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Keeping Up with Laundry While Traveling With Kids

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Keeping up with mounds of family laundry can be a struggle at home. When traveling with kids, dealing with laundry is inconvenient at best and downright daunting at worst. As a mom of three young children I’ve dealt with my share of dirty laundry on the road. Here are some tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way to make keeping up with laundry while traveling as easy as possible.

Keeping Up with Laundry While Traveling With Kids

Keeping Up with Laundry While Traveling With Kids (Photo by Liz West – Creative Commons 2.0)

Use a laundry bag

It’s easy to confuse clean clothes and dirty ones when everything is jumbled together in a suitcase. To keep dirty laundry from soiling clean clothing, I’ve started packing a large canvas bag for everyone to throw their clothes into when staying in a hotel room or at grandma’s house. Storage-sized zipper lock plastic bags also work well. Using a separate laundry bag keeps things neater. Plus we’ve lost fewer socks and other items, and no one tries to put on dirty underwear.

Wash clothing while away

If you are just going on a short trip, less than one week, just bring home your full laundry bag at the end of the trip and wash your items soon after you return. However, if you are traveling for an extended period, I suggest doing your laundry while you travel. The reason is twofold. First, it allows you to pack less because you can reuse clothes after they are washed. Second, washing within one week of wear is the best way to make sure no stains, dirt or odors get set in your clothes, causing permanent damage.

Plan ahead

While making your travel plans, consider laundry when deciding where to stay. There are many hotels that have washers and driers available for use by guests. If your accommodations don’t offer laundry facilities, scout out Laundromats close to where you will be staying.

Bring laundry supplies

It can be expensive and inconvenient to purchase laundry supplies while traveling, so I suggest bringing these things with you. Whether you plan to do laundry on the trip or not, bring a stain remover stick to pre-treat stains as dirty clothes go in the laundry bag. For longer trips, bring quarters or small bills for the machines plus laundry detergent.

Laundry detergent and other supplies can be bulky, so pack light. There are two basic options. The first is to repackage smaller amounts of your own supplies to take on the road. For example, you could put a load size scoop of powdered detergent in a plastic baggy, and bring enough baggies for the number of loads you anticipate doing. You could also put liquid laundry detergent and fabric softener in marked containers, along with a measuring cup.

The second option is to use travel-sized supplies. Many brands offer one-use laundry detergent packets designed for use on-the-go. Whether you re-package your own supplies or buy something just for travel, double bag all these items in your suitcase so if they leak they don’t make a huge mess. If not checking luggage, make sure liquid containers adhere to TSA size guidelines and clearly label each item.

Although keeping up with your laundry while traveling can be a bit of a hassle, it saves more hassle than it causes. To come home from a trip with clean clothes and not be faced with a huge laundry pile is a wonderful feeling. I also like being able to dress the kids in clean clothing throughout our vacation without lugging around every outfit they own.

Do you have any laundry travel tips? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

Taylor Flanery is a mom of three young kids, who unfortunately doesn’t live as close to family as she likes so she and the family travel a lot to see everyone. She is also a freelance legal and home and garden writer, who can be found blogging about keeping up with your home while raising kids at three different websites, Household Management 101, Stain Removal 101, and Home Storage Solutions 101.

About Taylor Flanery, Travel Mamas Guest Blogger
  1. I agree with doing laundry on the road. But when traveling, especially overseas, time spent doing laundry is time away from sightseeing. I recommend asking your hosts (hotel or b&b) for a laundry that will wash, dry and fold for a fee. You don’t lose precious sightseeing time and the cost is usually quite reasonable.

  2. We just returned from a 17-day trip to NYC and South Africa. I packed several baggies with powdered detergent, prepared to do just as Taylor says. There was a pleasant surprise at the safari camps – all laundry was done free of charge, picked up at our room and returned by late afternoon the same day.

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