Friday, March 14, 2014

Doing laundry by hand in a hotel room - it can be easy!

With airlines charging for checked baggage, there's even more incentive to travel light.  And traveling light, for a stay of more than a few days, means giving your clothes a quick wash in the hotel sink in the evening.  This doesn't need to be a tedious process.  Here's a few tips to make it easier.

  • Think carefully about the clothes you bring, with an eye to how fast they would dry, and how easily they would show stains.  Heavy cotton will take forever to try, a thin polyester/cotton fabric blend or all polyester will dry in no time.  Also, white is nice, but it'll show every tiny little stain. I pick clothes that aren't white, and with a bit of pattern or design to camouflage stains if I'll need to wash during a trip. 
  • Don't wash something just because you've worn it.  Give it the sniff test!  If it passes - go ahead and wear it again.
  • So now you have a (hopefully very small) heap of clothes to wash. Shove a sock or whatever you have in the sink drain, and fill up your sink with hot water. Soak your clothes in the sink for a while, then swish them around a little. This step alone, without even using any soap, will take care of almost all smells unless your clothes are very dirty.  And with no soap, you don't need to worry about rinsing the soap off, which can be tedious. 
  • For areas that need a little more treatment (like underarms, or stains), use a bit of soap, rubbing it into the cloth and scrubbing it in. You don't need special travel laundry soap.  Just use whatever you have - probably soap from the hotel.  Shampoo works fine, too.
  • If you've used soap, rinse out your clothes, perhaps just under the tap. Otherwise, wring out your clothes by hand. The dryer you get them, the more likely they'll be to be completely dry by morning.
  • If you can't dry them out enough, try rolling them up in a towel, and stepping on the towel.  This step will get a lot of the leftover moisture out.
  • Now hang your clothes around the room, perhaps on the shower rod, or wherever you find. If your clothes are the right fabric, they'll easily dry overnight. If you have a hair dryer, you can use it on anything that hasn't dried by the morning.
Last Easter, while we were living in Geneva, we drove to northern Italy, and stayed in Verona (among other stops). This is where I first experimented in not using soap.  I had a huge pile of very smelly kids socks, and decided to just put them in the sink with very hot water.  I left them there a while, then swished them around a bit, and wrung them out. And that's all that was needed!  They came out perfectly clean and fresh smelling.  It saved a lot of rinsing and scrubbing, and convinced me that soap is only needed occasionally.


Blogger The Blatt Family said...

These are great ideas! We like to travel with nylon twine, to hang clothes around the room to dry!

6:16 PM  

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