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My wife and I were discussing our upcoming trip-the little things you never see discussed in these forums. Things you have to hunt when you get there. I am not going to carry 21 days worth of clean clothes.

What do you about laundry while traveling in Scotland?

Posted by
277 posts

Good question. I noticed when I travelled in Australia and California that a lot of motels are geared to allow guests to do their own laundry. Motels are not very common in Scotland and I own up to never having seen one, but then I've never needed to look for one!

First of all if you are booking somewhere in advance then ask about the possibility of laundry facilities when you make your reservation. B&B and Guest House proprietors are not unmindful of the fact that people do need to wash their clothes and most likely will offer to do a load of washing for you. You may be charged for this service, you may not.

What they won't want is to find an en-suite shower room full of dripping clothes. I've had this myself and at the time would have preferred to be asked to help out.

If you are winging it then just ask when you arrive at your accommodation. Either the proprietors will offer there and then to wash something for you, or will be able to point you in the direction of a coin operated laundry in the vicininty where you can take your clothes for a wash. You'll be able to buy powder and softener there as well. Just make sure you have coins available to put in the washing machines and tumble driers.

I should say that coin operated laundries are not going to be available in every town and village in Scotland.

Hotels may have on-site facilities and housekeeping staff to take care of laundry for you. Everywhere is different.

Hope this helps.

Posted by
2393 posts

We hand wash what we can as we go along. Sometimes we have been able to rent a place with a washer &/or dryer. Otherwise I pull up my good friend google maps and search for laundromats near me or in the next place I am stopping. Using the map makes it easier to locate places near my hotel or the train station if traveling by rail. I use google maps for many things - very handy.

Posted by
4175 posts

I'm 3 weeks into a 6-week trip to the UK. I do carry-on, so laundry is a must. So far, I've done it myself twice, had it done for me once and washed one pair of pants in the shower (no tub and sink too tiny to wash them in).

I had it done in Bath: wash, dry and fold, all in one load, picked up in the morning at my B&B and returned at the end of the day. Cost was £14, the same as if I'd taken it to the laundry to have it done.

I did it myself at a laundry about a 15 minute walk from my B&B in Edinburgh. I could have had the attendant do it, but she was swamped, so it was faster for me to do it. She helped me and I was completely done in about 1.5 hours. Cost was about £7.50. I didn’t write it down because I was so entertained by the attendant. It was the time of day when primary kids got out of school. They'd stop in and get a wee biscuit on their way home. Just one. She'd make them put the extra(s) back if they took more than one.

Edinburgh is also where I washed the pants (the ones I was wearing while doing the laundry) out in the shower. I rolled them in the bath mat, stood on the roll to squeeze out as much moisture as possible and hung them on the hot towel drying rack overnight. They didn’t dry completely, but by shifting them around a few times while I was awake, they were dry enough to hang in the closet to finish drying over the next day.

I also did laundry at the new Laundrorama in Kirkwall on Orkney. Great machines. No place to sit. You have to buy tokens from the attendant. Total cost was £14.40. This was the busiest self-service European laundry I have ever been in. I'd guess 1/2 were tourists, including the couple from Seattle who knew someone there I also know.

So that comes out to about once a week. I won’t do it before I leave Aberdeen on Tuesday

If you pack for a week and a day, you should be able to do laundry only 2-3 times on your trip. Your lodgings should be able to tell you where you can do it or have it done, but I agree that with limited time, doing a little in the evening or having it done by your lodgings might be worth any additional expense.

Posted by
11294 posts

Do consider using a service wash (that's Brit-speak for someone doing your clothes for you; you just drop them off and pick them up, rather than putting them into and out of machines yourself). It may not cost much more than self-service, or it may - but your time is valuable. However, before surrendering your clothes, confirm how long it will take, so you can make sure your wash will be ready before you have to leave town (I once had a problem with this in Rome).

Posted by
2652 posts

Yes service washes are the way to go,all the major towns and cities will have a Laundrette, a service wash depending on the amount of clothes will cost £10-£20, wash, dried and folded. many places will do an ironing service too.

Posted by
3122 posts

If you look in the Rick Steves travel gear shop you'll see a stretchy rubber clothesline which I honestly think is the greatest invention since sliced bread. The Velcro allows you to fasten it over almost any shower hardware, and fabrics cling to the rubber so you don't need any clothespins. I bring a flat rubber sink stopper to use in case the hotel sink doesn't have a proper stopper.

Someone on another RS forum recommended a powdered soap called Forever New which I totally love. I also bring a 2-oz bottle of liquid "luxury fabric wash" (similar to Woolite) and a packet of the tiny dry soap sheets sold for backpacking (you can get them from REI, for example).

With these supplies I can keep up with the essential washing of socks and underwear on a daily basis. I always try to wash as soon as we check into the hotel in the afternoon, so as to allow maximum time for things to dry. Rolling them in a dry towel before hanging them up also shortens drying time; and, many European hotels have a heated towel bar and/or a radiator which really come in handy for drying. I know hotels disapprove of people doing laundry in the rooms, so I try hard to avoid dripping or otherwise making a mess.

I refuse to spend precious vacation time hunting for a coin laundry, but in my experience it's usually possible to run across one or else find that a hotel will do a machine load for a reasonable price. If you do the daily essential washing routine, you'll only need a machine laundry once or twice over the course of a 3-week trip.

Posted by
7659 posts

On our 2-week trip 2 years ago, we had an apartment in Edinburgh and another in Kirkwall, both with clothes washing machines, so we were able to run some loads. There was not a clothes dryer in either place, and the Scottish humidity and frequent rain meant that clothes were put on a folding clothes rack ) or on the heated towel warming rack in Kirkwall) and air dried, which took longer than it does in Colorado. Still, with 2-3 days in a place and a little planning beforehand, we were able to time our washing, sightseeing, and moving on. Having quicker-drying garments helps, rather than having to dry heavy, thick, and/or cotton clothes.

Posted by
279 posts

When we were there in 2012 for 17 days, we did laundry on day 6 in York (parking was a pain, but we begged the nearby grocery store parking lot guard to let us park there for the hour or so we spent at the laundromat, since we were going to pick up some food afterwards anyway). We did three loads, got some lunch at the cafe next door, then folded our clothes and headed back to the B&B. On day 13, in our first full day in Orkney, I dropped off another few loads for the laundromat people to take of for us while we shopped in Kirkwall. No problems either place, other than the parking!

Edited to add: I had only packed clothes that would fit in a carry-on suitcase, so I really only had 3 pairs of pants total, 4-5 shirts and a few tank-tops to wear under the shirts to cut back on the amount of sweat that got on them. So, doing laundry every week or so was required. I had a school-sized backpack for my non-attire stuff, and that worked out really well for me. I did the same in Ireland two years later, although I did have a big fold-up gym bag that my sister gave me so I could bring home presents for our dad. Highly recommend that type of bag--it folded up to the size of one of those larger-sized paperback books, and was perfect for all of the stuff I had to bring home!