Cleaning On the Go: What to Pack When you Travel

Green cleaning on the go

Cleaning on the go – whether you’re away for a long weekend, or taking a three week long honeymoon, I think you should always be prepared. In this post I’m going to share a list of essential cleaning products that I always have in my bag/suitcase when I travel. It’s only a few small items, but with them on hand I know that I can tackle anything the vacation brings.

One of our favorite getaways is to take a Friday or Monday off and rent a cabin via Airbnb in some remote location. Unplug, spend time enjoying nature, shop at local co-ops and farmers’ markets, drink wine in front of the fireplace at night and generally recharge our batteries for a long weekend. It really helps to stay sane in the midst of demanding corporate jobs and hectic city life. In fact, I’m writing this post from a cabin in VT right now!

But when you stay at an Airbnb you are responsible for your own cleaning. (I might be the only person in the world who actually gets excited about this!) One thing I’ve come to notice is that every Airbnb rental is different: some will be fully stocked with green cleaning supplies, while others will have some blue Dawn and neon-green Mr.Clean on hand as your only options. I personally only enjoy cleaning when I’m using eco-friendly products that I know and trust, and bringing the essentials with me has come in handy countless times.

So here is my “green cleaning on the go” list: everything I take with me when I travel and how I use these things when I’m there.

Green Cleaning on the Go

Green Cleaning on the Go Kit

My green cleaning on the go kit: everything you need for cleaning when you travel!

1. Dish sponge

This is a huge one. Even the cleanest Airbnb rentals we have stayed in have never provided new dish sponges. I’m not at all a germaphobe, but I do draw the line at used dish sponges! Since I like to re-wash the dishes we will be using (and most places don’t have a dishwasher), this is something that I would always need to buy as soon as we got to our rental. So now I just take one with me. I have a bunch of these Scotch-Brite cellulose absorbent sponges that I’ve been cutting in half. Trader Joe’s carries some fun pop-up sponges that you could use, and I’ve also been meaning to give these a try. And if I need a little more scouring action, the vast majority of cabins will have baking soda on hand, so I’ll just use that. When we’re done with our stay I’ll use the sponge to wash out the sink and leave it there. Since they are made out of cellulose they will decompose pretty quickly and can even be composted.

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2. Nitrile gloves

This is probably one of my top 3 cleaning necessities overall, not just for travel. Nitrile gloves are the perfect middle ground between traditional rubber gloves that are too bulky and always make me drop wine glasses and thin latex gloves that are a nightmare to put on and take off, make my hands gross and sweaty, rip all the time and can’t really be reused. Unlike traditional rubber or latex, nitrile is thin enough to not affect your grip, but strong enough to be reused multiple times. These Halyard purple ones are my absolute favorites, and a box lasts forever. I wear these gloves for everything: from washing dishes to hand washing laundry to cutting beets to cleaning up gross things and anything in between. I have sensitive skin, so I never handle any kind of cleaning solutions without them. I also always have a spare pair in the car, just in case!

3. All-purpose cleaner

The folks at Charlie’s Soap were kind enough to send me some samples a while back, and their Charlie’s Soap Indoor/Outdoor cleaner has become hands down my favorite all-purpose cleaner. It’s concentrated, it’s versatile, it doesn’t have any scent/color added and it’s safe for the environment. I can use this for anything from the kitchen sink to the tub to stains on clothing. In a pinch you could even use it as a dish detergent! So basically even if the rental didn’t provide ANY cleaning supplies (or they were all of the conventional variety that I don’t like to use), I’d be all set with just this one product. Oh and I don’t pack a full sized bottle, the samples I received came in a travel size, but really any small spray bottle will do.

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4. Microfiber cloths

Another staple in our household. I probably do at least 80% of my cleaning with microfiber and water only. I will normally bring two cloths with me when I travel: a general purpose one and a glass one. The general purpose cloth is used for counters, sinks, surfaces and stains (it’s fantastic at getting fresh stains out of carpet/upholstery!). The glass cloth is used for mirrors, ceramic stove tops and, most importantly, glasses. I can’t clean glasses with anything else!

5. Laundry detergent

I always like to stay at rentals that have washers. It’s a great way to play around with machines you don’t personally own. Unfortunately the washers provided are often moldy, and as soon as I see that I know that there is a 99% chance that towels will be musty. I always like to remedy that if possible, with a deep clean of the machine and a rewash of all towels. Since powders are generally better for dealing with mold issues, I like to bring some Charlie’s Soap. The sample bag Charlie’s had sent me contained some handy single-dose packets, so I used them on this trip – very convenient! When I don’t have those, I’ll throw several tablespoons of detergent in a ziplock and call it a day. If we’re staying for a longer period of time, I might also bring some oxygen bleach. That can be used both for cleaning the washer and boosting detergent performance.

Green Cleaning on the Go Kit - inside

All of these products fit nicely into a small pouch and hardly take up any space.

In the three days we’ve been at our Airbnb rental I have used every single one of the items in my cleaning on the go kit. The towels here were quite musty, so I was VERY glad to have some Charlie’s Soap on hand. I ran an empty load on the hottest water temperature to clean out the tub before re-washing the towels and you should have seen the amount of suds coming from detergent residue in the washer drum, yikes! I then put the towels in and ran a 30 minute quick wash cycle with a healthy dose of vinegar. After that, a hot extended wash with one Charlie’s Soap packet with some vinegar in the fabric softener compartment and the towels were good as new.

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Charlie's Soap Travel Bag

Do you pack any cleaning supplies when you travel? What are your cleaning on the go necessities? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment below!

Some of the listed products were provided to me by Charlie’s Soap for review, others were purchased by me for personal use. This blog post contains affiliate links that will give me a small commission on any purchases made through these links.

7 thoughts on “Cleaning On the Go: What to Pack When you Travel

  1. Rick says:

    I travel a lot and found a service called Washypop and with that I often get someone in the neighborhood where I stay to do my laundry.

  2. Doris says:

    Olga, I’ve been using OxiClean liquid stain remover with my Tide he liquid in my compact Asko washer for years, as used this machine primarily for cold water or 85 degree wash very low water and I was under impression powder would not work. That being said, my Asko died after 15 years and can’t be repaired, so I am in the process of looking at Bosh or Mieli machine to replace it. Are you saying you have no issue using the powder oxygen bleach in your Mieli washer?

    • Olga says:

      Hi Doris, oxi powder won’t be very effective at cold wash temperatures unless you soak for an extended period of time. Good powder detergents, on the other hand, contain bleach activators that allow you to get the stain removing power of sodium percarbonate without hot water. I have never had any issues with powder in my machine, granted I rarely wash on cold.

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