around to try to find a good deal. However, at the end of the day, you’ll be paying more because these services do everything for you, from sorting to ironing.
If you have trouble finding a laundry service or are just looking for a thriftier way to do your laundry while traveling, you don’t even have to leave your room to do your laundry.
Using your hotel room’s bathtub is a simple and accessible way to get your laundry done. If your room only has a shower or if you’ve only got a few items to wash, you can also use your sink to wash your clothes.
First, fill up your bathtub with water and add your clothing to soak. Once your clothes have soaked for a couple of minutes, add your detergent and scrub it into your clothing, focusing on stained or problem spots.
To get the detergent rinsed out, you can run your clothes under running water or empty and refill the tub with fresh water. To dry your clothes you can wring them out or roll them in towels before hanging them to dry. Most items will take at least 24 hours to dry completely.
If you’re using a sink to wash your clothes, you can use this same process. Just be mindful that you should use a little less soap or you’ll be stuck rinsing your clothes for quite a while.
Check out Tommy John’s visual below for a step-by-step guide to doing laundry in the bathtub.
Laundry Tips for Camping
Just because you’re out in nature while traveling doesn’t mean your clothes have to smell like it. No matter how remote your destination, there is always a way to keep your clothes looking and smelling fresh.
At a Campground
Every campground has different amenities, so call ahead of your arrival so that you can be prepared. Your campground could have its own self-service option or a local laundromat, but you’re less likely to find a drop-off service, so be prepared to do your own wash.
Even if there are no official laundry facilities, you can still wash your clothes in a sink. There is plenty of room to hang a drying line, so pick a day with sunny weather and pack some cord so that you can hang dry your clothes.
In an RV
Traveling in an RV means that you have a lot of options for how you can do your laundry while traveling. You can always detour to a laundromat for a couple of hours between stops.
You can also stick to the basics and wash your clothes in the sink. Depending on your RV model, you may be able to hang your clothesline off the awning or inside the RV itself for convenience.
In the Wilderness
If you’re backpacking or camping somewhere a bit more remote, you might not have access to running water. Backpacking requires that you pack very lightly, so you’re probably going to be re-wearing your clothes quite a bit, even if you’re only camping for a couple of days.
Keep an eye out for natural water sources that you can use to wash your clothes. In this case, it’s necessary to buy biodegradable soap ahead of time so that you don’t harm the environment for the sake of smelling a little fresher. You can find nature-friendly soap at many camping stores.
You may come across a small stream where it seems like there isn’t enough of a flow to get your clothing cleaned. In this case, you can use a waterproof bag that can fit your clothes. You can also find a designated wash bag at camping stores. Fill it with some water and soap and use this to wash your clothes as if you were washing them in a sink.
Make sure to hang your clothes in a very sunny spot so that they’re dry before you need to pack them away. This is an important tip to avoid mildewy clothing. If you’re backpacking, do your best to pack quick-dry clothing, which makes washing and drying more efficient.
Tips to Make Doing Laundry While Traveling Easier
Using stain removers to spot clean your clothing or making use of some deodorizer can minimize the size of your loads of laundry while traveling. This saves you time, stress and money without sacrificing clean clothes.
Here are some ways that you can keep your clothes clean without committing yourself to doing laundry while on vacation.
Remove Stains On the Go
If you prioritize spot-cleaning your clothing, you might be able to get away with not needing to do a full laundry load while on your trip. Small on-the-go stain removers are convenient because they can be applied right as the stain occurs.
If you don’t have any stain remover on hand, there are some good DIY options with easy-to-find ingredients.
For greasy stains, a little dish soap does wonders. You can also stick with a regular bar of soap and water in a pinch. For some extra cleaning power, baking soda is inexpensive and widely available. When mixed with water and gently worked into the stain, it serves as the ultimate stain remover.
Keep Your Laundry Smelling Fresh
While waiting to accumulate enough dirty laundry to clean it, your bag can start smelling a bit off. Especially if you’re packing up and moving around throughout your trip, you don’t want your clean clothes to start smelling funky, too.
If you came prepared to do some laundry while traveling, you probably have dryer sheets on hand. Luckily, these pack a punch in masking odors, so tossing a couple of sheets into your laundry bag is sure to cut down on the smell.
A free solution that you probably haven’t thought of is to use silica packets. These cut down on smell because they absorb excess moisture, preventing your clothes from smelling in the first place. Next time you buy a new pair of sneakers or a bag, save the silica gel packets to use on your next trip.
Another option that doesn’t require any purchases is to use the power of the sun! Sunlight is antibacterial and will help dry out your laundry bag. Air out your bag in a sunny place for a couple of hours and you’ll be ready to move on with a fresher laundry bag.
No matter what your vacation plans are, having fresh clothes helps you focus on the most important part of your trip — having fun. Being prepared to tackle any stains or laundry emergencies that come your way can reduce your stress while on the go.
From extended stays to weekend getaways, these tips are sure to come in handy so that you can tackle your travel laundry.