Review: Scrubba Wash Bag (and lamenting Iceland’s lack of laundromats)

This really is a post about the Scrubba Wash Bag. But first, let me tell you a quick* story about dirty clothes, travelling, and marital harmony.

(*actually, now that I’ve written it, it’s not that quick.)

Scrubba Wash Bag Review

So, I’m a real backpacker from way back. Real in the sense that when I travel for more than a few days, most of my clothes are dirty most of the time, and I hand wash what I desperately need (especially underwear, don’t stress, I am still hygienic, although there are definitely times when inside-out is the best you can do) and then just let the rest be as it is.

When we were in Iceland earlier this year, I must admit that I had failed to factor in washing machines when choosing our Airbnb accommodation. I also didn’t realise that Iceland is a country with very few laundromats (even the local media write about this laundry-less phenomenon). And I also hadn’t realised that my husband doesn’t believe a quick hand wash of clothing while you’re in the shower is sufficient, so while I was hand washing stuff for my son and I, my husband was accumulating a very large bag of dirty washing.

Finally in Reykjavik we figured we would find somewhere to wash. Google helped me find the Laundromat Cafe and one night while I stayed home with our (sleeping) son, my husband went off to get the laundry done. Only he came back rather quickly because he told me this was just a cafe, not a laundromat. I began to doubt my research abilities, googled further and eventually was able to tell him he had to go through the cafe, past the bar, down the steps and then there really would be a few washing machines there for him – which was true, when we all went back the next day. Dirty clothes problem finally solved.

All of this to say: when the makers of the Scrubba Wash Bag contacted me to do some work together, I was immediately thinking “this is the perfect compromise!” My husband could now consider the clothes properly washed, and we wouldn’t waste valuable travelling time in dodgy basements staring at washing machines.

My review of the Scrubba Wash Bag

I was also excited to hear from the Scrubba gang because I remembered seeing the product on the Australian version of Shark Tank (that show where entrepreneurs go to pitch their product or service to the “sharks” – potential investors – in the hope of getting some more funding for their business). (Secret weird thing about me – Shark Tank is one of my favourite shows.)

When I first saw it on TV, it sounded like a great idea. Then they sent me one, I tried it out, and I was convinced that it really was a great idea. In the meantime two of my Perth-based readers have told me they have their own already and love them dearly.

Scrubba Wash Bag review - one kid and his dirty clothes

What better way to test the Scrubba Wash Bag than with a five-year-old’s dirty clothes?!

So, basically, the Scrubba Wash Bag is a very light, portable bag that has special nodules on the inside – like an old-fashioned washboard from my grandparents’ era – and a non-slip surface on the outside, so you put your clothes, water and soap inside, rub it all around a bit and voila, your clothes are clean.

We were sent the wash and dry kit which comes all in that little black bag my son is holding above, and includes all the stuff you can see in the picture below – the white bits are inflatable coat hangers, which I think is particularly genius. I also got a big hit of sentimentality seeing that clever washing line, because one of my best friends gave me a similar one about fifteen years ago when I first left Australia and I got so much use out of it, but I don’t know where it ended up! The travel towel in blue is to help you half dry the clothes which is all too smart.

Scrubba Wash Bag - the wash and dry kit

Scrubba Wash Bag – the wash and dry kit

To use the Scrubba, basically you throw your dirty clothes in the green bag, add water (there are marks on the bag to show you how much you need, depending on how much you’re washing), add some kind of soap (I usually just use shower gel when I’m travelling rather than taking extra washing powder), then fold down the top of the bag and clip the black clips together. Next step is to push out as much air as you can through the valve (I was a bit lazy here, as you’ll see in the little video below, but it still worked fine), and then do your scrubbing. The non-slip bit on one side of the green bag means it stays where it should and the little nodules inside the bag help give everything a really good agitation so you get lots of soap through everything and I have to say, even my son’s dirty shorts came out really perfect after only a minute or so of scrubbing. (I think they recommend 30 seconds to 3 minutes, depending on the dirt factor!)

To sum up: this is going on every future trip of mine without question!

Would you like a Scrubba Wash and Dry Kit too?


Here’s the bonus good news. The very cool Scrubba people have given me two more Scrubba Wash and Dry Kits to give away to my readers.

To win, you need to be a newsletter subscriber* and you need to leave a comment below telling me about a travel experience you’ve had which ended with the dirtiest clothes! Entries close at midnight on 18th December 2015 and winners will be emailed** and announced on Facebook. My favourite dirty travel experiences win – good luck!

*If you’re not sure if you’re a newsletter subscriber or not, just subscribe using the form below and if you’re already on the list, it won’t put you on twice.

**Make sure you leave your email address in the Email field when you write your comment. It doesn’t get published, only I can see it.


  1. I backpacked in India for three months — need I say more? I did a lot of travel on night buses, and one night in Rajasthan the bus made a toilet stop and everyone filed off the bus going to the respective gents’ and ladies’. I was a bit slow off the mark and ended up towards the back of the queue and when I got inside the “ladies'” I found, instead of cubicles, a sloping floor with a trough at the lower end. The women were squatting doing their business on the floor. Only after I’d ‘gone’ did I realise it would have been better to ‘go’ at the top end of the room rather than the lower end near the trough.

  2. I spent 10 wonderful days in India with a group that required us to wear traditional Indian clothing for cultural sensitivity reasons. It was trip to serve others and a wild experience! With 3 sets of clothing (rather 2 as one was unbearably scratchy!), you can imagine what a sight I was at the end of the trip! Blackened clothing (and nostrils!) from diesel exhaust on the streets, squatting toilets with messy, “wet” floors, navigating open sewers in the slums, packed overnight trains, muddy red clay roads, and showers from a bucket. And the best part? Loving on people, playing cricket with precious orphans, talking and holding hands with the lepers, listening to their stories of God’s goodness despite their suffering. Blessings upon blessings. I’ve returned 3 times now in addition to other places with more world traveling to come.

  3. Charlotte Bowie says

    This is a true story.
    The bus stopped for a much needed toilet break 5 hours after leaving Katmandu on my overnight journey to Gorakhpur, India. Most likely due to my previous night’s meal, I really, really needed to use the facilities and rushed down a slope into total darkness in the direction I was told the toilet was. The facility was an outhouse which already had a queue of 10 or more people so I settled for stepping behind the outhouse. Visionless, and ‘seeing’ with my feet, I felt the ground slope steeply so wandering no further than immediately behind the outhouse seemed the safest option. Here I found myself knee deep in what I understood to be doughy mud. Task completed, I sloshed my way out of the muck back to where the bus was stopped. Well. It turned out that the outhouse wasn’t built over a pit but instead used the steep slope of the mountain to dispose of its contents. This type of architectural structure had become normal to me while trekking the Himalaya but obviously I’d learnt nothing from these experiences. All I found to clean myself before getting back onto the bus was a small tree branch. I did the best I could. No one on the bus seemed to mind the odour except me. The last hour of the journey took us through a rain storm straight out of Armageddon that flooded the roads within minutes. When the bus driver opened the door for me to step off in Gorakhpur, the flood waters rushed into the bus and over my feet. I hesitated to step off, but the driver insisted and, stepping over a dead rat that had floated in, I boldly stuck my flip flop wearing foot into a flow of muddy, sewage and rubbish choked water. I waded to the guest house that, thankfully, was directly across the road. As soon as I reached my room, I ripped off my trousers, turned on the faucet in the bathroom sink to wash them.. Water splashed the top of my feet under the sink. The sink didn’t have a drain pipe, allowing the water to empty onto the floor of the bathroom. Nothing for it but to take my trousers to the toilet, where I firmly grasped hold of the clean top while dropping the legs into the water. I flushed the toilet over and over, allowing the swirl and the pull of the flush to wash them clean while wondering, half heartedly, where the toilet water might be emptying out to. The next day, I wore my clean trousers again.

    • Oh my goodness Charlotte. This comment needed a “not safe over breakfast” warning!!!! I have never, ever used a toilet as a washing machine but it’s useful to know that in absolute emergencies it’s a possibility!!
      (Side note: all first three comments here have been stories about India, which is not helping me feel inclined to go there!!)

  4. I could really have used a Scrubba Wash bag when we were in Europe and I was trying to hand wash in tiny sinks in even tinier bathrooms. What a fabulous review. You’ve really covered all the ins and outs and how-to’s of the Scrubba Wash bag. My dirtiest trip was probably hiking for 2 weeks in the Himalayas way back when I was in my twenties. I don’t suppose I washed anything for the 2 weeks. Lucky I had my own sleeping bag and we were outdoors nearly all the time 😉

  5. As a frequent traveller who is also OCD I must own one of these. 🙂

  6. I also love Shark Tank! He he

    What a great review! These sound amazing – perfect for travels with 2 toddlers I think. These days any travel experience ends in dirty clothes but that can be just eating lunch!

    I would say though our recent travel across the Nullarbor could be one where I could have used the Srubba bags most – not because it was the dirtiest trip but more the fact due to little space in the car we had to pack very lightly so my clothes did ummm…become very worn (and reworn) by the time we were home. And we were in the close confines of a car all day!


  7. We were backpacking in Germany and opted for budget accommodation…..a tent in Cologne. After emptying our backpack into the washing machine, we hung all our clothes along the fence to dry next to our tent. Domestic duties completed, we caught the train into town in search of a bier garten, as you do on a sunny day in Germany. Within a few hours, a wonderful thunderstorm arrived. Kind locals sheltered us for the night ( in a tattoo shop!). When we returned to our tent the next day, our clothes were in piles in the mud. Mud stained clothes really completes the backpacker look!

  8. It took us just a half a day to climb a volcano in Guatemala, but between the scrambling over rocks, under bushes, a brief ride on a horse, a super fun ‘slide’ down a huge hill of light cold lava gravel, then toasting marshmallows on red hot lava, there was soooo much to wash out of the clothes when we got back to the village that night! But what an incredible view and an amazing experience – sometimes the ‘dirtiest’ adventures are really the best. And that’s why I can see this scrubba kit would come in super handy!

  9. I can identify with many of the stories here. The time I think I could have used the scrubba the most is a trip through Eastern Africa. We spent 3 days in the Serengetti, mostly in an open jeep which makes you very dirty and dusty. Washing underthings in a sink isn’t a problem but PANTS? Ugh! They were filthy and required several attempts in the sink. They never did feel really clean.

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