Your Backpack Is A Portable Laundry Line: Washing Clothes on the Camino

CroatianLaundry

Laundry on a line in Split, Croatia; photo by Anna Harris (2012).

One of the things I’ll have to get used to while walking the Camino is wearing the same thing, day after day. It’s advised that your pack only be about 10% of your body weight, which currently puts my pack’s ideal weight at about 15 lbs. I plan on hiking as lightly as possible, which should mean two changes of clothes, max.

As you might imagine, wearing the same thing every day is not only boring, but also potentially stinky, especially when you’re walking between 15 and 20 miles per day. From what I’ve been reading, there are opportunities to wash and dry clothing in machines once a week or so. In some cases, it’s even possible to have your laundry done for you. However, it seems that many people end up hand washing essential pieces in the afternoon after a day’s walk, then hanging them out to dry on a laundry line at their alburgue (a type of hostel along the Camino). Another option is to hang smaller wet clothes, like socks, on the back of your backpack as you walk the next day.

I hate washing clothes. Even with the modern convenience of a washer and dryer in my apartment, I still put off washing clothes until I’ve run out of all of my favorite t-shirts. More than just washing clothes, I especially hate hand washing clothes. I like soaping and rinsing them, but I really dislike wringing them out. When I was a girl, still living at home, one of my chores was to do all of the laundry, even when our washing machine died and this meant washing everyone’s clothes by hand. It’s just not something I ever want to do again, and I try to avoid buying delicate clothing as a result.

As lame as it may sound, I think this might be a small issue on the trip. Will I just deal with it, and hand wash when needed? Probably. Or will I hold out until the last minute, desperately hoping to run into a washing machine in the next town over? Well, there’s a good chance I might do this for awhile, too. One way or the other, it’s sure to be an adventure.

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