As a traveler who hails the rewards of traveling light and washing your clothes on the road, I was delighted to learn about The Scrubba. So delighted in fact, that this thrifty wanderer forked over the $64.95 USD to buy one. The reviews looked great, the idea seemed wonderful, surely this was the answer to my laundry-on-the-road woes!
One a recent trip to India, I had the perfect opportunity to try out The Scrubba. Three weeks, three outfits, and one hot, sweaty, dirty country. (Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE India!).
So how did The Scrubba actually stack up?
Step One: Fill
I placed my dirty clothes into the Scrubba. One pair of summer leggings, one light-weight cotton shirt, one pair of socks and one pair of undies. The Scrubba’s website states that it can effectively hold “a couple of T-shirts, a couple of pairs of jocks and a couple of pairs of socks at once (e.g. 2 days worth of summer clothes)”. I am not sure what “jocks” are (I think they are men’s undies) but do they not wear pants in Australia? Hmm, ok, moving on….
Step Two: Roll & Clip & Deflate
I then rolled the top over as instructed, and clipped the ends together. No problems here. The instructions then told me to “open and squeeze valve to expel air from the Scrubba™ wash bag”. So I tried…nothing happened. I tried again…nothing again. I poked at the valve…still nothing. I bit on the valve with my teeth…still nothing. Argh. Ok fine, whatever. So I unrolled and unclipped the bag, pushed a little air out, accidentally squirted a little water out, and quickly re-rolled and re-clipped the bag. Ok, we should be good now.
Step Three: Rub
Next, it states to “Press down and rub clothes against the Scrubba™ wash bag’s unique internal flexible washboard for 30 seconds for a quick traveler wash or for 3 minutes for a machine quality wash”. Ok this sounds like fun! I put the Scrubba on the countertop and began to rub it back and forth. But it kept sliding around. All over the countertop. There was no internal scrubbing action going on, I was just moving this thing around the countertop. Ok, so then I put it on the carpeted floor of the hotel. This kept better traction and allowed me to actually get the clothes moving around inside, but have you ever seen how dirty a hotel floor carpet is up close? I have now. Ugh. All said and done, I “scrubbed” for about 5 minutes (got sucked into watching a show on TV).
Step Four: Rinse
As instructed, I opened the Scrubba and poured out the water and rinsed the clothes out, still inside the bag, under running tap water. Well, good idea, but unfortunately the execution of this step failed. Because the bag is taller than it is wide, and the sink faucent isn’t that tall at all, water wound up getting all over the countertop and running onto the bathroom floor. Ugh. What a mess. The kind of mess I was hoping to avoid!
Step Five: Dry
I did not purchase the full “Scrubba Traveler’s Kit” ($104.95 USD) which includes not only the Scrubba wash bag, but also a drying line and drying towel. I already had a rope for drying, and didn’t want to spend the additional $30. So I just went the old-fashioned way and hand wrung my clothes and hung them on rope I hung up in the room.
The Scrubba folks also recommend that you “rinse, invert and dry the Scrubba wash bag after each use” and so I did. But there’s no way to hang the bag upside down (so the water can drip out) and I kept trying to “invert it” and get it to stand upright on it owns to dry out, but it kept crumpling upon itself. Fortunately, I had a carabiner clip and was able to clip it upside-down to dry. I was surprised though that there was no tab on the bottom on the Scrubba to use to hang it to dry. Major oversight, in my opinion.
The Final Results?
Fortunately, in the heat of India, clothes dry rather quickly so I didn’t have to wait long for the results. When my clothes were dry, I pulled them down and looked them over. They looked clean (although they were not visibly dirty to begin with) so I then gave them the sniff test (oh c’mon, be honest, you do this too when needed!). Overall they smelled like fresh laundry, until I got to the armpits…..which still smelled like sweat and deodorant! Argh!!!!!!!!! So I wound up having to wash my shirt again. Sigh.
Over the course of my three weeks in India, I diligently used the Scrubba for my first week, doing one load of laundry a day (remember, I could only fit one day’s outfit – including summer leggings – in one load). And as for the smelly pits? I discovered that if I “scrubbed” for about 5 minutes, then let the clothes soak for a couple hours, then “scrubbed” again for another 5 minutes, I was able to get clean fresh smelling clothes. In the end though, I found the whole thing cumbersome and more effort than it was worth. I wound up ditching the Scrubba and going back to traditional handwashing.
- Doubles as a great camping pillow
- Doubles as a great dry-sack for water sports
- Expensive cost
- Cannot extra-clean a specific area (like armpits!)
- Size is too small
- Difficult to dry the bag out effectively
Recommendation: 2 out of 5 stars.