How To Do Laundry While Traveling

How To Do Laundry While Traveling

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like carrying around endless amounts of clothing when I’m traveling. I’d rather keep it light.

But then of course, you will need to know how to do laundry while traveling because eventually you’ll run out of something clean to wear.

And unless you’re planning on just buying new things and discarding your dirty laundry (I’ve heard about people just taking old clothing on a holiday so they can discard it after wearing) then you’ll have to figure out how and where to get your dirty laundry cleaned.

It obviously depends on the type of traveling you’re doing. If you’re pressed for time it can get a bit harder to also do your laundry on top of that.

There are certain ways to get fresh clothing again while on the road. Let’s start with the easiest (not necessarily the cheapest though).

Can You Do Laundry At A Hotel?

That really depends on the kind of hotel you’re staying at, but yes, most places offer laundry service for a fee, many times quite a hefty one, and other places have a laundromat where you can do your own laundry and sit around and wait until it’s all done.

All of those options come with a fee or cost a few coins at least. If you’re running on a tight schedule, then using the laundry service might be the way to go, as it is much quicker than having to sit around the laundromat.

You can do other things while your laundry is being cleaned, such as enjoying your holiday, doing some sightseeing, going out for lunch or just napping.

What Does Laundry Service Mean In A Hotel?

Laundry service in a hotel usually includes washing, drying and ironing as well as hanging or folding your clothes. Apart from that, many times dry cleaning is offered too.

So you could basically have your dirty laundry picked up in the morning and returned in the afternoon. If that’s not fast enough for you and you don’t mind paying extra then you can get your laundry back within an hour at some hotel chains.

Make sure to find out the cost beforehand, as the pricing is usually per item and tends to be quite steep already.

Can You Wash Clothes In A Hotel Sink?

Of course, you can. They are not going to stop you from doing that. It’s another simple way to get your dirty laundry clean during traveling.

Just fill up the sink with warm water and some laundry detergent and get swirling, swishing and scrubbing.

Make sure to read the labels on your clothing first to avoid using water that’s too hot and end up shrinking your clothing.

Also don’t mix colours and whites unless you’d like your whites to change colour.

The best way is to wash whites first, then light colours and dark ones last. Then empty the sink and fill it with fresh water to rinse your clothing. Do it in the same order. You might have to rinse a few times depending on how much detergent you used. The water should run clear without any bubbles.

If you’re planning on hand washing your clothes while away, fill a bit of laundry detergent into one of those 100ml travel bottles and take it with you on holidays.

If you’re running into a problem with the hotel sink plug or if there isn’t a plug, you can use a sturdy plastic bag to kind of line the sink and wash your clothes in there.

Or you could use the shower or bathtub. Some people even take a collapsible laundry tub with them.

Can I Use Shampoo To Wash My Clothes?

What if you forgot to take laundry detergent and you can’t get it anywhere for some reason? Yes, you can absolutely use shampoo to hand wash your clothes in the sink.

If you have your own shampoo, use that. That way you know you won’t get allergic reactions when wearing your clothes afterwards.

If you don’t have shampoo then by all means use the hotel shampoo because you’re going to use that for your hair anyway, right? And you can also use a bar soap if there is no shampoo. Don’t say I didn’t warn you about allergies though. At least you will smell beautifully.

Just don’t try using shampoo in a washing machine as it will probably produce excessive suds which means the bubbles will come out of your washing machine and go everywhere and you will have to use the rinse cycle many many times to get rid of the foam.

I’m not sure whether it could also damage anything on your washing machine. But let’s just not use shampoo in a washing machine, okay?

How To Dry Clothes While Traveling

Drying your clothing while traveling can be a bit of pain sometimes, especially if you’re sharing a bathroom and only have the one shower curtain railing or you don’t have a balcony where you can hang things to dry.

There are a few ways to get your clothes dryer quicker. One way is to get as much moisture out after washing as possible.

To do that you can wrap your washed clothing into a (clean) towel and roll the towel up like a burrito and squeeze. If you don’t have a spare towel you can just roll the clothing item and squeeze the excess water out.

Then hang it up where there is room, make sure to leave a little bit of space in between items so things can dry quicker and properly.

If you have aircon or a fan (or a heater in winter or maybe you can open a window?) make use of that and hang your clothes in front of it to dry them quicker.

If your hotel has heated towel racks, perfect!

Now, how to hang things up when there is no room?

Make sure you get a pegless clothesline before you go on your holiday. You can pick them up very cheaply for a few bucks at many different places and they don’t take much room in your luggage.

Those are perfect for connecting them from a chair to the door handle for example (some come with suction cups) and as mentioned you won’t need pegs as you can simply tuck a corner of your clothes in to the twisted clothesline.

Another great little item are inflatable coat hangers. That’s especially great if you have business shirts or a nice dress you need to hang up properly.

You can also try and take clothing that’s made of quick-drying materials.

Many hotels also have an iron in the cupboard which will help getting wrinkles out after handwashing.

How Do You Freshen Clothes When Traveling?

Hang up your clothing after wear to air it out. This will help when you have to re-wear clothing the next day.

If you place a fabric softener sheet in between your clothing in your suitcase you will keep everything smell much cleaner and nicer even after a longer period of travel.

Some people even use Febreze or deodorant to spray their worn clothing and make it smell like new. There’s also something new called dry wash spray which is basically dry shampoo for clothing.

Remember to keep dirty clothing separate in your luggage. You can just use a spare plastic bag or you can buy a laundry bag for it.

Or you can get a wet/dry bag which is waterproof so you could put dirty or wet items inside and keep the rest of your clothing clean and dry. And then when you get home you only need to wash everything that’s inside the laundry or wet/dry bag.

But if you’re like me, I like to have everything fresh so I end up washing everything.


I hope this has answered some or all of your questions. Let me know if you have any other questions or comments below and I’ll get back to you soon.

Happy and safe travels!

12 Replies to “How To Do Laundry While Traveling”

  1. This is a fun article, as I do love to be able to travel with only a small carry-on bag, but it does require more advance planning than traveling with everything (including the kitchen sink). I like to travel with a bit of castille soap as it is one of the most versatile items in the travel kit. It’s great as a body wash and also as laundry detergent. i prefer to take a small amount of liquid castille soap in a small travel bottle, but it’s also available in bar form if that is more convenient.

  2. Thank you so much for this nice and amazing input, I am glad this is a topic I can personally relate to,  I also hate to carry much clothes around when travelling, I will rather make it few and simple,  yeah shampoo can be used in place of detergent. I once tried that and it was cool. 

  3. We are a family with three kids and try to travel cheap. It means we only pay for one suitcase on the flight and we use Airbnb rather than hotels because we don’t want to sleep in the same room with the kids. 

    So after 2-3 days we usually run out of clean clothes. To take care of that, I make sure than the rental has a washer/dryer unit available. Most of rentals in the US provided some kind of laundry detergent and I was happy to get used to it. 

    But.. when we visited Barcelona, there was no detergent at all. We had to buy the smallest available box of pods, only to use 3 of them. Cheapo me, I took the rest with me to the US. 

    Lesson learned. 

    Now I take 3-4 pods with me when going anywhere. Better be prepared. 

    1. You sound like you have it all figured out. And with a whole family you don’t really want to start hand washing everything, right? I was taught not to waste things when I grew up, so I’m still doing that to this day where ever possible. Nothing wrong with saving things. 🙂

  4. Thanks for the great tips, Petra. I certainly have not thought of lining the washbasin with a plastic liner to do the washing. This is a good idea. 

    The hotel laundry service can be ridiculously expensive. It is much better to do simple washing ourselves if there aren’t many to wash. I have done so before but when I have accumulated quite a bit, the laundromat is the answer.

    Good to pick up a few tips from you. Thanks.

    1. You’re most welcome. When I do my research for articles I usually find out more tricks and tips myself which I’m happy to share 

  5. I’m also a traveler and I know exactly what it’s like to find out all the time where to have the dirty laundry cleaned.
    It’s a good idea to hand wash your clothes with shampoo when you run out of detergents.

    What kind of a pegless clothesline do you use? Most of the time I book airbnbs and the problem was always how to dry clothes. After reading your recommendation about the pegless clothesline, it would be such a good investment as my upcoming trip is coming soon.

    Thank you very much for sharing this information, I will definitely use some of your tricks.

  6. These are some pretty cool tips for doing laundry when away, Petra.  Some of them would be quite useful for those who tow their hotel room behind them as well.  My wife and I usually only go away for a couple of weeks and we like to travel light.  We are able to pack enough without worrying about doing laundry.  

    We are looking to expand our territory so, I especially like your idea about the Pegless clothesline.  A couple of these would be an excellent idea for the RV’er.  They could easily be connected to a tree branch and the RV or even between trees.  Otherwise, it would be the laundromat.

    I also like your ideas about soap when you run out of detergent.  It’s all soap so, why not 🙂  That said, your bit about putting some detergent into a travel bottle… might there be some kind of issue with travel through airports.  They are pretty strict about what one can carry in a bottle onto an airplane. Could buy some at your destination I suppose.

    Thanks again for this post.  You’ve given us some great ideas for our own future travelling needs.

    Wayne

    1. As long as you keep the laundry liquid with your checked luggage and don’t use it in the carry-on, you shouldn’t have a problem. If you wanted to take liquids on the plane, you’d have to abide by the liquids rule. Another way to take laundry detergent on a plane would be to use pods with washing powder in them. 

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