#2 Clothing Care
What do you do when you’re in Paris and you run out of underwear?
Or on the first day of your three week road trip, you spill coffee on your white tank top? You know the one, the central piece in half of the outfits you have planned.
Or your luggage has gone to St. Louis and you’ve gone to St. Petersburg and you have to wear the same outfit for four days in a row?
You could resort to drastic measures like going commando, hiding a stain with a jacket, or hunting down a store to buy an emergency outfit, but there’s a better solution: be prepared for anything. The Boy Scouts certainly have the right idea!
Read on and get all the information to put together a quick and easy Clothing Care Kit you can tuck into your suitcase, carry-on, or any small corner of your road trip vehicle. This second post of the To-Go-Kit series has everything you need to keep your wardrobe looking its best while you’re traveling.
There are some tips and ideas about where to shop for the components of a to-go kit in the first post in this series, Office-to-Go, which you can read here. Where available, I’ll provide links to the products I talk about to give you options, in the event you’re trying to put something together quickly and don’t have time to hunt for things. You also may prefer the convenience of ordering from your couch while Netflixing and eating peanut butter M&Ms.
A side note: there were a few items I wanted for this kit that I couldn’t find in stores or online, so I made my own. I’ll include a couple of quick how-tos towards the end, but I encourage you to do the same, if you’re looking for a particular item you cannot find. My issue usually involved finding the right size, as I was trying to fit everything into this particular container.
The plastic box I got for this kit is a tiny bit larger than I actually needed, but everything fits in it nicely without having to Jenga-it to get the lid securely closed. The dimensions are 5-1/2” x 4-1/8” x 1-3/8” and it’s a nice weight, sturdy plastic with a hinged lid. I added a hand lettered label I cut out of self-sticking paper to the top, which was completely unnecessary, but looked nice in the photos.
Here’s what I’ve included in mine:
1. plastic hinged box – I got this at The Container Store. You can find it here for $5. It was on an end-cap display near the travel section and I bought the x-large. (savings tip: As I’m sure you’re aware The Container Store can get pricey, but sometimes they’re the only one who has exactly what you’re looking for. It’s free to sign up for their POP! rewards [Perfectly Organized Perks] and you can do it in the store or online via a quick drop down at the top of the screen at their website. Throughout the year they’ll send you coupons and money off deals via email. One thing I particularly like about TCS’s reward program is when you check out and enter your email address for the rewards program, your savings is automatically applied to your purchase so you don’t have to have the coupon, etc. in paper or electronic form.)
2. small nail brush – I’ve had this small nail brush for so long, I can’t remember where I got it. You can find something similar at Amazon, here, for $4, or you can pick it up at Walgreens (they have one in their Studio 35 house brand, but it isn’t available online), or likely any drugstore or places like Walmart and Target. A stiff toothbrush would work, also, although it may not fit into your kit.
3. detergent singles – I got Tide singles that came in a 3 pack from the travel section at Walmart. I’m sure Target has them or something comparable, or you can order them from Amazon, here, for $4.
I found two packages of Travelon laundry soap sheets at a church sale last fall. I don’t know how well they work, whereas I’ve used the Tide singles and they’re great. You can order these sheets at Amazon, here, for $7, or here’s another brand you can find at REI for $6.
Yet another soap option is laundry powder packets like this one I got at a hotel where I stayed. I’ve had it for quite a while (the liquid works so well for me), and I’m not sure with airport security being what it is that I would fly with it, as I would not appreciate being strip searched over my white powdered detergent in a baggie. I couldn’t find any for sale online that looked workable for this purpose, but if that’s the route you’d like to go, you could always buy some powdered detergent at the store, and make your own.
4. small clothes pins – I got a package of 18 1-3/4″ wooden clothes pins at Dollar Tree. They’re sturdy and are sufficient for my purposes. I only used 7 of them in the kit, and put them in a small plastic container I already had that came with something else in it. They fit perfectly. If you can’t find clothes pins anywhere near you, you can order some from Amazon, here, a package of 24 for $6. If you would also like a small container for them, you can grab one with the exact same dimensions as mine at The Container Store here for $2. I saw them in the same place I got the kit container.
5. mini ultra-slim lint brush – This was a promotional item and I have no idea where I got it. When I looked for a similar one online, all I could find were at companies that produce them in bulk for promotional items. It’s not quite 4” long when it’s closed.
When you remove the lid and put the base in it, it’s almost 6-1/2” for easy use.
But here’s the thing about this one, it’s only about 1/4” in diameter, which, of course, makes it ideal for the kit. None that I found online were as small as this one, although you might be able to make something like this work, depending on the size of your container. It’s through Walmart’s website for $9. Here’s another from The Container Store for $7 that might be a possibility, as well.
6. wrinkle releaser – A friend told me about wrinkle releaser when I was getting ready to travel to Europe, and it was a lifesaver. I took the travel size of Downy plus, which you can get from Target here for $2, and even if you don’t feel like you need any of the other things in this kit, do get some wrinkle releaser. You’ll thank me!
For the purposes of putting together this kit, I took a small, thin spray bottle and filled it from my larger bottle at home. You can find a similar package of two bottles in the travel section at The Container Store here for $3, and I think I’ve also gotten some at Walmart in their travel size toiletries area, but I couldn’t find them at their website.
7. stain remover pen – If you don’t know about the Tide pen, you should. They’re fabulous, and, frankly, I’m rarely without one, whether I’m traveling or not. I always have a couple of spare on hand, as I pick them up when I’m at the grocery store. You can order online from Walmart, here, for $3, but if you’re looking for them in the store, I’ve found them in both the travel size toiletries section and on the aisle with the laundry soap.
8. bleach pen – Because let’s be honest, as good as the Tide pen is, sometimes you’ve got to go hardcore, and that requires bleach. Clorox makes a bleach pen, but I find it bulky and difficult to fit into the container, so I made my own. Here’s how:
- (1) mini Tide pen
You want a Tide pen that you’ve used a bit so that some of the product is gone and there’s room in the container.
Remove the felt tip (I find this easier to do with a paper towel or tweezers. Literally, just grab firmly and pull.).
Take an eyedropper and put as much bleach as the tube will hold.
Replace the tip back into the tube and push down firmly so it’s secure.
Shake the container well to mix the bleach with the remaining stain remover product.
You’re obviously not going to want to use this on anything other than a white fabric, but for me the Tide pen just doesn’t work as well in that situation. This is an easy fix, however, and relatively inexpensive.
9. travel clothesline – Again, I wasn’t able to find exactly what I wanted in local stores, or online, so I made my own. Here’s how:
DIY travel clothesline
- (1) 7’ length of reinforced picture hanging wire
- (2) 4” cable ties (18lb. weight)
- (2) 7/8” round suction cups with hooks
- wire cutters
Take one cable tie, and zip as tight as possible so it’s as small as it can be, making a tiny loop.
Snip off the end with the wire cutters.
Repeat that process with the other cable tie.
Thread one end of the reinforced wire through one of the cable tie loops.
Approximately 1” down from the end of the wire, with the cable tie loop between that point and the nearest end, use the pliers to bend the wire back towards itself and wrap the end around the main part of the wire. (see photo)
Use the wire cutters to snip off any ends of the wire that are sticking out.
Repeat that process with the other cable tie at the other end of the wire.
I wound the clothesline up and secured it with a narrow piece of Velcro. I put in in a soft plastic envelope (3-1/4” x 2-3/8”), along with three suction cups (I added an extra, just in case), and a couple of extra cable ties, and popped that into the container.
I had the reinforced picture hanging wire, but you can find some in a small picture hanging kit at Dollar Tree in the hardware section, or any dollar store.
Dollar Tree is also where I found the package of eight suction cups, I think in the craft section. To note, if you’re planning on doing more substantial laundry and hanging it up to dry, you’re going to want sturdier suction cups that will bear more weight. You can find them in the hardware section of Walmart, where you’ll also find the cable ties for a few dollars.
When putting this post together, I did find this clothesline at REI for $13 that looks like it might work.
That wraps up the second installment of the To-Go-Kit series! You have all the information to put together a great Clothing Care Kit for your travels. Along with a small sewing kit (stay tuned for one I put together), you’ll be set for those away from home wardrobe emergencies.
And despite what it may look like, no, this post is not sponsored by The Container Store.
I’ll be back soon with the next in the Series, but until then, I hope you’re enjoying these beautiful spring days where you are.
Do you have clothing care items you simply will not travel without? Tell me about them in the comments.