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Laundry- Arggh!

We find that one of the biggest downsides to travel, especially in Europe is doing laundry. The "Rick Steves" method of doing it in your room was tried and we found it totally unacceptable for several reasons. Finding a nearby launderette can sometimes be difficult and spending the whole evening sitting there on a hard chair is something that we dread after a long day of travel. Our favorite way is to find a drop off service which is wonderful and well worth the extra money. Unfortunately, they are few and far between. I'm curious as to the availability of laundry service by the hotels themselves. Will most of them do your laundry if requested? We have never given it a try. How do the rest of you handle this necessary, but disruptive chore?

Posted by
3983 posts

I rent an apartment with a washer. If your hotel does not offer the service, then they should certainly be able to suggest a local company. They are the best specific point of information for you, good luck!

Posted by
4418 posts

At a price, and the hotel services are usually the most expensive. But on vacation some just rather pay for the peace of mind and convenience. Just be sure you have sufficient clean clothing for a 2 day turnaround.
The hotel website, or a third party that carries the hotel may list whether laundry service is available. I think Booking even states how far from away the hotel is from laundry. Some laundromat also offer wash and dry services.
If you have time to use an afternoon or morning for self serve laundry, you can use the time for other catch up and a little mental down time. Find one near a take out for lunch while you wait. People watch how the locals live.
Alternatively, maybe Rick's Way isn't worth the laundry hassle. Particularly if you have an action packed 10 or 14 days, maybe an investment of some quick dry underwear and shirts, with the acceptance of wearing bottoms for a number of days...or a checked bag and sufficient clothes...saves the headaches.
There are always options and the ability to do some hybrid planning.

Posted by
8081 posts

I think most hotels will, and I gladly pay for the hotel to do it. It's great to come back to your hotel room after a day out, and find a neat stack of your clothes there waiting fro you. However, I think it's best to turn laundry in only if you're going to be at that hotel for at least three nights, to make sure you get it back before you leave. And have it ready to turn in as soon as you've checked in. Usually at the front desk, not left in the room.

I've also used drop off service or self-service laundromats, and haven't found them at all hard to find if you're in a central location. I will occasionally hand wash small stuff in the sink or shower if it means I can stretch things out another day our so.

Posted by
2187 posts

We paid to have laundry done on our recent RS tours when the hotel offered it. It was worth the price. Between the back to back tours when we had a few days on our own in Rome, we went to a local laundromat early in the morning. It didn’t take long and we chatted with a couple of other Americans who were there doing their laundry. I am avoiding doing sink washing when traveling unless absolutely necessary.

Posted by
3107 posts

We also have paid for the hotel to do our laundry. We waited to accumulate a reasonable load, all neutral colors. And we chose a smaller town to do it, figuring we would avoid Paris prices (but didn't actually compare, so can't tell if we actually saved or not). They didn't fold everything the way I would have, but c'est la vie, at least the clothes were clean and dry.

Posted by
3901 posts

Yes, hotels offer laundry service and it is a huge convenience and well worth it.

Posted by
38 posts

In some of the more hardcore travel forums I've read that many people just take off what they've been wearing for the day and wash in the shower at the same time they are washing their bodies. Then you never end up with a large pile to do at once.

Posted by
1180 posts

Hi from Wisconsin,
We pack one carry-on each for four weeks at a time. We have to do laundry periodically. We rent a car for most of time out.. In France...1. we rent an apartment with laundry facilities. Their front loaders wash for along time, so we put things in once we are in for the night. Write in our diary, read, plan the next day..then put things in the dryer. OR 2. at many superstores (Lidl or similar) at the outskirts of cities you will find washers and dryers outside the store, along the wall.. We put the clothes in go do some shopping. Come out put the clothes in the dryer and go back in and have something so-so to eat.

And of course, the hotel laundry...more expensive...but you can continue your touring uninterrupted. This might be your trip of a life time. Spending hours getting to and back from a laundry visit can suck many precious hours. I would willing pay $100 to be able to spend 4 hours in Paris.

wayne iNWI

Posted by
3403 posts

We stay in hotels and have them do our laundry. To me it is worth the added price.

Posted by
7617 posts

the only time I ever had the hotel do the laundry was in China where they lost all our clothes for two days. It was pretty cheap though and eventually they found our stuff. but we were in dirty shorts for a day there.

In Paris there are laundromats all over the place and unlike apartment washers which take a long time, they work quickly. We usually have an apartment with a washer and do the wash in the apartment then carry it to the laundromat where in 20 minutes it is ready to fold.

You might see if there is a laundry in your neighborhood with fold service.

Posted by
14035 posts

In Berlin my Pension does the laundry "load" for me. This service is nowhere advertised in the Pension, no signs either in German or English informing the guest of this handy service, all done by word of mouth. The proprietor charges 4.5 Euro for what she sees as an average load. Failing that, she'll tell you it is free. That happened one time at least, told me the load was too small, ie free. Egal,...I gave the 4 Euro anyway.

In Paris doing laundry is not quite so convenient. A couple of blocks from my hotel near Gare du Nord is a coin laundry.

Posted by
6102 posts

In French cities, there are coin laundromats everywhere, but places where someone takes care of it for you are few and far between, and only mid-to-high range hotels will have a laundry service.

As for how I do it... For a trip that's two weeks or less, I typically don't need to do any laundry. Checking luggage is fine, that way I can pack enough shirts for 2 weeks, and washing the odd piece of underwear by hand is fine too.
For a trip that's longer, I do not like to eat at restaurants for more than 2 weeks in a row anyway, so you can bet I will stay at an apartment at some point, and those typically have laundry facilities in Europe (shared or private, it depends).

Posted by
3677 posts

I look for hotels/B&B's with laundry service. If there is no mention on the website, I ask about it. It's worth it to me to pay someone else to do it. Sometimes I'm lucky and the B&B owner doesn't charge -- just does it for free. B&B rates are generally much better than hotel rates!

Posted by
322 posts

We have found that we don't enjoy being away for more than 2-2.5 weeks and we are able to pack enough clothes in a carry on to avoid needing to do laundry. Clean underwear, socks, and tops for every day and sufficient pants to wear a pair for no more than 3 days. The suitcases can be a bit heavy and sometimes we check them depending on our mood since we get free checked luggage on Delta.

Posted by
552 posts

Patricia, that is a quite a load you bring for no clothes wash for 2 weeks. That is 14 separate changes of clothes, socks, underwear and tops. Then maybe 7 pairs of pants.

Posted by
6102 posts

Patricia, that is a quite a load you bring for no clothes wash for 2 weeks. That is 14 separate changes of clothes, socks, underwear and tops. Then maybe 7 pairs of pants

Well, it depends how often you are willing/able to wear tops and pants. Except dress shirts at work, I am usually able to wear tops for two days (very hot days aside), as for pants/shorts... I'd rather not say 😂

Posted by
5608 posts

I bookmark laundromats to Google maps for the towns we’ll be visiting. Makes getting to it easier when we’re there. In Scotland we paid the B&B owner, but in Spain and England we’ve just sat on the hard chairs wasting a couple hours. We plan laundry days into the itinerary for days with little else on the schedule.

Posted by
859 posts

On our current trip in Spain we have come across laundromats that automatically add soap powder. You get no choice to use your own. I am very allergic to perfumes so ended up with an annoying rash after our visit to the laundromat in Valencia. We have been doing a bit more sink washing than expected with the non-perfumed laundry sheets we brought from home.

Posted by
4 posts

From the comments so far, I have come to the conclusion that it would be very helpful if Rick Steves would include in his recommended hotels listings whether they will do laundry if requested. Perhaps I will suggest that for future tour books.

Posted by
2940 posts

On our previous trips to Europe, we have always had a hotel that would do our laundry. Now, we are in Germany and we needed our laundry done, hotel does not do it, but suggested the laundry mat around the corner. $39 euros and 48 hours later ( Good Friday so it took longer), we got clean clothes. Now, in the future, I will know this in advance.

Posted by
463 posts

To each his own. We've had some very nice exchanges at laundromats with local people who are doing their laundry (and helping us learn how to use the machines, money changers, etc.)
That may not be what you want to do on your vacation and that's okay, but we don't dread the occasional need to find a laundromat. Fits right in with the often expressed desire to experience a country the way residents do, not just the way tourists do.
As for finding them, we've either asked around or googled them.

Posted by
25 posts

First, my spouse has a bit of an obsession and she enjoys visiting foreign laundromat, so she’ll find one midway through a trip and spend a couple hours there.

But we try to rent apartments or AirB&Bs at the halfway point of trips so we could do laundry there. It’s common in Europe for washing machines to be combination washer/dryers, takes a bit of getting the hang of if you have never used one. I had one in my condo at home so I was used to the quirks (drying takes longer, don’t overload, opening immediately to let the moist air out)

Posted by
15 posts

I wash out clothes in the sink a few times in a week. If you wring them, then roll up in a bath towel, you'll get much of the moisture out and can hang up in the shower to tray. You might be able to find a travel clothesline. I have one from the 1960s I still use, plus a handful of clothespins. If you room has the hangers with two clips for hanging up slacks, that will work, too.

Posted by
528 posts

Over the years we've used a number of strategies. When we first started traveling to Europe we packed enough to last for the entire trip. As we got older and our trips got longer, we sometimes washed out shirts and let them drip-dry overnight. We sometimes used launderettes but disliked wasting so much time. Now, as seniors we take longer trips and pack even lighter but we schedule stays in one or more apartments with washing machines. We do a load of laundry when we're in for the night and we avoid doing wash the night before we're checking out of an apartment.

As a previous poster noted, European washing machines are probably not like the machine you have at home. Generally the machines in Europe are smaller so they'll take a smaller load. Typically there are many controls for everything from water temperature on each cycle, how long the cycle should last, the speed of the spin cycle, etc. In a good VRBO or Air B&B, there will be simplified directions in multiple languages to help you use the machine. Clothes dryers, sometimes combined in one machine with the washing machine, are a bit less satisfactory. In all my years of European travel I've only encountered one dryer that exhausted to the outdoors as most American home dryers do. The more typical clothes dryers in Europe use a different drying strategy that is very very slow. As an alternative, there is usually a drying rack. Hence, we don't do laundry if we are checking out of the apartment the next morning.

Posted by
1979 posts

We spend at least 3 nights at each stop, so washing laundry in the sink is a bit easier. It’s harder if you are moving locations every day.

For an upcoming 3 week trip this summer, I’m hand washing everything at home to test it in advance. I’ve found several shirts, shorts and dresses that are a cotton crinkle texture that wash great, dry in hours and don’t need it ironing. Win-win-win. My husband has some great lightweight collared shirts that also work well. We don’t travel with heavy fabric, like denim. But I can’t stand most “travel” clothes, I prefer natural fabrics.

In the past, we’ve visited laundromats or dropped off laundry at a fluff & fold. I tried doing laundry at a hotel in Germany once, and it took over 4 hours. A laundromat is much faster. We use them in the States when traveling. We try to find one next to a restaurant or grocery store. Put the laundry in before dinner/shopping. Set a timer and return to move the clothes to the dryer. Laundry is done around the same time as the meal/shopping. And you can get a lot more laundry done at once.

Posted by
28 posts

Years ago, in Scotland, we used a laundromat, but really didn't like the experience. It did teach us, however, to never take clothing that wasn't colorfast. Since all the clothes got dumped into one load, my husband and son were less than pleased when all their white undies came out dyed pink from my red shirt that "bled." Live and learn.

Since then we have taken a backpacker's approach (which we used to do a lot of when we were younger) to clothing choices and packing. We limit what we take: extra large husband's extra large clothes in a RS convertible suitcase/backpack weight in at 17ish pounds; my daypack weighs in at around 14 pounds. We only take clothing that is lightweight, colorfast, and quick drying. We wear our outer clothing more than once. Underwear gets washed nightly. Shirts might get washed every 2nd or 3rd night. Usually pants can go longer - especially if you take a pre-modern approach and air things out (in the sun if possible). Never allow for a build-up. Washing just a couple of things a night only takes moments. Years ago I bought a stretchy, braided "rubber" travel clothesline. No clothespins needed. Just tuck a bit of the fabric between the strands. Works great. Shampoo and/or body wash are fine laundry soaps. And, like some others have reported, we often start our clothes washing process when we are taking our showers. While I know this is not for everyone, this self-contained system has worked well for us for many years. Happy travels.

Posted by
337 posts

Oh, heavens - 14 outfits never! I have developed a traveling wardrobe of non-wrinkle dark clothing that will usually dry overnight if the need to be washed. Follow the French tradition of same outfit different scarf! I travel for 3 weeks with a heavy carry on but not in winter where heavier clothing would cause a problem. I have struggled with this as I love to "dress up" but never 14 outfits!

Posted by
3478 posts

@Ellen, who is traveling with 14 outfits?

Posted by
93 posts

We also do carry-on but we've done the "throw away method" for clothes that are fine for a trip, but we don't mind leaving behind. This leaves extra space in your suitcase for whatever you might purchase. Usually done with under garments that are older, rather than buy new for the trip, we buy new when we get home.

Posted by
6810 posts

To each his own. We've had some very nice exchanges at laundromats with local people who are doing their laundry (and helping us learn how to use the machines, money changers, etc.)

Yeah, I really do not view doing laundry as lost time, it is just a different experience of local life, some nice down time, and many times we have a coffee or a drink at a bar next door, catch up on emails, etc. Usually it is only an hour to hour and a half for wash and dry. We pack to plan on doing laundry once a week.

I will say we gave up handwashing, mainly because I hate air drying things unless we have an outside rack. So much better to toss them in a dryer. We will look for apartments with a washer, but they never have a dryer, so our trip to the laundromat is many times just to dry.

Posted by
3946 posts

I'm with those who enjoy the local laundry experience. It starts with sorting out how the centralized controls work. Then on to the nearest cafe or bistro for a drink or two. Usually the staff will let you slip back to the laundry to check on progress. The best I ever found was in Berlin, with its own cheerful cafe built in. The most expensive -- London. But in London there's often an attendant supervising the suds.

Posted by
530 posts

I agree with all of the laundry challenges! My solution has been to bring my Scrubba laundry bag and Earth Breeze laundry sheets. The key is to have extra towels in your hotel room to help extract water before hanging dry, and plan wash days accordingly to allow clothes plenty of time to dry between hotels.

I've used laundromats, but I've never had hotels do my laundry for me because I'm afraid they will shrink things. Scrubba is a good alternative if you don't have those other options or don't want to spend the money or time.

Posted by
32065 posts


I've travelled for a couple of months at a time, and I don't generally have much of a problem with laundry. I try to leave half a day or so free in my touring schedule every week or two so I can take care of "housekeeping chores" like laundry. This is a brief summary of my laundry routine.....

  • I use 'travel" undergarments and socks that are designed for washing in a hotel room sink and they dry overnight. I always check one bag for overseas trips, so can pack a small bottle of liquid laundry soap or a bottle or two of RS travel soap - .
  • My travel gear includes a small foldable travel laundry bag, which provides a place to store items which need to be washed. The bag I use is similar to THESE, but there are many different types available.
  • For larger clothing items, I use local laundromats, service wash businesses (drop the laundry off in the morning, pick it up in the afternoon) or hotel services if available. The hotel staff generally know where the closest laundry facilities are located. Going to local supermarkets to buy laundry soap or whatever is usually an interesting experience, as is figuring out how the washers & dryers operate. If I have any laundry soap left, I just leave it in the laundromat for others. I've had some interesting chats with other travellers in European laundromats, and always enjoy that. I don't mind doing laundry during trips.

I've used this method in many countries all over Europe and it has worked well.

Posted by
468 posts

Google maps is good for laundrettes. The rule is that they are often found in student areas and always near marinas (boats don't have washing machines apparently).

Or once a week or so I'll rent an apartment - not because of the kitchen but because of the washing machine and drying rack (you're rarely get a dryer)

Posted by
710 posts

Depending on how many city changes you make and how long you stay, you could book an apartment with a washer midway (or more often) and do laundry on your arrival day. Doing it in the evening saves valuable day time. Ditto on my views on the dryers. It’s almost always better to hang, especially in bathrooms with heated towel racks. We take laundry detergent sheets that can be cut smaller to handle tiny loads rather than liquids or pods. Many Airbnb hosts supply laundry detergent but we find the better-safe-than-sorry approach works fine.

Posted by
13844 posts

There are plenty of hotels in Europe that have laundry rooms. They all have washers and dryers. Some even in the rooms.

These are not Rick Steves type hotels. They are part of chains and you still have hotel services which you don''t get in an apartment. Off the top of my head the following chains have w/d's:

Residence Inn, Staybridge suites, Hyatt House, Hampton Inn (Not all you have to check), Adagio, Adina (mosty in room), Frasier Suites, and Citadines. In most cases the laundry is available 24/7 and in some cases it's free to use.

Some have kitchens in the rooms and offer free breakfast.

Many hotels offer some type of laundry service. They don't necessarily do it themselves but are aligned with an outside service.

I now try to book hotels with w/d's when I'm in a city and if in smaller towns see if there is a laundry service nearby. I used to wash everything in my room but I'm getting tired of that. I'll still do socks and underwear but I'd prefer a good washing for my shirts, pants and sweaters.

I travel with 5 days worth of clothes. Unlike some others, I don't wear shirts, underwear and socks more than one day without washing.

Posted by
710 posts

Depends on the season, of course, but we save laundry time by husband wearing a travel T shirt as a base layer. You’ll still be doing sink washing, but they are easy to wash and always dry overnight. He takes one, but usually two if we definitely plan to do apartment machine laundry. This method means I don’t need to wash his shirts during the trip.

Posted by
4018 posts

Every RS 2-week tour I've been on has had an arranged one bag laundry service or a self-service laundromat close by about midway.

Regardless of the length of my trips, I pack for a week and do laundry along the way. There are many ways of doing it.

Staying in an apartment with a washer is my favorite. Using self-service laundromats is next. I've had fun experiences in those both with local users and other travelers.

Next in line is having a service do it. That can mean having it picked up and returned to my hotel or dropping it off at a service and picking it up later in the day. Sometimes the hotel or B&B will actually do it all in one load. These are not the kinds of places that charge $5 per pair of panties.

Doing hand washing in a hotel room is my least favorite, but sometimes it's the only alternative. My travel clothes dry very quickly so that's a help.

On my 5-week trip to Ireland and Wales last summer, I had a bag done for me by the service provided via our RS hotel in Dingle and got a pickup and return service that came to my hotel in Cardiff. I used self-service laundromats in Llandudno and Aberstwyth. I found it interesting that each of those 4 options had the same number cost, just different currencies: €20 in Ireland and £20 in Wales. I'd packed some dryer sheets, but neither of the self-service laundromats had any supplies, so I had to buy more laundry soap than I really needed at a small market and leave it behind for others to use, like has been mentioned already.

I only did sink washing once and that was in Dublin at the beginning of the tour for the clothes I'd worn the few days I was there at a different hotel before the tour started. The sink was tiny, but I was able to manage my undies and travel clothes okay. I hung them on a braided line in the shower. I also used the luggage rack. The best thing about that room was the fan. Moving it around and pointing it at my washing made the drying go much faster than I expected.

I've used all these basic methods at one time or another in every country I've visited on 10 trips in the past 13 years. Whatever I have to do, it's better than lugging around way more clothes than I really need.

Posted by
1 posts

We're just back from a 3-week trip in France (a week in Lyon, a week on AmaKristina, and a week in Paris).

Our hotel in Lyon (the Intercontinental Hotel) offered laundry service and they wanted a mere 17 EUR for a man's shirt, 19 EUR for a woman's shirt, and 6 EUR for underwear or socks. Needless to say, we didn't accept the offer. Instead, we found a local "pressing" (5áSec) which washed, dried, and folded for about 4 EUR/kg with 48-hour turnaround.

Ama ships have fast laundry, reasonably priced (EUR 1.60 for a man's shirt, EUR 1.20 for underwear or socks), returned the same day, so we used that.

Our AirBnB in Paris had a washer/dryer; the washer was great but the dryer was slow (even slower than our heat-pump dryer at home!). There was a self-serve laundromat a few doors down the block, and the instructions from our host suggested using its dryer if you were in a hurry. :-) There were also a few "pressings" within a couple of blocks.

Figuring out the local term for "service laundry" has been a problem in some countries; once we've found the right term, Google Maps has gotten us to a decent and reasonably close place.

Hope this helps!