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Clothes washing - what to use?

Camino(s) past & future
April/May 2018
#1
I've looked around the search options on this excellent forum and have seen some mention of Lux soap bars and Dr Bronner's soap being used for washing clothes. There's an obvious benefit in being able to use the same soap that we use to wash/shampoo ourselves, for washing the clothes as well. I just wondered whether using Lux soap bars/Dr Bronner's etc has any detriment on the performance of the technical materials that our walking gear is made of nowadays. I'm sure companies such as Nikwax would prefer us to use their cleaning products instead and I did buy a tube of their Woolwash travel gel last year, but not yet used. Ought I to go ahead and buy another tube of their Basewash travel gel or would the Lux soap bar that I intend to take with me do the job just as well?

33 days to go before I start out from SJPP.
 

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JennyH94

Pilgrim in progress
Camino(s) past & future
The Frances from Pamplona and part VF, first-aid helper and hospitalera
#2
Hi Teej41 - your Lux bar will do the job perfectly well. Use it for hair, body and clothes. Multi-purpose and long-lasting if you air dry it after each use. If you find that it’s not suitable for your hair, the majority of small tiendas on the Camino will have travel-sized bottles of shampoo.
Buen Camino and take joy in every step.
Cheers - Jenny
 

davebugg

DustOff: "When I have your wounded."
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
#3
I've used this product for many years on the trails in the backcountry. It rinses away quickly and cleanly, leaving no residue on the skin or clothing. And a tiny amount goes a long way. :) Last year on Camino, I repacked the soap into a smaller container since I didn't need the full 3 ounce bottle.
 

Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
#4
I've generally used whatever I had or whatever came to hand. There is always a scrap-end of soap or a lost shampoo bottle or even the occasional discarded, heavy, bottle of Dr Bronners, to be found in the ablutions. The basic combination of surfactants and mild alkaloids will dissolve or at least loosen the adherence of ex-human fatty molecules that have combined with our clothing that then get consumed by bacteria whose excretions make us easily detectable to predators and sensitive people in lifts (elevators) or similar confined spaces.

A soap bar is probably the best choice for a back packer or pilgrim because you aren't carrying the water that the detergent had been previously dissolved in.
 

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onwayhome

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances Ponferrada-Santiago,(c1986)
Frances SJPP-Santiago (2011)
Portuguese Porto- Finisterre (2016)
St Michaels Way (2016)
#6
One soap for everything works for me.

I am wary of washing waterproofs in anything other than cold water when on the trail. Detergents etc can affect the water repellent coating (dwr) which helps modern breathable fabrics to function.
 
Camino(s) past & future
St.jean to Burgos 2015, Burgos to Leon 2016
#7
Hi there I have used one of the Lush soaps for all 4 of my camino experiences. It is great on hair, clothes and body. My husband wasn’t too fond of the lemony one but I have found them all great! If you air dry it, it should last a month. Buen camino.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2012 SJPP-Burgos, 2014 Burgos-Leon, 2018 Leon-Santiago
#8
I traveled with a 3oz bottle of Dr Bronner’s citrus,which I used for everything. That was supplemented by some wilderness wash that someone had left in a deserted (except for me) albergue in Murias de Rechivaldo. Next time I’m using the wilderness wash Dave suggests above exclusively. It’s so concentrated it’s hard not to use too much until you get the hang of it. I have traveled with bar soap, but found it inconveniently messy.

All the best,
Paul
 
#9
I used the Dr Bonners almond bar for body and laundry. It worked really well. I carried it in a hard-sided plastic soap container - the kind you buy in the travel toiletries section at Target. No issues with the soap not drying or being messy. I had a Lush shampoo bar in there also (my hair doesn't like the Dr Bonners soap)
 

Iriebabel

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances April (2018)
? route TBD for April (2019)
#11
In April I used Dr Bonners for shower and wash but hated that I had to carry shampoo and conditioner (I have very long, very curly hair). Could not live without conditioner but this year I am choosing to carry “travel on” laundry soap sheets. tried them a couple times this past camino and they worked great in the machine as well as hand wash. They literally weigh nothing..and that little thing had 50 sheets. And Ethique shampoo bar and conditioner ngets great reviews so we will see how I do next camino. I can use the shampoo as bath soap. Conditioner is 2 oz and the shampoo is 4 oz....lasts as good as 3 bottles of each..
 

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TatiLie

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning for first Camino (2019)
#12
A head-to-toe baby shampoo works great with merino clothing. And it's not too harsh for your skin and hair on frequent washes. I wouldn't even use conditioner if I wash my hair everyday with them. And no harsh smells.
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
#13
Exactly what few of the members said. One liquid soap for everything. And I don't mind the brand at all. Of course if you have issues with allergies then this recipe is clearly a no go. Also it would make your backpack lighter ;)
 

Bigfrog

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Soon...
#14
During my two previous month long backpacking trips I would just wash that day's clothing in nothing but water (scrubbing a little extra in the stinky places) then hang those clothes on my backpack. The exposure to sun during the days walk would kill any bacteria and make it nice and fresh. If you need soap powdered detergent is light weight and you really don't need much.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de Santiago
#15
I've looked around the search options on this excellent forum and have seen some mention of Lux soap bars and Dr Bronner's soap being used for washing clothes. There's an obvious benefit in being able to use the same soap that we use to wash/shampoo ourselves, for washing the clothes as well. I just wondered whether using Lux soap bars/Dr Bronner's etc has any detriment on the performance of the technical materials that our walking gear is made of nowadays. I'm sure companies such as Nikwax would prefer us to use their cleaning products instead and I did buy a tube of their Woolwash travel gel last year, but not yet used. Ought I to go ahead and buy another tube of their Basewash travel gel or would the Lux soap bar that I intend to take with me do the job just as well?

33 days to go before I start out from SJPP.
Go to carfour (sp) if your starting in SJPP and look in laundry section you will find a great blue tube of laundry gel. Not large. Cheap and works well. Hard to find in Spain. Lux are you kidding me. That will leave residue on everything. Use Merino it washes and dries so much easier than cotton or poly. Expensive yes. Worth it totally.
 

NomadBoomer

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (September 2017), Vdlp (April 2018)
#16
I've generally used whatever I had or whatever came to hand. There is always a scrap-end of soap or a lost shampoo bottle or even the occasional discarded, heavy, bottle of Dr Bronners, to be found in the ablutions.,,,

A soap bar is probably the best choice for a back packer or pilgrim because you aren't carrying the water that the detergent had been previously dissolved in.
Yes what he said
 
Camino(s) past & future
June (2019)
#17
In April I used Dr Bonners for shower and wash but hated that I had to carry shampoo and conditioner (I have very long, very curly hair). Could not live without conditioner but this year I am choosing to carry “travel on” laundry soap sheets. tried them a couple times this past camino and they worked great in the machine as well as hand wash. They literally weigh nothing..and that little thing had 50 sheets. And Ethique shampoo bar and conditioner ngets great reviews so we will see how I do next camino. I can use the shampoo as bath soap. Conditioner is 2 oz and the shampoo is 4 oz....lasts as good as 3 bottles of each..
Thank You so much for the pics, very helpful!
 
#18
I've used this product for many years on the trails in the backcountry. It rinses away quickly and cleanly, leaving no residue on the skin or clothing. And a tiny amount goes a long way. :) Last year on Camino, I repacked the soap into a smaller container since I didn't need the full 3 ounce bottle.
That stuff lasts yeeeaars ..... and years .. and mine has always ‘kept’ too ...
 
Camino(s) past & future
Future (2019) Portuguese.
#19
Although not on a Camino my wife and I have perfected the carry -on only luggage no matter how long we are gone. First thing we do is hit a supermarket and buy the local equivalent of Woolite. Since weight and space matter on a walking trip I suggest a small empty water or pop bottle. Fill it about 6 oz. full and that should be enough for weeks. We use one capful for a sink full of clothes. If no sink we have used "other" things but a sink is best. Be sure stopper works. You can also use a large (2.5 Gallon) ziplock and do smaller loads using less soap. The trick is to allow clothes to soak in soapy water for as long as possible up to a couple hours. Then give a good swish and rinse. This cleans stuff plenty well enough for wearing again. The dark gray water is a testament to how clean they got.

We also carry Dr. Bronners for all skin and hair washing. That we bring from home in two 3oz bottles (TSA).
Woolite now comes in a few formulas but the original is best IMO especially for delicate materials.
https://www.amazon.com/Woolite-Extra-Delicates-Care-Detergent/dp/B002PBT6VG?th=1
 
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Camino(s) past & future
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean 2017.
#21
I rarely wash to gortex stuff I consider the camino grime a badge of honour. As for me, I am virtually allergic to anything with soap so I use a non-soap body & hair wash. As for clothes well I find that a good bar of "sunlight" soap or the local Spanish equivalent does the trick. Being a bar its easier to apply it to those areas that really need it without the excess going all over the place. Good luck!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances: September 24 - October 31 (2015); February/March (2019)
#22
Last time I used a bar of Dr Bronners for everything. Next time I plan to use Breezeo detergent strips and a dry sack for washing clothes. Dr Bronners will be reserved for washing me.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 15,Portuguese 16,Finisterre Muxia 16,Ingles16,, Almeria to Muxia,Finesterre 18
#23
i use a bar of Dove soap for me ,and then my clothes ,,and it is readily available anywhere in Spain ,,,,my last Camino was quite long so i needed more than one !!
 
Camino(s) past & future
2013 (Pamplona to Burgos)
2014 (Burgos to Villafranca del Bierzo)
2015 (Villafranca to Santiago)
2016 (Le Puy to Conques; SJPP To Pamplona)
#25
I have started using Lush soap and take it in its little tin. Smells nice and is v. effective. However - and this is a big however - my hair needs conditioner after every wash and I don't skimp on this, even on the Camino! I generally take a small Body Shop conditioner and pick up more en route by staying in hotels from time to time. Also, another important consideration is hand cream. With all that laundry to do, my hands suffer - especially if the weather is cold. OK, these are luxuries - but it's MY Camino!
 

JennyH94

Pilgrim in progress
Camino(s) past & future
The Frances from Pamplona and part VF, first-aid helper and hospitalera
#27
I have started using Lush soap and take it in its little tin. Smells nice and is v. effective. However - and this is a big however - my hair needs conditioner after every wash and I don't skimp on this, even on the Camino! I generally take a small Body Shop conditioner and pick up more en route by staying in hotels from time to time. Also, another important consideration is hand cream. With all that laundry to do, my hands suffer - especially if the weather is cold. OK, these are luxuries - but it's MY Camino!
Hi Margaret - my hands suffer terribly too so I always, always, pack rubber washing up gloves. On my most recent camino in June/July and then working as an hospitalera at the completely wonderful Refugio Gaucelmo at Rabanal my gloves were used all the time. They weigh practically nothing and they’re worth that little bit of weight in gold.
Here’s a pic of the gloves flapping away happily on the clothesline at Albergue San Anton Abad at Villafranca Montes de Oca -
4BF6274C-97AC-4722-BFB1-9423DC5FF427.jpeg
BTW - the VGR stands for Volunteers Green Room at the Sydney Writers Festival - an annual volunteer event for me and another place where I always buy gloves for general use.
Cheers - Jenny
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF15, CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF17, CP17, CdN, CM, CF18, LePuy19
#28
I shave my head and wear Smart Wool so I never need a shower or wash my clothes, just kidding!
I think the odd bar of soap used modestly on the clothes and body works well, the less soap the better. I've been doing this routine since my 4 years in the West Africa desert in the early 2000's; a little scrubbing with the soap, a rinse and a long soak several times in a plastic basin, then wring the garments out and hang them on the line. I believe the soap residue left in the fabric is the culprit when it comes to smelly clothes.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2013
Camino del Norte a Chimayó (USA), 2015
Camino Portugues, 2017
#29
One small bar of Ivory soap for everything -- hair, body, laundry. My wife made a small nylon mesh bag with a drawstring closure to carry it in. The nylon mesh made a scrubbing surface for washing, and then I just hung it on the end of my bunk and it dried overnight. I carried it a small ziplock bag so if it didn't get totally dry it didn't make a mess in my backpack.
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2018)
#30
theshowerbuddy.com is where I obtained my bathing, carrying, and clothes-washing device for my Dr. Bronner's organic pure castile soap. I'll use the shower buddy and soap for everything.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Aug-Sept(2016) SJPDP-Finisterre, July-Aug(2017) SJPDP-Muxia-Finisterre, July-Aug(2018) El Norte
#31
my hands suffer terribly too so I always, always, pack rubber washing up gloves.
I use a 12 liter Osprey dry bag to wash my clothes, which for the most part keep my hands out of the water. And this year I brought these laundry detergent sheets. One sheet is good for a load in a washing machine, so I used half a sheet for my daily hand washing. Together, the laundry sheets and the dry bag only weigh 2.2 ounces, and I brought more laundry sheets than I needed.

As I'm getting into the shower I put half a sheet and some warm water into the bag and swish it around. Then I add my clothes, some more water, and close up the bag. (if my socks are really dirty I rinse them first) While I'm showering and dressing the clothes are soaking. Then I agitate the bag a bit before rinsing everything out in the laundry sink. I found that my clothes got nice and clean with less effort than washing in the sink or laundry tub. The laundry sheets didn't create a lot of suds, but they got the clothes clean, and I didn't have to rinse a lot of soap out of them.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis 2014, Camino Portugues 2016
#32
We start with shampoo/bodywash in a 3 or 4 oz container and wash out some clothes daily with that. We refill as we can from wherever we find soaps available.
Soap is soap and this plan keeps our bodies, hair, and clothes clean. . We do pack 3 or 4 laundry pods and every week or ten days, we actually do laundry when a machine is available. This method has worked for two Caminos and an AT thru hike and as we plan for our next Camino. No damage...just clean
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Contemplating yet another "final" camino
Porto to SdC May 2019
#33
I've generally used whatever I had or whatever came to hand. There is always a scrap-end of soap or a lost shampoo bottle or even the occasional discarded, heavy, bottle of Dr Bronners, to be found in the ablutions. The basic combination of surfactants and mild alkaloids will dissolve or at least loosen the adherence of ex-human fatty molecules that have combined with our clothing that then get consumed by bacteria whose excretions make us easily detectable to predators and sensitive people in lifts (elevators) or similar confined spaces.

A soap bar is probably the best choice for a back packer or pilgrim because you aren't carrying the water that the detergent had been previously dissolved in.
SO glad I'd eaten lunch before I read that ;)
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - central from Porto (2018 - planned)
#34
theshowerbuddy.com is where I obtained my bathing, carrying, and clothes-washing device for my Dr. Bronner's organic pure castile soap. I'll use the shower buddy and soap for everything.
I'm not sure what you are referring to. I went to the site and all it seems to have are shower heads and faucets. Unless you carry your own shower head to install at each albergue?
 

Bungkus

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Tours Route; Camino Frances; Santiago to Muxia (2014)
Camino Portugués (2017)
#38
Soap is soap is soap. It’s all just marketing ;)
 
Camino(s) past & future
Plan to walk with my husband June 2018
#39
I use a 12 liter Osprey dry bag to wash my clothes, which for the most part keep my hands out of the water. And this year I brought these laundry detergent sheets. One sheet is good for a load in a washing machine, so I used half a sheet for my daily hand washing. Together, the laundry sheets and the dry bag only weigh 2.2 ounces, and I brought more laundry sheets than I needed.

As I'm getting into the shower I put half a sheet and some warm water into the bag and swish it around. Then I add my clothes, some more water, and close up the bag. (if my socks are really dirty I rinse them first) While I'm showering and dressing the clothes are soaking. Then I agitate the bag a bit before rinsing everything out in the laundry sink. I found that my clothes got nice and clean with less effort than washing in the sink or laundry tub. The laundry sheets didn't create a lot of suds, but they got the clothes clean, and I didn't have to rinse a lot of soap out of them.
My husband and I used the laundry soap sheets and a Scrubba and this Leo our clothes clean and were light weight. Used a bar of Dr. Bronner’s soap for bathing and shampooing and a bar of Spinster Sister’s hair conditioner for my hair. Perfect! Will do the same on our next Camino for sure
 
Camino(s) past & future
Plan to walk with my husband June 2018
#40
My husband and I used the laundry soap sheets and a Scrubba and this Leo our clothes clean and were light weight. Used a bar of Dr. Bronner’s soap for bathing and shampooing and a bar of Spinster Sister’s hair conditioner for my hair. Perfect! Will do the same on our next Camino for sure
They were Breezeo laundry detergent sheets I got on Amazon and they kept our clothes clean. Most of the albergues have washing machines but often there are a lot of others in line to use them as well. Washing our own clothes by hand was quicker honestly for us and gave us spare time to do other things after our day’s walk (often taking a nap )
 
Camino(s) past & future
Aug-Sept(2016) SJPDP-Finisterre, July-Aug(2017) SJPDP-Muxia-Finisterre, July-Aug(2018) El Norte
#41
My husband and I used the laundry soap sheets and a Scrubba and this Leo our clothes clean and were light weight. Used a bar of Dr. Bronner’s soap for bathing and shampooing and a bar of Spinster Sister’s hair conditioner for my hair. Perfect! Will do the same on our next Camino for sure
I considered using a Scrubba, but it's quite a bit heavier than my dry bag, and the principle is basically the same.
 

Stacyv

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Caminó francés (2017)
Planning Caminó portugués (2018)
Planning Lycian Way (2018)
#42
Half a bar of sunlight soap is all you need for clothes and lasts the full Camino. I use a Lush shampoo bar for my hair in one of their lightweight tins:)
 

hecate105

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2009 Portuguese Estellas 2014 Aurelia 2016 St Davids 2017 Via Augusta/V dl P. 2018 Michael Mary Way
#43
Ecover washing up liquid. A small bottle (plastic 30ml) lasts 2 of us several weeks - using it for showering, washing clothes and washing up. It goes a long way. Also many health food shops have refilling barrels. We had it refilled in England for 8 pence!! It is available all over europe...
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, Leon to Santiago in Sept.- Oct. (2016)
#44
Hi there I have used one of the Lush soaps for all 4 of my camino experiences. It is great on hair, clothes and body. My husband wasn’t too fond of the lemony one but I have found them all great! If you air dry it, it should last a month. Buen camino.
I agree...great product. (Even the lemony one!!)
 

BobM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances; Via Podensis; Via Francigena; Via Portugues; Via Francigena del Sud; Jakobsweg.
#45
Believe it or not, but I have worn the same light-weight 'technical' shirts and pants for over a decade and they are still going strong.:)

In all that time I have only ever washed them with whatever soap I used in the shower. The main reason for not using special detergents etc is that I prefer to travel as light and uncomplicated as possible.

Bob M
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF (SJPdP to Santiago) March 15, 2018
#46
I've looked around the search options on this excellent forum and have seen some mention of Lux soap bars and Dr Bronner's soap being used for washing clothes. There's an obvious benefit in being able to use the same soap that we use to wash/shampoo ourselves, for washing the clothes as well. I just wondered whether using Lux soap bars/Dr Bronner's etc has any detriment on the performance of the technical materials that our walking gear is made of nowadays. I'm sure companies such as Nikwax would prefer us to use their cleaning products instead and I did buy a tube of their Woolwash travel gel last year, but not yet used. Ought I to go ahead and buy another tube of their Basewash travel gel or would the Lux soap bar that I intend to take with me do the job just as well?

33 days to go before I start out from SJPP.
I washed my clothes with whatever shampoo I had on hand for my nightly washes and then when I used what ever soap was provided when I used the washing machines at where I was staying. For me it was all about carrying less weight and I had no issues with damage to my clothes plus they were always clean.
 

BobM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances; Via Podensis; Via Francigena; Via Portugues; Via Francigena del Sud; Jakobsweg.
#47
Here is one random website that explains how soap workso_O
https://www.chagrinvalleysoapandsalve.com/blog/posts/how-does-soap-work/

Why not make your own soap:)
http://smallnotebook.org/tutorials/beginner-soapmaking/ingredients/

The key ingredients in any of the recipes are the fats/oils and lye (NaOH aka caustic soda). You could even make soap by boiling tallow, lard etc with NaOH - that's exactly how it was done in days of yore.

Be careful handling NaOH - it is extremely alkaline (pH ~14) and can damage skin badly. So how come it is safe in soap? It reacts chemically with fats to form e.g. sodium stearates - soap.

All the rest of the ingredients are perfumes, lather enhancers, publicity enhancers, desirability enhancers, price enhancers - they do absolutely zip re actual cleaning. Plus, they are horrible, horrible CHEMICALS:eek:

How easy is that?

Bob M
 
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Pxlwiz

Returning Pilgrim
Camino(s) past & future
(2017)Camino del Norte/Primativo
(2018)Camino Inglés
#48
I've generally used whatever I had or whatever came to hand. There is always a scrap-end of soap or a lost shampoo bottle or even the occasional discarded, heavy, bottle of Dr Bronners, to be found in the ablutions. The basic combination of surfactants and mild alkaloids will dissolve or at least loosen the adherence of ex-human fatty molecules that have combined with our clothing that then get consumed by bacteria whose excretions make us easily detectable to predators and sensitive people in lifts (elevators) or similar confined spaces.

A soap bar is probably the best choice for a back packer or pilgrim because you aren't carrying the water that the detergent had been previously dissolved in.
I'd second that Dr Bonners makes a dry version of their Castille Soap which I Loved for Hair body and laundry. Keeping it in a mesh bag allowed it to dry overnight hanging from the bunk and made it last longer. I still only made it from Irun to Oviedo before I had to replace it with a soap I bought in a pharmacy there in Oviedp it had a pine tar scent which took a bit of getting used to and was HUGE but cutting it in half gave me enough soap to complete the next three weeks of our trip and gave another pilgrim a few weeks worth of soap in the bargain.
 

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