Getting Dirty About Laundry

OK, maybe the title should be “airing my dirty laundry”. Living aboard a sailboat as vagabonds we don’t have a washer.  I only know a few folks who have a washer on board. Yet I love having the laundry done. When it’s just the two of us on passage, well, let’s say we wear clothes longer than we would if we were back in civilization (sound familiar?!). I haven’t gone to strictly doing laundry aboard. There are several things about laundry that cause me consternation – where to store it, lugging it to a laundromat, dealing with people in laundromats, and the cost.  I should add that the Captain is usually very helpful with the laundry process, either lugging or helping put clothes away.  Here are some of my thoughts on laundry, a 2017-01-11 Laundry Services chart, and a curated list of interesting blog links relating to laundry issues.

Dirty Laundry Storage:  We haven’t solved where to put the dirty laundry till laundry day.  So for now the forward head/closet is where the dirty laundry hides.

These are good laundry hamper ideas if they fit your boat.

Hamper 1

Clever design – a  colorful hamper that becomes your laundry tote bag.

Speaking of laundry totes, we use our Bowline Bags.   I’ve seen some very varied bags from white trash bags and mesh bags. There are a number of collapsible hamper totes online.  And our friend has one that is a backpack (Go Ems!).

Oh - the ever present laundry backpack appears. Guess what today is?

Laundry room etiquette:  I’ve seen the best and worst of humanity in laundromats.  I’ve met wonderful folks doing laundry and it can be a good time to catch up on reading or cruiser gossip!  This is a good summary of what is considered reasonable behavior for cruiser’s laundry.

Cost of doing laundry:  If I had realized how expensive laundry would be in Hope Town, Abacos ($11/load DIY), I’d have done an extra load of sheets in Rock Sound, Eleuthera where it was much less expensive.  That got me thinking.  Maybe it would be helpful to gather information on the cost of laundry services for better planning.

We spent about $241 on laundry in 2014 (our first full year of cruising) $315 in 2015 and $285 in 2016.  That’s a lot of quarters (or tokens in the Bahamas). Disclosure: I did use wash and fold service in George Town, Exuma – a bit of a luxury at $10/load.  This isn’t a large category in our budget, but it became a new and unique category when we moved aboard as we had a washer and dryer right in our condo (very low “lug factor”). So we didn’t itemize the cost of doing laundry in our budget before moving aboard.

Here is a chart of 2017-01-11 Laundry Services (independent businesses and laundry facilities at marinas) I’ve encountered.  If this is helpful to others, I could expand it with additional info.  Where’s your favorite place to do laundry?  Any other info to add?

There is a column called the “Lug Factor”.  In case it isn’t clearly obvious what this is, I’ve assigned a high, medium, low level depending on how far you have to carry the laundry from the boat to the washer.  If you are doing four loads, it can add up to a bit of lugging.

I add to Active Captain reviews when I have a particularly good or bad marina experience.  When I do, I try to add the details of any laundry experiences and the date.  (Maybe that would be a better place to gather this data?)

Doing laundry on board to conserving water and money:  You can save money by doing laundry on board.  I occasionally do a small number of the nylon active wear items in our baby bathtub. I use ammonia or Woolite to save rinses as we currently do not have a watermaker. Update:  Now that we have a watermaker I am more likely to do a small load in the tub.

Magnolia's baby bathtub
Magnolia’s baby bathtub

For a different view on laundry and a way to save money, here is a short, curated list of blogs that have covered doing laundry aboard, including reconsidering the fabrics worn and used on board to limit the laundry and care requirements (no silk, no linen, no fluffy towels.)

Homemade laundry soap:  I haven’t made soap.  I use the pods.  It’s a cool idea if you are so inclined.

I’d love to update the laundry service chart with highlights (or “lowlights”) of laundry experiences.  Please send along your input. Other thoughts on making laundry more tolerable?!

And lastly,  cruiser “ironing” is a really good shake or two out of the dryer!

Update: Jan 2017

Laundry chart 2017-01-11 Laundry Services

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