Washing Clothes on the Road – How To

Washing Clothes on the Road: or the hotel sink is your best friend

What do you do when you have a flight scheduled for a business trip or a vacation and you do not want to carry check-in baggage?  First of all I try not to check baggage unless it is absolutely necessary.  Even for extended vacation stays you can get away with carry on baggage alone.  Bring one backpack that will fit all of your clothes and miscellaneous items and one laptop/briefcase bag for your electronics.  Following is my list of clothing I bring on all but the most extended trips:

  • Four pair light weight underwear (wearing one)
  • Four pair socks (wearing one pair)
  • Two button up shirts (wearing one)
  • Two T-shirts
  • Two pair pants (wearing one)
  • Travel Towel
  • One jacket (windbreaker or fleece depending on season)
  • One pair shoes hiking or sneakers based on preference (wearing)

If your trip requires formal attire either for business or dining a check-in bag will be necessary.  I put all of my reading material and toiletries in my laptop bag for easy access and I am sure to have on my person my passport and wallet at all times.  Zipped cargo pants or a money belt is highly recommended.

You will want to change your underwear and socks every day and your shirt every other day depending on the heat.  If you have a two day layover the washing routine is very easy if you are in the hotel for only one night it is more difficult.  If possible put dirty clothes in a plastic bag that you bring with you until you get a longer time frame to work with.  You should routinely bring large capacity zip lock bags on every trip.  You will also need to carry a small amount of laundry detergent with you in a smaller zip lock bag.  When convenient use either the large zip lock or the hotel sink to soak your clothes in warm soapy water.  After scrubbing the clothes with your hands for several minutes let sit in the warm water and then scrub again.  After about 20 minutes rinse the clothing with fresh water.  Twist the clothing as much as you can to get as much water as possible out.  Take the still damp clothing, place it in a dry hotel towel and roll the towel into a cylinder as tight as possible.  The dry towel will absorb even more moisture.  Remove the damp clothing and hang in an airy location in the hotel room.  By morning your clothes should be clean and fresh albeit slightly wrinkled.