Keep it clean – Doing laundry on the road
As a backpacker, you often have as little as possible with you and after a quite short period of time, everything is dirty, stinks and has to be washed. On the way, it is not always optimal, but there are several possibilities to do laundry:
1. Having your clothes washed
Depending on the location, a laundry service (e.g., in your hostel or hotel) can be very cheap. This is also best for the environment since you often need much more water when washing by hand. Depending on the laundry service, the price will be calculated according to number/type of garments or per kilo. I think that the weight-based calculation is cheaper in most of the cases.
I also recommend to make a garment list before handing over the laundry, then you can check whether something has been lost. You should also pick up the laundry as soon as possible, so confounded things can be found again. If you’re at a couchsurfer’s, you might just ask if you can do laundry there. Most people don’t have a problem with that.
2. Washing in the launderette
The second possibility to do laundry using a washing machine is the classic launderette, where you sit next to the machine and wait. Here it is recommended to buy detergent before in the supermarket because the detergent machines in launderettes are often more expensive.
3. Washing by hand
Probably the cheapest method is to wash the laundry yourself by hand. For this you need a bucket/washbasin and detergent. If there is no washbasin/bucket, a waterproof packing bag can also be used. The bag can also be used as a plug if the sink does not have one. A practical detergent is Rei.
I soak my laundry a little in warm water with detergent and then briefly rinse it out with cold water. Depending on the place, you can hang your clothes on hangers, but most of the time I use a string. Some accommodations forbid this, so you should either inform yourself or be as secret as possible. However, this method uses by far the most water, is the least environmentally friendly and takes a very long time to dry. Therefore I would advise against it except in emergencies.
4. Delaying the time of laundry
Another great option is to delay the time of laundry. No, that doesn’t mean you have to put on your clothes longer and walk around stinkingly. It’s about ventilation. I hang my clothes overnight and whenever possible to air them. So my clothes stay clean longer and I have to wash them later.
5. Spare laundry/colors of clothes
Washing can be made a lot easier if you have similarly colored clothes and if you avoid “too light colored” clothes. In addition, it can sometimes be useful to put on your already (little) dirty clothes again. If you know, for example, that you will do something sweaty anyway and you don’t need to put on anything fresh. because it will be dirty after a short time anyway. This method helps to save money when washing.
If you can’t do laundry, you are forced to put on dirty clothes or in the “worst case” you have to buy something new. However, you can avoid this easily by planning ahead and keeping an overview of your clothes. I also recommend not to use a plastic bag for your dirty clothes, because this forces them to stink even more. Thus, use a bag that can breathe, such as a cotton bag.
Do you have any tips missing here? Or how do you clean your things on the way? Let me know in the comments down below.