Pack Less When You Travel: How To Do “Laundry” On the Go

published Nov 26, 2016
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(Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)

The quickest way to overstuff your suitcase? Packing too many clothes. Just because you won’t have access to a washer and dryer or time to visit a laundromat while you’re traveling doesn’t mean you have to pack a new outfit for each day. Doing laundry on the go is actually pretty simple, so long as you pack smart and have the right supplies. And your clothes don’t have to fall victim to suitcase wrinkles, either—with a few quick fixes, you can keep what you’ve packed clean without airing (or wearing) your dirty laundry all throughout your next vacation.

For dirty laundry

Separate dirty clothes

Keeping your dirty clothes in close quarters (read: your bag or suitcase) with your clean ones means your clean ones won’t stay all that clean for long. To keep them separated, invest in a laundry bag that you can pop your dirty clothes in and close up before you repack them.

Hand-wash them (and stock up on supplies)

For a few small items, you can use a sink, or if you have to wash a bunch of clothes, go for the bathtub instead if you have access to one. To hand-wash your clothes, you’ll need some supplies—get a sink stopper, a portable clothesline to hang garments from, some travel-sized containers of laundry detergent, and a stain remover pen. When it’s time to clean your clothes, separate your laundry as you normally would, fill up the tub or sink with water and detergent, add your clothes and get to washing. Make sure all the soap is rinsed out before you ring them out and hang them up to dry, and voila, clean clothes.

For wrinkles

Pack smarter

Do you know how to properly pack a suitcase? If you put your clothes in your bags effectively, you’ll be able to pack lighter and keep your clothes wrinkle-free. Make sure to roll up softer items like T-shirts and sundresses, and keep heavier and pressed items crisply folded. That way, you’ll avoid causing wrinkles in the first place—but if you still find yourself fighting weird creases, don’t worry; getting them out without an iron is pretty simple.

Try the shower trick

One tried-and-true way to de-wrinkle yourt getting them wet, and keep the door to the bathroom closed to keep the humidity in, then give it a little while (15 minutes or so should do it.)

Use a hair dryer

You can actually use a hair dryer to get out wrinkles from cotton clothing. Set it to high heat and blow dry your garments from a few inches away, and the wrinkles should smooth out. The best part is, most hotels have hair dryers in the rooms, so you can still use this trick even if you haven’t packed one. You can also use a hair straightener to iron small sections at a time if you happened to bring one—just make sure you clean your flat iron first so you don’t accidentally iron any weird hair product gunk into your favorite blouse, and check the temperature so you don’t burn your clothes.