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Tips for Drying Your Clothes Without a Dryer

drying clothes without dryer

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Somewhere in the middle of catching up with some old travel blogger friends, the topic of washing clothes on the road came up, to which many of us said we find it easier to just hand-wash as we go.

This is especially the case when you carry a compact wardrobe.

It also saves you from all the drama of sometimes having to go out to find a laundromat and just communicating terms in a foreign language. Booked up travel schedules often leave little time for that task!

And with that idea in mind, we talked about the process of drying clothes on the road without a dryer… after hand-washing, after a day at the beach, or just after getting caught in the rain.

  • Hot Tip: Learning to hand-wash clothing as I travel is one of the keys to being able to travel with a minimal wardrobe. While some think this to be a hassle, it’s not an issue if you simply make it a part of your normal routine. You can even wash some clothing while you are taking your daily shower!

Various Ideas for Drying Your Clothes When You Travel

Heated Racks

Some bathrooms in hotels and hostels have heated drying racks for towels that make clothes drying pretty much guaranteed overnight.

Hair Dryers

For those pesky pairs of travel undies or socks that didn’t quite dry overnight, hairdryers (which are available in many hostels as well) can complete the mission.

travel clothes line
Drying my clothes in my Urumqi, China hostel using a travel clothes line.

Travel Clothes Lines

The stretchy braided clothes lines work great because you can connect them from bed posts to chairs to door handles. The braided nature means you don’t need clothespins and can instead just insert an edge of your sock or shirt in the middle.

  • Read about these clotheslines here.

Alternatively, a rope version can work but isn’t quite as packable. Some hotels may have a clothesline built-in above the shower area, so keep an eye out.

The Random Hanging Place

The back of chairs (if they’re not wood or fabric, of course) and the end or edge of hostel bunk beds can work in a pinch, but you might need to flip them over at some point to speed the drying process up.

If it comes down to it and something isn’t dry by check-out, hanging certain items (like a pack towel) off the back or side of your backpack might be doable.

Balconies and Fans

The key to quick drying is airflow. If you have access to a balcony you’ll be just fine, unless it starts raining! Other options include using a fan or ceiling fan to create airflow in your room.

Inflatable Hangers

Megan from Pegs on the Line mentioned that she loves using blow-up hangers, even in conjunction with a travel clothesline. The hangers allow your clothes to be separated, getting better airflow, and then more items can also be hung off the clothesline at one time.

korjo inflatable hangers

Find inflatable hangers on Amazon.

Hanging Laundry Clips

If you’re going to pack laundry pegs, you might as well get the ones that have the hanging hooks for optimal use. You’re not always in an accommodation with extra hangers or a place to hang a laundry line, so a few of these can be super helpful.

hanging laundry clips to dry clothes

Hanging laundry clips

Additional Tips for Drying Clothes Without Dryer

  • Don’t wash all of your clothing the night before you need to leave. Just in case items don’t dry in time, you don’t want to be left with only wet clothes as options!
  • Choose quick-drying materials – not cotton! This makes a HUGE difference in the amount of time needed to dry. Also, packing at least one full outfit of quick-drying material means you can have one reliably clean and dry outfit while traveling.
  • Remove excess water with a towel. After washing your clothes, wrap in a towel (preferably your quick-drying turkish towel), roll like a burrito and then stomp on it.
  • Plan ahead, especially if traveling in a wet and/or cool climate. Clothes may take a lot of extra time to dry.
  • Do a trial run before you travel. Knowing the approximate drying time for your clothing will help you prioritize the washing process when on the road.
  • For tips on hand-washing clothes, check out this post. Being able to hand-wash clothes on the go is key to traveling with a minimal wardrobe!

Do you have any tips for drying your clothes on the road? Share them below!

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Written by Brooke

I run the show at Her Packing List and love packing ultralight. In fact, I once traveled for 3 entire weeks with just the contents of a well-packed 12L handbag. When I'm not obsessing over luggage weight, I'm planning adventures or just snuggling with my pet rabbit, Sherlock Bunz.

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Comments

  1. Erin says

    Great article! I have to second the inflatable hangers. I was skeptical when given them as a going away gift, but they proved to be worth their weight! I think the best part of the hangers is the shape they take when inflated. Seriously, they pouf out your clothes so nothing touches allowing everything to dry easily.

  2. Sharon says

    I’ll second the comments about using a towel to absorb excess water from clothes. I go one step further by twisting the towel with the clothing rolled inside. I recently travelled to the UK and shared this tip with some cyclists in my hostel. They had been worried about their clothing not drying overnight. In the morning, they were good to go.

  3. GlamourousTraveller says

    Good tips. I really do love those braided lines and travel with them. They take up little space in the bag and can easily be tied up to things (like a doorknob) in case you’re in a pesky room where nothing can be hung up

  4. Megan says

    Thanks for the mention! I swear by those coat hangers. I get plenty of strange looks when I blow them up in a hostel, but I’m the one laughing when all my laundry is dry the next morning 🙂

  5. Samantha says

    Synthetic/Quick drying fabrics and travel specific underwear has been my salvation on this trip in south/east/North Africa. Particularly places where burning garbage is common, the faster the clothing dries, the less time it has to take on the smell. It’s also way easier to wash!

  6. Laura says

    You can pull a lot of water from clothes with one of those cheap synthetic car drying cloths. Roll your wet things up tightly, then wring the entire thing and be impressed at how much water comes out.

  7. Robin says

    I also use the quick dry travel towels. Roll your wet items in the towel then step on the rolled up towel. Works great. And if everything’s not dry when you’re ready to leave, slightly wet clothing keeps you cool in hot climates.

  8. Duckmoon says

    If my socks weren’t quite dry, I would wear thrm on my hands for a while, the body heat would dry thrm enough to put thrm on.

  9. Len says

    Got caught in a torrential downpour at the Colesuem in Rome. Road was flooded and we had to wade thru ankle deep water to reach our vehicle. Suede hiking boots (Only footwear we had) got soaked. Back at motel used towels and paper to soak up as much water as possible.Left boots upended overnight ot heat vents for the tv (left it on all night) and over bench vents used so bad fridge doesn’t overheat. Boots were pretty dry by morning.

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