Washing your own clothes while on the road

For my money, the San Francisco Chronicle’s travel section is one of the best around. Recently, they featured an article by John Flinn on a problem familiar to most backpackers: how to wash clothes cheaply while on the road. The answer is not, as I’ve long suspected, to fill an emptied Skippy peanut butter jar with hot water and toothpaste and stuff your clothes inside. Apparently, there’s a better way.

First of all, as most travelers know, avoid packing slow-drying cottons. Go instead with synthetic fabrics like nylon and polyester, or become one of the many faithful who swear by Patagonia’s Capilene fabric. If you’ve packed the right clothes, washing and drying is much less of a hassle.

Also, be sure to bring a sink-stopper, a clothesline, and your favorite soap (not toothpaste, knuckleheads). Scrub your clothes in warm water for a short time, then rinse until the soap is gone from the clothes.

For a quick dry, Flinn has a smart tip: “Lay out a dry towel on the floor, place your clothes on it and roll it up lengthwise. Take off your shoes and shuffle back and forth a few times on the roll to squeeze the moisture from your clothes. Give it a quarter turn and repeat. Let it sit for a few minutes and repeat once more. When you unroll your clothes, they’ll feel almost ready to wear.”

Washing your own clothes while on the road can be a bit of a hassle, sure, but it allows travelers to pack lightly while not breaking the bank– or smelling like a dumpster.

Whole thing here.