A Laundry guide is needed when you live out of your backpack. Your clothing choice is limited to what is practical, not stylish. This doesn’t mean you need to have dirty clothes though.
We are extensive travelers and can confirm that travelers are not filthy vagrants. While some choose to be more natural, many bathe and wash their clothing regularly. We have found several tricks to getting laundry done when traveling the globe for long periods at a time.
It is normal for us to live in 2 pairs of pants, 2 pairs of shorts, 4 or 5 t-shirts, a couple of nice shirts and a sweater or jacket each. This limited amount of clothing often has people asking us about laundry. We get asked so often, we realized that laundry is something that every traveler must think about. It is completely possible to live out of your backpack and still wear clean clothing.
The best laundry guide techniques we have discovered on our travels and want to share with you include the Aloksak Bag method, using a sink, coin-operated laundromats, and having a laundry lady.
The Aloksak Method: This inexpensive, heavy-duty zip-lock bag is a great technique for doing laundry when traveling. It is lightweight and easy to pack and available in different sizes. These durable, waterproof bags can withstand pressures down to 190 feet deep for two weeks. We keep our dirty clothes in this bag and when it is time for laundry, simply add soap, fill with hot water and mix everything up for five minutes. Rinse them by refilling the bag and then hang dry your clothes.
Washing Clothes in a Sink: One of our Laundry Guide tips is a free way to wash laundry. It is using a sink where you are staying. Plug the sink, add hot water and soap, scrub, rinse, and then hang clothes to dry. (check out the drying tip below) This is one of the most common laundry methods we see done by travelers. This method is so popular that you can even get a universal drain plug to fit all sinks across the world.
Coin-operated Laundromats: These are found all over the world especially larger towns and cities. One of the first things we do when we get to a new city is to ask locals where certain establishments are, including the laundromat. Some hotels and hostels even have their own laundry facilities on-site that you can pay to use. The only trouble with laundromats is that instructions may be in different languages so picking the right cycle can be a challenge. Most laundromats today have Wi-Fi, so you can entertain yourself while you wait for your laundry since you never want to leave your items unattended. The general cost of using these facilities to do your laundry is between $3 and $6.
Laundry Lady: Whenever we go to Thailand, we have a lady that washes our clothes for us. On average you can get your clothes back nice and clean within 24 hours and depending on the neighborhood, some families run small laundry services out of their homes. The price is usually dependent on the weight of the laundry and you can choose to have them dry your clothes with a dryer or line-dry them. If you frequently visit places, we recommend looking for laundry ladies to help you out whenever you are in town.
Laundry Guide Tip to Drying Your Clothes
If you are not using a laundromat or having someone do your laundry for you, then you will most likely air dry your clothes. There are several spots where we have to dry our clothes naturally and most hostels and guesthouses have lines you can use. If the weather prevents this, you can also try another trick we discovered. Using a dry towel, place the garment out on the towel and roll it up tightly. This will suck moisture out of the clothes, so when you hang them indoors, they dry faster. You can use hangers or make your own drying line by attaching a rope to the furniture within your room.
One Additional Tip
Even though this method is not endorsed by our Laundry Guide, it is being used by some travelers. We have come across people that use a method known as the Astronaut Method. This helps with laundry by reducing the amount of clothing you go through. As in space, you wear clothes over and over again, just as the astronauts do. In most cases as long as you shower, you can get away with wearing clothes several times before they start to smell. This is a popular method among frequent travelers because it reduces the amount of laundry you need to do and the frequency. We just don’t recommend wearing clothes to the point that they fall apart, or that you alienate all your travel companions.