Doing Laundry In Your Hotel Sink

As I’ve recently completed my No Baggage Challenge for Charity, using Scottevest clothing to travel 10 days in Japan with no bags, I thought it’d be interesting to share one of the key parts of my trip: doing laundry every night in the hotel. Since I only brought two t-shirts, three pairs of boxers, and three pairs of light wool socks, I had to wash whatever I wore that day at night in my hotel sink. Though you could use shampoo, I’d brought a small, TSA-compliant bottle of concentrated, biodegradable laundry detergent. In what turned out to be a life-saving move, I also brought a travel clothesline which I got from REI for $9. This clothesline includes plastic alligator clips and is long enough to cover the width of most hotel rooms (especially Japanese ones).

My nightly process went like this:

  • Target key smell areas on each garment with detergent – eg, the armpit or the sole of the socks.
  • Wash with cold water and ring it out.
  • Twice more rinse each garment with cold water and ring it out.
  • Thoroughly ring out each garment one last time.
  • Place a towel on the floor & lay a still-damp item of clothing on it. Roll it up in the towel. Stand on the towel to squeeze out more water.
  • Hang garment on travel clothesline & repeat the towel procedure until everything is hung up.

A few things:

  • While a couple of the hotel rooms I stayed in had clotheslines in their shower, I found these were less effective. The bathrooms didn’t have windows and as a result, they didn’t get much air moving through. Hanging the clothesline in the main living space, near a slightly open window, resulted in much faster drying times. The problems with the bathroom drying could be because it was fairly humid in Japan, but drying the clothes near moving air definitely worked better.
  • The Q-Zip and Performance T-shirts consistently dried faster than the Travel Boxers and wool socks.
  • While I was concerned about bringing the clothesline in my kit, it weighs almost nothing and takes up very little space. I can’t recommend it highly enough for anyone who plans to do laundry while traveling.
  • I didn’t bring anything that was pure cotton, so I can’t really compare it to the drying times of the various Scottevest clothes items or the wool socks.

The whole clothes washing process never took more than 10-15 minutes at most (the longer end on nights when I did the Q-zip & pants). It became part of my routine and wasn’t much of a hassle at all.

The benefit of being willing to do laundry at night in your hotel sink is that you can pack much lighter when you travel. In effect, I was only washing the things that touched closest to my body – underwear, socks and what served as undershirts. Even if you didn’t want to cut down on how many pairs of pants or top shirts you brought with you, cutting down on the undershirts, underwear and socks can free up a lot of space. As a result, I definitely will be doing this sort of thing in the future and recommend it to others.

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One thought on “Doing Laundry In Your Hotel Sink

  1. Sally Felt says:

    Yes! I did the same on a trip to Peru, but rather than the sink, I multi-tasked in the shower. Just climb in, clothed. Soap up, rinse, strip and repeat 🙂

    A clothesline makes sense, but the fasteners on the one I had seldom matched up with anything available in my hotel room. My lifesaver turned out to be the two inflatable coat hangers I’d stuffed in my mini laundry kit. (Amazing how the very item I felt sure would prove a waste of money/space became one of my most-used things.)

    Cool Max tees, nylon button-down shirt and travel undies dried quickly. Long johns, less so. The cotton pants, I generally wore several days running and then sent to hotel laundry (when staying multiple nights).

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