Most of the time during my travels, I’ve used a washing machine, because I usually stayed at someone’s house, or else let my clothes accumulate and had the free time that makes it pleasant to curl up on top of a washer and read a book. However, when you’re traveling at hotels or hostels, it’s often best— and much quicker— to hand-wash your clothes in a sink. Here are some tips.
|I do admit that washing these in a sink would've been rough.|
Plan to hand-wash your clothes frequently. Hand-washing a large batch is way too time-consuming: you’re better off running a load of laundry at that point. But if you just wash some socks, a pair of underwear, and a shirt or pair of pants every night, it’s quite manageable.
Pack a travel-sized spray bottle of laundry detergent. If you check your bag, you can bring something bigger. Spray bottles are the best because you can just mist your clothes. If you squirt or dump detergent on your clothes, you’ll end up with way too many suds that are hard to wash out.
Bring fast-drying and wrinkle-free clothes. I’ll admit, I usually pack jeans and cotton t-shirts because they’re easiest to find at the thrift shop. But they take ages to dry, and if you’re in a humid climate, they may not dry at all. You’re much better off with some sort of synthetic blend like polyester. Whatever kind of clothes you take, be sure that they hold up with hand-wringing and don’t wrinkle too much: otherwise you’ll look like a complete wreck all the time.
Wash your clothes in the sink or the shower. Stop up the sink (some people buy universal sink stoppers, but I just wad a sock into the drain), fill it with water, spray it with detergent, agitate the clothes, then drain the sink and rinse them with cold water. For larger items, I prefer washing in the shower because you can splash water everywhere and it doesn’t matter.
Wring out the clothes thoroughly before hanging them up. Not only will this help them dry faster, but no hotel or hostel owner wants you dripping water over everything. Try rolling each item in a microfiber towel after you wring it out for added absorption.
Hang the clothes carefully. Turn your clothes inside out so the inside will dry first (after all, you don’t care if the outside of your pants are a little damp as long as the inside is dry). Avoid placing the clothes on surfaces that will stain, such as wood. Some people buy clotheslines to hang in their hotel rooms, but I’ve always gotten away with stringing my laundry over the backs of chairs and on the railings of my hostel bed. Again, be sure that they’re not dripping!
Not everyone thinks it’s worth it to do laundry in a sink, but when you’re traveling light, this is a great way to save yourself some money and time. Think about it: how many cookies could you buy with the laundry money you saved?