Washing clothes on vacation seems to turn people off. Right now I can tell you that if you are of the mindset that you shouldn’t do any work on vacation, then you might as well stay home. Washing clothes on vacation is not the big deal that some make it out to be.
For the typical 2 week stay, I will take enough clothes for about 5-6 days. That allows me to pack light and have plenty of room for bringing home souvenirs and gifts. So 6 pair of underwear, 4-6 T-shirts depending on the weather we’re expecting, 3 pair of shorts or pants (usually only one pair of jeans as they can be worn over and over without looking grimy), 1 or 2 sweaters, 6 pairs of socks (less for summer travel) etc. I think you get the picture.
If you’re following my suggestions and staying in a vacation apartment of sorts, then washing facilities are generally on site, often in the apartment, making it easy to do. But I’ve had a wide variety of options at my disposal over the years: both washer and dryer in the apartment, washer and clothes horse in the apartment, washer down the hall or otherwise communal, host who washes laundry for you (I think this was free in every instance), and my personal favorite, a nearby laundromat in Berlin that washed, dried, ironed and folded our laundry for under 10 bucks (this was like 30 lbs of laundry too!)!
No matter what the case, two things I never leave home without are my Indian washing nuts and a mesh laundry bag. Instead of buying laundry soap in every country where you go, which can be a pain due to the weight/space of the item as well as the fact that you might only be able to get enormous sizes, laundry nuts are a Godsend. You use about 6 or 7 in a small muslin bag added to your wash. They are light and take up almost no space. The nuts can be used over and over until they disintegrate. That’s it. So simple.
The mesh bag is also indispensable. First it allows you to keep your clean and dirty laundry separated, but it also allows you to keep your laundry contained in the washing machine (they are almost always front loaders in other countries) so that socks and small items don’t get lost and if you need to hand your laundry over to someone else to do it, there is no mistaking which laundry is yours.
Both are reasonable in price and will last you for years if not decades.
Truth be told, I use the washing nuts rather sparingly at home because I have two kids. They basically do a good job. The only problem is that when your kids make stains for example egg yolks, pasta sauce and other rich colored foods you need some kind of oxygen based cleaner or even a little conventional laundry detergent to pull out those types of stains. Otherwise, the clothes come out quite fresh and clean.
If you given soap nuts a try, let me know at what your experience was like. I’d like to know how you made out.