When you really start to think about it, traveling is crusty. I always feel I need to say this so that you understand: I am not a germophobe and I do not have OCD. But I am aware of clean and dirty areas, and I can tell you that planes are really dirty places.
I have a similar feeling toward hotel rooms, and I filmed a video when I was in Miami actually of how to tell if your hotel room is clean or dirty. The comments in that video come from hotel housekeepers who essentially agree with my evaluation of the dirty rooms. And it was a 4 star hotel.
So, if you want to retain a certain standard of cleanliness, I’ve decided you need to take it in to your own hands. But who wants to schlep a whole cleaning caddy around with them when traveling? Most certainly not me. So what I’ve done is assembled a few travel essentials for keeping things clean, smelling good, organized and stain-free during your travels without too much money or effort on your part.
Keep your shoes shiny
If you can’t get your hands on a traveling shoe shine kit or don’t want to carry one around, pick up a few packets of white vinegar (your hotel restaurant may even have vinegar you can use) and use that to clean, condition and shine your leather shoes. Rub the vinegar in with a washcloth from your hotel washroom.
To keep dirty shoes from mucking up your clothing, wrap shoes in a plastic shopping bag and lay flat on top of clothing, or use a shower cap to store the shoes in and then lay flat on top of your clothing.
I place all of mine in zippered plastic bags. That way, in case something explodes or breaks, it’s all contained. I’d rather that than a fancy traveling cosmetics and toiletries bag getting gross in transit. I pack a few extra bags in the event there is an ‘explosion’. This one is pretty obvious but it works so well and is worth mentioning.
Mini laundry detergent packets
If you want to pack light but have a few days of travel planned, consider picking up a few packets of laundry detergent. I found a Tide 3 pack suited for sinks at Wal Mart in their travel toiletries bins. It was very inexpensive and a great idea, since there’s always a reason something needs to be laundered while traveling.
On that note, I want to take a moment and recognize hotel bar soap. Hotel bar soap is miraculous stuff. Recently, my niece got a huge oil spill on her favorite pair of pants while we were away on a girls weekend. I told her the pants were goners, but my sister-in-law disagreed and touted the awesomeness of hotel bar soap. It got every lick of oil off those pants, I’d never seen anything like it before. They took that bar of soap home. Don’t underestimate the powers of hotel bar soap.
Stain remover pen
Yes it’s nerdy, but if you travel around with one of these, you’ll be able to catch, remove pre-treat stains that you may not be able to tackle for a while. They are worth it. Stick it in your purse, you’ll be glad you were able to catch that ketchup or red wine stain when you did.
I prefer these to Wet Wipes, because they contain a disinfectant, don’t smell like fake lemon and I can use one of these before eating on a plane or eating at a food cart while out and about. I also find them easier to carry around than a small bottle of hand sanitizer and believe it or not, I’d rather smell rubbing alcohol than hand sanitizer. They were super cheap too. I found them in the first aid section at Wal Mart.
These can also be used if you encounter something you don’t like in your hotel room, i.e. a dirty remote control. They are great for quick, disposable cleaning wipes.
Place a dryer sheet somewhere in your suitcase (i.e. a mesh zippered pouch) and your clothing will smell nice throughout your travels. If you are combining shoes and clean clothes, you’re bound to have some smell activities going on that are unpleasant.
As well, if you are going somewhere which has a mosquito or bee issue, keep a sheet in your back pocket. The bugs can’t stand the smell and it will keep them away!
I use the hotel’s laundry bag (you know, the one they give you to place your laundry in for them to wash for only $20 per load or something like that) and store my dirty items in there. That way, at the end of the trip I can easily drop that bag into my laundry sorter when I arrive home. It makes unpacking easier.
If you are heading to a beachy locale, consider packing a small container of baby powder along with you. When you are done at the beach, sprinkle it all over your body and your beach gear, stand on a non-sandy area and shake all of the sand off. The talcum powder dries your skin and instantly separates the sand from your body and your gear. That way, you won’t be dragging sand as a souvenir home with you!
Simple and easy! Take a drinking stray and feel your necklace chain through it. That way, your necklaces won’t become tangled during your travels.
I hope that makes for an easier, cleaner traveling experience for you!
So, I was on a flight coming home from Miami…
I was standing in line, waiting to use the lavatory and the head flight attendant asked if she could quickly run in before me to wash her hands. It was no skin off my back of course. While we were waiting for a young man to finish up his very lengthy business dealings in the lavatory, we struck up a conversation. She told me she was starving and hadn’t eaten in quite a few hours. She picked up a salad at the Miami airport (it looked much lovelier than the plane food), and really wanted to dig in, but just couldn’t do so until she thoroughly washed her hands. Sitting beside her was a bottle of hand sanitizer, and she told me that even that didn’t make her feel her hands were clean enough. Without me prompting her, she continued to tell me just how dirty the planes were, and I was silently rubbing my hands together, I knew this was going to be good. According to this head flight attendant, the fleet in this very popular airline were cleaned thoroughly once every 5 years. Holy crap. Did I just hear that? She told me that the points of contact, door handles, pulls for stowaway bins, arm rests, window coverings, etc. are only thoroughly cleaned once every five years. Flight attendants touch a lot of things, including your bags, your food and your garbage with little time to squeeze in a hand washing. I couldn’t get in to more details with her because finally we heard the flush and knew it was time to shuffle, but I was really shocked by that news. Planes carry tons of people day in and day out, and they only get quickly touched up between flights. Think about it, your plane has not been sanitized in anticipation of your arrival. At best, it’s been vacuumed, garbage has been collected and seat pockets emptied (and barf bags replaced LOL).
What are your travel cleaning tips and tricks? What do you swear by?