this thing's incredible

These Dissolvable Detergent Sheets Turn Any Hotel-Room Sink Into a Washing Machine

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photo: Retailer

As a travel nut who has trekked through Ecuador’s Amazon and ridden the Trans-Mongolian Railway from Ulaanbaatar to Beijing, I always try to bring just a carry-on. A hiking pack, duffel, or small suitcase is easier to throw into overhead bins, plus it can save major time at airport check-in and arrival. But for longer trips, cutting down on clothes often means paying for expensive hotel laundry or seeking out laundromats — not ideal when you’re constantly on the move or out exploring during business hours. It also means invariably arriving home with a pile of garments whose scent is, politely speaking, “not fantastic.”

After scouring travel blogs for a better way to tackle laundry on the road, I came across this $8.99 pack of detergent sheets. Although they’re technically designed for washing machines, many savvy Amazon reviewers said they had success using the dissolvable sheets in hotel-room sinks. After reading page after page of positive feedback on the product, I decided to put it through its paces on a 12-day trip through Thailand and Cambodia, during which I brought only my trusty Osprey Kestrel 38L pack.

The muggy heat of Southeast Asia, with daily temperatures reaching 95 degrees Fahrenheit, provided the testing grounds. Each day, I sweated through my clothes within minutes of stepping outside (gross but true). And each night, I washed those clothes in my hostel room’s sink using the following process: After sanitizing the basin with hand soap and paper towels, I placed one or two full sheets on top of my clothes, depending on the load size. (Although some reviewers warned that one sheet was too much detergent, I found that that was the right amount for two to three items, while two sheets was ideal for four to five. My theory: Better to err on the side of being too clean.) As soon as I turned on the tap, the sheets began breaking down, and I let the clothes soak in warm, soapy water — no scrubbing, no additional equipment — for five minutes, after which all the dirt had lifted and any lingering odor had disappeared. I then rinsed each item for 10 to 15 seconds under the faucet, wrung them out thoroughly, then hung them up to dry over chairs or in the shower.

A laundry sheet dissolving on a pile of dirty clothes. Photo: Author

By the time I woke up each morning, I had clean, great-smelling clothes (like the best version of a fresh Tide scent), without leaving my room. And because of this system, I stayed ahead of the laundry problem — when I arrived home from Bangkok, my only dirty clothes were those I’d worn on the plane. With the crushing 11-hour jet lag, not having to worry about doing the wash was a blessing.

A full pack of 16 sheets weighs less than a deck of cards and takes up minimal space — roughly that of a paper plate — so I also don’t have to compromise on my carry-on-only rule. I’ll be bringing a box on every journey I take now; in fact, a new packet is already waiting in my bag for my upcoming trip to Bolivia.

Some other laundry detergents we’ve written about

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These Sheets Turn Any Hotel-Room Sink Into a Washing Machine