When you are travelling around the world sleeping on trains and buses and wearing the same five shirts, it doesn’t take long to get smelly. Sweat, dirt and grime are just part of life on the road whether you are hiking around Machu Picchu or riding a motorbike down a muddy road in rural Thailand. You don’t want to become so gross that no one wants to sit next to you on the bus, so you will need to be able to wash your limited wardrobe periodically while on the road.
When your clothes get dirty while travelling, it’s not like you can pop them in the washing machine like you do back home. If only it were that easy! However, it is possible to get your clothes sparkling clean even when you are staying in a hotel or hostel. First of all, you should start by bringing only low-maintenance clothing that doesn’t require dry cleaning or ironing. Simple cotton t-shirts in dark colours are perfect. Also, avoid fabrics that will take forever to dry.
Tips on how to do laundry while traveling:
- Pack a small container of laundry detergent with you in your luggage. This will allow you to hand-wash your clothing in the sink or the shower of your hotel room.
- Bring a plastic bag for your luggage so that you can keep your dirty clothes sealed off from your clean clothes. You don’t want your smelly socks making your clean t-shirt stinky.
- Bring a universal flat rubber sink stopper in case the sink or tub in your hotel room is missing the stopper.
- I like to multitask by washing clothes while I am in the shower. I put them on the floor of the shower while I wash myself, then sprinkle laundry detergent on them and give them a good scrub. I turn off the shower and use my clean feet to squish out most of the water, then hang them to dry.
- Bring along a clothes line so that you can hang your clothes to dry. It’s best to hang them outside if possible, but if your accommodation doesn’t have a balcony or an outdoor area you can hang them in the room.
- A handy trick to make clothes dry faster is to lay them on the hotel room tower and roll the two up together and squeeze.
In some countries, such as many parts of Southeast Asia, it is so cheap and convenient to send your clothes to a laundry service that it is not worth washing them yourself. For only a few dollars these services will wash and dry your clothes and give them back to you neatly folded in a plastic bag, usually on the same day or the next morning. Ask the receptionist at your hotel to recommend the best local laundry place where you can get your clothes washed.
With these tips on how to do laundry while traveling, you can keep your clothes clean and fresh and avoid being a smelly backpacker!