Doing Laundry During Your European Vacation

Posted on: 22nd June 2014

It would seem an odd request, if you’re staying at a posh hotel during your European vacation, if you can use the hotel’s roof to hang your laundry – especially if they would prefer that you would pay them to do it for you (well, they’re assuming since you can afford their outrageous per night rate, then it follows that you can pay for everything else).

So, if you’re having second thoughts about asking them, or you already figured out for yourself that it really cannot be possible – after you see the "no washing clothes in the room" sign – don’t fret!

You have two options: first, change your accommodation and choose a more ‘laid back’ B&B – that is a lot cheaper and you can just hang your laundry on the clothesline they provided at the back.

But if you can’t find one (either too far from the tourist spots or not really your type), then the second one, and probably less of a hassle for you (since you already made reservations and looking forward to staying at a five-star hotel), is just do your laundry anyway – in your own room!

No, you won’t get caught, if you follow these tips:

  • Going on your luxurious European vacation doesn’t mean you are spared from the realities of life – like doing the laundry – and unless you got tons of money for expensive hotel laundry, then you just have to treat it as part of your adventure. The sooner you accept that fact, the more exciting your European holidays would be.
  • Pack a self-service laundry kit: concentrated liquid detergent, mesh bag with a drawstring, and a travel clothesline. Store your liquid detergent in a small but sturdy squeeze bottle. Wrap it up in a sealable plastic bag to avoid leaking to your precious garments. As for the travel clothesline, there are stretchable ones you can buy from the local grocery store so you don’t have to bring clothespins as well.
  • Test-wash all the clothes you intend to bring for your European vacation before packing it up. If you can help it, choose those which are totally wrinkle-free even after washing or those that look OK even when wrinkled.
  • Hoteliers hate it the most when you wet any of their fine furniture and floors so be careful not to drip your laundry on them. Wash carefully and you don’t have to hear anything from them.
  • It is not uncommon to find that there are no tub or sink stoppers because hotels don’t really want to put up with visitors who are unmindful of their ‘washing style’. If this is the case, bring a universal drain-stopper. But you can also improvise; use a pill-bottle lid or a wadded-up sock. Better yet, use your mesh laundry bag to line the sink and just wash away.
  • For easy washing, especially after a tired yet fulfilling day, just put your dirty clothes in a big sealable plastic bag. Let it soak for about an hour, while you have some beauty rest. Agitate afterwards, and then rinse off the suds.
  • To minimize dripping, wring wet laundry as dry as possible. If new towels are provided every day, roll your laundry in it to get as much as you can out of the wet clothes.
  • Going low profile when hanging your laundry is easy: hang over the tub – lined up along the shower curtain or just shuffle them among the dry clothes in the closet.
  • To speed drying, separate the back and front of each clothes as far away as possible. Never hang your clothes out the window. It might get blown away and you’ll never find it again. Worst, the hotelier might see it and you’d get reprimanded for it (translate: kicked out).
  • To encourage wrinkle-free drying, fix each piece of clothing to its ‘normal state – buttoned up, collars all set, and creases smoothened out. If the hotel will lend you an iron and ironing board for free, then good for you!
  • To remove lint, use any adhesive tape to get it all out from your clothes.

Laundry During Your European VacationOpting for a Launderette During Your European Vacation

  • Many hostels have coin-operated washers and dryers so you don’t have to look that far to get your laundry done. But if there is none, then you really have to look for the nearest launderette from your hotel if you want a thorough washing and/or you really just hate/don’t have any idea doing laundry. While in Eastern Europe, it might be seldom to find one near your chosen accommodation, nearly every neighbourhood in Western Europe has at least one excellent launderette service.
  • Most launderettes have English instructions and coin-operated soap dispensers plus change machines and heated dryers. Even if there are no English instructions, most machines have pictogram instructions and can be operated automatically.
  • Make sure you know the operating hours. You don’t want the attendant to evict you in the middle of your washing. An average-size load may take an hour to finish and about $10 to $15.

If it is your first time at a launderette service…

  • The exact procedure may vary for each machine but usually, it involves the same general steps. You select the machine, put your clothes in it and then you close the door. Make sure it is locked with a latch.
  • At the top of the washer, you’ll find a small reservoir where you can add the laundry soap. You can either bring your own or just buy from the launderette.
  • Most washers have three reservoirs in their soap compartments: one for pre-washing, one for the main washing cycle and the last one for the softener. Make sure to add your laundry soap after the pre-washing cycle; otherwise, it will just go down the drain with the dirty water.
  • Other launderette services make you pay at the counter while most washers have central units where money is inserted. Use exact change because not all machines give change.
  • Select the cycle. There are three cycle units you’ll see – the first is the temperature (in Celsius) for the pre-washing cycle, the second one is the temperature for the main washing cycle and the third one is the duration. For example: for delicate clothes (— / 20° / 25 m, washed cold); for nylon (— / 30° / 30 m, washed in lukewarm water); for coloured clothes (45° / 60° / 50 m , washed in hot water); and, for white clothes (45° / 90° / 55 m, washed in very hot water).
  • If the machine does not have a built-in spin cycle, it means your clothes would be totally soaked. There might be a ‘centrifuge’ around, which is a special spin-dry machine. Excess water from the clothes would be wrung out if you put it here.
  • Move your clothes to the dryer. Choose the temperature.
  • Some washers and dryers can get unpredictable so never ever wash your most beloved possessions at a launderette because you might just end up ruin it. Just opt for hand washing at the hotel.
  • Make sure to bring a magazine around to fight boredom while your clothes are washing away. Or you can chat with the other customers there (if they’re willing to put up with your terrible non-English language). Better yet, if the launderette has Wi-Fi, you can just browse to pass the time.

If you’re really picky when it comes to clothes…

  • Opt for the full service provided by the hotel. It can be quite pricey but it would be worth the hassle and the expense. After all, you planned your European vacation to have vacation, not attend to mundane stuff you have to deal with every day back at home.

And regardless of the cost or level of difficulty that each option presents, don’t just settle for wearing clothes inside out because you want to skip doing the laundry. In very hot climates, you’d be extremely uncomfortable re-using used and soiled clothes. And the guy (or girl) beside you won’t show an inch of gratitude because of the smell.

Happy vacation!

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