Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Touring
Reload this Page >

Washing Clothes

Touring Have a dream to ride a bike across your state, across the country, or around the world? Self-contained or fully supported? Trade ideas, adventures, and more in our bicycle touring forum.

Washing Clothes

Old 09-16-14, 01:25 PM
  #1  
arfer1
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
arfer1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Mpls. Minnesota
Posts: 252

Bikes: 2008 Trek 7500, 1982 Schwinn Voyageur 11.8, 1982 Schwinn Voyageur 11.8 Chrome

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Washing Clothes

I'm wondering how people handle cleaning their clothes on tour. In the past, I've carried a small bottle of laundry detergent and a collapsible sink that packs small in order to wash stuff in, but I'm wondering if it would make more sense to just wait until I get to towns that have a coin laundry. I like the idea of using a laundry stop to relax, walk around, and dry my clothes quickly in a dryer. On the other hand, I usually only have a few things to wash and some might say paying for a full wash and dry is a waste of money. Also, I like the sink for carrying water and to use to wash dishes and for washing my face, hands, and hair. How do other people deal with this?
arfer1 is offline  
Old 09-16-14, 01:41 PM
  #2  
gorshkov
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 293
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by arfer1 View Post
I'm wondering how people handle cleaning their clothes on tour. In the past, I've carried a small bottle of laundry detergent and a collapsible sink that packs small in order to wash stuff in, but I'm wondering if it would make more sense to just wait until I get to towns that have a coin laundry. I like the idea of using a laundry stop to relax, walk around, and dry my clothes quickly in a dryer. On the other hand, I usually only have a few things to wash and some might say paying for a full wash and dry is a waste of money. Also, I like the sink for carrying water and to use to wash dishes and for washing my face, hands, and hair. How do other people deal with this?
Whenever you shower, wash your riding clothes. Get some soap on them while they're on you. Then put them on inside out and soap the inside surface. Rinse well, and then wring out and hang up the clothes to dry. This works better if you use spandex or other quick-drying fabrics.

I usually camp when I'm on tour, so showers typically don't happen very often. On longer tours where I camp, I'll usually do laundry about once a week. When I do, I typically wash everything except one pair of off-bike shorts that I wear to avoid getting arrested. That includes arm and leg warmers and my sleeping bag liner. If you use warmshowers, some hosts will let you use their washing machine if you ask.
gorshkov is offline  
Old 09-16-14, 01:41 PM
  #3  
robow
Senior Member
 
robow's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 3,199
Mentioned: 9 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 246 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Will use a laundromat at times, more often use the sink or bath tub in the hotel room if we're spending every few nights in a hotel, and even camp grounds often provide a sink or shower in which to wash my few clothes. And finally, I have used a clean stream or lake with a biodegradable environmentally friendly soap as a last resort. Bottom line, ride at the front and it doesn't matter. ha
robow is offline  
Old 09-16-14, 01:44 PM
  #4  
niknak
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: San Jose, CA
Posts: 720
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 55 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
It depends where I camp. If there are showers, I'll wash my bike shorts and socks while I shower. If there's a river, I wash the clothes in the river using no soap. Rubbing the clothes on rocks works well. If there's only a spigot, I can use a ziploc or large plastic bag to do one wash cycle and one rinse cycle. If there's no water source, then I don't wash. However I don't mind being slightly dirtier than if I were home. The benefit of this attitude is that you don't need to carry a ton of extra clothes.
niknak is offline  
Old 09-16-14, 02:00 PM
  #5  
vik 
cyclopath
 
vik's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Victoria, BC
Posts: 5,264

Bikes: Surly Krampus, Surly Straggler, Pivot Mach 6, Bike Friday Tikit, Bike Friday Tandem, Santa Cruz Nomad

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by arfer1 View Post
I'm wondering how people handle cleaning their clothes on tour.
Mostly I just let the stank build because I'm in the backcountry and either I am alone or with other stinky people.

I do have a small container of biodegradable soap with me and I'll clean my underwear after 2-3days to ensure I don't get any saddle sores. I don't wear padded shorts so I just wear Exofficio boxer briefs which dry fast.

If the tour is long enough or muddy enough I'll do laundry more frequently. Usually near a creek with the waste water dumped far enough away to biodegrade as it works its way back into the water table.
__________________
safe riding - Vik
VikApproved
vik is offline  
Old 09-16-14, 02:03 PM
  #6  
fietsbob 
coprolite
 
fietsbob's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: NW,Oregon Coast
Posts: 41,928

Bikes: 8

Mentioned: 188 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6833 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 211 Times in 176 Posts
I wash the 'Shammy pad' and my skin 'down there' with Surgeon's scrub. to knock back the bacteria count.
clean pair daily.

the rest I just use 'whatever'Soap.
fietsbob is offline  
Old 09-16-14, 02:49 PM
  #7  
cyccommute 
Mad bike riding scientist
 
cyccommute's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Denver, CO
Posts: 21,330

Bikes: Some silver ones, a red one, an orange one and a few titanium ones

Mentioned: 92 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2448 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 98 Times in 67 Posts
I use a laundromat or hotel laundry every 3 days or so on a road tour. I carry three sets of clothes and the ones I'm wearing. Some may find that excessive but I have better things to do every night then laundry.
__________________
Stuart Black
Pokin' around the Poconos A cold ride around Lake Erie
Dinosaurs in Colorado A mountain bike guide to the Purgatory Canyon dinosaur trackway
Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
An Good Ol' Fashion Appalachian Butt Whoopin'.
cyccommute is online now  
Old 09-16-14, 04:38 PM
  #8  
hilltowner
Senior Member
 
hilltowner's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Ashfield, Mass.
Posts: 451
Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 67 Post(s)
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
To each his own. My preference is coin-op laundry or campground/motel washing machine (if I happen to be in one that has that as an option.) The few times I've tried to wash my own and hang them to dry have never been successful. I find a drier is the only reasonable option. I'm never in any place during the warmest part of the day long enough to hang dry hand-wrung clothes sufficiently to then be able to pack them away without fear of fermentation.
hilltowner is offline  
Old 09-16-14, 05:14 PM
  #9  
arfer1
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
arfer1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Mpls. Minnesota
Posts: 252

Bikes: 2008 Trek 7500, 1982 Schwinn Voyageur 11.8, 1982 Schwinn Voyageur 11.8 Chrome

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by hilltowner View Post
To each his own. My preference is coin-op laundry or campground/motel washing machine (if I happen to be in one that has that as an option.) The few times I've tried to wash my own and hang them to dry have never been successful. I find a drier is the only reasonable option. I'm never in any place during the warmest part of the day long enough to hang dry hand-wrung clothes sufficiently to then be able to pack them away without fear of fermentation.
Yes, drying clothes is the issue I run into when I wash by hand, and as the days get cooler, it becomes more of a problem. This past week the weather suddenly turned cool, with beautiful blue skies and low humidity making for delightful biking. First time since last spring that I've worn tights and a long sleeve shirt.
arfer1 is offline  
Old 09-16-14, 05:28 PM
  #10  
arfer1
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
arfer1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Mpls. Minnesota
Posts: 252

Bikes: 2008 Trek 7500, 1982 Schwinn Voyageur 11.8, 1982 Schwinn Voyageur 11.8 Chrome

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
I use a laundromat or hotel laundry every 3 days or so on a road tour. I carry three sets of clothes and the ones I'm wearing. Some may find that excessive but I have better things to do every night then laundry.
I think three sets of clothes sounds practical, especially if you're going to be out for an extended time. I've got to admit that there times I've intended to wash clothes after I set camp, but it off for various reasons and was glad to have some clean clothing to carry me through. The thing about polyester quick dry shirts is that they start to really smell after a long day of summer sweat.
arfer1 is offline  
Old 09-16-14, 05:30 PM
  #11  
arfer1
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
arfer1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Mpls. Minnesota
Posts: 252

Bikes: 2008 Trek 7500, 1982 Schwinn Voyageur 11.8, 1982 Schwinn Voyageur 11.8 Chrome

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
I wash the 'Shammy pad' and my skin 'down there' with Surgeon's scrub. to knock back the bacteria count.
clean pair daily.

the rest I just use 'whatever'Soap.
I like Wet Ones, or whatever generic brand I can find, for light washing up in the morning.
arfer1 is offline  
Old 09-16-14, 05:37 PM
  #12  
arfer1
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
arfer1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Mpls. Minnesota
Posts: 252

Bikes: 2008 Trek 7500, 1982 Schwinn Voyageur 11.8, 1982 Schwinn Voyageur 11.8 Chrome

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I like that idea of using a ziplock bag--it's lighter and smaller than the camp sink I'm currently using, although not has robust.
arfer1 is offline  
Old 09-16-14, 05:42 PM
  #13  
arfer1
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
arfer1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Mpls. Minnesota
Posts: 252

Bikes: 2008 Trek 7500, 1982 Schwinn Voyageur 11.8, 1982 Schwinn Voyageur 11.8 Chrome

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by robow View Post
Will use a laundromat at times, more often use the sink or bath tub in the hotel room if we're spending every few nights in a hotel, and even camp grounds often provide a sink or shower in which to wash my few clothes. And finally, I have used a clean stream or lake with a biodegradable environmentally friendly soap as a last resort. Bottom line, ride at the front and it doesn't matter. ha
Yeah, I've definitely made use of motel sinks--sometimes even gas station sinks. The only problem I've found with washing in stream/lake water is that even in clean, clear water, there are organisms in the water that seem to remain in the fabric and start to smell after mixing with sweat and body heat . . . or maybe it's just me!
arfer1 is offline  
Old 09-16-14, 05:44 PM
  #14  
andrewclaus
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Golden, CO, Scottsdale, AZ
Posts: 1,519

Bikes: 2016 Fuji Tread, 1983 Trek 620

Mentioned: 8 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 218 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 15 Times in 13 Posts
I'm at the simple end of the spectrum. I only carry one set of clothing in various layers and wash them wherever and whenever it's practical. Sometimes that's during a swim, in a public park restroom sink, at a warmshowers host, a motel bathroom--very seldom at a laundromat. (Wash, dry, and soap costs about $4 and that's money I'd rather put into ice cream.) I carry a small scrap of bar soap and don't use it in a natural water source--scrubbing and rinsing does the trick. In cold weather I don't sweat as much and don't need to launder as often, and then I'll look for some kind of mechanical heat. The shorts, which I believe are important to keep very clean, I wash every day, put them on wet, and wear them dry. Or if it's raining they just stay wet and that's OK.

Luckily, those I tour with have the same ideas and don't mind not smelling perfumed all the time. If you share a tent with someone, be sure you agree on this!
andrewclaus is offline  
Old 09-16-14, 06:36 PM
  #15  
nun
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 3,451

Bikes: Rivendell Quickbeam, Rivendell Rambouillet, Rivendell Atlantis, Circle A town bike, De Rosa Neo Primato, Cervelo RS

Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 85 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I have 2 sets of cycling clothes. I wash the clothes I've ridden in at the end of each day. I usually stay in a campground or motel and so I just take them into the shower with me and wash them with shampoo - simple, but I've also used sinks, standpipes and streams. The next day I wear my 2nd set of clothes and if anything isn't dry from the night before hang it off the bike to fully dry while I ride. Here are my padded under wear and socks arranged to dry while I ride.


Last edited by nun; 09-16-14 at 06:44 PM.
nun is offline  
Old 09-16-14, 06:46 PM
  #16  
Doug64
Senior Member
 
Doug64's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Oregon
Posts: 5,493
Mentioned: 29 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 767 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 22 Times in 14 Posts
Sometimes you just have to be creative. However, this does not work well with the CF bulbs.


Or stop early enough in the day to let clothes dry.
Doug64 is offline  
Old 09-16-14, 06:57 PM
  #17  
arfer1
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
arfer1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Mpls. Minnesota
Posts: 252

Bikes: 2008 Trek 7500, 1982 Schwinn Voyageur 11.8, 1982 Schwinn Voyageur 11.8 Chrome

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by nun View Post
I have 2 sets of cycling clothes. I wash the clothes I've ridden in at the end of each day. I usually stay in a campground or motel and so I just take them into the shower with me and wash them with shampoo - simple, but I've also used sinks, standpipes and streams. The next day I wear my 2nd set of clothes and if anything isn't dry from the night before hang it off the bike to fully dry while I ride. Here are my padded under wear and socks arranged to dry while I ride.

Have you ever tried bringing a salad spinner? Just joking, of course, but tonight, as I was spinning some lettuce, I thought, "You know, this might work for some smart wool socks!"
arfer1 is offline  
Old 09-16-14, 07:04 PM
  #18  
arfer1
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
arfer1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Mpls. Minnesota
Posts: 252

Bikes: 2008 Trek 7500, 1982 Schwinn Voyageur 11.8, 1982 Schwinn Voyageur 11.8 Chrome

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
Sometimes you just have to be creative. However, this does not work well with the CF bulbs.


Or stop early enough in the day to let clothes dry.
Yeah, I've done the old lampshade dryer, too. But you're right about needing the right kind of bulb! I've never used a clothes line; usually I just drape damp clothes on my tent, but then that slows down packing up for the next days ride.

Last winter there was a craze of YouTube videos about using a candle and clay flowerpot as heat sources. I went winter car-camping and brought some along to see if they could warm up a tent. They couldn't. However, I was able to dry some socks . . . after about an hour.
arfer1 is offline  
Old 09-16-14, 07:42 PM
  #19  
nun
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 3,451

Bikes: Rivendell Quickbeam, Rivendell Rambouillet, Rivendell Atlantis, Circle A town bike, De Rosa Neo Primato, Cervelo RS

Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 85 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by arfer1 View Post
Have you ever tried bringing a salad spinner? Just joking, of course, but tonight, as I was spinning some lettuce, I thought, "You know, this might work for some smart wool socks!"
Ha Ha. No I haven't. I wring my clothes out. If I'm in a motel I put the clothes inside a towel to wring them out, that gets them surprisingly dry. At a campsite I hang them on a clothes line, but if it's humid I sometimes have to use the bike as a clothesline the next day.
nun is offline  
Old 09-16-14, 07:43 PM
  #20  
nun
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 3,451

Bikes: Rivendell Quickbeam, Rivendell Rambouillet, Rivendell Atlantis, Circle A town bike, De Rosa Neo Primato, Cervelo RS

Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 85 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Quick tip, don't try to dry synthetic materials in a microwave.
nun is offline  
Old 09-16-14, 08:03 PM
  #21  
jlcop
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Lynnwood, Washington
Posts: 29

Bikes: Specialized Hardrock

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I have not tried this yet, but I have noticed that all of the motel rooms have hair driers. I have not done any bike touring but often need to dry my swimsuit after a hot tub soak and I usually just wring it out and hang it up in the shower. Next time I think I might try finishing up with the hair dryer. Might work with bike togs as well with care.
John
jlcop is offline  
Old 09-16-14, 10:31 PM
  #22  
arfer1
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
arfer1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Mpls. Minnesota
Posts: 252

Bikes: 2008 Trek 7500, 1982 Schwinn Voyageur 11.8, 1982 Schwinn Voyageur 11.8 Chrome

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by nun View Post
Quick tip, don't try to dry synthetic materials in a microwave.
Thank you for that!
arfer1 is offline  
Old 09-16-14, 10:34 PM
  #23  
arfer1
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
arfer1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Mpls. Minnesota
Posts: 252

Bikes: 2008 Trek 7500, 1982 Schwinn Voyageur 11.8, 1982 Schwinn Voyageur 11.8 Chrome

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by jlcop View Post
I have not tried this yet, but I have noticed that all of the motel rooms have hair driers. I have not done any bike touring but often need to dry my swimsuit after a hot tub soak and I usually just wring it out and hang it up in the shower. Next time I think I might try finishing up with the hair dryer. Might work with bike togs as well with care.
John
I've used a hair dryer to dry socks and to warm up ski boots . . . I guess you could bring one along and use at campgrounds that have electricity. Usually I try to get primitive or non-electric sites, but I've sometimes strolled over to an empty electric site to charge my Kindle.
arfer1 is offline  
Old 09-16-14, 11:05 PM
  #24  
Machka 
In Real Life
 
Machka's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Down under down under
Posts: 51,447

Bikes: Lots

Mentioned: 130 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2870 Post(s)
Liked 70 Times in 49 Posts
We usually use a laundromat ... or the laundry at a campground, hostel, or hotel.

And we carry a bottle of inexpensive shampoo. I use it on my hair, we use it as body wash, we use it to wash dishes, and we do our laundry with it. No point in carrying several different soaps.
Machka is offline  
Old 09-17-14, 04:54 AM
  #25  
wahoonc
Membership Not Required
 
wahoonc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: On the road-USA
Posts: 16,854

Bikes: Giant Excursion, Raleigh Sports, Raleigh R.S.W. Compact, Motobecane? and about 20 more! OMG

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 66 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I have used a variety of methods depending on the location and the tour. On short tours using a sink and hanging things out to dry is what I do most of the time. Longer tours I would hit up a laundromat every now and again. I always carry a minimum of 3 set of under clothes.

Aaron
__________________
Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

"Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
_Nicodemus

"Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
Aluminum: barely a hundred
Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
_krazygluon
wahoonc is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service

Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.