There are a few different strategies for doing laundry in camp but the Scrubba Wash Bag makes it easy. The Scrubba, basically a big heavy-duty bag that holds water, also has a unique scrubbing surface inside. The small protruding nodules on the surface act as a washboard that clothes can be rubbed against to get them clean. Scubba joins a short list of receptacles that are used by campers and backpackers to clean clothes including using zip-top freezer bags, portable “sinks” and collapsible dog bowls.
The Scrubba looks like a giant lime green dry bag with a roll top that clips to seal. Running down the side is a clear plastic window that makes it easy to confirm the fill line and see how suds are building up. Air can be expelled using a small valve on the side. After filling the bag with water, soap and dirty clothes the bag is sealed and scrubbing can commence. Clothes are rubbed against the nubby surface inside to get some extra rubbing power, after which they can soak for a few minutes. The dirty water can then be discarded well away from backcountry water sources to be consistent with Leave No Trace principles (see related article on Doing Laundry on the Backpacking Trail). Rinse and repeat.
I took the Scrubba on a backpacking trip to test out a review sample. I liked the generous size of the bag as my gallon zip-top bag that I usually use gets pretty overloaded if I have more than a couple of pairs of socks and underwear. On the John Muir Trail, when I was on the trail for 23 days, I used a slightly smaller dry bag for a big load of laundry but it was so pliable that it was hard to control, flopping around like an oversized jumping bean. With the Srubba, the plastic material has a bit more structure—it doesn’t stand up by itself but it’s easier to handle. It’s also very durable compared to freezer bags, where I’ve experienced multiple tiny fountains spring up from close contact with sharp granite edges.
On one short trip I camped quite a distance from the nearest water supply. Rather than schlep back and forth to get water I used my Scrubba as a holding tank, which worked well, being larger than my 8 liter dry bag. I got my water for cooking and filtering from the bag and didn’t have to return to the lake in the evening or the following morning.
The Scrubba Wash Bag is made of tough thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) that is microbial, abrasion, grease and oil resistant. It’s generously sized at 9.4 inches long and 5.3 inches wide. Its weight of 5 ounces won’t matter to most, but for the ultralight backpacking crowd it weighs quite a bit more than a 3/8 oz gallon zip top bag or the slightly more durable 5/8 oz aLokSak.
On an upcoming paddling trip the Scrubba will be pressed into use as both a dry bag and laundry bag. As a dry bag the clear plastic window pane along the side will make it easy to see the contents and on a paddling trip the weight will be relatively negligible.
One downside of the Srubba is the cost of nearly $60, which is considerably higher than a 16 cent gallon zip top or even the $3.25 aLokSak, both of which are flimsier and will only last for a limited number of washings, but you could buy a lot of zip tops or aLokSaks for $60. On the other hand, to be “greener” the Srubba may come out on top, taking into consideration many washings in a reusable bag that will last a long time.
Scrubba Wash Bag
The founders of the Scrubba Wash Bag are world travelers and after seeing the need for clean drinking water in countries like Laos and Cambodia, have dedicated a portion of the Scrubba Wash Bag proceeds to fund a variety of worthy projects, from wells in Ethiopia to reservoirs in Kenya. Their donations have ranged from $1,000 to a more significant amount of $15,000 for a current project. You can participate in the easiest way possible—“like” Srubba Wash Bag on Facebook and they’ll contribute $1, post a photo of the bag in use and they’ll contribute $20 and if you post a video demonstrating all the steps to wash clothes in the wash bag they’ll donate a whopping $75.
The Scrubba Wash Bag provides a convenient “green” way to wash clothes on the trail and the creators have a strong social conscience, contributing a portion of proceeds to clean water projects around the world.
The Scrubba Wash Bag is available for $59.99 at Amazon
Disclosure of material connection: I received a test sample from Scrubba Wash Bag but the opinions expressed are solely my own.