We've all been there: your business trip gets extended by a few days, and you're a day or two short of clean clothes. Since very few hotels offer an overnight laundry service, it's time to spend the evening washing your clothes in the sink.
But there are a few things you can do to speed the process up and make it less of a drag.
Play some music while you're washing
Even if all you have is your phone, you can take advantage of hotel bathroom acoustics to make music sound less tinny. Place the phone's speakers facing a tiled corner, and the reflection of the sound will amplify the small speakers to something that sounds much better.
Don't bother with washing powder
You're probably in a situation where you didn't know in advance that you'd need to be washing your clothes in the sink, and we don't reckon there's a lot of point carrying around special washing powder "just in case". Some hot water in the sink, a good squirt of hotel shampoo or shower gel, and a vigorous scrubbing will get your things clean.
Start with the largest and heaviest piece first
Always start your wash with the thickest piece of clothing you're getting clean. For us, that's usually a t-shirt or undershirt. While you're washing everything else, it'll get a head start on drying.
Fill up the tub with clean water for rinsing
If your hotel room has a bath, fill it up with clean water for a final rinse of your clothes after getting most of the suds out in the sink. An extra rinse in a large volume of water will get all the bubbles out.
Wring, wring, wring… and then hang
Give each piece a good wringing once it's washed and rinsed, and then hang it as vertically as possible to let the water drip down through the garment before giving it a final wring. We find it's useful to let each piece drip while we're washing the next one.
Squeeze out water in a rolled up towel
Once you've finished wringing, put a large towel on a flat surface. Place the still-damp garment on top of the towel, then fold the towel over (or use another towel) to sandwich your piece of clothing between layers of towel. Give it a good roll one way, then swap towel sides so the dry sides of the towel are on the side of the damp clothing.
Use the iron to dry things out quickly
If you're washing natural fibres, a good hot iron is a great way to speed up the drying process, and it's especially useful for collared shirts. Try ironing on top of a towel placed on the ironing board, otherwise the board's fabric cover will get damp. Make sure the iron's clean, though -- try it out on a towel first to make sure you don't get grubby marks on your clean clothes.
Hang clothes from the air conditioning vent
To get things dry, hang them on a coat-hangerin front of the air conditioning vent so that they catch the force of the fan. That way they'll dry faster. Bear in mind that this is probably a bad idea for white shirts, since the vent could be dusty. Hanging them from the curtain rail inside an open window (in places with relatively clean air) also works well.
How often do you end up hand-washing your clothes? Got any particular tips for your fellow readers? Share them in a comment below!
About John Walton
Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.