Travel for more than a few days, and definitely more than a week, and you’ll need to do some laundry. This becomes more of an issue in the summertime in Portugal when the weather is hot and sweaty and you go through clean clothes (and especially socks and underwear) very, very quickly.
The following are a few of the different ways that you can wash your clothes while travelling in Portugal.
Stay in Airbnbs (that have a washing machine)
One of the most convenient solutions that I’ve found is to stay in Airbnbs that have a washing machine (this is one of the filters that you can select when you’re filtering the accommodation choices). You don’t have to stay in Airbnbs for your entire trip, but you should book one for at least 1-2 nights every week so that you can keep on top of your laundry.
2 nights works best as check-in often isn’t until around 3-4 pm and, if you’re checking out the next morning at 11 am or so, there might not be enough time to get everything dry (dryers are rare in Portugal, although there is a filter on Airbnb to show apartments that have them). If you have some outside space and it’s summer time, however, you should be able to dry your clothes in just a few hours.
Booking an Airbnb with a washing machine works well when you’re booking an entire place. If you’re just booking a room and you’re staying with a host, however, I’ve found it can be a little more complicated. It’s not always as simple as just putting your clothes in the machine and hanging them out: sometimes the host will want to do this for you rather than let you use the machine, which a lot of people could find awkward.
The downsides to booking Airbnbs for laundry are that it raises the costs and you may* need to buy detergent which not only adds a few extra Euros to your costs but it’s also quite bulky to carry with you to your next destination.
*Some Airbnbs will have detergent left over from previous guests, but usually you won’t know until you get there.
Stay in hotels that have laundry facilities for guests
Many hotels offer a laundry service, but often this is priced per item and so it quickly becomes ridiculously expensive. And, if you’re reading this article, you’re probably not interested in spending that kind of money.
Laundry services in hostels are usually very affordable, however, and this may be the option that’s most convenient and affordable.
The following are just a few hostels in Portugal that offer laundry facilities for guest use:
- Yes! Lisbon Hostel – Allows guests to use the washing machine for free (washing powder is included as well).
- Home Lisbon Hostel – Offers a free laundry service.
- Lost Inn Lisbon – Offers a laundry service where they wash and dry your clothes for €5.
- Yes! Porto Hostel – Has a laundry room with washing machines and a dryer.
- The Passenger Hostel – Has a laundry room with washing machines, a dryer, an iron, and an ironing board.
Moradia T5 Ponta Garça – A guesthouse on Ilha de São Miguel with private rooms that has a washing machine (and normally detergent) that guests can use.
Go to a self-service laundrette
There are plenty of self-service laundrettes throughout Portugal (Googling “Lavandaria self service” along with your location should bring up any that are on Google Maps). You’ll find them in city centres, at the bottom of apartment blocks on the outskirts of towns and cities, and often outside large supermarkets.
The self-service laundrettes at the supermarket are particularly useful as you can do your shopping at the same time, or just pop into the supermarket café for a coffee and a cake. These are usually a little out of town, though, so only really suitable for those that have a car.
How much do several service laundrettes in Portugal cost? Well, as an example, I used a self-service laundrette in Portugal in July 2019 and the prices were as follows:
- Light wash at 20 °C- €3 (30 minutes)
- Wash at 30 °C- €4 (30 minutes)
- Wash at 45 °C- €4.50 (30 minutes)
- Wash at 60 °C- €5 (30 minutes)
Tip: Self-service laundrettes sometimes have different sized machines and the smaller ones (which is all you’ll probably need) are usually slightly cheaper.
Drying was extra and was charged at €0.10 per minute, so €1 for 10 minutes. On the plus side, I didn’t have to pay for washing powder which would have cost several Euros and would have been difficult to carry around.
Total cost: €4 + €1.50 for drying = €5.50 Total time taken: around 45 minutes.
Most laundrettes are pretty pretty similar to each other, but here are some interesting ones that I’ve found on in Portugal:
- Laundry & Lockers (Porto) – Unique business that combines storage lockers and washing machines along with free wifi – just what every traveller needs.
- Laundry Lounge (Sagres, Algarve) – Bar & Café with laundry machines where you can relax over a beer or grab a coffee and catch up on some work while you wait for your laundry to be done.
Go to a drop off/pick up laundrette
In some parts of the world, like Asia, laundrettes are incredibly cheap: often a dollar per kilo. Unfortunately, Portugal isn’t one of those countries. It’s not prohibitively expensive, but there are definitely cheaper options.
Of course, going for this option as opposed to the self-service option does mean that you don’t have to sit in a laundrette for an hour and that may be worth it for a lot of people. So, how much should you expect to pay? Prices vary, but seem to be roughly €5 per kilo.
Aside from cost, the other downsides to using a laundrette is that the people at the laundrette might not speak English and it’ll actually take longer than using a self-service machine – although you won’t have to sit around to wait for your clothes to be done.
Wash your clothes in the sink (cheapest option)
It wasn’t that long ago in Portugal that most clothes were washed by hand, usually in concrete basins that sat outside the homes in the street. These days, most homes have washing machine but you can still buy hand-washing soap (called sabão roupa) in the supermarkets very easily.
There are a few downsides to washing your clothes in the sink, aside from the fact that it isn’t usually as effective as using a washing machine. Firstly, clothes usually take a bit longer to dry. Secondly, you need somewhere to hang them out and that isn’t always easy when you’re staying in a hotel or hostel room. (Tip: Amazon actually sell travel clothes lines, although a long piece of string would also suffice.)
Still, it’s very cheap and that hand-washing soap not only fits nicely in your rucksack but having it in there will keep your clothes smelling fresh as well.