Hand Washing Clothes on Cruise Ships – The Ultimate Guide

Learn everything you need to know about hand washing clothes on a cruise ship to save money on laundry services. Read our step-by-step guide and tips.

The last thing anyone wants to think about on a cruise is laundry. You may be lucky and pack enough outfits to last your entire cruise. However, more often than not, accidents happen – especially if you’re traveling with kids!

So what do you do when you’re on a cruise and need to wash a few articles of clothing to wear the next day? You could take advantage of your cruise ship’s laundry service, but that comes at a price. One alternative that you should consider is hand washing your clothes. 

In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about hand washing clothes on cruise ships and find a step-by-step guide to ensure your clothes come home stain-free.

What You Need to Hand Wash Clothes on a Cruise

Let’s jump right into what you’ll need when hand-washing clothes on a cruise. Make sure that you have at least the following:

  • Detergent
  • A sink
  • Clothesline

The trickiest part about hand-washing clothes on a cruise is finding somewhere to do the hand-washing. In general, your two options are the sink and the shower.

The sink is preferable due to the depth, allowing you to soak your clothes and get them as clean as possible. Now let’s walk through the steps of hand washing your clothes on a cruise.

Step-by-Step Guide to Hand Washing Clothes on a Cruise

Want to ensure that you’re extra prepared for washing your clothes on your upcoming cruise? Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to hand wash your clothes.

Hand Washing Clothes on a Cruise Ship
Hand Washing Clothes on a Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Maliflower73 / Shutterstock)

1. Prepare Your Items

The first step to hand-washing clothes on a cruise is to know exactly what you’re washing.

Small items such as underwear, bathing suits, or a single shirt are easiest to wash as they fit the size of the sink. Larger items, such as a long dress, may be tricky as they may not entirely fit. Once you have your clothing, keep it on standby while you prepare the sink.

2. Fill the Sink and Add Detergent

The next step is to fill the sink with water and detergent.

First, plug the sink, then add the appropriate amount of detergent. You don’t want to add too much! Ensure it’s the right amount for the sink size and the clothes you’re washing. Fill the sink up, being careful not to overfill it. 

3. Soak Your Clothing

Once your sink is full of detergent and water, it’s time to soak your clothing in the water. If you’re washing a lot of clothes, you may have to do this in batches to ensure not to overfill the sink and make a mess in your bathroom.

Let your clothes soak in the soapy water for at least a few minutes. If there are stains, let them soak a little longer.

4. Scrub Your Clothing

Once your clothes are saturated in the water, it’s time to scrub them clean!

Scrub each article of clothing together and pay special attention to areas with stains. You should scrub for at least a few minutes. If there are tough stains, you may have to scrub, let the clothing soak again, then scrub again. 

5. Rinse

After scrubbing all of your clothing, it’s time to rinse. Start by draining the sink. From there, there are several ways that you can go about rinsing your clothes.

Rinsing in Sink
Rinsing in Sink (Photo Credit: BK foto / Shutterstock)

First, you can fill the sink with clean water to rinse your clothes. This is the go-to method for many people. You may have to change the water out a couple of times if you’re rinsing a lot of clothes.

Alternatively, you can also rinse the clothes in the shower, which is convenient if you are going to take a shower anyways. Either way, it’s important to make sure that you remove all of the detergent from your clothes. 

6. Hang Dry

The final step in hand washing clothes on a cruise is to hang them to dry. This can be the trickiest part of the process. Cruise lines do not allow you to hang your wet clothes off the balcony for safety reasons, so your only option is to hang your clothes inside.

The bathroom is a great place to dry your clothes. You can also hang them in other places around your stateroom. Another option is to bring a clothesline with you on your trip to set up in your cabin and have a dedicated spot to dry your clothes. 

Better yet, a few cruise lines, such as Carnival Cruise Line and Disney Cruise Line, have clotheslines in the shower to allow you to hang your wet clothes to dry. Once your clothes are dry, ask your housekeeper if you could borrow an iron to do any pressing if necessary.


Can you bring detergent on a cruise ship?

You’re allowed to bring detergent on a cruise ship. It’s recommended, however, that you bring a limited amount – bring enough for you to do a couple of quick washes if necessary. Single-use laundry detergent is an ideal item to bring onto your cruise. 

What are the benefits of hand-washing clothes on a cruise?

Hand washing your clothes is the cheapest option. If you bring your own detergent, this process is essentially free! Another benefit of hand-washing clothes on a cruise is that you know exactly where your clothes are. With any laundry service, you risk the chance of the cruise ship misplacing your clothes. While they should eventually find them, it’s inconvenient if you have an event coming up that night.

Wrap-Up: Hand Washing Clothes on a Cruise Is a Great Option

In summary, it’s always good to be prepared on a cruise, including having a plan to do laundry. While your cruise ship might have great laundry facilities and services, if you want to let someone else take care of your laundry, this option could be pricey.

Read Also: Cruise Ship Laundry – What You Need to Know

Hand washing clothes on a cruise provides peace of mind of knowing exactly where your clothes are and how they’re being washed. All you need to remember to pack is laundry soap, and you’ll be ready for anything life throws at you!

Wondering how to keep your clothes wrinkle-free? Read here to learn about steamer guidelines on cruise ships.

Haiyan Ma
Haiyan Ma
I absolutely love cruising with my favorite ports of call being in the Caribbean. As a former crew member for Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, and Carnival Cruise Line I can continue my passion by sharing my experiences with readers. Find out more about us here.


Free expert cruise tips and news from Cruise Hive! We'll send you the latest cruise updates daily to your inbox.

Cruise Boards
Copy link