How to wash clothes whilst travelling


How do you wash clothes? are you a gypsie?

This is one of many posts where I will cover some of the practical bits of living and travelling in a van.  Apparently people want to know all about the boring stuff as well.

Here’s how I’ve been washing clothes whilst travelling Europe:


I only use these if I’m desperate. In Spain we paid 4Euro for a wash and another 4 for drying, which is worth it if you manage to fit in a load of stuff (sleeping bags, bedding etc.) and share with a friend but otherwise, I’d rather spend the money on like… Avocados

This was the coolest laundrette I’ve ever been to (in Madrid) although I don’t visit them often.  The guy showed us round, he lives in the back and does these abstract paintings


detergent-gunkVandog tip: At most self-service laundrettes you need to provide your own detergent. There is usually leftover detergent in at least one machine – you know where it all collects and turns into gunk? Just scoop it up and use it. Go round all the machines and collect more for later. Scrimperdog!



2.Rivers and streams

The cleaner the better. This one was a hot spring in Spain. It was fairly clean but it had a lot of sulphur in it which means you may stink of eggs for a while.

Santa Fe, Spain – hot springs

3.In the van

My van has a 70L water tank on board. I can do a full hand wash in the bucket with just under 15L. The on board water supply has to be used sparingly so I only do this if I’m near a fuel station or other source of water to fill up with.


4. The Beach

Most beaches have showers, or at least taps. We filled a tub with water and sat on the beach washing our clothes. It’s pretty relaxing


5. Water well

There are quite a few of these wells in Spain (with taps on of course) although they seem to be dotted around in some really random places, you just have to keep an eye out.


6. Washing machine

Friends house, strangers house or couchsurfing.

Alex and Cosi kindly washing my clothes in their flat, Barcelona

7. Hotel or hostel

Most backpacker/travellers hostels will allow you to use their washing machines – some hostels have coin-operated machines. Someone I met says he goes and finds the most expensive hotel he can and asks them nicely if he can put his clothes in with their washing. He said they often fold his clothes for him!

8. Student accommodation

Some big student apartments have washing machines on the bottom floor. The ones I’ve seen you still have to pay but nowhere near as expensive as the laundrettes; about 2Euro for the wash and 1Euro for the dryer. You’ll need to provide your own detergent so use that tip I mentioned above. Alternatively, look in the cupboards, detergent msy be hidden somewhere but remember to leave a few cent if you use some.


Suggestions and ideas welcome in the comments below…


Share this post 


Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


let me help you with that



Share your thoughts in the comments below...x