The longer you travel, the more likely you'll need to wash your clothes, bedsheets, or other textiles. You can:
- Use a laundromat or laundrette (if available) – common in North America and Europe, but not so common in Asia and South America
- Use the hotel's laundry service (often expensive)
- Use accommodation where laundry facilities are available (hand or machine; some low-cost or family-directed accommodations; some camps and marinas)
- Use a laundry business (quite expensive in some countries, especially if you have to pay per piece)
- Pay some locals to wash them for you - a good option in low income countries, though an expensive proposition in high income places
- Wash them yourself – e.g. in the hotel bathroom (some don't allow this)
If you are charged by the kilo and the clothing is already wet, you'll pay a whole lot more. Allow the items to dry out first, or negotiate a lower rate.
The cheapest way to do your laundry (albeit not the most thorough) is to do it yourself. If you are staying at a hotel, make sure this is not against the rules.
- In the bathroom, fill the sink or bathtub with water, some sort of soap (or shampoo, body wash, laundry detergent), and your dirty clothes. You can use a universal sink stopper or just a dirty sock.
- Let it soak for about 15 minutes
- Swish the clothes around. Scrub each item individually by rubbing the cloth together, concentrating on areas such as the armpits and stains. Apply additional soap as needed.
- Rinse each item under a faucet (e.g. the shower), regularly wringing out most water, until the water runs out clean, not soapy. You can save water by using the sink, getting most dirt and soap out of each item before changing the water.
- Wring the excess water out of the item.
- Hang up your clothes: outside is best, a portable clothes line can be used also indoors. Try to let them dry as long as possible, e.g. overnight, or if you're in the same room for several days, for a full day. If drying clothes outdoors, try to time the drying so that you can take them down in the morning or day, before the moist evening and night. Direct sunlight is not good for bright colours, but while travelling, this is probably not an issue. In some countries during the rainy season, drying clothes can be a major challenge, even with the fan on all night.
- You can also try using a hairdryer, if available, but be careful not to allow fabric to become too hot (which can cause shrinkage, or in extreme cases, scorch.)
- Some hotel bathrooms have electric heaters designed for drying towels. They may be used to dry the laundry, but are often quite small.
- If your clothes are still wet, pack them in a separate, plastic bag, but take them out for further drying as soon as possible. Some clothes can be dried on the outside of your backpack while you are walking around (but pack them before using vehicles). Especially in hot climates, dressing in somewhat moist clothes is quite comfortable.
- Ironing is possible at some accommodations, otherwise you can avoid most creases by avoiding packing the clothes while still moist: straighten by hand and let hang until dry, pack carefully folded or simply wear them