8 Vacation Laundry Tips to Make Your Travels Easier

Keeping up with mounds of laundry can be a struggle at home. When traveling, dealing with laundry is inconvenient at best and downright daunting at worst. As a mom of three children I’ve dealt with my share of dirty laundry on the road. Follow these eight vacation laundry tips to keep your clothes clean on the go.

Vacations are for relaxation...and laundry
Vacations are for relaxation…and laundry (Photo credit: belchonock, Depositphotos.com)

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1. 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.

Travel laundry bag
Travel laundry bag (Photo credit: chrisbrignell, Depositphotos.com)

2. Wash laundry while traveling.

If you are just going on a short trip, less than one week, then you could 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.

Vacation laundry
Wash laundry while traveling (Photo credit: Kalcutta, Depositphotos.com)

3. Scope out laundry services before leaving home.

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. Similarly, you can often find vacation rental homes that come equipped with in-unit laundry machines. If your accommodations don’t offer laundry facilities, scout out laundromats close to where you’ll be staying.

Laundry machines
Do laundry while traveling (Photo credit: srongkrod481, Depositphotos.com)

4. Bring your own 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 washing machines and dryers, plus laundry detergent.

Laundry detergent and other supplies can be bulky, so pack light. You can also repackage smaller amounts of your own supplies to take on the road. For example, you could put a load-sized scoop of powdered detergent in a small resealable plastic bag. Bring enough bags for the number of loads you anticipate doing. Alternatively, put liquid laundry detergent and fabric softener in travel-sized plastic bottles.  If not checking luggage, then make sure liquid containers adhere to TSA size guidelines and clearly label each item.

Laundry detergent
Pack your own laundry detergent (Photo credit: mrpuen, Depositphotos.com)

5. Consider purchasing travel-sized laundry items.

If you don’t want the hassle of repackaging your own laundry detergent and fabric softener, or you’re worried about what the TSA will think of your supplies, then purchase travel-sized laundry items instead. Some brands offer one-use laundry detergent packets designed for use on the go.

Detergent pods make a convenient option, too. Be sure to keep pods away from young children, who might mistake them for candy.

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, then they don’t make a huge mess.

Detergent pods are easy to pack for travel
Detergent pods are easy to pack for travel (Photo credit: ssuaphoto, Depositphotos.com)

6. Use the sink.

When you only need to wash a few items, make use of your hotel or cruise cabin sink to wash laundry while traveling. You can easily wash socks, underwear, and t-shirt or two in the sink and then hang them to dry in the bathtub. Some hotels and cruise ships even offer a laundry line that stretches across the tub for drying swimsuits, but which works equally as well for hanging a little laundry.

Hotel room sink
The sink works well for small loads of vacation laundry (Photo credit: photographee.eu, Depositphotos.com)

7. Use the hotel or cruise ship laundry service.

Cruise ships and many higher-end hotels offer laundry services. This is definitely the most convenient way to do laundry on vacation. You simply package up your dirty clothing and give it to staff to wash, dry, and fold for you. But, beware that this convenience tends to come with a very hefty price tag.

Hotel laundry bag
Hotel laundry bag (Photo credit: welcomia, Depositphotos.com)

8. Look for fluff and fold laundry facilities.

If you don’t want to pay high hotel or cruise ship full-service prices, but you still don’t have time to do your own laundry while traveling, then seek out laundromats or dry cleaners that offer fluff and fold laundry care. It’s typically more expensive than tackling laundry yourself but may be worth the extra expense if your vacation time is limited. Plus, in some countries full service laundry offerings are downright affordable.

Folded laundry
Fluff and fold services do the work of vacation laundry for you (Photo credit: tomwang, Depositphotos.com)

Why do laundry while traveling

For me, keeping up with laundry on vacation is well worth the hassle and expense. 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 (and myself!) in clean clothing throughout our vacation without lugging around every outfit we own.

Packed suitcase
Bring clean laundry home from your vacation (Photo credit: belchonock, Depositphotos.com)

Learn more travel tips

Make preparing for your next trip easier with this array of packing lists for all sorts of travel: business trips, family vacations, romantic getaways and more.

Want to save elsewhere so you can splurge on full-service laundry options while traveling? Here’s how to save money on vacation with kids.

Keep fueled up for fun on vacation with these convenient and tasty travel snacks.

Read our Eagle Creek Expanse Luggage review for families.

How to Do Laundry on Vacation

Save these vacation laundry tips

Be sure to save these tips for future reference. Simply pin the image above to Pinterest. We hope you’ll follow Travel Mamas on Pinterest while you’re at it!

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

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.


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  1. 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.

  2. 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.