On Wednesday’s, We Hand Wash Clothes!

Traveling long term is a whole new world. My husband and I are currently backpacking through India for a few months. Vagabonding is a magical experience! But with it, comes certain challenges that we now realize were luxuries back in the states! One prime example…..a washing machine!! We have chosen to experience this trip as backpackers, which requires VERY simplistic living. I love it. So three months, with a small/medium sized backpack to hold all of my goods! This means not much room for clothes….time to get creative! There haven’t really been any washing machines here in the places we have been staying! Most folks here wash hand wash their clothes, sometimes in buckets, sometimes in the river. So that is exactly what we will do too! (Well, the bucket method at least) And often!! Considering it is quite dirty here and we are going through our clothes real quick!

Below I will list the supplies and directions for washing your clothes by hand.


  • Bar of Soap (sold in most markets or supplied in hotel)
  • Bucket(s) (sold in markets or supplied in hotel)
  • Tide powder (some markets will have this, if you’re lucky)
  • Nylon or Synthetic rope (brought this with us from home)


  1. Pre-tie rope up. Get creative looking for a place on each side of the room or patio to tie rope to. Know that wherever you hang your clothes, they WILL drip. So, make sure they are hanging in a “drip safe” place! Also, nylon and synthetic rope do not easily get moldy when wet, so I suggest using one of those types. I did a double half Hitch knot on one end and a Taut line on the other end so I can tighten it.
  2. Fill two buckets with warm water. One for soapy water, one for rinsing soap out. (There are many ways to achieve this, but this is my way)
  3. Dump in desired amount of Tide powder into one bucket. (I have done it many times without tide too, only scrubbing with a bar of soap. Either way works)
  4. Place about three clothing items in soapy water at a time. Stir clothes around in the tide water.
  5. Use bar of soap directly on “problem areas”. I use the soap to spot check stains and particularly smelly areas on article of clothing (armpits area or pant leg cuffs that drag on the ground, etc).
  6. *Pick up soap you dropped, lol
  7. Scrub article of clothing all together outside of water. This will make it suds up and then you can continue to scrub it inside soapy water.
  8. Rinse item in soapy water till all noticeable soap film is gone.
  9. Squeeze out soapy water from item and transfer to “Clean water bucket”.
  10. Rinse item thoroughly in clean water.
  11. Squeeze out as much water as possible and then hang to dry. I usually just hang the item right over the rope. Carrying along clothes pins takes up way too much room in my backpack, so I avoid them.

And so on and so forth!! Of course, I had to change out the dirty water a few times throughout the process of washing all the clothes! Oddly, I have enjoyed washing my clothes by hand. It can be a fun process if you have a good attitude about it! If anything, I know for a fact I will not take my washing machine for granted back at home!

So before, I mentioned the word “Vagabonding” (long-term travel or nomadic lifestyle). Some people get it, some people don’t, and that’s ok! Everyone has their certain desired way of traveling, ours just happens to be long-term. I have had a few people ask me, “Why the heck are you going to India for that long?!” or… “Don’t you think you will get tired of being there so long and want to come home?” Here, let me explain. I do not prefer short term travel. Of course, I will always take what I get, but we do strive to make our trips as long as possible. There are many reasons for this. I do not like being rushed when I am exploring a new place. I like to take my time and see as much as my heart desires!! Without cramming it all into one day! It is more enjoyable for me to travel to a new place and not have any plans set in stone. I get there, I ask the locals whats good to see/ do, I ask the other tourists the same. It is wonderful, each day brings a new experience this way and you never know where these new adventures will lead you. Another HUGE reason I love long term travel. I love soaking in the culture of the place I am in. Not just experiencing it as a tourist, but as a person who lives there. Who eats there. Who abides by the customs and traditions. Who knows their way around. Truly becoming “One of them” in every way possible. Etc:) I want to be culturally well-rounded. If this sounds appealing to you, I suggest you go for it! Hopefully these step by step clothes washing directions will help make your travel experience more enjoyable! OR, if you never need to use this particular technique, I hope this post can inspire you to learn how to do something else that you wouldn’t normally think to do!


Dream Wild, Moon Child