Laundry

My wife, 20 year old daughter and I are going to Paris ,London, and a few towns in germany in feb 2013. We are concerned about bringing enough clothes for a two week trip. Do hotels I. Europe have guest washing machines like they have in the USA? Gary

Posted by Monte
Genesee, ID
1376 posts

I have never seen washing machines in any hotels we have stayed in in Europe. We, and quite a few other travelers take clothes that can be washed in a hotel sink and dried in the room. To some this is a whole new experience but it is possible if you have the appropriate clothes.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7211 posts

It depends on the hotel. Big hotels have laundry service but charge too much for it - and aren't really interested in steering you toward a competing service. Small hotels usually don't offer laundry but can usually steer you toward a laundromat or service (many laundromats offer a drop-off service). Quite a few budget places have clotheslines you can use, but I wouldn't leave your clothes out alone (not sure why they disappear but they sometimes do). I have stayed at a few places that, when I asked where I could do some laundry, offered me use of a washer/dryer for a very low rate, but that's really the exception.

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
2522 posts

There are some self-service laundromats in most fair-sized towns, but that takes time. You can drop laundry off and pick it up the next day. Or send it out through the hotel's service and it should be back the next day (make sure to say when you need it). On a really long trip, I combine these methods with doing laundry in the hotel-room sink. If you rent an apartment in each city, make sure it comes with a washer/dryer or at least a washer. Enough clothes for a 1-week trip with a "laundry day" in between might work, but I'd take an extra change of clothes to be safe.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7828 posts

For two weeks I wouldn't do laundry, just some sink washings.. You can wear pants or dresses mulitiple times, sink wash out tshirts and socks/undies .. Its not a fashion show through Europe and I almost can guarantee you will end up wearing the same outfits more then you think cause they will be the "comfy" ones. No one remembers what you wore two days ago, you never see the same people day in and day out.. so other then having some clean tshirts and undies don't over think it,,
That all said, there are usually laundremats in towns, but not in hotels. I am not the type that wants to waste a few hours of my time doing laundry, so is up to you to figure that one out. One man in a family I knew would get up very early, take families laundry to laundremat and wait for it, wife and kids would sleep in a bit, go for breakie, and meet him later, around 10 or 11, that worked for them, but assumes you could always find a place open by 7 or 8 am .. not my idea of fun( but what a great husband this guy was!)

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7828 posts

Remember you must be able to all handle/carry your own luggage easily, there are no porters around to help in train stations, and there is always somewhere you have to carry your bags up stairs( even just changing trains can mean having to go over or under tracks) I have been in hotels that have elevators, but to get to them there are still a few stairs, unless you stay in large fancy american style chain hotels, which I do not recommend myself. . Travel light and you will be so much happier..

Posted by Tim
Minneapolis, MN, USA
8646 posts

Pack light! No more than one carry-on bag and one day pack per person. Go to the Travel Tips page on this site and read the articles under the "Packing" heading. If you decide to wash clothes in the hotel sink, check out the travel clothesline and the travel wash sold in the Rick Steves Travel Store.

Posted by Emily
Chicago
256 posts

Definitely don't bring more clothes than maybe 5 or 6 days. That's way too much luggage. Yes, underwear and socks can be washed in the sink, but really, I do prefer laundromats. -off is the best choice, but still, unless the rules are very strict (usually they are not), you can put the clothes in the washer and use the time to take a walk and explore the neighborhood. I did this twice while in Paris and found a lovely bakery to have an espresso and pastry while my clothes dried.
If you are renting an apartment, many of them come equipped with small washers (very few have dryers) and you can hang your clothes in the bath to dry.

Posted by bruce
sauk rapids, mn
267 posts

Pack light, go to a laundromat, I've met some great folks doing laundry in Siena, Brugge , etc.. Have fun!

Posted by Ceidleh
Boston, MA, United States
1176 posts

Unless it's an extended stay apart-hotel (like Citadines in London or Paris), they don't usually have a self-service guest laundry. The bigger chain hotels (like Ibis, Marriott, etc) will have laundry service for a fee - but if you want cheap, do-it-yourself coin-op, get on Google Maps and type in the address of your hotels and then do a search for nearby laundromats. It will show you some, but not all options - you could always email the front desk at the hotel to ask where the closest coin-op is in relation to your hotel since you aren't leaving for a few months. If you want to hit up the coin-op laundromat sometime mid-trip, best bet is to plan to do that while you are still in a larger city like Paris or London. Small towns in Germany may not have as many options. Pack enough clothing for 1 week and even then, I would suggest you can make do with fewer things like jeans, pants and sweaters which can be worn a couple times in the winter in between machine washing. Bring a full weeks worth of underwear and socks as those are the things you will want to have enough of so you'll only need to do laundry 1 time at the halfway point of your 2 week trip. More than once when a public laundromat was not close by, I have walked into a large hostel that I wasn't even staying at with a bag of my dirty laundry and found their guest laundry facilities and used their coin-op machines. Your 20-year old daughter might enjoy spending 90 minutes over at the hostel chatting with other people her age from all around the world while she washes and dries everyone's laundry!

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17783 posts

Gary, The answer to your question is "occasionally", depending on country and city. I've encountered a few hotels that provide laundry facilities on the premises, including one that I stayed at in northern Italy in September. In most other cases the hotel staff will be able to direct you to a nearby Laundromat. They may also have an arrangement with a nearby laundry on a "service wash" basis - you'll leave your laundry at the front desk and it will be returned clean, folded and in some cases ironed the next day. I agree with the others that packing undergarments for about a week and a small quantity of "primary" clothing should be adequate, especially for a two week trip. My usual packing list for primary clothing is two pairs of trousers and two long sleeve and two short sleeve shirts (I'm wearing one each of the trousers and shirt). I use Tilley "travel friendly" clothing extensively on my trips, which is designed to dry quickly. As many of the others mentioned, washing items in the hotel room sink is a good way to extend the time between visits to the laundromat. It's a bit more difficult washing larger items in the sink and of course they take longer to dry. One point to mention however, is that some hotels "frown" on the practice of doing laundry in the rooms. You'll have to note whether that's the case at any of the places you'll be staying at. There are a variety of "travel laundry" products available, including those sold in the Travel Store on this website. You could also check Magellans as they have a wide choice of products, including the small soap "wafers" that can be taken in carry-on luggage. I've never tried those so don't know how well they work. Happy travels!

Posted by Beatrix
Calgary
1974 posts

One of the reasons I like renting appartments for at least some part of the trip is that I can choose one with a washer (dryer is rare). That does help with the washing. But for a 2 week trip it's not really that important.

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
2522 posts

I'm betting some "immigrant population" does laundry in a sink.

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
4766 posts

Most of the immigrant population will have their own washer. They aren't that expensive, though they probably won't have a dryer. People hang their clothes up to dry on drying racks or they may have clotheslines in the attic or basements of their apt. buildings. When I first came to Germany, I did my laundry in the bath tub. Lot easier than the tiny sink.

Posted by Douglas
Oak Park, Illinois
2391 posts

This thread isn't about immigrants, it is about the OP asking for options to do some laundry during their two week visit. And the OP got lots of good options to choose from. Why the need for a certain poster to criticize those who use bathroom sinks to do some wash? Many travelers do it and it is very convenient for small items. A few more suggestions that I did not see: bring along a few packets of laundry detergent. You can get them in the sample isle of Walmart/Target type stores. They work perfectly for the small load you might do in a sink or tub. Self service laundries will sell detergent for each load of wash. If you do self service laundry, bring plenty of coins; some do not have change machines. And in many places, you don't add coins in the machine itself; you fill an empty machine which has a number on it, you pay at a central pay machine into the slot with a matching number. For a two week trip, I would plan for sink/tub laundry 3-4 times and one trip to the laundramat (or hotel service). Depending on conditions, socks and undies can take 24 hours to dry in the bathroom so don't do it the night before you check out.

Posted by Swan
Napa, CA
2858 posts

I gather up everything and do a run to the laundromat about once a week when I'm in Europe. I've started carrying a couple of the laundry capsules with me. In France I've found that the detergent available at the laundromat sometimes is highly scented. It's strong enough to be overwhelming. So, if I take my own I can avoid that. The capsules can be used anywhere. My package calls them "pods." They must be kept dry until use; the outer cover dissolves in the washing water. You just drop one or two pods into the washing machine with your dirty laundry. Laundromats in Europe tend to cost at least double what they do in the USA. In France, at least, there is a central place in the laundromat where you deposit coins and choose your machine. Often there are instructions in English. Lacking that, ask someone there how to proceed. If you have a handful of coins with you, you won't have to try to find change. I think some places have a slot for bills.

Posted by H J
LaGrange, Ga, USA
923 posts

Pack lite,very very lite. Wear things that can be mixed in different ways. Two week trip? One medium suitcase at the most. Remember you will need to carry it everywhere! As for washing...wash in the hotel bathroom sink. Carry along some woolite, etc., or get some there. Wash and rise, then spread out on a towell, roll up the towel, and dance on the towell. This will get most of the moisture out. Then hang up the clothing where it will dry quickly. Much faster that if you do not dance on the towell!!! I got this hint from a friend in the spring and it works!!!

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
2700 posts

If my trip is anywhere from three to ten weeks, I had better do laundry in the sink. That's a given. It's one of the things I learned in the course of traveling over the years. Yes, the word for foreigner is Ausländer. If I need to use the word , I use it, offensive or not. @ Gary...In Germany I have stayed at Pensionen where the owner/manager will do your bag of laundry for 4 Euro...a good deal when you time your trip correctly. As for "guest washing machines" I have seen those at an independent (non HI) hostel I stayed at in Munich and Vienna.

Posted by Southam
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
916 posts

The neighbourhood automatic laundry is where you meet the neighbours, at least enough to smile and look dumb so they will help you sort out the machine controls. Warm, too.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8758 posts

The sink is for washing food not underwear. I don't wash or prepare a lot of food in my hotel bathroom sink when I am on vacation. I wash quite a lot of clothes there, even underwear. And I use it for brushing my teeth and washing my hands. And, in most hotels, the sink is cleaned daily. There are getting to be quite a few radical dictates on this helpline. So no old people (defined as over 35 apparently) are allowed to stay in hostels. And no washing of clothing in bathroom sinks. Gee, its getting rough around here. What's next?

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7978 posts

What do you do when you spill spagetti all down the front of your shirt? Miss Manners must have a solution.