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13 best travel laundry bags

Jul 20, 2023

Some people think doing laundry on vacation is a chore, but the reality is you’re either going to wash there or when you get home, so you might as well pack half as much and do it on the road.

By doing this, you can cut four suitcases down to two according to “Laundry Evangelist” Patric Richardson, host of “The Laundry Guy” on Discovery+. “Doing laundry on the road simply allows you to pack and carry less,” says Richardson.

Here are the best travel laundry bags to pack on your next trip, plus tips for keeping your clothes fresh and clean.

“Dirty laundry needs to be isolated from both clean clothes and your suitcase or duffel bag to prevent the transfer of odors or stain materials,” says Mary Gagliardi, aka “Dr. Laundry,” Clorox’s in-house scientist and cleaning specialist.

When it comes to choosing the material, bags made of tightly woven fabric are ideal. Gagliardi added that cotton is okay if you only want to contain odor; however, synthetics are best for containing moisture too.

Of course, you’ll need to wash the bag itself at some point, so look for those that are machine-washable. Size is also an important factor to consider. “Bigger is better,” says Gagliardi. “You don’t have to fill it all the way up — it’s still the same amount of clothing going into the suitcase — you just don’t want to run out of space, so make sure your dirty laundry bag can handle nearly everything you have packed if you won’t be doing any laundry while traveling.”

Whatever you do, avoid those made entirely of mesh for travel. “These bags are not good travel laundry bags because the mesh fabric allows odors to move freely through the fabric and won’t prevent odor from escaping the bag,” she says. Bags that come with a layer of mesh, however, are probably OK, especially if you’re likely to end up with wet or sweaty clothes or those made of fabrics that need to “breathe.”

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“I travel with a stain remover and a stain brush to touch up little things, such as a spot on a shirt,” Richardson says. “The shirt is clean otherwise, so a stain remover and a stain brush make it easy to focus on the soiled area. Once it’s dry, I can wear it again.”

Gagliardi suggests treating stains as soon as you can, especially on a long trip, even if you don’t plan on wearing the item again before you get home. “The longer stains sit, the harder they are to get out,” she says.

Further, laundry flakes or powder not only take up less space in your luggage but they’re also not likely to cause problems if they accidentally spill the way liquid detergents will. “Flakes also make it easy to handwash something in a sink if I need to,” Richardson says. Just be sure to keep laundry products in their original packaging for safety purposes.

Like everything else having to do with travel, preparation is key. If you plan to do laundry on the go, booking a stay at a hotel or home that provides access to a washer and dryer will not only be convenient but will also save you time in the long run. After all, who wants to waste time hunting down a laundromat when you could be exploring a trail or indulging in a spa treatment?

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The L.L. Bean Boat and Tote bag has been a bestseller for years. It’s made of sturdy canvas, it folds easily and it can hold a ton of weight. Plus, it features reinforced handles and double-stitched seams, making it not only a great travel laundry bag but the perfect carry-on bag too.

“I use it as a carry-on bag because it zips shut and I can fit books, medicine and more, and it’s easy to carry. But then when I need to do laundry, I can use it for that too,” Richardson says. “It’s also easy to wash — just throw it in the washing machine and that’s it.”

The Boat and Tote comes in different sizes, colors, and pattern combinations. You can even personalize it with a custom monogram.

Made of sturdy, durable nylon, the JHX Dirty Laundry Bag can hold up to 22 pounds of laundry. Even better, the laundry bag alone weighs in at just 2.6 ounces, making it a lightweight addition to your suitcase.

The bag comes with sturdy handles and hooks, so it’s easy to carry or clip onto a backpack. The outer zipper pocket is ideal for storing lingerie or other sensitive fabrics. One Amazon reviewer said the size was perfect: “Not so big and bulky to make packing difficult, but large enough to hold a good amount of dirty clothes.”

This laundry bag doubles as a packing cube, helping you stay organized on the go. The bag itself is made of a lightweight, durable and translucent ripstop polyester fabric that makes it easy to see what’s inside.

The bag also has two sides — one breathable side for fabrics that need to dry out and another for those that don’t. A proprietary antimicrobial treatment promises to keep any odor contained, and a floating divider allows for flexible compartmentalizing.

These surprisingly strong laundry bags can hold up to four loads of laundry and easily fold flat to fit in any luggage or carry-on bag. An inside liner keeps odor contained, while durable nylon prevents tears and a drawstring closure keeps everything in place. This two-pack is a great value, especially if you travel with a large family.

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Made of two sturdy layers — an inner mesh bag for clothes that need to breathe or dry out and another that locks in odors and germs — the STNKY is known for trapping odors, which is a must when you’re traveling.

One reviewer who travels frequently said he can’t ever smell his dirty laundry, even when it’s full. When it’s time to do laundry, just flip the STNKY upside down and toss the clothes straight into the machine, contact-free.

Some travel experts say the best travel laundry bags are compressible, especially if you’re traveling for more than a week or you tend to be a heavy packer. Geoff Grisdale, founder of the travel blog One Bag Travels, says these compressible packing cubes are ideal for maximizing space.

“They have two built-in compartments that separate your clean and dirty laundry in the same cube,” he says. “Start your trip with your clothes on the clean side, and transfer to the dirty side as you go. This saves you from needing to bring an extra laundry bag.”

The Peak Design Packing Cube is sold as a single or in sets of three or six for times when you pack heavy or travel with others.

As one reviewer said, “This little bag opens up to a large capacity,” so don’t be fooled by its small size (6.3 inches by 6.2 inches when folded). Tear- and moisture-resistant as well as machine-washable, it checks all the boxes for what you need in a travel laundry bag — and for a great price!

This set of three cubes comes with various sizes and is designed to accommodate everything from underwear, swimsuits and other compact items to medium-sized items such as shirts and pajamas and even bulkier jeans and sweaters.

A mesh window on one side keeps the bag “breathable” and makes it easy to see what’s inside. Its unique zipper design allows for different packing styles: Either fold your clothes and stack them or roll them up to make the most of your space.

For quick overnight business trips or weekend getaways, this compact laundry bag is perfect. Separated into two zippered compartments, it keeps clean and dirty clothes apart, which means you can use this to pack a few items too.

Features such as water-repellent fabric and a pair of toggles and elastic loops that let you fold the bag in half for easy packing make it a winner. Alas, it is not machine-washable on its own. If you’re a die-hard Lululemon fan, though, you’ll love the chic simplicity of this travel laundry bag.

Sometimes carrying a heavy load of laundry is easier done with backpack handles, and this Brightroom version delivers that. It also features a sturdy top handle, so you can carry it whichever way is easiest for you.

Made of lightweight fabric, it folds easily when not in use and expands to an extra-large cylinder shape complete with a mesh pocket for small, delicate items. One reviewer said she was able to stuff her dirty rolled-up, double sleeping bag in it with no problem, so it’s definitely roomy.

This super-sturdy travel laundry bag comes with a PROTX2® antimicrobial-coated lining that keeps germs from spreading. Two clips at the bottom allow you to attach the bag to the inside of any luggage to separate and store dirty clothes away from everything else. That said, it's a pricey addition to your travel gear setup.

This sustainable laundry bag is made of washable paper and is roomy and sturdy enough to accommodate large loads and big families. The bag is water-resistant and folds into a small, easily packable rectangle. The bag also comes with a removable tag so you can label it according to its contents (light or dark) or by the name of the traveler — whichever you prefer!

A modern version of the old-school washboard, it has a ribbed interior that “rubs” garments clean. Just add water and detergent, and rub your clothes together inside the bag and the Scrubba does the rest. At less than five ounces, it bills itself as “the smallest washing machine in the world.”

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Looking for a new travel credit card? Check out CNN Underscored’s list of the best credit cards currently available.

Looking for a new travel credit card? Check out CNN Underscored’s list of the best credit cards currently available.