Whilst travelling in Asia, I’ve started to enjoy the routine of hand washing my own clothes on the road so I thought I’d share my 7 top tips with you.
The main reason that I’ve come around to hand washing myself is that I actually know how to do it effectively now. It was also out of necessity as often I’m not in a place for long enough to get my clothes washed. Sometimes laundry places are closed for festivals, a good amount of my clothes have gone missing and sometimes my clothes come back stained!
If any of these apply to you, or you simply what to save money or get better at washing your clothes, then this is the post for you! I do want to say that paying to get your clothes washed is a good thing for the local economy. Especially for female entrepreneurs, but it hasn’t worked out well for me on this trip after we had a couple of bad experiences in South Asia when in Nepal and India.
Generally, I haven’t had any problems in South of Central America or Southeast Asia when getting laundry done. I would say its good to do a mixture of both, depending on your itinerary. When getting clothes laundered, note down what you’ve put in your wash to ensure things aren’t misplaced or stolen.
Here are my 7 tips for hand washing your clothes both quickly and effectively while travelling on the road:
1. Take easy-care garments
Read your labels before you start packing, so that you know what you’re dealing with. It can actually help you to pack more effectively if you ditch anything that is delicate or has complicated washing instructions.
My motto is to never take anything that I really like travelling, as you never know if it will get damaged along the way. Cotton or synthetic wicking material is best for travel if you’re going to be in hot and sweaty places. They’re also very easy to wash and won’t fall apart during your trip.
2. Soak and separate
Even for handwashing, you need to separate your colours from darks and whites, as they can run even after a few washes. I’ve found that clothes that I buy travelling don’t keep their colour very well at all.
As you usually only have one sink (or bucket), it’s better to clean your clothes in small batches so that you don’t cross contaminate your colours! Avoid soaking for more than 30 minutes to avoid colour leakage.
3. Invest in eco-friendly soap
Everything we use ends up in the sea, so it’s important to buy detergent that is as natural as possible. You can get eco-friendly soap from any good green online shop. If you get solid detergent, make sure to have a tin for it so it doesn’t go to mush!
4. Plan your wash
If you’re going to be in a hotel for a few days and you want to do a wash then check the weather forecast beforehand. If the weather is clear then wash your clothes and hang them out to dry before you go out sightseeing for the day.
5. Take advantage of balconies
Check your hotel or hostel on Tripadvisor before you go to see if there is somewhere to do your wash.
If there is a balcony, outdoor area or washing line you can use, then make sure to secure your clothes in case they end up on someone’s roof!
I have a bungee cord that I can use as a makeshift washing line if all else fails so I can hang my washing in the heat of the day.
6. Use warm water and don’t scrub too hard
Hot water can make colours run and cold water does nothing so make sure your washing water is warm. If you don’t have hot water in your bathroom then ask your hotel for boiling water and make your own.
Clean clothes by running the fabric together as scrubbing too hard with an object can agitate and break fabric, especially with underwear which is more delicate.
7. Stubborn stains
If you do have soiled clothes then it’s worth taking a small bottle of natural stain remover to give them an extra soak before washing as normal.
Sometimes soap from the laundrette can build up and you have to soak your clothes to remove it. This especially happens around the armpits, so you have to wash the excess soap away as it attracts dirt.
The key to avoid stains and soap buildup is to rinse throughly after giving your clothes a soak for no longer than 30 minutes. If any of the stain remains then rinse and repeat. Once the smell of the soap is gone, then you know you’ve washed it all away.
Do you have any tips for hand washing clothes and saving money on the road? Let me know in the comments below!
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