4 Tips for Doing Laundry Abroad

Travel-sized Laundry Products

This post is dedicated to Tara, a good friend and frequent visitor to this website.  Tara requested a post on doing laundry abroad. If you have any ideas for a post or would like to be a guest writer, please contact me.

You are about to leave for your next location.  Out of the corner of your eye, you see your pair of jeans on the bed.  Your backpack/suitcase does not have the capacity to fit this lonely pair of jeans.  When you look into your backpack/suitcase, you see a large, exploding bag of dirty laundry.  You think, “Why did I not do my laundry earlier?  It is such an annoying task.”

Here are 4 tips for doing laundry abroad to avoid the exploding bag of laundry.

Tip 1:  What items should I pack in order to do laundry abroad?  The key is to bring travel sizes (3.4 ounce/100 ml bottle or less by volume). By packing travel size items, you can minimize the number of items to bring and pack them as carry-on luggage (based on Transportation Security Administrations guidelines).

  • Laundry detergent- You can fill a travel bottle with laundry detergent from home or buy a travel-size detergent.
  • Wrinkle releaser- Sometimes your clothing wrinkles in your bag.  Bringing a small bottle can help with some of these wrinkles.

    Travel-size Laundry Products

  • Clothing Line- Some places you stay might not have areas to hang your clothes.  Having a clothing line is quite handy especially if you buy one with suctions.
  • Sink Stopper-  If you are hand-washing clothing in the sink, using a sink stopper is helpful.

Tip 2:  How often should I do laundry? It depends on how long you are traveling and how clean you are. Muhahahaha…

  • Hand-washing- You should hand-wash underwear every few days.  If you are staying in a location for more than three days, hand-wash the first day so your clothes have time to dry.
  • Professional laundry services- About every 2 to 3 weeks, you should use professional laundry services.  Shop around for the cheapest services by checking your hostel/hotel or looking around for nearby services.  Use professional laundry services if you have more than two days in the location as the turnaround time is usually one full working day.  Unless you have a lot of time, avoid self-laundromats as it takes 3-4 hours out of your day.

Tip 3:  How do I hand-wash clothing? Hand-washing clothing when traveling can be cumbersome.  To save money hand-wash in cities/locations that are more expensive.  Use full laundry services in cities/locations that are less expensive.

Washing in the sink

Clothing Line

  1. Clean the sink with soap.
  2. Plug the sink up with the sink stopper.
  3. Add about 1/4 of the detergent into the sink.
  4. Add water (hot or cold depending on labels of clothing) into the sink.  Leave enough room in the sink for your clothes.
  5. Put clothing into sink and let it soak.
  6. Knead the clothing with your hands in the water for a few minutes.
  7. Unplug the sink and start running the water on the clothes.  Rinse the clothing so it is not soapy anymore.
  8. Wring out and hang to dry. Use your clothing line if there is not enough space to hang your clothing.

Washing in the shower

Sometimes washing in the sink is time consuming, so if you are low on time, why not wash as you shower?

  1. Finish washing yourself in the shower.
  2. Then, lather your clothes individually with detergent.
  3. Knead the clothing with your hands in the water for a few minutes.
  4. Rinse the clothing so it is not soapy anymore.
  5. Wring out and hang to dry. Use your clothing line if there is not enough space to hang your clothing.
  6. Do not forget to dry yourself.  Muhahahaha…

Tip 4:  How do you keep your clothes smelling fresh without doing laundry?  Have you ever opened your backpack/suitcase and wondered why it smelled stuffy?

  • Wrinkle releaser- Besides releasing wrinkles from your clothes, you can spray it on your clothes for a fresh smell.
  • Dryer sheets-  Pack a few dryer sheets in a plastic bag.  They have a dual purpose.  You can use them if you go to a self-service laundromat or you can place one or two in between your clothes (for that fresh smell).  Placing one in your dirty laundry bag is handy as well.

    Dryer sheets


About Jan

In 2004 and 2010, I set aside time to travel the world in 3 parts. In 2004, I traveled to Thailand, Europe, and Pacific Northwest region of the U.S. In 2010, I traveled to 3 continents: Asia, South America, and Africa. I am not sure if I have a fascination with the number 3, but I seem to be constantly traveling by numbers.
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3 Responses to 4 Tips for Doing Laundry Abroad

  1. Snowy says:

    Cool!! I forgot that handwashing laundry is not a bad idea. After all they use to do it in the old days. Still, I have not handwashed anything in my last 10 years. I do sometimes try to scrub off a stain though=) hehehe=D

  2. tara says:

    So. I saw the update on facebook, and I thought, “yes! exactly! yes, that is what i’ve been wondering! How funny that Jan can read my thoughts!” … ha! i totally forgot I requested this post. THANKS for the advice! xoxo :)

  3. Benita says:

    Great advice on the clothesline! I’ll remember that…and to bring clothespins, haha.

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