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How to Pack Dirty Clothes While Traveling – 10 Smart Tips

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Tired of your laundry causing smells, stains, and unwanted stress in your luggage? Here’s how to pack dirty clothes while traveling with these 10 smart and efficient techniques.

how to pack dirty clothes when traveling

How to Pack Dirty Clothes While Traveling – 10 Smart Tips

Let’s face it — no one really wants to do laundry while traveling, especially for short trips. Naturally, we end up with a bunch of dirty clothes that have to be put somewhere in our suitcases, carry-ons, or backpacks. And keeping our clothes smelling fresh as we begin to mix our clean and dirty items can be a real challenge. 

We often forget what is clean and what has already been worn while bunches of dirty clothes take up more space in our luggage. That’s why a good system for packing dirty clothing while traveling so that we can keep things separate is so helpful.

If this is a constant problem for you, you’ve come to the right place. After years of traveling, I’ve found these 10 top tips and techniques massively help travel with both clean and dirty clothes.

1 –  Use a packing cube

While we use packing cubes for our clean clothes, reserving one for our dirty laundry is a smart way to keep clean and dirty clothes separate.

Choose a packing cube you can easily differentiate from your other packing cubes, preferably of a different color. That way, you won’t accidentally mix your fresh and used clothes when packing to leave.

Packing cubes also allow you to store your dirty laundry anywhere in your suitcase, as the cube provides a barrier between used and fresh clothes.

Once you get home and do laundry, you can just dump the packing cube and the clothes into the washer and dryer and start all over again.

Read More: 12 Best Packing Cubes for Travel

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2 – Use a laundry bag

Laundry bags

Bringing a laundry bag is a simple and inexpensive way to separate your dirty laundry while traveling. There are many types of laundry bags, but be sure to choose a sturdy and washable one, as quality laundry bags can absorb odors with ease.

Once you unpack, simply find a place to store or hang your laundry bag in your hotel, Airbnb, or apartment. Fill it with laundry throughout the week, and pack it just before you leave.

If you can, try to at least stack or fold your dirty laundry as you add it to the dirty laundry bag. That way, the laundry bag will be easier to pack in your suitcase.

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3 – Use a compression bag

Using a compression bag or compression packing cube is a smart option when you’re tight on space. Compression bags work like resealable zipper storage bags, removing the air from the bag once sealed.

If you use a compression bag, pack it as if the clothes were clean. That way you can maximize space, and store your dirty clothes in a compact way.

Once you get home, you can simply unzip the bags and put the laundry in the washing machine. For once, you don’t need to worry about the creasing!

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4 – Use a dry bag

Planning on spending plenty of time outdoors, at the beach, or in the water? A dry bag may be a great option for you to store dirty clothes.

As dry bags are designed to be 100% waterproof (see product specifications), so a quality dry bag can lock in moisture and odors, stopping it from getting in or out.

A dry bag will take up more room in a suitcase, but for wet, moist, and stained clothes, this can provide an excellent barrier.

Simply roll your dirty clothes and place them in the bag. When it’s time to pack up, seal the top of the bag and roll it as best you can. Anticipate the room you’ll need in your suitcase by doing a trial packing run before you leave.

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5 – Use a pillowcase

A smart travel hack is to use a spare pillowcase. Within a pillowcase, you can stuff or fold plenty of dirty laundry. Once full, the pillowcase’s fold, while not fully odor-proof, will at least help seal in some of the odor and stains.

Once you get home, you can simply wash your pillowcase with the rest of your dirty laundry. Your spare pillowcases can be reused for travel as many times as you like.

The beauty of using one or more pillowcases, too, is in how easily you can save space while packing them. This is an eco-friendly, smart, and inexpensive solution that utilizes material you should already have at home.

6 – Use a foldable cloth storage box

If you love to keep your clothes organized and your luggage doesn’t have multiple compartments, a foldable storage box could be a great investment.

A foldable cloth storage box allows you to separate not only your dirty clothes but also organize all your clothes in an efficient way.

This isn’t a quick solution, and you’ll need to make sure the storage box you find fits seamlessly within your suitcase, so check the product dimensions first.

For a multipurpose solution that organizes everything in your suitcase, a foldable cloth storage box can make packing far more efficient.

Shop Foldable Cloth Storage Boxes

7 – Spray clothes with odor spray

Whether you can separately pack your dirty laundry or not, packing an odor spray in your suitcase is a great idea. This will help stop foul odors spreading to clean clothes, or seeping into the fabrics of your separators and luggage itself.

A small bottle of odor spray is simple and lightweight to pack, and inexpensive to buy.

8 – Pack clothes in suitcase or bag zippered compartment

Many suitcases and luggage come with inline or outside zippered compartments. Often, these don’t get used, as we either overlook them or don’t want too much compression on our clothes.

If you roll, wrap, and spray dirty clothes, however, you can use these suitcase compartments to keep your dirty laundry separate from the rest of your clean clothing and other clothes.

9 – Fold inside beach towel and place at bottom

The beauty of beach towels is in their size and thickness. Beach towels generally cover a large area and need to be folded to fit into a suitcase.

This makes such towels ideal for separating dirty laundry from clean clothes. Lay out your towel at the bottom of your suitcase, layer your dirty clothes, and fold the towel over the top.

You’ll wash the towel when you get home anyway. Beach towels absorb more moisture and their fabric is generally thicker, so they can be an excellent separator within your suitcase.

10 – Use plastic bags

Admittedly, this is not an eco-friendly option. However, if you happen to have a plastic bag or two at your hotel or apartment from shopping and groceries, this at least puts them to good use.

If you leave plastic bags for the cleaners, they will simply end up in the trash. At least this way, you’re putting your spare plastic bags to good use.

How to Pack Dirty Clothes While Traveling Summary

Nothing is more annoying than mixing your dirty laundry with your clean items when on the road. I’m confident one or more of these tips will work wonders for you and help you travel with both clean and dirty laundry in an efficient way.

Sometimes, it’s not always possible to use a laundry room or local laundromat or get all your clothes washed before you move. Hence, having the ability to travel with dirty laundry will make your life so much easier, especially during longer trips.

From Ziploc bags to a portable laundry bag, there are plenty of methods in the article. Try them out on your next trip, and see what works best for you!

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how to pack dirty clothes when traveling
How to Pack Dirty Clothes While Traveling

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