Updated: Jul 26
I've experimented with many different methods for washing clothes on the road - washing in the sink, using a portable wash bag, using laundromats, and yes, even "shower washing."
I go into the pros and cons of each approach in my post Laundry on the Road, but I wanted to specifically call out this weird yet unique approach to cleaning your clothes.
The point of this post isn't to tell you how to clean your clothes in the shower (hopefully that's obvious), but it is to let you know that - while it may feel weird - it's also easy, reliable, effective and... not as weird as you might think!
I thought I was crazy for doing this until I read this great post on the REI expert advice blog in regards to packing light; which made me feel slightly better - specifically the part where it says "wash items while you're showering," - so it's nice to know I'm not completely insane.
But my sanity aside, there's no way to sugar coat it, so let's just jump in...
Washing your clothes in the shower is... weird (ha).. but it's only weird the first time, and then.. if you're already accustomed to hand washing your clothes in some manor.. it becomes one of the easiest ways to wash your clothes, especially if you're only washing a few small items.
I wash my socks, shirt and underwear every day, and my shorts and/or pants once every few days, depending on use; this is usually done with a portable wash-bag - which I'd be traveling with regardless of its use, because it makes packing so much easier (see why here).
But on some occasions, when I know I won't have a lot of time, I will wash my clothes in the shower. You simply wear your dirty clothes into the shower (that's the weird part), and hand wash them as you undress.
It's fast, simple, and no one even knows you're doing it (unless you're putting on a show).
Always remember to bring a "clean clothes" bag (or use your portable wash bag) - so you have a place to put them after they've been cleaned.
The point of this post isn't to tell you how to clean your clothes in the shower (hopefully that's obvious) - but it is to let you know that - while it may feel weird - it's also easy, reliable, effective and... not as weird as you might think!
A couple things to note...
1. I've read conflicting advice on whether or not you should use bathing soap to wash your clothes; in truth, I've used body wash, shampoo and bars of soap to clean my clothes and I've never had an issue; but if you're worried about it, consider packing general purpose or laundry soap bars (for shorter trips), and if those run out, replace with a standard (preferably) unscented bar of soap you can find at any convenience store.
Check out this post - https://travel.stackexchange.com/questions/6092/is-there-any-reason-not-to-do-laundry-with-bar-soap - if you need a second opinion.
2. If the weather is warm and I'm heading out for the day, I frequently just throw on my semi-wet shirt, it dries quickly from the sun/body heat, and it's never bothered me - and if it's that hot, it feels good. :)
I highly encourage you to try this at home if you're planning a big trip and attempting "extreme" minimalist travel for the first time; because once you have the process down, it easily integrates into your normal morning (or afternoon, or evening) routine. Once you get over the hump of wearing your clothes into the shower, you'll start to see that it's often much easier than 1) cleaning out a sink, 2) filling up a wash bag and/or 3) lugging around six days' worth of clothes.
Read Next: Drying Clothes on the Road