Laundry. Some people actually enjoy it! Nevertheless, it is an inevitable part of life. I'm going to share some of my travel laundry suggestions. If you never travel or never have to worry about cleaning clothes on the road - well, you can skip right to the bottom where there are some great everyday laundry hacks too. Happy washing!
Keeping Clothes Fresh On The Road
When I am traveling for long periods of time, I will wash items by hand that will dry relatively quick. I often use just regular soap or shampoo. Sometimes, I will use actual laundry detergent. But, only if I have sample packs or have remembered to put some liquid detergent is small 3oz travel bottles. I have a bunch of 3oz TSA approved bottles I travel with. They are silicone and leak proof. I started off with little ones for like $1 each at CVS & Target (both stores I love), but they would end up leaking or cracking so I would have a mess and have to buy more. I always kept them in a tightly shut freezer bag. But, even if only one leaks, there is sticky oil, cream, or detergent all over the bag and the other bottles. So, I invested in a few three packs of the silicone ones. I still carry them around in a freezer bag, but no leaks yet!
If your in a hotel, the sink or tub works great and you can hang your clothes somewhere in the room. Jeans over a drape. shower bar, or near the heater can get close to dry if you do this the night before. I carry a bag of ten or so special clips with me that are great for laundry but, I have used a hundred different ways. Sometimes there is no shower bar, the heaters can be built into the walls, and you can't get your clothes to stay on the drape rods.
As long as I keep myself clean and food and dirt off my clothes as much as possible, jeans can be worn two, three, four times. Not only will strangers not care, they will never even notice! Same with outerwear. When the time comes for a good washing, trust me, you'll know when this time had arrived, you can always find a laundromat.
Laundromats can be tricky. Sometimes they are clean, well-lit, and in nice neighborhoods surrounded by other active businesses. If you can find one of these, all the better. I still recommend doing this during the day. Sometimes, laundromats look downright shady. If I get that feeling, I will just skip it and wait until I find a better one.
There are safety measure good to remeber about using hotel laundry. If I stay in a hotel that has laundry facilities near the front desk, and I am comfortable with the vibe from staff, I will happily use their machines.
I never use laundries facilities if they are located in the basement. Day or night! First, even if you feel the staff are great, when they see you go down to the basement they may expect you are staying with your clothing. So, if you don't appear for a while no one is going to know or even think about it. Even if you go back to your room, they may not see you. Your not going to be missed by strangers should something happen to you.
If you think it is an absolute must to do laundry in a hotel basement, always let the staff know. It may sound childish, but when you come up or down, take a moment to let them know if you'll be right back up or that you are going down and will be up soon.
It's always better to take these little extra precautions. There are crazy people everywhere!
I love staying with friends and family. After driving around for 4000 miles a washer and dryer to use whenever you want feels like a life luxury! Dryer sheets and soft jeans - it's amazing what little things can turn into a luxury.
Little Hacks Make A Big Difference
If you travel light, as I often do, you do not have a full wardrobe to choose from each day. I can't have my favorite jeans ruined with grass stain or my softest Tee tainted by lipstick!
Hack #1 Last year, while staying at Camp Pendelton, I got in an accident with my Jeep. The plastic under carriage of the front bumper cracked and if I turned the wheels to the right my front tire kept rubbing against the sharp plastic. I had to get on my back and under the Jeep and cut the plastic far enough back it wouldn't touch my tires. A very sweet Marine offered to help, but I am stubborn. I had to do it myself. Of course, this allowed my to get grease on my jeans! I wasn't worried. Aggravated, yes. But, I knew I could get the stains out. How? It was as simple as rubbing a stick of white chalk on the spots. The chalk loosens up the grease. A regular wash later, viola! The stains are gone. This also works great for grass stains!
Hack #2 For lipstick or ink stain removal I've another great trick. Rub some hand sanitizor on the stain, wait a few minutes and wash as you normally would. I've done this a hundred times (rough guessing on the number here) and it always works. My sister uses aerosol hair spray (key ingredient in both is ethanol), and though I haven't tried this myself, she says it works just as well.
Hack #3 I always have a string of thin rope in my emergency kit in the Jeep. If the weather is nice you can wash items outside in a fresh water pond and hang the clothes in the fresh air. No trees to tie the line up? You can always park your vehicle close to one and use that as a second base. Or, lay them on the hood of your care or right on the grass (put a towel under the items if the ground isn't the best. Now, read a book, soak up some sun, or make some phone calls while you wait.
I have done this a few times. That's why I always buy chemical free detergents. Even if I have no plans to wash clothes in public water holes, I like to know I will not hurt the environment if I end up doing this.
Hack #4 For little items a clever way to wash smaller items... you need two gallons jugs of water - one empty, the other full. Cut the empty water jug in half. Socks, bras, bandanas... these all are a cinch to wash in a tiny make shift tub. Rinse with the other jug.
If you are traveling with little ones this last one can be a life saver! Bibs and other small items can get stinky fast on a munchkin - this small trick has made road trips much more pleasant. Btw, make sure you save at least one empty jug! They stack well and you can store laundry detergent packs/sm. bottles in the while traveling.
Hack #5 Put a nice clean, dry towel in the dryer with all your wet stuff. It cuts the drying time of load in half! If you're on the road, this means less change in the machines and less time waiting in a strange place. If you're at home, this means using half the electricity!
Hack #6 If you don't want to spend money on dryer sheets you can put a tennis ball or a rolled up ball of tin foil in the dryer for static-free living. Both last 4-6 months before they need replacing. Of the two, I like the tin foil as it makes less noise. Want the extra scent the dryer sheet gives off? Cut the sheet in half. The box will last twice as long. Also, a used dryer sheet can be thrown back in with the next load if they are small loads.
Hack #7 I wear baseball hats a lot. Actually, I wear a lot of different hats, but the ones that get dirty and yes, even a little ripe, can be the baseball hats. If you wash them in a machine they often get a funky shape. If you try washing them by hand , they don't seem to quite lose the scent of sweat. Additionally, if they are light-colored, the sight of sweat often remains. You can buy hat molds for about $8.00 each. They work well. Or, you can place a hat in a plastic container (need one with a lid) and fill it halfway with warm water. Add a teaspoon of detergent, shake a little. It works best if you let the hat sit overnight in the water.
Hack #8 To avoid the ungodly chore of ironing something that is dryer-friendly... place a handful of ice cubes and a dryer sheet in the dryer withe item. 10-15 minutes later and, like magic, no need for that ghastly iron!
Hack #9 Place a tablespoon of baking soda, or squeeze half a lemon, into the washing machine. This can help retain brightness in colors. More importantly, they both work great as antibacterials.
Hack #10 Ever air dry a sweater by laying it flat or clipping it on a line or on a hanger? We all have, right? The problem is that wrinkles are frequent in both cases and clip marks or hanger lines make the sweater unsightly. Buy a really cheap water noodle and cut it horizontally - any size you prefer. Place it on the outside line or on a rod of a drying rack and place the sweater over the noodle.
Hack # 11 For a little fresher scent out of the washing machine, try adding a drop or two of lavender oil or rose-water. If you are on the road and washing by hand, a drop will do. Your unmentionables and the baby's bib will have never smelled better!