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Travel light and launder: a new wash bag makes it easy


The secret of travelling light is to pack few clothes and wash them as you go along. This isn’t always easy. Cheap hotels often remove the plugs from their sinks specifically to stop guests washing clothes, there’s often no hot water and sometimes not much cold.

Enter the Scrubba™™ wash bag. Brainchild of an Aussie veteran of the Southeast Asia circuit, the Scrubba™ wash bag brings washboard techniques and silicone technology to the laundry problem. It’s a 160-gramme solution to cleaning clothes on the road.

To use, simply put a few bits of clothing into the bag, add soap and water, then a few quick folds of the lid, fold and click shut and it was sealed. I did this, then realised, baffled, that it was largely full of air. I wasn’t going to be able to knead that over the rubbery bumps that provide the washboard experience. At this point I realised the usefulness of a small rubber valve: I was able to vent the air easily, leaving my clothes in a soapy soup.

As a lazy person I regard the most important bit of washing is the soak. I flung it on a table and left the clothes to marinate. I wondered vaguely if the easy seal would leak, but it held the water perfectly.

On my visits to Australia I’d always been impressed by the businesslike design of their washing machines. Not for them the rolling gentleness of the soft European frontloading drums: the washing machines I’ve encountered Down Under were all top-loaders, with serious paddles in the middle that beat the shit out of any clothes being washed. Tough on dirt: tough on the causes of dirt. So it’s perhaps not so surprising that the Scrubba™ wash bag, as an Australian invention, also takes a serious approach to the physical side of dislodging dirt from clothes. The rubber spots on the base of the bag provided a firmly abrasive surface on which I could scrub free any amount of travel debris that might have accumulated. I scrubbed, the soapy water got dirtier and dirtier, and when I was happy with it I just unclipped the top, unwrapped the seal, and poured out the water.

Rinsing was equally easy. The Scrubba™ Bag had proved its worth. £37 well spent.

Postscript: After five uses the bag split a hole. Might have been an underwired bra but still hard to fix. Then the air escape valve just fell off. Found it, kept it, but no easy way to re-affix into what was, by this stage, a leaky bag. At £37 needs to come with repair adhesives and probably patches. Southeast Asian laundresses can probably sleep easy and washing on the road is still best by bucket.

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