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Washing Clothes Along the Way

Good afternoon,

We're planning our first trip to Europe this coming May. While this is my first post, I've been on here quite a bit and want to start by thanking everyone who has posted and commented on the message board - we've found so much valuable information!

Alas, I've come up with a question I can't seem to readily find an answer to. We'll be traveling as a family (me, my husband, my daughter, age 8 and my son, age 5). Each family member now has his/her own backpack in which they'll be expected to carry their own clothes, so we're attempting to travel light. The trip itself is 2 weeks long, starting with 2 days in Paris, and the remainder in Munich, Schwangau, Rothenburg and Cochem.

The plan is to do laundry at least twice along the way. I'm trying to get a feel for how common laudromats would be in the areas we're visiting. Right now, it looks like the best places for us to do laundry, according to our itinerary, are Munich and Rothenburg (that would put us at doing laundry every 5-6 days). There are some laundromats listed in our Rick Steves book, but I'm trying to understand if these would be the only laundromats (I assume there's more in Munich, but would there be many in the old town?), or if they're located all over the place and those are just the ones he recommends. Essentially, I'm trying to determine if this is something I should research beforehand and have a plan (so as not to waste time doing something boring while we could be out enjoying something else), or are laundromats so common that if I just asked our hotelier, he/she should be able to easily direct us somewhere close by?

Thanks so much for any guidance you can give!

Posted by
12040 posts

...or, if your hotel offers the service, you could just pay the fee to have them wash it for you. What's worth more to you, a little bit of money or your vacation time in Europe?

I'm thinking of some of the cities I know best (Mannheim, Heidelberg, Munich, Brussels, Hasselt, Darmstadt, Frankfurt, Wiesbaden, Basel, Nürnberg, Maastricht) and either I can't ever remember seeing a laudromat in them, or they tend to be located in outer districts. Meaning, likely not in the areas where you would probably prefer to lodge.

Posted by
635 posts

In preparation for my trip this summer I Googled "Munich" and "Wäscherei" (laundromat) and found a nifty little "Waschsalon" laundry/coffee bar just a couple of blocks from the Viktualienmarkt. Tom is no doubt correct that laundromats are not always conveniently located in tourist areas, but Google might turn up a surprise. Good luck!

Posted by
1437 posts

Jeff and Sandi, I actually used that laundromat in Munich this past December. It was easy to walk to, just around the corner from the tram line, between the Reichenbachplatz and Isartor stops. It's called "Wash & Coffee", on Klenzestrasse.

We went one evening after a very early dinner (before 6 p.m.) in the Viktualienmarkt. It was a short walk from there to the laundromat. I don't remember what it cost to do the laundry, but it was clean and pleasant enough to read my book and have some tea while I had a couple of loads on the go.

Edited to add: I remember that the attendant (an older lady) was doing some ironing when I got there. She was replaced by a younger woman for the evening shift. I'd ask if they can do the loads for you during the day.

Posted by
1308 posts

"Waschsalons" are not so common in Germany as far as I could see. I have used the one in Rothenburg that Rick recommends and it worked fine. It was fairly busy as it was in Rick's book. I have also had a load done by the Gasthof Greifen - hotel where we stayed in Rothenburg.

I asked at a hotel in Regensburg and they said that I needed at least a 3 day stay for them to manage it. They did refer me to one where I could wash my own. It was all a little hit-and-miss from my experience. Tourist offices would probably be a good source of information if your hotel can not help. I would not assume that one will be near your hotel in a large city.

Posted by
2081 posts

Sandi,

a few comments.

  1. If you pack too much clothes you can bog youself down with it. Not enough and you do alot of washing. Just something to think about.

  2. Books are printed months/days/years ago. businesses can open/close/open in that time.

  3. Since you have to plan to do the washing, make sure everyone has the same amount of clothes so you arent doing the wash everyday(s). that way the washing can be done in one day.

  4. i do as much planning/research before hand so i dont have to do it there. worse case, i ask the locals or the place im staying.

  5. sometimes the cost of having someone do it is less expensive in Time & $$$. this is something you have to weigh yourself. Would you rather spend 4 hours in a laundrymat or in a museum? but here is where i plan on doing the laundry, so i budget my time for it.

happy trails.

Posted by
419 posts

This is probably going to sound somewhat odd, but I am amazed at the very real concern of some travelers about laundry. Laundry? Solution: Wash some underwear in the sink at night, wear clothes a day or two more than you might at home. I can't imagine spending time on a European vacation looking for laundromats.
Relax, you may notice that some of the people you may encounter on your travels in Europe have not embraced the daily shower and surely not the frequent laundry.
No one that you will see or encounter will care one bit if your clothes are sparkling clean or not. It's up to you to be comfortable and by that I mean, give a little to enjoying your time in Europe and not to appearances.

Posted by
5689 posts

I don't remember having problems finding laundromats as needed -- but the sink was always an option for spot-cleaning in between laundry days. On a 30-day trip it's about 3 weekly visits (and haul it all home dirty.) Hotel staff can direct you, or Google as needed.

Posted by
1437 posts

Joan, I do find your comment odd. Notwithstanding the underwear I can wash in a sink, I find that I can't really go more than 9-10 days without doing a major wash of pants & tops at some point (especially if there's two of us). Hand washing the bigger pieces is time consuming and takes a while to dry, especially if it's not synthetics. With the OP's scenario of 2 children, aged 8 and 5, then the need to do laundry at some point is even more evident. Although I do re-wear items a couple of times, eventually they do end up a bit stinky and dirty...

Posted by
225 posts

I do not find your question odd at all especially with children. I do always have a game plan before we go. They are not as easy to come by as in the states. If your lodging does offer laundry services RS usually mentions that in his book. Otherwise I would check out his recommendations and google map your options close to your lodging. I always bring those little Tide travel packets that are for hand washing in your sink for an emergency.

Posted by
2081 posts

@ Joan,

I dont see any issue with doing the laundry in the sink for ONE or TWO people, but for a family? Not me.

also, wearing my clothes and underwear more than one or twice - been there, done that. Some people are more clean/clothes conscience then others too.

in addition to that, i have done more than that. I have been trying out some marino wool underware, specifically t-shirts and have worn it for 1 month with washing it. I didnt mention it due to the fact it cost me 70 USD and i have a feeling the OP isnt going to buy complete sets for the family. Just a note that i just wore it to work and for day to day things. It didnt smell bad at all after that month either. also, for that first wash i did it in my bathroom sink as you stated. It did show it needed a wash due to the dirty water too. What i liked about the marino wool t-shirt was that i was able to squeeze it dry in a towel and hang it up to dry. It dried with in a few hours.

For me, i would do the wash in a sink if i couldnt find a place to do it, but i prefer the purpose made machines out there.

Happy trails.

Posted by
45 posts

Hi Sandi:

Yes, on a two-week trip with four people, I suspect that you will need to do laundry at least twice. Washing everything in a hotel sink is not a viable option.

I find doing laundry in a foreign country somewhat of cultural experience, similar to going to the grocery store. I like to find out how others live and handle the activities of daily life such as laundry. My experience suggests Laundromats are rare in smaller German towns. The larger the town, the more likely you will find one. Ask your hotel or do a Google search for the closest one. You may find them on some out of the way street. Most likely, the Laundromat is closed on Sunday so plan accordingly. We also found many combination washer/dryers so you will not need to change machines to dry your clothes. Know that the laundry service in a hotel or even a drop & leave service is very expensive in Germany and you will most likely not get your laundry back until the next day at the earliest.

A German Laundromat operates a bit differently than the ones I experienced in either the U.S. or Canada. There is a central station or kiosk where you deposit your money and designate which machine you are using. While you can purchase detergent at the same point, on our last trip we found that using a detergent concentrate we brought with us worked fine. I think I bought it at our local REI, but you can probably find it and any camping outfitting store. Bring a few dryer sheets too. Most likely, you will not find an attendant, but usually a friendly local will help you through the process of starting the machine.

On our last trip, we were staying in Wittenberg’s altstadt. No laundry was anywhere near. We asked to use the hotel’s machine after they were through for the day. They generously agreed and we spent part of an evening in a 13th Century basement doing the washing. I think we gave 10 euros to the hotel clerk for this convenience. So, this can be an option for you. We stayed one time in Rothenburg. The hotel had a Laundromat available for its guests on its premises.

You will need to seek out the waschsalon as they are not always apparent. Have a great trip.

Posted by
3899 posts

Our first trip over to Italy I had planned to do a wash part way thru but couldn't find a Laundromat when we had free time, and it was almost two weeks of wearing the same 3 pairs of pants until we got to my sister's and did some laundry there. Second trip, I made sure to plan a wash in Salzburg and looked up where the Laundromat was and we said 'This morning is when we are doing a wash'. I find now that I try to plan to stay somewhere with a washing machine part way thru the trip and spend an evening watching TV and washing clothes, whether a hotel or airbnb (we do a lot of airbnb - but you may want to look into an apt that has laundry facilities). I find now one of my amenities I always look for when booking is laundry facilities

Posted by
11798 posts

My laundry on the road consists of a couple things. You can copy this, modify it to your tastes, or do something completely different.

First is I pack for easy road laundry. Three identical pairs of black non-cotton crew socks (currently Calvin Klein), three pairs of underarmour boxerjocks 9" inseam (they never ride up). Shirts are non-cotton from REI, Northface, Columbia, Underarmour, Adidas, Nike, etc. I normally pack a few t-shirts and a couple button ups. Pants are slim fit golf, or similar, non-cotton pants. I add a pair of warm up pants and something that doubles as a swimsuit or shorts. Sweaters are washable wool and not bulky. All wash and dry quickly and easily and don't need ironing or overdrying to look acceptable.

I bring a two-gallon zip-lock bag, a chamois (for wringing), a travel clothesline, and some laundry detergent sheets (from REI). Each day I wash a pair of socks and underwear, sometimes I add a t-shirt. This keeps me in fresh underwear. If I miss a day, I'll do two pairs.

About once every other week, I'll find a laundromat and spend part of a day washing everything.

Germany won't have a laundromat everywhere, some smaller towns won't have one at all. With a little planning, you can find them when you need them.

Posted by
2 posts

We did a trip to Europe with kids a couple of years ago. With 5 & 8-year olds of course you will need to do the laundry.
We did a combination of in-sink and laundromat washing. If laundromat is available - fine, if not - the sink it is in the evening. Underwear is obviously washed after single use, but other things - some can be worn twice, some cannot and some get spilled at, smeared or whatever else (kids!). But those can be spot-washed.
To save the money: you don't need to buy everything in REI. Just look for syntetics/fast drying sort of clothing everywhere (almost any store has it now) but you may already have some easy-washing stuff. Also, there are boxes Purex sheets sold along the other detergents. They may be cheaper than REI's version, weigh almost nothing, take little space, double for washing and drying and can be cut in pieces for in-sink washes. You can also finish up the box with your regular laundry when you get back home.

Good luck!

Posted by
14415 posts

My only German experience was in Frankfurt. There was a coin-op laundromat about a 7 minute walk from my centrally located hotel. I found it by asking at my hotel. You will want to stay nearby, to put the wash into the dryer and then keep an eye it until it's done. Chances are no one will walk off with your things, but you never know. Some places have attendants during the day so you can drop your things and collected them, folded, at the end of the day. The small extra fee is worth the freedom.

Are you really going to make your little ones carry 5-6 days of clothing on their backs? Maybe it's worth taking one checked rolling suitcase, just to have a few extra clothes for the kids and not have them weighted down and cranky.

Posted by
2353 posts

There is a very nice one in Munich near the Hbf - did laundry there last May. What I did was pull up a google map of the city then search for laundromat, waschsalon or what ever the language was. Not sure about Schwangau but there is at least 1 in Fussen. Your hotelier is also a good resource.

Posted by
242 posts

Other than telling you that my B&B in Iphofen (where I will stay to meet my friends in the band "Copper Smoke") has offered to wash my clothes for me, I have nothing to add except that any lady who uses the word "Alas" is okay in my book! :) Also, one wonders why (especially in tourist towns) there are no adverts for folks willing to wash ones' clothes? I understand that not many of us stay longer than a day or so, but when I go to Rothenburg, it's usually for a week, since I have no desire to be anywhere else.

Just throwing it out there, okay?

And Sandi, you and yours have a wonderful trip (and DON'T miss Rothenburg ob der Tauber!)!

Bill

Posted by
11613 posts

I travel solo and use the giant-size ziploc bag method as needed, then send the laundry out in a city where I'll be for a few days.

The easiest thing might be to mix a couple of apartment stays into your trip; make sure the place has a washer/dryer and instructions. This will also give you and your kids a chance to stretch out and feel "at home". The time you spend at a laundromat could be spent in a supermarket letting the kids choose a couple of items, and you would still have time for more sightseeing. Then you can sink-wash in hotel rooms when necessary.

Posted by
1064 posts

Going back to Tom's question at the top of this thread: What's worth more to you, a little bit of money or your vacation time in Europe?

Usually, vacation time is worth more, but some of these places -- Holiday Inn Munich Centre and Ramsau Best Western, for example -- charge way too much for laundry service. For the price of two washings, at the hotel's rates, I could buy the items new at home.

Posted by
12400 posts

Hi,

Twice in two weeks, or maybe a big load with some sink washings? In Munich to take care of your laundry, I would suggest staying a night or two at Wombat Hostel, ca 3 mins from the Hbf. (main train station). Why? Not only is it a great hostel but also because of its facilities.

The Wombat hostel chain have laundry facilities, very good and complete with dryers (Waschtrockner). If you are going to be in Frankfurt, I know of a laundrymat near Frankfurt Hbf., ca a ten minute walk, located at Moselstraße 17, called Waschsalon, used to be Miele Waschworld., like in Munich another reason for staying in the main train area.

The only public coin operated laundry facility I know of in Paris in the 10 arrond., near Gare du Nord where I stay. It's called "Lav Club" on Rue Du Faubourg 141. But that is most likely way of out your way. I try to time it relative to the itinerary as to when I would be needing to have a big load done if I don't do any sink washing at all. In Germany some Pensionen will do your laundry for 4 Euro. ...don't know about the towns you list.

General rule here. Laundrymats are not "common" just super infrequent. I used to know of one in Berlin, a few mins walk from Savignyplatz (where I stay) in Berlin-Charlottenburg. It's gone.

Posted by
11 posts

Just let me add my two cents on the cultural opportunities of washing your clothes at a laundromat during your European trip. Based on our experiences in Italy & France ( we plan to go to Germany this year) you will meet some interesting folks, often from other English speaking countries, like Australia, or US or Canada or UK or New Zealand and it is a great place to trade tips and stories. In addition you may encounter travelers and students from almost anywhere. Our greatest challenge is find the laundromats as they sometimes are closed or have disappeared. And Rick does not always list them for every town, at least not consistently. Nevertheless we still have fond memories wandering around the old city portion of Nice, France trying to follow the instructions we got from our hotel, asking for help from the locals who tried so hard, though their English was only slightly better than our non-existent French. If you find yourself in this situation, suggest that you find the laundromat first, then drag your clothes there.
Good travels,
B. Franklin

Posted by
11613 posts

Roy's comment about buying new made me think: for kids, inexpensive t-shirts bought where you visit make nice travel souvenirs and expand their wardrobes. I'm a fan of buying some inexpensive t-shirts before the trip and tossing them if they get badly stained, this might be especially helpful for kids (actually I toss them just to make room in the suitcase).

Posted by
635 posts

Last year in Assisi we took a load of laundry to a tiny cleaning establishment run by a lovely woman who spoke not word one of English. She was most helpful and patient as we tried to weave a few words together into sentences in our newly-learned Italian. We found we were able to communicate with her quite well as we made small-talk for a while. It was one of the most delightful person-to-person experiences of our trip, and helped us fulfill our goal of being "temporary locals".

Posted by
4362 posts

I would definitely do research ahead of time, and you can always ask locals for their suggestions. I would try to do underwear/socks/etc. daily (a few swishes right before bed for maximum drying time, or first thing in the morning). Many of us on this forum really like Forever New (check Amazon, etc., for pricing; also sold in some Nordstrom's/lingerie dept.). You can take as much powder as you'd like - no TSA restrictions like you'd have with a liquid - and it can be used in a washing machine. Pay attention to the recommended amount to use! Double-bag any detergent, especially Forever New; it has a great fragrance, but it's strong! Your luggage will smell great though...Maybe take something to handle stains - Tide pen, Shout wipes (individually wrapped), a small bottle of Dawn dish detergent...whatever you like.

Definitely do leave room for a souvenir t-shirt or two ;-)

Use Google Streetview when looking for laundromats - try to find the ones close to your room, and/or near a playground/kids activity area so that you and your husband can take turns babysitting both the laundry and the kids.

Posted by
635 posts

[quote] Use Google Streetview when looking for laundromats

Good idea for most places in Europe, but unfortunately not Germany. Google and Germany's strict privacy laws don't get along, so Google has not been making Streetview images there for several years now. What images there are, have probably not been updated since 2008 or so. Check the text at the bottom of the image for the date it was made.

Posted by
4362 posts

I'm having no problems with getting 2014 maps for Munich; YMMV, though. In my very brief perusal of RodT I couldn't find any images (even still images), but using Google's Satelite view and armed with a couple of laundomat addresses I could easily zoom in enough to check out the surroundings (highway? green park? biergarten?!!?!!?).

In general, Google Streetview IS tricky on Europe; Salzburg may be on one day, then gone the next, then a week later it's baaack...BUT (no pun intended, but Me Likey) in the states, we may even get to see the underwear belonging to Michael Schneider/New Paltz, NY ;-) (I do believe that map has been replaced though...bum-mer)

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks everyone for responding! While I would love to get away with no washing, with the kids, I think that will be pretty hard (although my husband and I managed it for two weeks in Thailand before kids). We have no problem re-wearing clothes and putting up with wrinkles, but the kids are bound to spill and stain.

And we will take advantage of any services the places we're staying have to offer. However, we will be staying at smaller, family-run places for this trip, and none of them are advertising laundry services. That said, maybe they'll take pity on us and offer to launder for a price.

The actual act of doing laundry doesn't bother me. I'm a weird person who actually enjoys laundry - there's something calming to folding clean clothes. Plus, I like the break from the hustle and bustle, so 1-2 hours in a warm laundromat with the hum of the machines and my book may be a much needed break for me.

I will look into all the different soap and clothing options that were mentioned. I also like the idea of bringing older clothes and just throwing them out there, replacing them with souvenir T-shirts while we're gone - I hadn't thought of that, so thanks for the idea!

Since it sounds like laundromats aren't as plentiful as in other places around the world, I will do a bit of research and come armed with a couple of options, but ask the hotel in case they offer services or know of a better, more convenient location.

Thanks again! It has been great reading all the suggestions, many of which I hadn't thought of. I really appreciate it! I'll report back on how it went in late May!

Posted by
17 posts

Before I went on a three week tour around Germany, I washed clothes at home and hung them up to dry to be certain they dried in a short ammont of time. Those were the items I packed. I washed underwear, socks, and blouses in my sink. Half way through the trip I thought everything could do with a wash so found a laundramat in Koblentz. I made using the laundramat an "adventure". In that place the washers did not spin. You have to move your wash to another machine to spin dry. I didn't do that and was sorry.. I usually washed in the evening and let the stuff dry overnight. It sounds like you are going in the summer, but be aware that if you go in Fall when it is cooler, the heat is usually turned down at night, so you can't depend on that to dry your clothes by morniing. I usually washed clothes when I was staying at least two nights in the same place for that reason. Traveling light and not dragging alot of dirty clothes is the way to go for me.