Doing Laundry While Traveling: Travel Laundry Detergent and Other Solutions

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The Best Solutions for Doing Laundry While Traveling

True story, I once spent more than the nightly rate at my hotel just to have them do a small load of laundry. That’s what I get for trying to pack extra light and underestimating my own propensity for messiness.

But you don’t have to pack two weeks worth of clothing or blow your budget on laundry services. One easy option is springing for an Airbnb with a washer/ dryer for longer trips. If that’s not in the cards, here’s some easy options for staying clean and fresh on the road:

Although you could replicate some of these solutions by just pouring detergent into a small baggie or container, be cautious about traveling with unmarked chemicals or powders that might look suspicious to overzealous TSA agents. Sealed, single use containers with clear manufacturer branding are the safest way to go.

Also, remember that if you’re traveling with a carry-on only, any liquid detergent will need to fit in a quart size baggie with your other liquids.

Travel Laundry SolutionCompact size? Good for delicates? Subject to TSA liquid rules?
Travel Size PerfumesYesYesYes
Woolite Travel Laundry KitYesYesYes
Hawatour Travel ClotheslineYesYesNo
Laundress Travel KitYesYesYes
Tide Travel Sink PacksYesYes(ish)Yes
LG Travel Laundry Detergent SheetsYesYes(ish)No
Scrubba Portable Laundry SystemNoYesNo
Tide To Go Stain Remover PenYesNoYes
Sea to Summit Travel Laundry SoapYesNoYes

How to Do Laundry While Traveling

This great little travel pack from Lewis N Clark and Woolite has everything you need to do your laundry in your hotel sink or tub. Woolite is extra gentle, so it’s perfect for even delicate underthings, and the included sink stopper is sure to come in handy.

If you’re planning on washing more than a couple pairs of undies while traveling, think about bringing a compact, travel clothesline. It’ll help your clothing dry more quickly and evenly, and you won’t be scrambling to find spots to drape all that wet clothing.

For those looking for a more luxurious way to do laundry on the go, the Laundress offers this handy kit of their favorites which includes Fabric Freshening spray in their classic scent, Delicate Wash, Crease Release spray, Stain Solution, and a laundry bag.

The classic Tide liquid detergent in small packets just the right size for a sink’s worth of laundry. Convenient and a tried and true brand, these are always a safe bet.

Don’t want the combined TSA and potential leakage hassle that comes with liquid detergents? Toss a pack of these dry detergent sheets in your luggage. They dissolve easily in warm water, and work just as well as the liquid stuff. The box comes with 3 packs of 15, or you could try one of these even smaller sheet packs.

If you won’t have to sink to scrub in, or just don’t want to get your hands wet, give Scrubba’s laundry wash bag a try. It’s lined with gentle scrubbing nodules to get an even deeper clean than hand washing. The wash bag also folds down to about the size of a wallet and can double as a dry bag on your travels.

Avoid having to do laundry at all by treating small spills with Tide’s stain remover pen. Toss one in your bag and whip it out for all those red wine and pasta incidents. Just be careful though, it can damage delicate fabrics. It’s best to do a test spot before you go crazy erasing stains.

Sea to Summit’s travel laundry detergent comes in a TSA approved bottle, with a tight sealing lid, so you’re good to toss it in your carry on. The concentrated formula means you’ll get plenty of washes out of this little bottle.

Don’t pretend you haven’t done this before. And honestly, if your problem is just that you need to get an extra wear out of clothing that’s a little less than fresh, there’s nothing wrong with spritzing with perfume (or cologne) and setting out to explore. We featured the Atelier Cologne Perfume Palette above, but Sephora stocks tons of perfumes in travel perfect sizes.

Freelance writer, full-time traveler.