In a perfect world, none of us would ever have to lift a finger on vacation. Other people would do the cooking, the cleaning, and—above all—the laundry.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t live in a perfect world.
Maybe it’s just socks and underwear, but when I travel, I almost always wind up doing laundry in hotel sinks. Now that we have kids, that’s a lot of socks and underwear.
Travel catalogs are full of special gear, but you don’t really need much.
Forget the laundry soap.
Just use shampoo or bar soap. That’s one less thing to pack, and one less thing to leak in your luggage. Also forget the silly retractable suction-cup laundry lines and sink stoppers.
Focus on the dirty zones.
Save your super-scrubbing for the areas that really need it (armpits, crotches, and food stains for the uninitiated), and forget about the rest. This isn’t real laundry people, it’s triage.
Roll clean, rinsed items in a towel.
This will remove most of the water, and cut the drying time way down. Roll the towel up in front of you on the floor (with clean, rinsed items inside), kneeling on it as you go.
Don’t leave home without an underwear chandelier.
This is the one piece of travel laundry gear that is absolutely essential (try “carousel style hanging clothes dryer” if you’re googling). It folds up small, holds a ton, and can easily be moved to get more sun or air.
Watch your step.
Dry your laundry over the tub or shower for the first few hours when it’s dripping wet. You don’t want to turn your bathroom (or kitchen, or patio) into a Slip ‘n Slide. It’s amazing how many truly bright people (such as my husband) can’t seem to figure this out.
Most hotels would prefer you didn’t fly your family’s lingerie flag out a street facing window. Fair enough. They’re a little less particular if your room overlooks a back alley or a ventilation shaft (just another reason I actually prefer these cheaper, often quieter rooms).
Skip the sink.
On a recent family trip through Spain, we missed a couple days of laundry and were suddenly confronted with a mountain of dirty tee-shirts, panties, boxers, and socks. Instead of scrubbing tub-side on hands and knees, I grabbed a glass of wine, stripped, and got in myself (I’ll spare you the photographic evidence).
Obviously this method isn’t for everyone, but to me there are worse things than floating in a tub of soapy socks. Running out of clean underwear on vacation, for example.