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The dreaded laundry

My family and I will be in Great Britain for 2 weeks, which will include a couple days in the Lakes District (we are planning to do walks at Hallin Fells and Aira Force at Ullswater and a hike at Buttermere). Our schedule will be tight, and I'd rather not waste time doing laundry at a launderette, but we're packing light (ie, not bringing tons of clothes), and I'm worried that we may get muddy enough that we'll have to make the time, either in Keswick or in York (our next stop). I am waiting to hear back from our B&Bs in both towns about whether they offer laundry services or have suggestions. Anyone have any thoughts?

Posted by
552 posts

Here's another reason why I'm so fond of self-catering rentals. Makes sure the amenities list includes a washer and stay for a few days right in the middle of your trip.

Posted by
693 posts

If the b and b can't help then you will need a laundrette. There is at least one close to the city centre that I once used.

I also agree with the previous poster. We have kids and try to schedule apartments into our travel. It means you have access to a washing machine and you are also not forced to go out for a meal every night.

Of couse there will be many on here who advocate washing clothing in bathroom sinks. Personally I find the idea of someone washing underwear containing traces of urine and fecal matter in a bathroom sink disgusting. They wouldn't expect to clean their teeth or wash their face in a toilet but expect people staying after them to clean their teeth and wash their face in a sink that has been used to wash articles that have been nestled against their ass all day.

Posted by
2311 posts

If desperate, you could always buy cheap new clothes in the large supermarkets. (Jeans can be had for £6 in Asda = Walmart. Tesco is another big supermarket chain with cheap clothes in the larger branches).

Posted by
4535 posts

Honestly, you have to make time to do laundry. While it can be more convenient if you rent an apartment with a washer, even that takes time (I've found apartment washers tend to run VERY slow). But laundry is just a part of the trip that has to be factored in.

I'm not sure why anyone would really object to washing clothes in the sink. They DO get washed in detergent and it's not like you'll then lick the sink. And they DO get cleaned by the cleaning staff.

Posted by
13225 posts

The reason I do "sink wash" in a 2.5 gal zip lock bag is to protect my clothing somewhat from what others have spit or blown into the sink. And yes, I use detergent. And yes, I clean out the sink.

Will you be wearing the nylon or microfiber hiking pants? They are usually pretty easy to wash and dry quickly. If you are wearing jeans, that will be more difficult but you can sink wash jeans. They just usually will not dry overnight. Your hotel may have heated towel bars which will speed up drying immensely.

Posted by
4065 posts

While I routinely do laundry , usually via Laundromats ( launderettes ) , My experiences in the UK are that I usually find places that will do it for you , for little or no additional expense over doing it yourself - drop in the AM , pick up later in the day . London , York , LLandudno ( Wales ) , Glasgow .you just need to scout them out a bit .

Posted by
1446 posts

We do pretty much what others have already mentioned. Sometimes we have washed things in the sink. We also ask the B&B if they will do laundry, and we've had good luck with this. There have been a couple times when we have had to go to a Laundromat and do our clothes ourselves, but we try and find a Wash & Fold which is much better - drop in the morning, pick up at night.

Posted by
16893 posts

The Laundromat takes a couple of hours, but worth it during a longer trip, or if you do end up wet and muddy. Drop-off service is usually very affordable, when offered. The launderettes that Rick's guidebook lists for both Keswick and York charge £7.50 /load for drop-off service; the one in York is a longer walk.

Posted by
5697 posts

So you're taking muddy walks -- won't the people you meet on the trail be similarly muddy? This is your chance to "blend in with the locals" ;-)
On our month-long trips we assume we will find a laundromat about once a week -- each about 2 hours of downtime which can be used to read, meet people, or just rest.

Posted by
117 posts

We have spent a full month in the UK for the past two years (all of May 2013 and all of May 2014). We never used a laundry service on either trip.

We washed our clothes while we took our showers in either our hotels or B&B. Easy to soap, easy to rinse. No splashing or water on the floors from too shallow of a sink. Even jeans can be washed easily this way. I found wearing them while I washed them to be very convenient. Taking off the wet jeans was a bit difficult, but certainly not outrageous. Then, they just hung over the shower door or shower curtain rod.

We asked for extra towels a couple of times to help speed the drying of the clothes (squeezing excess water out) or to put on the floor so that water didn't pool under dripping clothes. Everyplace we asked for extra towels was very gracious about it and appreciated our not wanting to leave standing water on their flooring!

I also used the in-room ironing board (or, even the hair dryer) if I chose to dry something faster.

I can't see using a launderette while on a trip, unless clothes would be so filthy from hiking. But, that's why they make gaiters, as they are easy to wash..

We've had better things to do than sitting around waiting for our clothes to clean, and washing them in the shower allows us that time!

Posted by
356 posts

Look for launderettes that offer a 'service wash' - it's drop off/pick up service. It might cost £7 or £8 per load, but it is so worth it.

Posted by
6174 posts

I seldom wash clothes in the hotel sink but I've been known to do it (shirts worn in the shower clean pretty fast along with me!) But I also visit a launderette/laundromat on longer trips. It's part of the adventure, sometimes you meet interesting people. And you don't have to sit there watching the spinning drum, you can sit in a nearby café with your favorite beverage, taking in the scene till the spinning stops. Or, as others have suggested, find one of those places where they'll do it for you.

Posted by
279 posts

On my two trips abroad, we relied on laundrettes. The first one, in London, was a rip-off (18£ for only four shirts!!), but every other one was affordable and either didn't take too long to do myself or took care of it for us while we were out for the day and picked up the clean clothes after 5 pm. In York, we were going to have a down day after going to the museum in the morning and then picking up our rental car before they closed at noon, so we just drove back to the b&b and picked up the dirty clothes and headed to the other side of town to the landrette. Only problem was finding a parking spot, which we didn't until I flung myself on the mercy of the parking lot guard at Tesco who let me park there for the hour it took to clean our clothes.

In Orkney, it was much easier--just dropped off the clothes for a few hours, and we were set until we got home.

This past fall in Ireland, our big family group split up in Belfast to do different things. Three went to the Titanic exhibit, two headed down the street from the laundrette to see a movie, and I did the clothes, but had fun just kicking back and getting off my feet for the afternoon and had a great conversation with the laundrette employee who was from Spain and was really interesting! Then we dropped off the next batch of dirty clothes at the laundrette around the corner from our Galway b&b while we went to Cong for the day.

Posted by
19 posts

Pam: I like your suggestion of using a 2.5 litre zip lock bag!! Does the laundry soap cause any problem getting through customs? With the limited liquid problem 3 oz or less ... I planned on putting a cup or two in a container and double bag it -

Thanks - will plan on using that method on our trip. We are packing light - only about 4 days change of clothes at the most - with an 11 day trip - we'll need to do some laundry - or at least 'airing' out of things in our hotel rooms.

Posted by
13225 posts

@Past, I take dry detergent as well as a couple single packs of woolite which do fit easily in the 3-1-1 Ziploc. The liquid detergent does have to fit with TSA guidelines so quantities don't work with carryon.

Posted by
4082 posts

We pack for a week and a day and travel for anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks. We clean our clothes weekly, more often if we rent a place that has a washer.

We have done laundry ourselves or had it done for us in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Greece, Turkey, France, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands and Belgium so far. Some of the hotels and B&B's we have stayed in have done it or had it done for us, all in one load in their big washers and dryers, at a very reasonable price or for free.

It works pretty much the same way everywhere as has been previously described. We only wash things in the sink in a dire emergency. We actually enjoy easing out in the laundromat and chatting with the very few other customers we run into. That has been the amazing thing to me. Somehow we have rarely been in a self-service place that was very busy like they are in the States.

We don't travel so intensely that we mind taking that laundry break. It's all a part of the European experience for us. And if we hadn't spent that time doing our laundry, we would never have met the heavily tattooed and pierced somewhat scary looking German guy who took the time to show us what to do while the young, fresh-faced and clean cut looking Fraulein ignored us old folks. We also wouldn't have met the Australian couple who it turned out were cotton growers and had been to the Texas Panhandle where my uncle grew cotton.

A bazillion years ago, I was in the area you will be exploring. I remember lots of little streams to cross, rain, wet grass and weeds. I also remember hanging my wet clothes and parking my boots in the boiler room where there were lots of racks to do that. You don't say when you are going, but I think you are smart to anticipate having to deal with some wet and muddy clothes. I don't know what kind of gear you are taking, but a long cagoule and boots that won't get totally soaked might help keep you warm and dry.

Posted by
11 posts

Thanks to everyone for their input. It's really interesting to compare different strategies that work for different kinds of travelers. We will probably use the launderette in Keswick, taking advantage of the service wash option (drop laundry off in the AM, pick it up after sightseeing in the PM). And we will definitely take the advice about wet weather gear to heart!

Posted by
54 posts

We used this laundrette in Keswick this spring, at the midpoint of a two-week trip, and they were friendly and reasonably priced. We dropped off first thing in the morning and then were able to pick up midafternoon. Enjoy Keswick, it was one of our favorite stops! We did a lake cruise on Derwentwater, and the photos of that morning are some of the most stunning of the entire trip...the light is amazing!

Posted by
15297 posts

You've already made a decision but doing the laundry away from home has oftentimes been part of the adventure! Nothing brings people together like a bag of dirty clothes. :O)