Pocket-sized travel-laundry gadget

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2014/10/24/pocket-sized-travel-laundry-ga.html

Sink and bathtub laundry not working out?

Although i imagine doctorow would have more “self in hotel laundry” experience then I do, I usually wear quick dries and non wrinkle clothing to make it easier for sink laundry. They type of water and soap plays alot on how much work I need to clean. And the humidity plays the role of time needed to dry.

Doesn’t seem that useful to me, but I do all my laundry on my rock-hard washboard abs.


Thought… some special coatings on the fabric fibers? Teflon, perhaps, something that repels dirt, does not hold water (so dries quickly) (balance this with sweat wicking capability, perhaps using different materials in layers?), and maybe silver nanoparticles to kill bacteria/odors, maybe titanium dioxide nanoparticles for “washing with light”? Reducing the laundry to “add water and a drop of soap, wiggle a bit, let dry”, or perhaps even merely “walk in a rain”?

Given how much time, effort, and water/energy laundry takes, it could be a quite worthwhile thing to get wide acceptance.

I saw this a while ago and was interested as I will be working in a dirty, field-based context soon. The solution other people have in these jobs as best as I can tell is to just let their clothes get filthy, and then presumably replacing them frequently. I don’t like to be filthy day in and day out so something like this - used mainly to wash merino wool inner-wear that is naturally dirt and bacteria/odor-resistant - seems like a possibility.

However when you look at what it is that you get for your $55, it’s a little bit perplexing. It appears to be a standard dry-bag - a nice one, granted, but nothing special - with a hard nubbly surface on one side.

I feel this is prime DIY territory - assuming you don’t already have some lying around as I do, decent dry bags in a small size should cost ~$15-20, and then you just need something with a nubbly surface (which admittedly is the hard part, but I can think of a few options) and I feel like you could just stick it in there loose and it’d do the job just fine.

All that assumes that there’s actually a benefit to doing this over sink/bucket washing - reviews seem mixed - but the small packing size is a definite benefit, as you can’t always bring a sink or a bucket with you.


As a full time nomad, I looked at this and thought “That would be awesome! But too much money…” and then searched for “make dry bag” and found http://www.seattlefabrics.com/dry_bag.html

It seems pretty simple, doesn’t need much sewing, and can be put together easily with tools that are available at local hacker/makerspaces in most of the towns I bounce through. Add some nubbly plastic to the inside, and it’ll be perfect. So, thanks Cory! I’ll definitely be making one of these soon.


First thing that comes to my mind is one of those soft plastic shower soap holders.

Wool is definitely where you want to go, on the “base layer” (next to skin). Yes. If you get thinner material (make sure it’s 100% wool or high-percentage wool, because synthetics and wool-synthetic blends do get stinky), you get probably get a fast enough dry time. Cheapest prices for all these are at Sierra Trading Post. Ex Officio makes a “travel underwear” that’s synthetic but treated with… something. I dare not speculate just what’s in their proprietary goo. Hand wash either of these delicate materials, gently, and not as follows.

Dunno just how far afield your field work is, and whether you’d be able to pack in a solar oven (my guess is not likely) for drying. I had a friend doing fieldwork and he drove a pickup around site to site. He put soap, water, filthy clothes, and one fist-sized very smooth river stone) in a 5 gallon bucket with a tightly-fitted lid, leaving about 6 inches of airspace. Then he just drove around, letting the bucket bang around in the back of the truck. At the end of the drive, rinsed the clothes and hung them on any available tree or bush. Clean clothing!

A word on soap: only Dr. Bronner’s is potassium-based and thus not toxic to plants and water biota as sodium-based soaps are. I sure don’t recommend Dr. Bronner’s for clothing–it doesn’t work well on cloth. If you are dumping the wash/rinse water, try really hard not to dump it close to anything that grows slowly (trees) or near a water body. Grass is an ok option, or better yet, a mulch pile.

Good luck penguinchris! Sounds like you lead an interesting life! If you are washing near penguins, the whole frozen water thing is going to be a… challenge…

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