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There’s nothing I hate more than having to hand-wash while traveling. The skin on my knuckles gets rubbed raw, my nails get bent out of shape, and it’s usually done in the dirty sink of a shared hostel bathroom.

Or a questionable looking lake. Though hand-washing is a necessarily evil when on a long trip/trek where you have to pack light and can only travel with a couple of pairs of clothes. And hundreds of travelers put up with it. But not any more.

In 2010, one Aussie traveler came up with a brilliant idea. A concept which would allow travelers to do their laundry on the road for free, and be able to wash clothes while traveling without having to use a dirty sink.

On taking a four month break from his job to travel Africa and climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, Ash Newland was contemplating how he would wash his clothes. He started thinking about washboards.

“They have been around for centuries and they work very efficiently. The downside is that they are bulky and require a sink or bucket. It was then that I had the idea that if we could incorporate a highly flexible washboard into a waterproof sealable bag, we had a great solution for people to wash clothes when traveling”.

And in that one thought, the world’s smallest washing machine was born. A must for every traveler – a light and easy way to quickly wash your clothes while abroad, and a much more sanitary approach than hand-washing your clothes in a communal sink. how to keep your clothes clean while traveling.

The Scrubba wash bag is a brilliant portable washing machine, and since admitting that we also travel with a microwave, you could now say that I travel with quite literally everything bar the kitchen sink!

Travel With a Portable Washing Machine: The Best Way to Do Laundry Abroad!

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The Right Way to Carry a Washing Machine Up a Mountain

Scrubba Wash Bag Review

Weighing less than an apple, the Scrubba Wash Bag is a pocket-size device that allows you to wash your clothes and travel clean, light and free. Designed for travelers, trekkers and campers, the secret to its ingenuity is the hundreds of resilient nobules that act like a flexible washboard, a fusion of old and new technology, that allows you to wash your clothes in minutes. Though unlike a traditional washboard, you can easily slip it into your backpack.

It weighs only 142 grams, washes in just 3 minutes, takes up the same space as 2 pairs of socks, and only requires 2 litres of water to work, so there’s no need to wait until you find a large water source to wash your clothes.

The plastic it’s made from is durable and tough, highly waterproof so nothing is going to seep out, and washing is incredibly simple and straight forward.

To wash clothes, simply add cleaning liquid and 2-3 liters of water, seal the bag, expel the air (there’s an air release valve located on the side of the bag) and rub for as little as 30 seconds. 3 minutes provides a machine quality wash. Rinsing can be done in the bag or in the shower and then it’s simply a matter of wringing out the clothes and hanging them to dry!

It’s easy to add the right amount of water to your laundry as there is a clear window on the side of the bag – a fantastic way to monitor your clothes and see just how much dirt is coming off. You need to be traveling with your own detergent, though hand soap or shampoo works just as well, and I found that just a little goes a very long way. Wash clothes while traveling

Pro Tip: Liquid detergent seems to work much better than others as it takes longer for powder to dissolve.

I found Scrubba is effective at cleaning around two days worth of clothes at once. While more clothing will fit, the washing efficiency is reduced when too much clothing is added. Though really, at 3 minutes per wash compared to a 45 minute cycle from a conventional washing machine, you’re still in the lead. And as an added bonus, the washbag is gentler on your clothes than that of a regular washing machine. How to do laundry while travel

So yes, I travel with a portable washing machine. As a traveler, the Scrubba wash bag allows you to do your laundry anywhere water is available. It’s lightweight, compact and self-contained (you no longer need a bucket or basin). You can travel with only a few changes of clothing in a carry-on sized bag, and the bag is so portable that even when it’s in use, you could fill it up and just leave it somewhere to soak. Or use it in transit as storage for your dirty laundry. Easiest way to wash clothes while traveling

The clothes genuinely are machine clean after washing them in the Scrubba. And it means you can wash your clothes anywhere…because the view from traditional laundry’s generally sucks!

Easiest way to wash your clothes while traveling

Scrubba wash bag is available at or Australian website Wash clothes while traveling the world. 

It costs $64.95 AUD which is a decent up front cost, though for those who travel a lot this is a fantastic investment, and one you will kick yourself once you’re on the road for not having bought. You don’t realize how truly useful this is until you have it in front of you. How to do laundry overseas

We’ve also recently found out about a powerful multi-purpose cleaning device that eliminates dirt at microscopic level called Sonic Soak (use the coupon code MAM10 on checkout).

Sonic Soak is the newest evolution in washing technology that utilizes ultrasonic technology to result in a deeper clean, saved time, water and energy, all in a compact package that can be taken anywhere.


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Megan is an Australian Journalist who has been travelling and blogging since 2007, with the main aim of inspiring others to embark on their own worldwide adventure. Her husband Mike is an American travel photographer, and together they have made the world their home.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

Follow their journey on Facebook, TwitterYouTube, Pinterest and Instagram.


  1. Where has this been all my life?!?!

    • Right! I thought the same thing! Good luck in the giveaway!

  2. I’ve got a 10 week trip to Africa planned and that little “machine” looks like something that definitely needs to come with me! You said it weighs 142 kg but I think you mean grams?

    • Thanks for catching that Jodi – have corrected the post, yes, absolutely meant grams instead! This would be amazing in Africa, I wish I had it when I was there last.

      Good luck in the Giveaway!

    • Thanks for the recipe Ray! Doesn’t look like they list any recommendation, though their FAQ page does suggest to hit up a local camping store for eco friendly detergents :)

      Very cool though if you can organize some which is home made. Thanks for the tip!

  3. What a great idea, and such a simple solution. Great post megan.

    • I’ve found the simplest ideas are usually the most brilliant!

  4. This is a great idea! When going on long trips and not necessarily having a guarantee of washing machine in AirBnB places, or occasionally staying in hotels, this is a great alternative to forking out for laundry bills.
    Thanks for sharing!

    • Absolutely Bec – really is a fabulous investment if you travel a lot and will get the use out of it. Those laundry bills add up!

  5. I can’t wait to add this to my Harley camping kit!

    • Good luck in the comp!

  6. This would be perfect on long backpacking trips!

    • Absolutely! It’s so fantastic not having to use a hostel bathroom sink!!

  7. I’ve been wanting one of these for so long! Looks like such a great item to travel with–such a pain trying to get laundry done or hand wash on longer trips!

    • Good luck with the contest!

  8. These do look pretty awesome :-)

    • They’re the best! Good luck in the comp!

  9. This is purely brilliant!

    • I’ve found the simplest concepts always are!

  10. Oooh I saw this recently & knew I needed one! Washing in sinks when travelling is the worst! Such a good invention :)

    • Totally with you on that one – I cant stand hand washing while I’m traveling!!

  11. It looks easy….that’s what I like :)

    • It’s so simple and straight forward – literally just 6 steps and you’re done!

  12. What a fantastic idea! This would be so much easier than washing in the sink with a “universal” drain plug that never seems to completely block the drain. Love it!

    • Don’t you hate that! I can never get the drain plugs to properly work either!! And then you waste so much water by having to refill the sink! This is far more eco friendly in that sense :)

  13. Brilliant! As I am using the bucket method right now. Some times i use a dry bag, but not my good ones for fear the detergent will damage the waterproofness. This is such a simple idea yet so genius, I can’t believe it took someone this long to think of it.

    • I’ve found in general the simplest concepts are the most brilliant! Just need someone to act on what everyone is always thinking when it comes to the “wouldn’t it be great if we had a …”

      Hopefully we can set you up with a Scrubba so you’ll never need to revert to the bucket method again!

  14. I want to try!!! Count me in!!

    • Good luck!

    • Thanks for the link Angelika … haha love the laundry song!

  15. This is brilliant! I need this in my travel life!!

    • Good luck with the sweepstakes!

  16. What an ingenious idea! Hand washing whilst travelling is the worst! I’ll definitely have to look into one of these for our next adventure.

    • Absolutely – they’re such a life saver when you’re on the road!

  17. Interesting..had no idea that such a product existed!

    • It’s such a fabulous product! Good luck in the competition!

  18. Thanks for the review – I need to pick one up for my upcoming trip to SEA!

    • Definitely! They’re so handy. Good luck in the comp!

  19. great idea! just the ticket!

    • Best of luck!

  20. An outstanding idea! What a great Aussie innovation. I would love to have this on my 3 months in Thailand and Vietnam coming up. Thanks for the opportunity.

    • Best of luck!

  21. As my wife and I slowly work our way to our dream vacation, it is tips and ideas such as this that keep me focused. I love this!

    Even if I do not win this, I need to purchase one.

    • Well good luck in the comp, though definitely look into purchasing one if you don’t end up being one of the 5 who win – such a worthwhile investment :) Good luck!

  22. What a useful travel accessory! I need to get one for my trip to Sri Lanka this Christmas, so I can test it out for myself. I like the fact that I can use shampoo. It’ll save carrying extra weight.

    • Absolutely – shampoo works really well – in the end it’s all soap! Have a wonderful trip to Sri Lanka at Christmas!

  23. It’s au revoir to struggling to wash your undies in guest house sinks that never seem to have plugs in them, where has this been all my life?

    • I think we’ve definitely all been there!! This is such a life saver :)

  24. I’m sure this is a brilliant idea for backpackers,but not for me.

    • I’ve actually found it’s quite useful even if you’re not backpacking. Even when we’re on luxury trips now I’ve had it double as a waterproof bag for activities like white water rafting, and as a bag to keep our dirty laundry seperate from the rest of our clothes.

      Works really well after beach visits so that you don’t get sand throughout the rest of your bag, and nothing else smells from getting damp :) So multiple purposes above just washing your clothes :)

  25. How fun! this is the first time I read a post from you! and I’m going to follow you guys!

    • Thanks Ardjette – glad you enjoyed the post!

  26. I had never heard of this before and now I’ve seen two posts and a video on it this week. OK, then, I’m convinced. I need me one of these babies!

    • They’re fabulous for any kind of travel! So glad we could convince you to add one to your gear.

  27. Wow… seems really amazing!

    • Truly is! Good luck in the contest!

  28. What a fantastic idea. I suddenly can’t imagine traveling without one. WAY better than trying to wash out of a wee sink (or wherever else).

    • I’ll never travel without one again! It’s one of those things which is totally life changing and you’ll never go back!

  29. I need this!! traveling with a small child means we constantly have dirty laundry, which really hinders my ability to pack lightly! This would be a great addition to our travel supplies!

    • Super fabulous product for travel with kids – only takes 3 minutes to wash so it’s just as quick to wash everything as it takes them to get the clothes dirty!!

  30. What a great idea! We had a lot of trouble finding places to clean our clothes while on the roam.

    • Absolutely, this is great for that because you can wash clothes where-ever and whenever you choose!

  31. How do I enter the competition?

    • Hi Sue! There is an embedded entry form at the end of the post – under where it says 6 ways to enter it gives you icon choices which means you can log in with your email address, or a social media account like Facebook.

      Once you’re logged in, there are 6 ways to enter. Click on any of the options listed and complete that social media action and it will give you an entry.

      Hope that helps! Good luck :)

  32. Great idea, especially for travelers off the beaten path or backpackers with limited space for clothes.

    • Absolutely Mary :) Such a fantastic concept when you’re traveling without access to laundry facilities :)

  33. Great idea! No more washing my cycling gear in camp site wash basins for me!!

    • It’s so nice to be rid of that ritual let me tell you!

  34. Holy moly, how is this the first I’ve heard of this? Amazing.

    • Glad we could introduce you! You’ll never travel the same again :D!

  35. I’m a washaholic so I have to have one of these ?

    • Good luck in the comp!

  36. Just discovered the Scrubba Wash Bag today while looking for a way to take a “washer” with us in our RV. There’s a product on one of the crowdsourcing sites right now that’s similar, but not able to pack up into a smaller space & is heavier than this one. I love the idea of 3 minutes to wash a load of laundry & being able to pack up the washing device. Thanks for sharing your experience!

    • This one definitely wins for being as compact and light as physically possible. And it’s so quick too – hard to believe until you see it, but the clothes are genuinely machine wash clean!

      High recommend picking one up to take with you in your RV – enter the comp first though to see if we can send you one for free :D!

      Happy travels!

  37. So thrilled to have won (I never usually win anything!). Thanks for running a great giveaway and I can’t wait for it to arrive in the post!

    • Congrats! Should be a nice surprise before Christmas :)

  38. That’s really cool. It looks like it’s optimal to take camping.

    • Absolutely – for camping trips this is a godsend!

  39. Brilliant! I just absolutely hate trying to wash clothes in a sink, sometimes they don’t have stoppers, or they are so shallow, you spill water all over the floor, or they’re grimey or whatever. Between this and my braided clotheslines, I will be good to go.

    • This definitely solves that problem – you’ll never have to deal without a hotel sink again :D!

  40. Just don’ say you bring a drier unless you mean a length of line!

    • Haha yes indeed – we usually take a line and some pegs with us too :)

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