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In some hotels and other kinds of accommodation including hostels and I believe even campgrounds there is a rule against hand washing your laundry in the sink or handbasin, or in your room. I'm sure I've come across this in multiple countries.

Now one of the tips for saving money when travelling on a budget is to wash your own clothes by hand. Especially when combined with tips for travelling with minimal luggage which include wearing the same clothes over and over by washing them every night in your hotel room. (I believe Rolf Potts advocated this in his no-baggage round-the-world challenge.)

Do we know the reason(s) for this rule?

Is it unhygienic? Does it cause problems with the drains? Does it stain the sinks? Have people gotten sick from preparing food in sinks used for clothes washing?

I'm pretty sure it can't be just to get guests to pay for their laundry service as I'm pretty sure I've seen this even in places that don't offer a laundry service. For instance I think I've even seen it at campgrounds.

Yes I know some places offer a special sink for hand-washing, as does the hostel I currently work at.

Here are some signs I don't have the right to include but can link to: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.


If anybody knows what I'm talking about and has a photo of such a sign or rule to contribute then please add it. Whether you know the answer or not (-:

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Are the sinks you refer to for exclusive use or shared? About the only reason I can think of would be monopolising what might be required by others. –  pnuts Sep 2 at 4:09
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Wasting water comes in mind... –  MeNoTalk Sep 2 at 4:33
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@pnuts: I've seen both. Signs telling you not to use the ones in your room. Signs saying not to use the handbasin in the bathroom or the sink for dishes I'm pretty sure at campgrounds. –  hippietrail Sep 2 at 4:34
    
@MeNoTalk: That would be a valid reason in Australia and other places with droughts or water shortages. But I'm sure I've seen it in other places too. Places that don't bother asking you to limit your shower time or turn the tap off when you're brushing your teeth, that don't have dual-flush toilets, etc. –  hippietrail Sep 2 at 4:46
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I have never seen such a sign in Europe or Asia - quite the contrary: At least in China, rooms in better hotels often have a built-in clothes line (e.g. extensible across the bathtub) as an additional amenity. –  O. R. Mapper Sep 2 at 11:35

1 Answer 1

Rick Steves has a post on this and his answer comes down to:

Interpret hoteliers’ reticence as “I have lots of good furniture and fine floors in this room, and I don’t want your drippy laundry ruining things.” But as long as you wash carefully and are respectful of the room, go right ahead.

It's also possible they want to save on water, but then you'd expect to see warnings on showers as well.

It's also possible they want to charge you for a laundry service instead, as they can do this more efficiently and in batches.

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Incidentally, I have seen warnings on showers to save water. Although I've never actually seen a sign prohibiting laundry in the sink... –  Flimzy Sep 2 at 10:32
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I don’t recall ever having seen such a sign myself but have just been reminded that extending clothes line devices (though often no longer functional) over a bath have not been exceptional – so water damage to the furnishings seems to me a plausible rationale (and as mentioned, I could not think of another!) I note Rick also wrote "“no washing clothes in the room” sign (which, after “eat your peas,” may be the most ignored rule on earth)". –  pnuts Sep 2 at 11:03
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@Flimzy yeah, Point Hostel in La Paz, Bolivia suggests you save water by sharing the shower with a friend :) –  Mark Mayo Sep 2 at 11:14
    
@MarkMayo you can also cut down on hotel bills by sharing the room with a friend (make sure it is the RIGHT friend). Then the shower, and other hotel room facilities too. Nice! –  Mindwin Sep 2 at 15:12

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