Travel tip: Doing laundry on the road? Two easy solutions for soap

Travel tip: Doing laundry on the road? Two easy solutions for soap
For laundry you're surprised to be doing on the road, hotel shower gel proves a worthy stand-in. But a couple of detergent pods, which you've cleverly packed in a plastic bag for just such an emergency, probably will work better. (Catharine Hamm / Los Angeles Times)

When I unexpectedly ran out of clean clothes on a recent trip, I was lucky: The Phoenix area motel where we were staying had a coin-operated washer and dryer.

What it didn't have was a coin-operated vending machines dispensing detergent. It was about 10 at night and the last thing I wanted to do was make a run to the store.


On our first stop on this car trip, we stayed in a Palm Springs-area hotel that definitely didn't have coin-operated washer and dryer. It was far too elegant for that. But it did have a plethora of personal care products, including some swell-smelling shower gel.

I had tucked the half of the tube I hadn't used into my cosmetics bag, where it transformed itself into laundry detergent one hot Arizona night.

My clothes (I did a very small load) smelled great, and the gel even got that aioli spot out of my blouse. I patted myself on the back — until I talked to my sister.

After I told her about my genius, she said, very gently, "Oh, I just always carry a couple of detergent pods in a plastic bag."

Duh. Of course she does because she is, besides being older, obviously smarter.

Her kids are grown so she and her husband aren't exposing them to the poisoning dangers of pods that Consumer Reports noted in an article in 2013. (Children mistake the brightly colored pods for candy.)

In 2014, more than 11,000 children 5 and younger were exposed to the packets, according to the American Assn. of Poison Control Centers. Its website explains that exposure means "ingested, inhaled, absorbed by the skin or eyes, etc." and notes that "not all exposures are poisonings or overdoses."

You also have to be careful where you pack the pods, because they could squish and break.

For a longer trip, I would consider laundry products from,  which has a host of travel-size products of all kinds, including breakfast-on-the-go kits and travel-size games. (Hungry, Hungry Hippos, anyone?)

For now, though, popping a couple of pods in a plastic bag is a pretty easy option, although my clothes washed in that detergent don't smell nearly as sweet.

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