Helpful ways to avoid wearing a dirty, wrinkled shirt

If you travel a lot, you’ve probably opened your suitcase, thrown on a horribly wrinkled shirt and gone out to a nice dinner. Or you’ve met friends or a client while wearing dirty clothes, hoping they don’t notice.

For a short stay of a couple days, laundry shouldn’t be an issue. But if your stay is going to outlast the amount of clothes your suitcase holds, these laundry tips will keep your clothes fresh and clean.

Plan ahead

Check for laundry facilities in or near your destination. Many hotels have washers and dryers on site. Be sure to bring quarters and convenient laundry supplies, including stain removal sticks and mesh laundry bags for separating dirty stuff from the clean. Or grab a few all-in-one laundry sheets, which combine detergent, fabric softener and anti-static in a thin, liquid-free, packable design.

Choose quick-dry and wrinkle-free fabrics

As long as you fold or roll them neatly when packing, wrinkle-free fabrics will come out looking sharp and fresh, with no need for ironing. Quick-drying fabrics, typically synthetics, are helpful if you hand wash your clothes. You won’t need a dryer, so just find good, airy places to hang them (such as a towel rack) and they’ll be moisture-free in no time.

Bring a travel steamer

Not only does a travel-size steamer remove wrinkles, but it can freshen clothes by removing odors. Some are dual-voltage models, meaning they can be used for international travel. Some very good steamers can be purchased for less than $20.

Learn how to hand wash clothes

As long as you have some water and laundry soap, you can wash your own clothes by hand. Here are two different methods for getting those clothes squeaky clean:

  • Bag method: Take a large, super heavy-duty, zipper-seal bag. These are much stronger than the kind used for storing food, and can be about the size of a small tote bag. Put your dirty clothes inside, add a pinch of detergent and warm water, and mix everything by hand for up to five minutes. Seal the bag and let the clothes soak for 10 minutes, then rinse. Hang your clothes up to dry.
  • Sink method: Plug a sink drain with a flat rubber stopper (a rolled-up sock or washcloth will work in a pinch). Add your laundry and some detergent, and fill the sink with cool or warm water. Rub extra detergent on dirtier areas, such as underarms or sock bottoms. Gently rub the soapy, wet clothes together to remove any dirt. Drain the water, gently squeeze the clothes to get out extra soap, and rinse in clean water. Hang dry.

No matter where you go, these laundry tips will help you avoid an unsightly clothes debacle the next time you travel.