Product Review

The Scrubba Wash Bag: Does it Work?

Rather than lug a washing machine with us on our next tropical adventure, we try this tiny bag.

By Peter Holley August 9, 2013

I call it "Jungle Funk," and it's the result of every trip I've ever made to the tropics.

Start with a gallon of man sweat, unleashed by the harsh equitorial sun. Next add steam, rain water, more sun, some errant crud (mostly food stains and dirt), and a hint of dead fish (my last trip involved fishing in rural Nicaragua). Throw in some more dirty clothes, that rotten airplane smell and a splash of mold. Let the entire concoction roast in a grimy plastic bag from Kroger for three or four days, creating a terrarium from hell. Open alone in your bedroom. Throw out your clothes. Never again.

Future trips will include clothes washing, I've decided. The summer travel season is almost over, but I thought I'd start by trying out the Scrubba Wash bag. Made by a company in Australia, it's a laundry system engineered inside of a knapsack—a mobile washboard of sorts.

The idea is simple: you place your soiled clothes inside the bag with a bit of water and soap and then you grope and rub the bag for, like, three minutes. Rinse the clothing, hang it to dry and, allegedly, you're done. The bag is small enough to fit in your palm, the company says, and holds about two days worth of clothing per wash. The bag also doubles as a knapsack.

Does it work? I decided to see for myself. Since I couldn't recreate JF in North America, I found the next grossest thing. 

The culprit: A week-old running shirt, soiled in 100-degree heat during a run around Rice, and forgotten in wet heap of gross workout clothes.

The smell: A dying animal with a hint of mold. Not good. Really bad, in fact.

Quality: 100% cotton, now stiff like rigor mortis.

Girlfriend's reaction: "Do not come near me!" 

The wash: Went something like this. Felt disturbingly good. Like kneading wet dough through a space suit. Lots of sloshy sounds that made me giggle on the inside. (Tip: use two hands instead of holding a camera).


The drying: Pretty straightforward. Didn't have a rack so I went with the porch at work in the 100-degree sun. Coworkers didn't say anything. Classy.

The results: It actually worked! At first I thought a three-minute wash wouldn't be enough to rid my threads of their malevolent odor, but I was wrong.

The smell: Fresh and flowery, though not as good as your washing machine. More like the feel of your clothes when you leave here, only without the shirtless guy lounging near the back.

Quality: Considerably softer, fit for wearing to the grocery store or the gym or the jungle. 

Girlfriend's reaction: "You're no longer untouchable!"

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