Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Laundry on the Road

I prefer to travel as light as possible, and the easiest way for me to do this is to wear my clothing more than once. There’s a fine line between smart packing and being disheveled, but you should be able to wear a shirt or jeans a few times in between washings. For minor stains, the Tide stick is my best friend. It fits in my pocket and I’m convinced it’s infused with some kind of magic.

I err on the side of caution but as a general rule, if you think your shirt might need to be washed, it probably does. Welcome to doing laundry on the road!

The most expensive (but also most convenient way) to get your laundry done is to drop it off with the hotel’s laundry service. This works much like Mom’s house except they add the fee onto your tab. Just put your clothes in the bag provided, follow your hotel’s instructions on when and where to drop it off, and your clothes will usually be returned to you, fresh-scented and folded, the same day.

If your hotel doesn’t offer a laundry service or you want to save some cash, you can use a Laundromat or stay in hostels that have laundry rooms. For situations where I’m washing my clothes myself, I prefer to bring my own 3-in-1 laundry sheets. They’re convenient, I know they won’t irritate my skin, and they take up practically no space in my bag. There’s a variety of brands and scents to choose from and you don’t have to worry about the mini detergent machine at the Laundromat being broken or empty.

For long term trips, you may end up having to wash a few articles of clothing in a sink (or tub if you’re staying in a hotel). Bear in mind that this is not the ideal way to wash clothing, and this only works for thin articles of clothing, such as underwear, tank tops, and thin T-shirts. Do not attempt to wash your jeans, towels, or other heavy materials in the sink because they never dry properly and they look terrible. Also, trying to cram an entire pair of jeans in a hostel sink is fairly self-critiquing.

To make this method work for you, use liquid detergent (or whatever liquid soap you have available), and add a reasonable amount into a sink about half full of warm water. If you don’t have a sink stopper, a sock will work in a pinch. Use a bit of muscle and scrub each article of clothing one at a time. If you have two sinks available, use the other sink to rinse your clothing. Proper rinsing is crucial. Rinse until the water runs clear through your clothing, and then rinse it a little bit more to be sure.

Wringing out your clothes will help them dry the fastest, but will also result in the most wrinkles. For the best of both worlds, lightly wring your clothes out as best you can, lay your clothes flat on a towel, and roll the towel up to absorb the remaining water. Then hang your clothes on the line, or lay flat to dry. With a little practice, you’ll be the freshest smelling person on the subway and you won’t have to lug around a massive suitcase.

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