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.
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
The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.