Unless you’re a nudist, doing the laundry is a necessary evil. The popularity of doing it ranks right up there with getting a colonoscopy, but it has to be done. Those lucky enough to have a washer and dryer in their truck camper have it made, but the rest of us who own regular campers have to do it the traditional way. While the laundromat is preferred by most, it isn’t always convenient, especially if you’re exploring and/or camping out in the boonies. This is why many resort to washing their clothes by hand. The trouble is, washing your clothes this way can be messy, take a lot of time, and waste a lot of water. When we were full-timing in our truck camper, we often thought there had to be a better way. Fortunately, there is. Near the end of our six-month trip, we heard about an amazing little product called the Scrubba, a portable wash bag manufactured by an Australian company that goes by the same name. With the positive ratings and reviews we read online, we figured that we didn’t have anything to lose by trying out the product, so we decided to give it a try.
Touted as the “world’s smallest washing machine,” the Scrubba is a high quality product. Made of a durable denier nylon fabric with a polyurethane coating, the wash bag features a see-through window with an air relief twist nozzle on the front side and a super grip surface on the back. The bag measures 21 inches long and 12 inches wide and comes in three colors: black, neon green, and tactical (brown), the color of our bag. Cleaning is accomplished by rubbing your clothes against the bag’s internal washboard consisting of hundreds of tiny polyurethane knobs. As opposed to an old-fashion washboard, which is large, bulky, and heavy, the Scrubba is lightweight (it weighs only 5.3 ounces), compact, and self-contained, meaning you no longer need a bucket or a basin to wash and rinse your clothes. The Scrubba does everything, perfect for campers with little storage space. The Scrubba Tactical Wash Bag retails for $54.95 on Amazon.com Prime (when ordering make sure you purchase the Scrubba Tactical Wash Bag with the new and improved twist nozzle that releases air much better than the pre-2017 version).
Using the Scrubba is easy. All you need to do is fill the bag with fresh water, add a little detergent, seal the top of the bag, deflate the bag using the air relief twist valve, rub your clothes against the internal washboard for three minutes, rinse your clothes with clean water, then dry. The entire process takes about 10 minutes, which isn’t that bad when you consider how long it takes to wash your clothes by hand. Even though a large number of clothing items can be stuffed into the bag, the Scrubba works best when cleaning no more than a couple T-shirts, a couple of pairs of briefs, and a couple of pairs of socks at a time. While it’s true that the Scrubba is large enough to wash a single pair of jeans, be prepared to spend more time cleaning it, especially if there are grass stains in the knees.
Deflating the Scrubba without spilling any water is probably the most difficult part about using the wash bag. The twist valve works great in releasing air from the bag, but can take a while if using this method alone. The quickest way to deflate the bag is to remove most of the air before the top is rolled over and clipped. This is done by laying the bag down and gently pressing on it before it’s sealed. Learning how to do this without spilling water takes a little practice, but once you get the hang of it, you should be able to do it quickly. Still, don’t be surprised if a little water seeps out while you use the bag. Because of this, we recommend using the bag outside on a table or a flat surface to avoid making a mess.
Even though the Scrubba wash bag can hold 3 gallons of water, you won’t need that much water to wash and rinse your clothes. This is because the process of washing requires you to seal the bag and rub your clothes against the washboard surface from the outside. Putting too much water in the bag will make scrubbing your clothes difficult if not impossible, thus only 1 gallon of water is needed to wash and rinse your clothes. Fortunately, convenient markings have been placed on the front of the Scrubba bag to help owners add the right amount of water and clothes without over filling it.
Here are a few tips on using the Scrubba. Use a spray nozzle or a pitcher to fill the bag with water, it’s quicker and easier. Rubbing your clothes for 30 seconds is usually sufficient to remove oils, dirt, and odors from the clothing. For a machine quality wash, however, scrubbing your clothes for full three minutes is needed. For more stubborn stains, you’ll need to soak your items in detergent for a couple of hours and scrub them longer. As for the detergent, we found that powder detergents take too long to dissolve and that liquid detergents work best. We use 2 teaspoons of Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds biodegradable cleaner for each load. We feel better using a biodegradable product while we boondock rather than using a traditional detergent like Tide. Hot, warm, and cold water can be used in the Scrubba, but using water hotter than 122 degrees should be avoided because of the damage it can cause to the waterproof lining in the bag. The simple rule of thumb when using hot water is if the bag is too hot to hold, then the water is too hot for the Scrubba.
To dry your clothes, we recommend using Scrubba’s Travel Towel, an additional accessory that can be purchased from the company. Made of a high-quality, microfiber material, the towel substantially speeds up the process of drying your clothes. To use it, all you need to do is wrap your clothes in the towel and roll it, putting pressure on the towel as you do so. Doing this for a few minutes transfers most of the moisture from your clothing items to the towel. The company also sells a quality clothes line with suction cup mounts and inflatable clothes hangers that can be purchased individually. If you’re serious about buying the Scrubba, however, we recommend buying the Travel Wash Kit instead. This kit not only includes the Scrubba, and all of the company’s accessories, but also a large see-through storage pouch to keep everything together. The Travel Wash Kit retails for $99.00.
At this point, you might be asking, “how durable is this bag, how long will the bag last?” The answer depends on how often you use it and how rough you are with the bag. According to the Scrubba website, the wash bag can be used hundreds of times before it wears out. We’ll see. We haven’t owned our Scrubba very long—only five months—so its durability can’t be attested to in this review. We can say, however, that the bag is very durable and very well made and hasn’t given us any problems in the time we’ve owned it. Fortunately, the Scrubba comes with a terrific warranty that guarantees the bag against defects in materials and craftsmanship. If your bag fails due to a defect and not through misuse, the company will refund, replace, or repair the bag at no cost (fortunately, if a repair is ever needed, you can do it yourself. The rubberized fabric lends itself well to repairs using PVC glue and a standard tent or bicycle tire puncture repair kit).
So is the $55 price tag for the Scrubba Tactical Wash Bag worth it? Without question, yes! It takes up very little storage when not in use, is lightweight, uses relatively little water, and requires very little detergent to work. It’s also easy to use and doubles as a dry bag to protect sensitive electronics and documents from moisture if you’re ever away from your camper. All of these reasons make the Scrubba ideal for RV use. The only real negative that we can think of is that it requires a couple gallons of water for each wash. For those who camp in rigs with small fresh water holding tanks, the use of the Scrubba will be a nonstarter. Of course, this issue is moot if you frequently camp next to fresh water rivers and lakes and have an unlimited source of water. All things considered, we love this product. It gives us peace of mind knowing it’s there if we need it and we frequently do. Using the 5 star rating system, with 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest, we give the Scrubba a rating of 5 stars. I highly recommend it, unless, of course, you happen to be a nudist.