15 Minutes – Clean Clothes – Anywhere In The World

Clothes Hanging To Dry

If you’re reading this via e-mail/RSS and the video doesn’t show up click here to view this post online.

###

As you saw in my ultra light packing post I don’t pack many clothes while traveling. 3 shirts, 3 socks, 3 underwear. That means I have to wash my clothes often.

Machine washing is a waste of time, money, and the environment with such a small load.

In this video I show you how to wash your clothes ANYWHERE using a 12″ x 12″ aLoksak and organic fair trade biodegradable Dr. Bronner’s Soap.

In place of Dr Bronner’s you can use any camper’s or vegetable based soap. These biodegradable soaps are easier on the environment, especially when you’re in the middle of nowhere.

If you don’t want to watch the video I’ll quickly break down the process:

Step 1: Toss your dirty clothes into an aLOKSAK, making sure to leave enough room for water. If you have a lot of clothes you’ll probably have to do more than 1 load.

Step 2: Fill your aLOKSAK with enough water to soak the clothes.

Step 3: Add ~10 drops of Dr Bronner’s soap. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but this soap is highly concentrated. You don’t need much.

Step 4: Kneed the clothes for 2-3 minutes.

Step 5: Leave the clothes in the aLOKSAK for 10 minutes.

Step 6: Rinse clothes.

Step 7: Hang your clothes to dry using your elastic clothesline.

Total time: ~15 minutes.

Of course, if worst comes to worst you can always just wear the same dirty clothes for 8 days straight like I did in Germany. :)

Photo Credit

{ 64 comments }

Cris Kvist

Great tip using an aLOKSAK for doing the laundry. I’ve been doing it in the sink in the past, problem is when the sink doesn’t have a sink stopper, arrrgh. Some people bring their own sink stopper when travel, but with a bag you won’t need that. Got me thinking, maybe I will pick up an aLOKSAK next time I travel, or maybe use a lightweight dry bag, this could be used to hold my dirty clothes as well.

Karol

Hey Cris, thanks for posting! Yeah, a lot of people use sinks, but I always find sinks to look gross. :) I use the aLOKSAK for dirty clothes too. Everything’s gotta be multi-use. :)

Kenny

Never heard of aLOKSAK before. I’ll keep them in mind. I’ve used the sink before to wash, as well, but would also prefer the bag if I was traveling somewhere that required me to use a sink other than my own:)

Still lovin Dr. Bronner’s soaps.

Great post!

Karol

Thanks for posting Kenny! Yup, other people’s sinks are gross. :)

Panos

That’s cool. Thanks alot for sharing that… :)

Buddy

Great tip on the aLOKSAK. I’ve used giant Ziploc’s in the past, but they don’t last very long. I use the same type of clothesline as you. I hang my shirts by their bottom hem. The pinch marks are much less noticeable and they dry faster.

Karol

Thanks for sharing Buddy. Yeah, ziploc bags are weak. :)

Bottom hem: good idea! Thanks!

chicky

Buddy, not wishing to rain on your parade or anything, but better than the bottom hem is pegging (or pinching) at the armpits where all the seams meet – unless you plan to have your arms in the air all day nobody will see the marks there. ;-)

Plus, the humidity from normal sweating will de-crease it anyway.

HTH.

Karol

Thanks Buddy! Great idea. ;)

Karol

chicky

^ He’s Buddy, I’m chicky! ;-)

Karol

oops, sorry chicky! ;)

Michael

What size aLOKSAK do you use for washing your clothes? Do you carry only one aLOKSAK or a couple different sizes?

Karol

Hey Michael,

I use the 12″ size. I have 6 aLoksaks of all different sizes. Check out my Ultimate Light Packing List: http://www.ridiculouslyextraordinary.com/how-to-pack-ultra-light/

Thanks!
Karol

Michael

Your aLoksaks didn’t seem to make it on your Ultimate Light Packing List. Knowing the 12″ size is the one in your video is helpful and I’m certainly not complaining; you’ve got a ton of great ideas on that list.

I just came back from two back-to-back tradeshows in Las Vegas. After so many days and nights in smoky casinos, I was running low on clean clothes, but didn’t want to bother with trying to find a laundromat and all that. Next time I’ll just wash and dry my clothes in my room.

I’ve got a 12″ aLoksak and that elastic clothesline on my Christmas wishlist. I travel for work a ton and would like to be able to pack less clothes so I’m going to try your washing and drying approach on some upcoming travel stretch.

Karol

Hey Michael, I mention the aLoksaks in #4 under Electronic Items, but I should’ve highlighted them better. I was probably a little delirious after spending a good 10 hours on that post. :)

Liz

Just wanted to share a tip for quicker drying:
Lay your wet clothes between two towels, roll the whole thing up, and stand on the roll to squeeze out excess water. This will wrinkle your clothes a bit less than hand wringing, and things will line dry much faster.

Karol

Hey Liz,

Thanks for sharing. Taking 2 towels on the road would be too much, but that is a great tip when I happen to stay in a hotel room. :)

Karol

Katlin

I totally agree with Liz. If you have access to towels, roll your wet clothes up in them and wring. This can make all the difference in having dry clothes in the morning, or not. We always travel with a universal, flat sink stopper to do laundry in sinks. The aLoksak is a great idea!

Karol

Hi Katlin,

Thanks for sharing and affirming Liz’s great idea.

Karol

Jaryd

Hey Karol, thanks for the video. I’m definitely going to get a couple of aLOKSAK bags for camping. What size do you show in the video? That looks perfect for washing clothes. I wouldn’t want to get one too small or too large for my needs.

Karol

Hey Jaryd,

I use the 12″ in the video. Let me know how it works out!

Thanks!
Karol

Chris

When I was travelling in central america, I would wash my clothes in the sink and hung them out to dry in the hotel room. Unfortunately, one time when I did this while staying at a hotel in the Guatemalan rainforest, because of the humidity, the clothes weren’t dry the next day when I left.

I packed the wet clothes in a seperate bag. after a day, they really stunk. i had to take them to a laundromat.

Any advice on drying in humid environments?

Karol

Hey Chris,

Thanks for commenting. I was in the rain forest recently and it was humid. It did take longer to dry my clothes. Best advice: Wash in the morning and dry during the day when it’s sunny. That worked great for me.

Thanks again!
Karol

Jason

G”day Mate! ( I Don’t know why, Karol, but I half expected an aussie accent when I hit play, LOL. You still sound just the same!)

I wanted to ask about rinsing! When I used to own hand wash only clothes I would use my (clean) sink but it seemed I could NEVER get them rinsed and ended up using the washing machine just to get the soap out. Is that a problem with your system? Is it hard if you do end up using the Aloksak to rinse?

GREAT ARTICLE!

BJ

Jason – you’re likely using way more soap than necessary. It takes so little soap to break down the oils that hold the soil. 10 drops isn’t much! Less soap in means less rinsing out.

Karol

Hi Jason,

Thanks for asking. I rinse inside the aLoksak. And it’s never a problem. Sometimes I will rinse twice to be sure. But the beauty of vegetable based soap is it rinses out well.

Thanks!
Karol

Keiran

Hi,
Interesting concept using the Aloksak. I’ve heard of them but never seen or used them. How tough are they, would it be feasible to use the same sack on a 2/3 month trip for washing clothes? I’m always interested in lightweight, dual purpose ideas! Great site by the way, i’ve just come across it!

Karol

Hey Keiran,

They’re tough. I’m 2 months in and have been using mine regularly. No problems yet. :)

Thanks for asking!
Karol

makamoimoi

I do the stomp on my clothes while I am showering. That and squeezing them out between two towels works great.

Karol

Thanks for sharing makamoimoi!

David Chard

To dry your washing out in the tropics place them under the ceiling fan all night.

Karol

Thanks for the tip David!

Randall

Great tips! Next time I got to the Philipines I will try this!

Richard | RichardShelmerdine.com

Great post. I love anything that can save you time.

Kelsey

Do aLOKSAKs come in anything larger than the 12in size? With that size, it seems to me that you’d only be able to wash one item at a time.

Karol

Yes, they come in larger sizes, but as you can see in the video I have more than one item in there. I can wash 2 socks, 2 underwear, and 2 shirts in a 12″ bag no problem.

Rosa

You have a great system!
I am a girl who wears clothes over and over until they are dirty. I don’t usually tell people because I am afraid of being judged. Americans do a lot of unnecessary washing.
P.S. I don’t smell :)

Karol

Thanks for making sure I know you don’t smell Rosa. If we’re going to get married (RE: your marriage proposal comment, hehe) that will help a lot! ;)

Rosa

Right, who would want a stinky spouse ;)
You are funny!!

CoCoYoYO

Came across your ultra-light packing list first and clicked to read this article. Great tips that I am anxious to try on my next trip. I’m bound and determined to use as small of a pack as possible!

Karol

Awesome CoCoYoYO!

Brim Stone

Set the bag of soapy water in the sun or on a radiator for a better wash and easier rinse. Used waterproof rucksack liners for laundry in the army, turned them inside out so the inner black rubber coating was exposed to the sun. Worked well. Can use some of the water to wash yourself before putting in clothes.

Karol

Hey Brim,

I do that when possible, but usually it’s not. In the video you’ll see I set the bag out on a sunny balcony. If that balcony wasn’t there I wasn’t going to head a few floors down to leave my only set of clothes outside. ;)

Cheers,
Karol

Casey Friday

Awesome tip! I’ve always wandered how to wash clothes by hand, but I never realized it was so simple. Can’t wait to try this!

Karol

:) Yessir! Been doing this for well over a year now.

samantha

karol – john steinbeck did several big road trips and discovered during one that if he put clothes, water and a tiny bit of soap in a bucket, and then hung the bucket on a bungee in a closet of his fifth wheel, he clothes got incredibly clean. he would rinse and dry at night. also, years ago, in munich at the bmw museum, i saw a similar set up on the back of a motorcycle. i so regret not getting more information (perhaps your readers know more?), but this fellow took his bmw bike around the world (pictures of the bike in a canoe were included in the exhibit.) he had a bucket strapped to the back of his bike that he put his soiled clothes in every evening. the vibration of the bike functioned as the agitator of the washing machine. neat, huh? alternate ways of “kneading the aloksak.” (which i can’t say without laughing!) cheers!

benny

i ve heard of soap nuts from india . this looks good too

Robin

Great post! =) Just a questition, won’t the socks still look dirty? I find that mine does when I use the sink to wash them instead of the washing machine, or is there a special kind of sock that you can use?

Karol

I don’t use cotton socks, so I guess they are kinda special. :) I also don’t wear white socks. REI has good synthetic socks.

Cormac

Aloksaks and special soaps would be hard to find in most countries. I do something similar with any old plastic grocery bag, and whatever soapy stuff is available – shower gel, shampoo, liquid hand soap, or just a good lather from the hotel room soap. Knead the clothes in the open bag in the sink (a small sink works best, to support the bag – that’s ok, that’s the sort of hotel room I stay in :-) ). Then tie the handles of the bag together so that the the water is retained while soaking.

The other trick, especially for larger items or really muddy stuff, is to throw them at your feet while showering yourself. A bar of soap works better than liquids, which drain away too quickly. Stamp them around a bit, pretend you’re crushing wine grapes – your leg muscles are a lot more powerful than your arms.

Karol

Aloksak ships worldwide. Vegetable soap is available worldwide, although it may be more difficult to find in certain places. I actually found Dr Bronner’s brand in New Zealand. :)

Kymberley

stumbled across this site on my mobile while looking for tips on how to handwash a few blankets at my apartment. No laundry on site, and I am a single momma of a yr old and in college full time… (not much time left over!) got some great tips on amount of soap and type to use, thanks!

Kate

Hi there! I have read that Dr. Bronner’s will leave oil stains on clothes… I take it that you don’t find that to be true?

Karol

It’s not oil. That doesn’t make scientific sense. :) Maybe it depends on the fabric but I’ve had zero problems.

Kate

Well, the ingredient list I see on their website contains olive oil and jojoba oil… or are you using something other than the liquid soap? Thanks!

Karol

I’m an idiot. Anyway, I’ve been using this soap for years. No problems.

Kate

“No problems” was all I needed to hear! And no worries – I’m addicted to lable reading. ;) Thanks for the great video. I’m not an ultralite packer (yet!), so on my month-long trip this summer, I’m trying to do better! I’m mostly worried about the carry-on liquid limit. I’m kinda girly. ;)

Kelsey

Don’t forget that most toiletries can be bought in-country as well. Bring the ones that are really special to you, and buy the rest when you get there.

asd

That is right, but the oils are transformed into soap in the soap making process. So there isn’t oil in the soap, even though oil is an ingredient. Chemical reaction :) Some soaps can have un-reacted oil or alkaline remaining, but that is not usual.

Kate

You’re right, Kelsey, but I have a lot of product sensitivities. *sigh* Life is so hard, eh? ;) I’m going to wrangle my husband into carrying some liquids, and I’m going to live in a ponytail. I have wild, curly hair, so it’s probably a lost cause to try to tame it on the go anyway. I’m just sad that I’ll be looking a bit gnarly in all my photos.

Ankit

hey, how long does a bottle of dr. bronner’s last you if you use it just for washing? i might end up getting a bigger bag since i would generally wash more clothes at once. also have you ever done this with pants or jeans? how did it go?

Karol

I don’t know, I’ve never used it for just washing.

A 4oz bottle lasts ~1 month though. I’ve never washed jeans.

Joanne

When I started reading this post I thought the obvious would be to seal the bag with the clothes & water in it and give it a good shake to simulate a washing machine-have you ever tried that? I thought that would work best & be a lot more fun han just kneading them :)

Karol

I’ve done that as well. I feel like kneading them gets a better clean. But it’s all good!

{ 22 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post:

privacy policy