The Scrubba - Revolutionizing Laundry in the Backcountry

By Auntie Shelley

One of the challenges when camping with families as large as ours is minimizing gear.  Kids, especially younger kids, tend to go through a lot of clothes on a trip.  In the past we have tried doing laundry in the backcountry in an effort to save on how much clothing we brought.  It never worked out well.  It was always labour intensive and the clothes never really came out clean.  We had resigned ourselves to the fact that we would just have to bring extra clothes for the kids.  That was until we discovered The Scrubba! 

Uncle Dave is the one who discovered the Scrubba earlier this year.  Dave is always up on new and exciting gear.  This summer on our 12-day trip we had the opportunity, actually several opportunities, to put the Scrubba to the test.  I think I can safely say that it has earned a place on our essential gear list.

So, what is the Scrubba?  According to their website, it is “the world’s first pocket-sized washing machine” and it weighs less than 5oz.  Imagine a dry bag with a see-through window and an internal washboard made of little nubbies – that’s The Scrubba.  It’s a modern, backcountry version of my grandmother’s old-fashioned washboard.

It’s quite simple to use.  You fill the bag with clothes, water, and a bit of soap, then close it up the same way you would a dry bag – roll the top down 4 or 5 times and clip the ends.  Next you open the air valve and push on the bag to remove the air from it.  Close up the valve then press down and rub the clothes against the internal washboard.  Depending on how dirty the clothes were we found it took anywhere from 30 seconds to 5 minutes to get everything clean.  This is where the little window comes in handy.  It allows you to see whether or not the clothes are clean enough.

Once everything was clean we drained the water.  On their website, Scrubba says that you can rinse your clothes with fresh water in the Scrubba, or under a running tap or shower.  We tried rinsing the clothes in the Scrubba, and it worked well, however it was a bit time consuming given the volume of laundry we were dealing with (we had 9 kids on the trip).  Lisa came up with a system where she would wash the clothes in the Scrubba and then rinse them in her Sea to Summit portable kitchen sink.

One thing I would recommend is to start with a small amount of soap (i.e. just a few drops).  On his first load Uncle Dave added a bit too much soap and there were a lot of bubbles.  It took several rinses to get it all out.  Start with a couple of drops and then add more if you need it.

I will admit that I was a bit skeptical about how well the Scrubba would actually work, however after testing it out we were all really impressed.  I’m quite excited because I think it will really allow us to cut back on the amount of clothing we need to bring on longer trips.  I can definitely see how it would be a great item to bring when backpacking or trekking and have no hesitation recommending it as a great piece of gear.

For demonstration videos you can check out the Scrubba YouTube channel.  I think this one is my favourite.