One of the least sexy things to think about when you’re traveling is how to manage your dirty clothes. I don’t know about you, but I’m a much better packer on the way to my destination than I am on the way home. I want my clothes to arrive unwrinkled and ready to help me look and feel my best, but on the way home I couldn’t care less if they’re folded neatly or not. The problem is my clothes seem to grow exponentially, making it challenging to get the same number of items back into my suitcase to come home.

Tpro Bold 2 Duffel - Open

Tpro Bold 2 Rolling Duffel – You can pack clean clothes in one part, dirty clothes in the other.

With this in mind, because I know I’m not alone, here are some options to help you get your clothes home without contaminating your suitcase.

Laundry pouches: Several of our luggage series have mesh pouches for separating dirty clothes from clean clothes. Unpack completely upon your arrival and then repack as you are finished wearing each item. Folding each piece neatly, even though it’s no longer clean, will help you remain organized when it comes time to put your toiletries, extra shoes, and maybe even a jacket in the final packing of the suitcase.

Most every hotel chain supplies a complimentary plastic laundry bag in the closet of each hotel room. Use it, or look for a suitcase that has a built-in wet pocket for workout clothes or dirty shoes. I even reuse my laundry bag a time or two and then pick up a replacement when I am at another hotel. A simple, kitchen-sized garbage bag stuck in your suitcase will hold even more than the complimentary bag, and unworn clean clothes can be placed on top of it, creating another layer of separation.

A friend also suggested taking a few large Ziploc bags. They can be used as packing cubes, and then reused as laundry pouches or bags on the return trip.

If you have a piece of soft sided luggage with a large exterior pocket, you can place all your dirty clothing there, and maintain the cleanliness of your bag’s interior for future clean clothes.

Perhaps you travel for longer periods of time. A hard-sided suitcase is already perfectly divided. If you plan carefully, by the end of your trip all your dirty clothes will end up on one side of the suitcase and all your shoes, toiletries, cosmetics, and outerwear will travel home on the other side.

If you plan to purchase clothing or additional souvenirs that might push your suitcase’s weight over 50 pounds, stow a thin, lightweight packable duffel bag in your suitcase. You can use it as an additional carry-on, leaving the space you need for clothes in your suitcase.

Assess and audit your luggage. You might find that you have more ways to store worn clothes than you thought! If so, share them in the comments below or on our Facebook page, so that we can all benefit! But however you handle packing for the trip home, my advice is fold neatly, or you’ll struggle to get your suitcase closed.