How to Do Laundry While Traveling

How to Do Laundry While Traveling
Photo by Erik Witsoe on Unsplash

Find out how to do laundry while traveling. No matter how you’re traveling, what your budget is, or what type of accommodation you choose, here are the best ways to wash your clothes on the road.

Whether you’re traveling for two weeks, two months, or two years, it’s likely that you’re going to need to laundry at some point. I’m a big advocate for traveling carry-on only, no matter how long you’re on the road. Pack enough clothing for about one or two weeks, and that’s it.

Of course, packing light means you won’t have enough clothing to wear something different every day of your trip (unless you’re just gone for a few days or a week). But you don’t need that much. Just do laundry while you travel, the same way that you would do laundry at home.

Well, okay, washing your clothes while traveling isn’t exactly the same as doing it at home. It’s the same concept, of course, but finding a convenient way to get it done isn’t always that easy. Maybe you don’t have access to washing machines, maybe you don’t have a lot of extra time, or maybe you just aren’t trying to spend your money washing clothes. I get it.

I’ve gathered all my top tips for doing laundry while traveling. From hotel laundry rooms, to drop-off laundry service, to hand washing clothes in the sink…Plus find out the BEST way to do laundry based on your travel style, and find my top travel laundry product recommendations.

photo of laundry hanging from clotheslines between buildings with text overlay

How to Do Laundry While Traveling

Get a Travel Laundry Bag

The first step to doing laundry on the road is to get a travel laundry bag. This is a useful thing to have, whether you do your laundry while traveling, or save it until you get home. It’s just nice to be able to separate all of your dirty clothes from your clean ones.

You can go with a simple mesh laundry bag, or pick out something cute. I went with a cute travel laundry bag, because why not? Another good thing to have is a wet bag, or something a little more heavy duty. This bag can be used to store wet clothes and swimsuits, or outdoor clothing that got really dirty.

Here are a few travel laundry bags you could use (I have the one that says “Wash Me”)

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Stay in a Hotel/Hostel with a Laundry Room

If you’re staying in a hotel or hostel, look for one that has on-site laundry facilities. This will be easier to find in some parts of the world than others, but it’s the easiest way to do laundry while traveling. Some will be self-service laundry with washers and dryers available to use at your convenience. Others might have laundry service available (especially in high-end and business hotels), where you drop off you laundry for someone else to do for you.

The price for this option varies. Laundry service will almost always cost you, while self-serve laundry facilities might have free machines or coin-operated machines.

This option is great because it’s conveniently located at your accommodation, you can do your own laundry when you want to, and you have access to machines. You might have to fight for a machine during busy times, so keep that in mind. I’ve been in hostels where I had the whole thing to myself, and hostels where I had to stand around and wait for a machine to open up.

Tip: Be sure to check for laundry facilities before booking. You can search for that on HostelWorld if you’re staying in hostels, or on a site like Hotels Combined or for hotels.

washing machines
Photo by Bianca Jordan on Unsplash

Stay in an Airbnb with a Washing Machine

I love staying in Airbnbs for many reasons. One of the great things about it is having access to facilities you might expect to have at home. You have a bedroom, you have a living area, you have a kitchen, and sometimes, you might even have access to a laundry room. When reading through listings, look for one that includes a washing machine so that you can do your laundry any time. I would advise you to ask your host about this specifically before booking if it’s important to you. That way you can make sure it’s working and available for you to use.

→If you’ve never tried it before use my Airbnb Discount Code for $40 off your first booking.←

Take Your Dirty Clothes to a Laundromat

Laundromats are the tried and true method for doing laundry while traveling. You can find laundromats (of some sort) in most cities and towns. These are places that have washing machines and dryers available for public (paid) use. Just search for one using Google Maps, or ask the front desk at your hotel/hostel.

Bring your dirty clothes in, pay to use the machines, and bring something to keep you entertained while you wait (I always have my trusty Kindle for times like this). This is probably the best option if you are on a road trip, because you can just stop off for a couple of hours to do laundry whenever you need to.

Some laundromats will have drop-off laundry service available, where you just leave your dirty clothes with them and they wash/dry/fold it all for you to pick up later. This is helpful if you don’t want to waste 2 hours doing laundry and would rather be out doing something. Most services will charge by weight. This is actually a very affordable option in places like Southeast Asia, where you can have this done for you very cheaply.

If you do choose to use a laundromat, remember to keep an eye on your stuff, even while it’s in the machines. I’ve never had a problem with it, but people can/do steal clothes out of machines when you’re not paying attention. I wouldn’t say this is a big problem everywhere, but just be aware.

washing machines
Photo by chrissie kremer on Unsplash

Wash Clothes by Hand in the Sink

Washing clothes by hand in the sink or shower is probably the most popular and most convenient option for doing laundry while traveling. It’s definitely the most budget-friendly option (free). This is my go-to when I need to wash underwear, socks, bathing suits, or anything that needs to be cleaned right away. It’s quick and easy.

While I prefer to do this just for the smaller items, you can wash ALL of your laundry this way. It will take longer if you have bigger items and more clothes to wash, but it works just as well (use a bathtub if you have one in your hotel). Just be sure to scrub, soak, and rinse well!

How to Hand Wash Clothes in the Sink:

  1. Plug the sink (use travel plug or rolled up sock)
  2. Fill with laundry soap and WARM water (you don’t want it to be too hot; you do have to stick your hands in there!)
  3. Add in your laundry and spin and scrub to really get them clean
  4. Then let your clothes soak in the soapy water for 5-10 minutes (or longer if they really need it)
  5. Drain the sink and then rinse each item under the water, ringing and squishing as you go, until the soap is all out

Use a Scrubba Bag to Do Laundry While Traveling

A popular way to wash your clothes by hand while traveling is to use a Scrubba Bag. It’s a convenient way to hand wash your clothes and make sure they actually get clean. The bag folds up really small so you can easily pack it up and bring it with you. Just place your clothes inside, fill it with water and soap, then scrub the clothes clean. This is definitely the best option for outdoor travel and camping.

I’ve never used one, so I can’t say whether it’s worth buying or not. But I wanted to present the option since lots of travelers swear by it. Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever used one!

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laundry hanging between buildings
Photo by Pietro Rampazzo on Unsplash

Get a Travel Clothesline to Air Dry Laundry

If you are washing your clothes by hand in a sink, then you probably don’t have access to a dryer. So to dry your clothes, you will have to get creative. If you don’t have a lot of laundry (or if you have small items), you can hang them over the shower rod or a towel rack, or you can hang them near a fan, heater or open window.

Another option is to bring a travel clothesline with you. You can find them on Amazon, pack it with you in your backpack or suitcase, and then use it wherever you go.

Travel Laundry Detergents

If you really want your clothes to be clean, you’re going to need soap! There are plenty of travel laundry detergents out there. You can get individual sized detergent packets, pack up your own detergent from home to bring with you, or run out and buy it while you’re on the road. When all else fails, any kind of soap will get your undies clean (hand soap, bar soap, whatever you have).

A few suggestions for picking the best travel laundry detergent:

  • Use powder detergent! Liquids cause way too many problems.
  • Take some powder laundry detergent from a larger box at home. Take as much as you need and store it in a resealable bag or container.
  • Try laundry detergent sheets for easy packing and use.
  • Use something biodegradable, especially if you’re going to be doing laundry outdoors.
  • Dr. Bronner’s Soaps are great because you can use them for ANYTHING.

Best Travel Laundry Detergents

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Best Way to Do Laundry While Traveling

As you can see, there are many options for getting your laundry done while on the road. The best option really depends on your travel style, your travel budget, and the type of accommodation you’re staying in. Here are my suggestions for the best way to wash your clothes while traveling, based on your travel style.

  • Backpacker Staying in Hostels: Save your money and hand wash your clothes in the sink, then air dry (use a travel clothesline or hang items on bunk beds, towels racks, balconies, anywhere you can).
  • Mid-Range Traveler Staying in Hotels: Try to book hotels that have self-serve laundry facilities, so that you can do your laundry when you need to, right at the hotel. Bring single-use laundry detergent packets to make sure you have soap.
  • Road Tripper: When you’re on a road trip, you are free to stop off at a laundromat any time you need to do laundry. Keep a regular size container of detergent right in your car. Spend a couple of hours doing your laundry, then head off to your next stop.
  • Adventure Traveler Staying Outdoors: If you’re spending most of your trip outdoors, your best option is to bring something like a Scrubba bag to get your clothes clean outside. It’s also important that you bring biodegradable detergent, to ensure you’re not leaving any toxic chemicals in the ground or water.
  • Luxury Traveler Staying in Luxury Hotels: If you’re staying in a nice hotel or resort, don’t worry about your laundry. There will most likely be a paid laundry service available within the hotel. So drop off your laundry and relax! Of course this will be a pricey option, but is it really worth your time to do it yourself?

How to Do Laundry while Traveling – Essential Items

To sum things up, here are the basic items you’ll need to do wash your clothes while traveling. Bring a travel laundry bag no matter what.

And if you plan to do some hand washing, bring these items as well:

  • Travel Laundry Detergent
  • Travel Clothesline
  • Travel Laundry Bag
  • Wet Bag
  • Scrubba Bag
  • Sink plug

If you’re just traveling for a few days, even a few weeks, it’s not all that practical to bring this stuff with you. Stick with hostel/hotel laundry, or just plan your outfits so you don’t have to do any major laundry while you’re away. However, if you are a backpacker or you’re traveling long-term, it’s useful to be able to hand wash your laundry while traveling.

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I hope this post helped you figure out how to do laundry while traveling. It’s a necessary part of travel, especially long-term travel. I’ve used many hostel washing machines in my day, and washing clothes by hand has become second nature to me. Let me know in the comment below how you prefer to wash your clothes while traveling!

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Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. By purchasing through these links, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Travel Daze is also a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

By Courtney Minor

Wandering around and writing about it.

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