Win Australia’s innovation of the year, scrubba, with your hotel laundry stories

With a straight face hotels charge laundry prices that can exceed the original cost of the clothing. Even when I can expense laundry on a business trip I feel like it is letting hotels win so I do things like tramp around Melbourne in search of a coin laundry. In that recent Australia trip I realized that the offices for scrubba wash bag were a short walk from my company’s office and I wrote to the founder, Ashley Newland, with a plea for express delivery. I had heard about scrubba on Australian ABC’s Innovation program, that it was voted Australia’s top innovation in 2012,  and my laundry was piling up.

I purchased two for myself and a friend, and Mr. Newland offered a third as a giveaway for Rapid Travel Chai readers.

The bag is essentially a waterproof dive bag with a special integrated washboard. See this video demonstration:

Further videos available on the scrubba YouTube page.

I tested the scrubba the following week through the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea on post-hike clothes too dirty to be pictured. The results were excellent. First time I put in too little shampoo and too little water, though the results were pretty good. Next time I got the amounts right and even my socks came out well. It produced significantly better results with much less time and effort. I integrated this into my regular laundry routine from One Bag, ringing the clothes and rolling them in towels. The scrubba takes up very little space and has earned a place in my backpack.

The Giveaway:

Leave a comment on this post telling about a hotel laundry experience, such as most exorbitant charge or a mishap. Good stories and horror stories welcome.

Prize: one scrubba wash bag, winner selected at random from eligible entrants.

Secondary prizes: scrubba provided me with several scrubba logo inflatable hangers. I may award these, at my discretion, to entrants that are particularly interesting or entertaining.

One entry per person. The comment should include a valid email address for verification of winners. Comments must be submitted by Sunday, October 28, 2012 at 23:59 EDT. The winner will be selected with the random number generator at, the winning number corresponding to comment number. The winner will be posted in a subsequent blog post and updated on this post. The winner will need to provide a US mailing address to Rapid Travel Chai to receive the prize (sorry, no non-US addresses due to high shipping cost). Rapid Travel Chai has no financial relationship with srubba and will not receive any compensation from scrubba. And please enter if you actually will make use of the scrubba, not just to grab a freebie.


The winner is #14, Jane, see the final draw post for details.

Rapid Travel Chai newsletter ¦ Twitter ¦ Facebook ¦ Instagram


  • KateFromCA

    One nice thing about traveling in South America – laundry done for as little as $5/large bag, for example in Buenos Aires laundry establishments (hotels are considerably more). Who knew ironed underwear is so nice! 😉

  • AJ

    A useful tip if you are in Beijing…

    Usually the Novotel Xin Qiao has very good rates. Most people jump and book the standard room. If you scroll down the rates page, they offer an Executive Premier Floor room at a slight premium.

    Comes with 2 free pieces laundry/day + free breakfast for 2 + free soft drinks all day in the lounge + free finger foods from 6-8 PM.

    If the standard room is 110 USD, the premier floor will be 130 USD.

  • Bruce Rubin

    More than a decade ago I was invited to give lectures at several universities in Japan. When I arrived at my high-end hotel in Tokyo I discovered a very visible stain on my suit. Although I rarely use hotel cleaners I sent this for 24 hour cleaning and by the end of the day, returned to me was a beautifully laundered party dress. I should add that I was not traveling with my wife. I pointed out the error to the concierge who insisted by showing me the laundry ticket that indeed I had given them a party dress and not a suit to be cleaned. When I try to make light of this by mentioning that this dress was not even my size I don’t think they understood. I finally left them the dress and I went out and bought an inexpensive sport jacket.
    Several days later I checked out of the hotel, left my bags at the desk, gave my last lectures and then returned to pick up my bags and head to the airport. They were happy to tell me they had not charged for my laundry.
    When I arrived home I opened my bag to find on top a folded and laundered party dress. Fortunately my wife has a good sense humor. I hope that the husband of the owner of the dress also had a sense of humor.

  • Jerry

    Well no use of hotel laundry experience unless you count washing clothes yourself in the bathroom sink. 🙂

  • Explore

    Thanks for spreading the product news beyond Australia.

    I often wash a variety of clothes in the hotel sink and use all the in-room coat-hangers to dry them, draping the clothes from every usable appendage in the bedroom or living room, such as lampshades, picture frames, wall a/c units etc. Suite upgrades are very useful because there’s more room to hang wet clothes, and maybe another closet with more coat-hangers. They need to be near ventilation sources such as open windows (preferably two open windows for a through draft) or forceful vents. I usually try to hide them from the maid for a couple of hours, then re-hang once she’s left.

    If you have too many clothes for this solution, or are in an unsuitable room, then you need to stay at a middle-tier property with a washer and dryer from time to time – or take the clothes to a laundry with attendant who will do the whole load for a few dollars, usually faster than the hotel.

    Hope that helps.

  • Mariah

    I took 10 students to England for 3.5 weeks in May with carry-on only. I quickly learned that hostel sinks are useless for handwashing. What did work (although that bag looks much more useful) is to take the clothes in the shower with me, pour a bit of soap on top, get them wet and dance on them for a minute while showering. I could then rinse myself, followed by the clothes in the shower.

  • I live in hotels in Warm climates… dvantageous to wash in sink, hang over chair in balcony and 4 hours later, voila, everything is dry!!! But could use the scrub a when I am in other locations!!!

  • Grock

    I was pretty desperate after sitting in a salad dressing spill in my white linen pants. The 4 Season’s (Denver) took my slacks away and not only charged me $25 to get them back, but didn’t completely remove the stain. :'(

  • SSM

    While visiting Mumbai with 5 family members almost two years ago, we were traveling with about 2 weeks worth of dirty clothes each. We gave our clothes to the hotel to have them washed. They were returned promptly, fresh n’ clean. Only problem, they ironed cloth barcode tags on every piece of laundry for 6 people. Get all 6 of us back together, and one of us is bound to have barcoded socks or underwear!

  • Andy

    Frequently using Tide travel packets in hotel sinks…and often ending up with clothing dirtier than when I started

  • I recently stayed at the Westin Bombay, where it cost an absurd $15 to wash a shirt!! I also stayed at Le Meridien Jakarta, where they actually gave me a laundry bag and told me that they would launder whatever that could fit in that big for free! Needless to say, my entire suitcase somehow managed to fit in that small laundry bag!

  • While traveling with Overseas Adventure Travel on a cruise up the Amazon River in Peru, I discovered that laundry on the boat was free. Alas, I was not told this in advance, so I had brought enough clothes to avoid having to do laundry.

  • guera

    Two summers ago I traveled to Italy with a group of teachers. They were appalled at the charge of 19 euro to do a load of laundry, so they were delighted to discover that a bidet does excellent side duty as a washbasin. Very shortly everyone’s rooms were festooned with the products of “bidet laundry.”

  • Jane

    I usually launder in a hotel room. I then lay my clothes on a towel and roll the towel up to help get rid of the excess water. I put my damp clothes over a towel rack and hope they dry the next morning.

    I woud love to win this scrubba.

  • PnC

    Seems very interesting would love to try it out on my next trip – clean clothes are always welcome on all trips.

  • Brennan

    I was in Santiago for several weeks this year with a number of coworkers, one of whom works down the hall from me. He departed a week before me but got in touch with me asking if I could bring back a couple of items he had left with the hotel’s laundry service. I agreed and the hotel dropped the items. Turns out that a couple of items meant most of a suitcase full and I ended up having to over stuff one of my bags. When I brought his things into the office his office was locked so the clothes sat in my office for almost a week. I finally was able to give them to one of his family members almost two weeks after initially getting them in Santiago.

  • Mae

    Hotel laundry prices are always too exhorbant for me. I rely on the bar soap and sink but that ALWAYS without fail-results in dingy, grey, soapy smelling clothing.
    One time in El Salvador I was staying in a school for a trip and did laundry in the bathroom. I hung up all my ‘clean’ clothing, including underwear. Who knew that 5 minutes later there would be a tour for prospective students coming through and staring at my stretched out and grey underwear???

  • Arun

    My wife and I were on a 1 month Europe vacation recently. Spent some time in Munich towards the mid of the trip. Had 2 suitcases full of clothes to wash by then, filled with the summer grime of Zagreb, Berlin and Vienna. The hotel laundry would have cost more than the clothes…

    But the most memorable part of the trip was searching for and using a self-service laundrette in Munich. It was so calm to spend half a day walking slowly along the cool tree lined roads from the hotel to the laundrette and then going for another walk as the clothes spun. Joking and just enjoying each other’s company. And the final argument about how many spin cycles to pay for 🙂

    Sometimes during vacations, we all plan and pack too much to do everyday that we forget to just enjoy each other.

  • Richard

    tip: if your hotel has a heated towel rack, it makes drying clothes a snap.

    story: when i was kidnapped in venezuela and forced to stay longer than anticipated, the jw marriott did my laundry. they basically took my entire suitcase and laundered everything. it all came back laundered, pressed and either on hangers or wrapped in some funky waxed paper. it was like a little birthday party opening my clothes…

    i was never able to find out what detergent they used (different than the bedding and towels) and i’ve never found another product that smelled as nice.

    $54.23 for 6 of everything and it was reimburseable.

  • Ari

    What a great idea! I rarely use the hotel laundry due to exorbitant costs, but once I was offered (what I thought to be) free laundering services for up to 2 items at a Bangkok hotel. Turns out, they really meant free pressing for two items…it was a baht experience the next morning at checkout. Ok, crappy story.

  • Lynn

    A small hotel in Cusco, Peru washed nearly a weeks worth of cloths for four people for $15.00! Costs more to do it myself at home.

  • I love how much they charge for socks and underwear… it’s insane! I feel bad putting those things through, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

  • Chris

    My most recent experience, being charged $60 for ‘Same Day’ Service than took 4 days.

  • Jordan

    I’ve got two.

    The first was in Bangkok: My hotel charged exuberant rates for laundry. (Well, exuberant for Bangkok. Dirt cheap for the rest of the world. I guess it’s all relative in Thailand.) I was determined to get it done more cheaply so just tok a small bag of clothes with me that day as I set out to wander the city. I found a place advertising laundry services, left my things, and was told to come back the next evening. Well the next evening as I went to go find the place, I realized I had no idea where it was. It took me at least two frustrating hours of trying to retrace my steps around Sukhumvit before I found the place. I finally did, and clothes were freshly cleaned, though leaving them at the hotel would have been much easier.

    A second time in Lisbon I left my clothes on either a Friday or Saturday at a laundromat just around the corner from the hostel at which I was staying. Sunday night I had an overnight bus to Sevilla, so I went to pick up my clothes that afternoon. Turns out the laundromat was closed on Sundays. It says this in very small print on their window. However the most frustrating part was seeing my laundry bag with my name on in sitting inside on a counter behind the glass and gated windows. I was tempted to break in but decided it best not. I had to stay an extra night in Lisbon, lost a nonrefundable bus ticket and lost my first night of accommodation in Sevilla just for some clean socks and underwear. Oy…

    If I don’t win, the scrubba will definitely be on my Christmas list!

  • Abhishek Duggal

    Our room at Hilton Tuscany in Orlando had a washer & dryer & free laundry soap which was very convenient!

  • Jane

    Used the laundry service on a cruise for my son. Came back all freshly laundered and pressed but unfortunately, it shrunk. My son, BTW, is 6’8″ so I always hung dried his clothing. They put it all in the dryer and he never wore it again.

  • In lesser developed countries, wash and fold services are cheap. The downside is that sometimes they mess up your cloths, however, I don’t travel with nice cloths often.

  • Pingback: Personal Points: This Community is Great - New Girl in the Air()

  • Robert

    Hey, saw you at the FTUDC. Great job. Can you post your presentation on Hidden pitfalls & possibilities in Int’l travel…thanks.

  • Pingback: Personal Points: This Community is Great | The Girl and Globe()