The only thing missing from my sublimely nomadic lifestyle this summer, was someone to follow me around and do laundry. Until this service is available (and free), I’m open to testing a few more creative options, like the Scrubba.
From the outside, the Scrubba doesn’t look like anything more than a reinforced plastic bag, but the simple construction is what makes it so impressive. This well thought out design is made of durable, light-weight materials (5 oz.), and packs down small enough to fit in your hand. It can also double as a dry bag for wet or smelly clothes. The Scrubba is helpful for indoor or outdoor travelers and got my clothes cleaner than other methods, with much less of a watery, soapy mess. Whether I’m car camping with kids or in the back-country with friends, I’ve always had it in my mind that occasional smelly clothes are an unfortunate, but necessary trade-off for all that fun. However, this summer, testing the Scrubba was a downright luxury.
The interior of the bag is fitted with strong plastic ‘nodules’ that act as an old-school washboard. I found the washboard SO much more effective than washing under a campground tap or a hotel sink, where it’s nearly impossible to agitate the clothes enough to get them completely clean. There is a minor element of labor involved for a good result, but let’s be real—if you’re buying the Scrubba as a way to save money while traveling or camping, I’m assuming this part of the package is expected. In fact, it’s so minimal that after one short demonstration, my nine year old daughter was washing clothes without help, and when we’re home, she still asks to wash her socks in the Scrubba.
The process of washing is simple, and if for some reason you forget how, step-by-step pictured instructions are printed directly on the wash bag. After adding your clothes, preferred (earth-friendly) soap and water to the fill line, secure the roll-down top and use the small plastic valve to release any excess air. I like to let the clothes soak for just a minute if they’re especially pungent or are caked in that glorious red-rock dirt we enjoy in some parts of the west. Next, it’s time to get in touch with your early ancestors with a little washboard time—pioneer songs are optional. The reinforced, grip backing keeps the bag in place while washing, and the amount of time needed to get clothes clean was surprisingly low. ‘Loads’ can be done in as little as five minutes, including a good rinse. Some clothes will need more time of course, but for hotel travelers, that should be ample time to get clothes clean and happy. A plastic window is provided to allow for easy view of your progress. Emptying the dirty water and refilling to rinse, without splashing, can be a little tricky but I got the hang of it after the first load.
The Scrubba has now become a necessary addition to my summer gear bag. From the first use, it quickly became a staple—whether I was island hopping in Florida or multi-day trekking in the Grand Canyon—I just didn’t want to leave it behind. The ability to wash clothes on the go, meant that I needed to bring less with me when traveling. It’s easily a solid buy at $55 USD, when you consider the money you’d be spending on hotel coin laundry or wash services. That doesn’t even include the pairs of socks I’ve had to toss, when I labeled them as a lost cause after a multi-day hike. Just a quick tip: if you buy through a company like Earth Easy, linked below, you can often score one for a lower price. My final say—the Scrubba is money well spent.