Road Laundry

Keeping it Clean

Of all the things you think about when going on the road, I must admit that doing the laundry was not the first thing that sprang to mind. That was until the washing piled up. Then a few social and practical issues arose.

Here’s what I’ve noticed.

  • Clothes Lines

Anything can be a clothes line. Fences, gates, stray branches. All good.

Washing hanging on a wire fence with sea and mountains in the background
A fence makes a fine clothes line
  • The State of Your Washing

You might rethink some of your clothes.

Is your underwear fit for public display on the communal washing line or wherever you are hanging it? It can be too disreputable or too lovely! All depends what you’re comfortable with.

Are there some clothes that are possibly past their use-by date? Perhaps items that were alright in private but less than stylish (depending on how in-style you like to travel) worn, or otherwise ungorgeous?

Quick check: will you be at ease hanging out and collecting your washing however public the washing line? You can of course use dryers where available but that’s a fairly expensive option and you won’t always be in a situation where you have an “inside” in which to dry things.

  • It’s All About Sharing

On the road you will always be using someone else’s laundry (unless you are in a hotel or motel that provides a – usually expensive – washing service). Whether you are using machines in accommodation provided by an employer, with friends, in a caravan park, or using the machines at the local laundromat you’ll be relying on someone else’s equipment.

Some washing machines work well and treat your clothes gently and some will destroy them. Likewise some washing machines will be really clean and some, not so much. It’s worth taking these uncertainties into account when deciding whether to expose your sentimental favourite, expensive or irreplaceable items to life on the road. Yes you can handwash in a sink or bucket but dripping wet clothes can be a challenge, particularly in cold climates.

Sharing facilities also means that you won’t always be able to do your washing when you want to. Other people will want to do their washing too.

Two pairs of jeans and a sheet drying on a farm gate
A gate will do nicely
  • Travelling Light

I’ve learnt what clothes I really need, what clothes are practical, and pruned accordingly. Some things just haven’t survived. Delicate items that need handwashing can languish in the washing bag for quite a while so I’ve seriously cut down on those as well as clothes that take too long to dry. What’s left of the wardrobe is fit for purpose. And it’s a whole lot lighter and takes up less space.

The availability of washing facilities can be hard to predict. It could be a long way to the next laundry or you could be somewhere that is washing hostile. For example: towns with limited or substandard water, it’s Winter and snowing, there’s red dust blowing everywhere, you get the idea. Keeping an eye on how many clean clothes remain has become bit of a habit for me. Of course you can always keep wearing the same clothes but there comes a point where it really isn’t a great idea.

  • Soap it Up

Remembering to have some laundry powder or liquid handy – you may or may not be able to find/buy some when you need it. If there’s none to be had you can do without, or substitute a little shampoo.

  • Costs

When doing washing in a laundromat, chances are you’ll need cash, often coins. Depends where you are of course but I have found few laundromats, as yet, that accept card payments. Keep some coins handy for this.

  • Overall
A pair of legs in jeans sticking out from and industrial dryer in a laundromat
Check you’ve got all your washing
Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Somewhere, somewhen you’re going to leave some laundry behind.

It’s nice to be clean, however when you’re travelling it’s likely you won’t be washing as often or in the same ways to the same standard as you do at home. Relax. It’s all part of the adventure

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