Eagerly and slightly exhausted I sit down as I free my sore feet from my sturdy hiking boots after a strenuous 8 hour-hike carrying my 18-kilogram backpack along the GR 20. This is when my chores for the day start, with the one I like the least: washing my clothes! Today might be different though as I am excited to try our new Scrubba Bag that is supposed to make washing easy while saving water, time, soap and energy.
Let’s find out…
I carefully I follow the easy instructions printed on the outside of this bag:
- I put two sets of underpants, smelly T-shirts and stinking hiking socks in the Scrubba Bag.
- I fill it up with water from the river to the level indicated on the Scrubba Bag.
- I add a drop of concentrated multipurpose biodegradable soap.
- Following the pictogram instructions printed on the Scrubba Bag, I close it and vent the air out.
- I start washing by rubbing the Scrubba Bag on a rock (making sure the rock is not too abrasive to not damage the bag): the soft rubber scrubs inside the bag are supposed to do the magic.
It is kind of fun to do and it is pretty impressive to see how fast the colour of the water changes from crystal-clear to murky. I keep rubbing for about 3 minutes. It is so much easier than usual that I am doubtful of the result. I open the bag and inspect the laundry carefully. It looks clean. I get rid of the dirty water and scoop up some fresh water to rinse.
Once done I take the clothes, squeeze the water out of the fabrics and smell. I am pleasantly surprised as the T-shirts smell super clean. Cautiously, I sniff the socks as I cannot imagine that in 3 minutes I could have gotten rid of their camembert smell. I am wrong: the socks now smell clean!
Washing my clothes with the Scrubba Bag does indeed save water, time, soap and energy! Perfect, as I can now scoop some of the water from the river to start my next chore: cooking a well-deserved meal in the outdoors while my clothes dry in the last sun rays of today.
Beware of biodegradable soap!
Don’t feel like drinking it yourself? Then don’t ditch it in the river!
Even if you use a “biodegradable” soap, it needs soil to break down its chemicals and wastewaters should NOT be disposed of in any body of water (issues go from increased nitrogen to harming aquatic life).
To dispose of soapy water, dig a hole about 60 meters away from water sources and pour your wastewater in it: the soil will break down the chemicals and accelerate the biodegradable process while acting as a filter.
Think of this as well with other chemicals you use in the backcountry (insect repellent, suntan lotion…) especially if water is scarce.
If the Scrubba Bag is fantastic when bivouacking or on expeditions, it is also a great way of saving water while traveling. Many countries are short on water, let alone drinking water, so consider packing a Scrubba Bag with you to make washing easier on you, and more environment-friendly.
Useful tip: use your Scrubba bag to stay dry!
Holding water when washing, the Scrubba bag also works the other way around and it has proven to be the perfect dry bag in a heavy downpour, preventing my sleeping bag from getting wet.
Marcella & Claire
This article was published in the Beyond Boundaries e-magazine by Xtreme Adventure: