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Travel Laundry Tips

Updated on January 11, 2014

Travel Laundry

Being an expat, living in the Czech Republic, has been a wonderful adventure. Along with exploring the Czech Republic, I've had opportunities to travel with my husband to other parts of Europe and explore new sites. We don't have a car, but do use public transport (planes, trains, and buses) to travel from place-to-place. Traveling by public transport you soon learn the necessities of packing light and lean. My Czech husband taught me to pack one small suitcase (sized to fit in the overhead bins of most planes) and make my clothes last a week or longer. I am very grateful for his lessons in packing and how to travel with less. Traveling light helps to save money and strength for those long walks in new places.

Packing light and lean has taught me the useful technique of doing laundry in our hotel room. The first trip was strange as I was used to taking everything in a car and not even thinking about doing laundry until we got home after a trip. Doing laundry on a trip was the very last thing I wanted to think about. However, I soon learned doing laundry on a trip is a good way to save money and space when traveling. Now I plan on doing laundry on our trips and don't give it a second thought.


Necessary Items List

Here's a short list of helpful items to have along on a trip in order to do your laundry:

Microfiber towel: to wring water out of clothes before hanging them to dry

Laundry detergent: one cup of powdered detergent, or detergent sheets.

Bar soap: such as Dove or Ivory, helps to get soiled and smelly areas cleaner

Flat sink stopper: use to hold water in a sink

Plastic or inflatable hangers: to hang clothes to dry

MSR Packtowl Original
MSR Packtowl Original

This super absorbant microfiber towel helps you to do laundry when you travel. These towels soak up to ten times their weight in water, and wring out dry enough to use time and again for more laundry. Microfiber towels are perfect for every day use or for camping and traveling.


Microfiber Towels. Each of these items is small, light and easy to pack in a small suitcase. Microfiber towels hold more water than a regular hotel towel, and can be wrung out time after time to use on more laundry. Travel laundry detergent is available in various forms. I usually take our normal powdered laundry detergent in a ziplock plastic bag to use on a trip. However, you might find using laundry detergent sheets easier. Use the detergent you prefer, keeping in mind you want to pack light.

Bar soap.  Another helpful item to have along is bar soap. A medium-sized bar of soap is easy to pack, and is helpful to use on the dirtier and smellier parts of clothing such as underarms, collars and the soles of socks. If you do use bar soap, make sure to choose soap that rinses clean like Dove or Ivory. Either of these work.

Flat sink stopper.  The flat sink stopper is necessary for doing laundry in hotels. Some hotels, at least in Europe, ask you not to do laundry in your room. To prevent guests from doing laundry, hotels often remove the sink stopper from the bathroom sink. This is frustrating when you need to do laundry. A sink stopper will sit flat on the bottom of the sink or tub, holding in water while you wash clothes.

Hangers.  Lastly, I always pack about four plastic hangers. The hangers not only give you more room to hang your clothes, but they offer a place to hang and dry your laundry. Plastic hangers can be hard to pack, but there are inflatable hangers you can take along. These hangers deflate and take up little space in your luggage.

How to Wash Your Clothes

Here's a short video showing how to wash your clothes in a sink.  I use this same method when we travel, but I use the flat sink stopper to hold water in the sink for washing and rinsing.  The video shows the water is left running, but this is a waste of water resources.  

Other Laundry Tips

Other laundry tips include pre-treating spots and other soiled areas on your clothes. You can pre-treat using the bar soap, or even shampoo. After pre-treating, allow your clothes to sit for a few minutes to help the soap loosen the dirt.

It's very important to wash your clothes in the correct temperature water.  Be sure to read the garment care labels on all clothes you plan to wash by hand, and follow the manufacturer's instructions in order to avoid damaging your clothes.

Another tip is to use the bar soap on such areas of your clothing as underarms, collars and the soles of socks to help get rid of odors and stains. Be sure to thoroughly rinse the areas where you've used the bar soap or shampoo in order to get all the soap out. This will keep your clothes from getting stiff with soap.

One last tip for drying your clothes--hang clothing on your plastic or inflatable hangers, and then hang the hangers on a shower curtain rod, door handles, etc. If your clothes drip, be sure to put newspaper under them. This will keep the floor and/or carpeting from spotting and help to avoid water damage.

Travel Laundry Benefits

Doing laundry on a trip doesn't have to be hard or expensive.  This method of doing laundry will help you to pack light, save money and time, while keeping in clean clothes for your trip!

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Please add your tips for doing laundry on a trip!

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    • lucille12 profile image

      lucille12 2 years ago

      They are certainly more durable than plastic hangers and they will match the style of your home.

    • Successful Living profile image

      Sherry Vacik 6 years ago from Prague, Czech Republic

      @hospitalera: Thanks for sharing your tip! I do that, too, when possible--it really does work! :0)

    • hospitalera profile image

      hospitalera 6 years ago

      Another good tip is to soak the clothes the night before in cold water and soap, this way when you start washing the next day, the stains have already 'loosened' up a bit ;-) SY

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