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Tips for Keeping Laundry Chores to a Minimum While on the Go--

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Sep 15th, 2013, 11:18 PM
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Tips for Keeping Laundry Chores to a Minimum While on the Go--

The following is excerpted from a recent post on my blog

1.  Access to washing machines may be surprisingly limited, depending on  your itinerary.  I was on a two-week cruise last year, & discovered there was no access to washing machines.  There was a laundry service, but the prices were outrageous.   My travel buddy & I improvised with a 2-gallon Ziploc bag & some of my homemade laundry soap.  At night we would add the laundry soap & water to our dirty clothes in the plastic bag.  The overnight soaking, combining with the agitation from the movement of the ship, resulted in acceptably clean clothes in the morning.  A quick rinse, & everything was ready for hanging in the shower to dry.

2. Although shampoo or bath soap will do in a pinch, if your trip is longer than a week, carrying your own laundry soap makes sense.  You might not have easy access to a shop that carries it, & even if you are near a laundromat, buying detergent there is expensive.  For a variety of reasons I make my own laundry soap. The recipe is at , but if I'm likely to have access to a washing machine, I carry a few Tide laundry detergent pods in a plastic baggie instead of packing liquid.  If I was backpacking for a lengthy period I would carry a bar or partial bar of laundry soap like Zote (my fave) or Fels Naptha.

3. Drying socks & other heavy clothing is sometimes not possible overnight.  However, if you roll those items in a towel & apply a lot of pressure, you can remove a surprising amount of moisture before hanging to finish the drying process before morning.

4.  A travel clothesline is well worth the tiny space it takes in your luggage.  I like the 2-ply elastic kind that has a suction cup on either end, perfect for shower hanging.  Wet items can be hung by weaving edges in-between the elastics.  Small (but not the teensy ones that easily break) clothes pins are also handy, so a few of those go in my bag, too.

5.  Even if there isn't an iron in your room, chances are good that there is one on the premises, even in a hostel, so ask if you really need one.

6.  Travel steamers work well on wrinkles, but I no longer carry one because of limited luggage space & the fact my travel these days is mostly casual.  However, I did find them very useful when I was doing a lot of business travel & traveled with a working professional wardrobe.

7.  In a pinch, hanging wrinkled clothes in the bathroom while you take a hot shower will help.  Once you are out of the shower, use your still-damp hands to smooth out the worst of the wrinkles.  Allow clothes to air-dry before donning the garment, or use a hair dryer.

8.  Preventive measures can decrease your laundry requirements.  Check clothes for stains when undressing.  A stain from dining can be addressed before it has a chance to set, & chances are good you can remove the stain so you can get another wearing out of the clothing article before it requires a full wash.  Tide-To-Go is a handy stick for treating stains as soon as discovered.

9.  Sometimes the entire garment doesn't require laundering.  For example, on a recent month-long trip the collar of my favorite overshirt, the one with nice buttoned pockets that I wear instead of a sweater over t-shirts, needed a good wash.  However, the rest of the shirt was perfectly clean, as it had gone through a washing machine in Scotland, so I merely soaped up the collar in a London hotel, scrubbed it with my always-packed nail brush, rinsed & let it dry overnight.  A week later in Paris I dripped something over one sleeve.  It was a quick job to wash only the spotted sleeve, & my shirt made it all the way home before it got the full machine treatment it deserved.

10.  Discarding clothing on the go can delay the day you need to confront dirty laundry.   I once met a woman who in 1968 had sailed solo from Japan to California, the first woman to do so.  I asked her how she handled her laundry at sea. " I didn't do any," she replied, simply.  Then she explained that she bought all her at-sea clothes at thrift shops, then just threw them overboard when they got too dirty.  This won't work on all trips, but most of us have some less-than perfect undies that could be tossed once worn.  If your itinerary starts with dirt-clinging activities & ends with a less strenuous agenda, consider taking & discarding grubbies.  I've left more than one pair of jeans on the road.

When living on a sailboat as a full-time cruiser most of the time I did laundry on board, using a bucket & a (clean, dedicated) toilet plunger as my agitator.  That's why I limited towel usage to handtowels, perfectly adequate for after-bathing, especially when using only a gallon of water in a sun shower (black plastic bag to soak up heat from the sun, with an attached hose for showering) for both shampoo & bathing.  However, when in port we would treat ourselves & our sheets to a laundry service.  Once, in an anchorage near a village in Costa Rica we found someone who did laundry for cruisers for a modest fee.  Later that day we went for a walk & passed by a very modest dwelling surrounded by a low barbed wire fence.  There, drying on the wire were all the the clothes & linens from our boat, Yankee Rogue.  The sight gave us a good laugh.  I didn't care that my undies were hanging on barbed wire.  I was just glad I hadn't had to wring out all those towels & sheets by hand (though twisting them around a boat stanchion would have done the job).
FirstMateNC is offline  
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Sep 16th, 2013, 04:15 AM
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"Even if there isn't an iron in your room, chances are good that there is one on the premises, even in a hostel, so ask if you really need one."

travel with clothes that need ironing is bush league.
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Sep 16th, 2013, 04:59 AM
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travel with clothes that need ironing is bush league.

Yup.

This is 2013, not 1913.
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Sep 16th, 2013, 05:27 AM
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I don't even iron clothes at home, never mind on the road. I don't travel with clothes I haven't tested by hand washing and drip drying them.

Shampoo works fine for washing clothes, no need to mess with making your own!!!

This is all very basic info.
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Sep 16th, 2013, 06:20 AM
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Sounds like too much trouble for me, I'll just "bite the bullet" budget-wise and have the hotel send out my laundry - Pricey? Yes, but my time is too valuable to waste ding laundry when I travel.
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Sep 16th, 2013, 06:38 AM
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If I am traveling for an extended time and it's all hotels, I actually don't mind going to a laundromat to do my laundry. It forces me into a few hours of down time.
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Sep 16th, 2013, 10:55 AM
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Making your own soap is a recommendation?
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Sep 16th, 2013, 06:45 PM
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I have to admit that I'm an ironed clothes nut. Of course, while on vacation I let go of this but we stayed at a hotel with a pants press in the closet once. I was in heaven.

The Ziplock washer is the best thing I've ever learned on Fodors years ago.
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Sep 17th, 2013, 09:12 AM
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<<>>

I think the recommendation was to take your own and the OP chooses to make their own.


<<>>

It can also get interesting when there are other people there if they're in the mood to talk to the crazy tourist.


I generally take enough undies for the entire trip (I never get to travel more than 2-3 weeks due to work so it's not like I'm traveling for 6+ weeks). Bras and shirts get a quick rinse about every night and get a wash every 2-3 wearings if needed. Pants get rinsed as needed, though generally just the waistband.
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Sep 17th, 2013, 09:23 AM
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I bring along pantyliners so I don't have to worry about washing my pants that often.

Usually if I need to wash my clothes my husband and I do it half way through the trip.

Luckily, I don't sweat much, so my clothes don't really get all that dirty. Before I leave for a trip I iron my pants with starch and that helps to keep them clean. (as noted I'm a nut for ironed clothes)
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Sep 23rd, 2013, 05:02 PM
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"travel with clothes that need ironing is bush league."

Unless you travel for work, then it can be very hard to avoid clothing that wrinkles.
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Sep 23rd, 2013, 06:18 PM
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>>Unless you travel for work, then it can be very hard to avoid clothing that wrinkles.<<

Not IME. I traveled for work for 20+ years - almost always in a dress/jacket, dress/cardigan, skirted suit or nice trouser suit -- and can count on one hand the number of times I needed to use an iron. It is partly in how one packs -- I use (and teach) the bundle method and things simply do not wrinkle.
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Sep 24th, 2013, 02:43 PM
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I guess you are just more of a pro at it than I am Janis I don't have to iron everything, but I rarely get through a week of travel without having to iron a few things. A lot of times, it isn't freshly laundered and packed things that need to be ironed, but rather something I have already worn that got wrinkles from me, not the suitcase. And really, taking 5 minutes to iron a blouse in the morning or touch up a pair of pants isn't much of an imposition.
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Sep 24th, 2013, 02:43 PM
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This posters seems more like a typical backpacker to me, than a business traveler.
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Sep 24th, 2013, 10:31 PM
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I agree. Business travelers have the hotel do their laundry and then submit an expense report for reimbursement.
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Sep 25th, 2013, 01:40 PM
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I agree. Business travelers have the hotel do their laundry and then submit an expense report for reimbursement.>>

not if you're self-employed you don't. not everyone who travels on business has an expense account. I like to use a product sold by Boots called "travel wash" - it comes in a tube and you can use it in a hotel basin or bidet with as small or large a number of clothes as you wish. you can also use it for spot cleaning of stains on a small part of the garment.

I agree with November Moon that ironing out the wrinkles can distract the eye from clothes that are less than fresh and get you an extra day out of an outfit. My favourites though are the clothes that need to ironing - I have an overblouse that I can scrumple up at the bottom of a bag and it still comes up looking as new.
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Sep 26th, 2013, 07:36 PM
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Bookmarking.
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Sep 27th, 2013, 08:00 AM
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I'm hoping the woman who said she threw her clothes overboard was just kidding. There's enough garbage floating in the world's oceans and seas without adding to the problem...
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Sep 27th, 2013, 09:27 AM
  #19
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I agree, these are rookie suggestions. I guess anyone can put up a blog though. I spend a month in Mexico every winter and never iron or do laundry. We have lived on sailboats around the world and it was the same. Its vacation! If I want to do laundry, I'll stay at home. I would never take up valuable packing space for detergetent and clothes lines. Our upcoming trip to Africa allows only 44 lbs of gear -- that will include all our camera equipment and gear for a month. No way is even one ounce getting alotted to laundry periphenalia.
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Sep 27th, 2013, 03:35 PM
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You don't do laundry for 1 month in Mexico? Really?
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