The Scrubba

Several people have written to me saying something along the lines of “this looks interesting — what do you think?” with regards to the Scrubba laundry-washing bag.

So far, though, I haven’t heard from anyone who’s used one. And I don’t have one as I don’t wash much by hand — either I do it at a laundromat or — my one little luxury when living aboard — leave it at a drop-off laundry.

The idea is pretty simple — the Scrubba bag is waterproof (much like a dry bag) and lined with little nubs. This graphic, from the company, explains it pretty well:

The Scrubba is a small laundry washing bag. Readers weigh in on how well-suited it is for boat use.

Simply put an article of clothing in the bag with water and detergent, close the bag, expel the air, rub it around, and rinse. They’re sold on Amazon and elsewhere for a little over $50. That seems a little pricey when you can just wash clothes in the sink or a bucket, but if it’s substantially easier than other hand-washing options when you’re away from laundromats, it could be worth it. Anything to make hand washing less of a pain!

So I’m asking — has anyone actually used the Scrubba? What did you think? Is it worth the money?

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  • Juli Russell
    Posted at 05 March 2015 Reply

    I bought one with the intention of mostly using it for my delicate clothes that I don’t want mixed in with others. Using laundromats, we tend to maximize each load and of course the machines are never so good.

    I found that it works pretty well overall. The plus side: don’t have to use the galley sink, can conserve water and can let things soak as long as u want. Also saves my hands from scrubbing. Things come out pretty clean (same as washing by hand) and don’t seem to use as much water in the rinses (2, usually). Minuses-if u fill too much it will leak all over and the built-in scrub board can’t be used. Takes some doing to expel the air from the spout until u get the hang of it and ditto with draining. I might like a small bucket better on our boat, but can see this would be v useful camping

  • Kapt Ken
    Posted at 05 March 2015 Reply

    I purchased a Scrubba wash bag about nine months ago. I have used it primarily for business travel, but also tried it camping and sailing. The short answer to “Would I buy it again?”, the answer is a qualified NO……..but read on for context.

    Intrinsically there is nothing wrong with the bag or concept. It works substantially as advertised and intended. I have probably used it 8-9 times in total. Most of these were during extended international business travel, where I wanted to wash a few underclothes and a dress shirt. It worked OK, however did not appear to offer a substantial improvement over using the hotel room sink. We have tried it on our sailboat. Again, using a bucket or sink offered the same level of convenience and “cleaning” power. We have also used it backpacking. In this instance, the Scubba offered greater utility and really shines in this environment.

    Therefore, IMHO, I believe the only application that offers substantial advantage of using a Scrubba Bag is when camping; when you want to clean small batches of clothes for minimal hygienic reasons (such as underwear and t-shirts). When camping, the Scrubba does address the challenges of having limited water, space or a “container” in which to hold the water, soap and clothes to be washed. You can also lay the bag out in the sun to soak and heat the contents for presumably improved efficacy. In fairness to the Scrubba people, this is the principal intended purpose of the Scrubba Bag and in this context it appears to work well.

    – Convenient size, packaging, compact.
    – Appears well constructed and decent quality……..although I question long-term robustness.
    – Once filled, does permit dry and neat washing activity. You are not slopping water and soap around agitating the bag, nor are you getting dish-pan hands or a soaked floor.
    – Design promotes environmentally sound and efficient water usage.
    – Theoretically, could be used of other “dry bag” purposes. In keeping with the Backpacking Mantra, everything you carry needs to do at least two things. You could use the Scrubba for other “bag” uses…..if you are careful not to damage the bag.

    – Limited capacity. In the real world, handles a couple pairs of underpants, bras, 1 t-shirt, socks. Large shirts, normal pants, jeans or longer clothing would be difficult…..but possible.
    – Expensive for what it is; A medium sized dry bag.
    – Features such as the scrubbing dots washboard, purge valve, viewing window, etc are a little gimmicky. A similar sized dry-bag would be 1/3 the cost of the Scrubba with similar capabilities if used in the same manner.

    In summary, if I was on a 3 month hike of the Appalachian Trail, the ability wash a few items stream-side using minimal water and soap, would make the Scrubba worth the cost. However, in a cruising environment I believe existing infrastructure (sink, water tank, buckets, etc) make the Scubba limited its operational advantage and value.

  • RiverRats
    Posted at 05 March 2015 Reply

    I have not tried it but the old 5 gallon bucket and new toilet plunger method works so well I would not spend the money to try this.

  • Gimme Shelter
    Posted at 05 March 2015 Reply

    I’m trying to remember which blog I saw that bought one. Their report was that results were mediocre and they ended up never using it.

  • Harinama Devi Dasi
    Posted at 06 March 2015 Reply

    In my experience with hand washing, it’s not the washing part that’s such hard work, but the wringing out. I’d rather invest in one of those manual spinners than something like this. Just my opinion.

  • Linda Snelling
    Posted at 06 March 2015 Reply

    I’ve thrown a black trash bag in the dinghy and ‘washed clothes’ while sailing.Very successful and easy on fresh water.

  • Rick Garvin
    Posted at 10 March 2015 Reply

    We took our new Scrubba out for a 2-week sail in January and the air release plug broke the first time we used it. Even given that it worked pretty well. No better than a dry bag, but well enough. We returned the Scrubba to Amazon with no trouble. would I get another one? Its nice not to take up a sink or have to stow another bucket for laundry. But, another dry bag does that for me.

    Cheers, RickG

  • Kez SV Tardis
    Posted at 10 March 2015 Reply

    I bought one, gave it a go, and then gave it away.

    I found it slow and inefficient. On a boat all I need is a bucket and some marine soap – and the willingness to hand wash often to keep on top of things.

  • Nancy
    Posted at 14 July 2016 Reply

    I really wanted to like the Scrubba. It does not hold enough clothes and is not as efficient as a bucket, especially for rinsing. The air release was also difficult to use (it looks like a blow-up valve on a kids water toy), so I just squished the air out like you would with a dry bag…which can be messy with water in the bag. Plus you have to hang the bag up somewhere to dry when you are done so it doesn’t mildew.

    Alternatively, I tried the plunger method and ended up donating the plunger to a cruisers lounge (this was the special one made for washing clothes that I bought at a marine store). It took up too much space to store and using my hand is honestly more efficient.

    Personally, I found this method works really well and saves fresh water: Fill a bucket with salt water and detergent. Add a load of clothes, agitate by hand, then let sit for an hour, agitate again, then rinse using s bucket of fresh water. It works very well. I have had no problem with rinsing out the salt or drying the clothes.

  • wendy
    Posted at 07 July 2017 Reply

    I have a scrubba that I have taken and used both on my class B RV and when I am traveling by air. It is great for times when I am not carrying enough clothes for the trip and want to do a small load.
    I haven’t used it on the boat yet, as I am not cruising yet. (and I can do a full size load at the marina for only $2.50)
    I do expect I will use it sailing and it will be great for hot climates when ‘loads’ are small.

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