It’s unclear whether we’ll all be jetting off to the sun or negotiating hand luggage liquid limits this summer, but even a UK-based mini break demands a decent stash of toiletries.
A good wash bag can make packing pleasurable rather than painful, and eliminate the irritation of rummaging to find what you want or the dreaded shampoo bottle explosion.
The ideal wash bag is, of course, sturdy, roomy without being too bulky, and wipe-clean. It’s also worth checking whether the size suits your purposes; can you manage a week with a mini bottle of conditioner, for example, or do you need to take the full thing?
And there’s nothing more frustrating than discovering that your toothbrush is too long to fit.
Our picks include lots of creative options that go beyond these basics, though, offering myriad pockets and clever storage solutions for ultimate functionality.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
Space NK travel bag large
Simple and classic, we love Space NK’s option for its transparency – no more rooting around in the bottom of your bag for tweezers, you can see exactly where everything is. At 23cm x 18cm x 8cm, it’s a good size to store all your make-up and decanted bath products, but won’t take up loads of space in your suitcase or weekend bag. Neatly stacked with your favourite products, it’s minimalist and dressing-table worthy, too. It’s also wipe clean, perfect for that inevitable shampoo spill or foundation smear.
Stackers blush hanging washbag
This, from the chic organisation brand, has so many compartments and pockets you won’t know what to do with them. It’s made from vegan imitation leather and has multiple zipped compartments: two mesh, so you can see what’s in them; and one concealed, for anything you don’t want on display. The main compartment is large enough for full-size shampoo bottles and has elasticated loops round the side to keep them in place. There’s also a removable clear bag, great for shorter trips or hand luggage, that fits inside the bag, as well as a hook to hang it up once you arrive.
The Flat Lay Co leopard print make-up bag
This is a real tardis of a wash bag: when closed it spans just 18cm across, but undo the drawstring to flatten it out and it’s more than 50cm across. It has a zip-up pouch on one side for valuables or small bits and pieces that are likely to go astray, plus elasticated loops to hold make-up brushes, tweezers or your razor. Our favourite thing – aside from the leopard print – is that when you open it everything is instantly accessible, no rummaging required, and you can just throw products into it, rather than having to carefully pack them in.
Muji Eva resin pouch open type
You can always rely on the Japanese brand Muji for simple, efficient storage, and it’s our go-to for refillable travel-size bottles of all sizes, shapes and types. Its Eva pouch is straightforward and reliable: waterproof and wipe-clean; it’s wide enough to fit your toothbrush (23cm) while still fairly compact; and it unzips on three sides and sits open for easy access once you’re set up in your hotel bathroom.
Oliver Bonas sol navy velvet alphabet wash bag
We know monogrammed-everything is a bit 2013, but we’re still suckers for it. This deep navy velvet bag from Oliver Bonas features an initial embroidered in peachy pink and gold. At 33cm wide, it’s plenty big enough for your make-up and skincare, and it has a wire frame so self-supports while it’s sitting open. Plus the inside is more practical than it looks from the outside: the lining is wipe clean and it has two small inner pockets for the bits and pieces that are easily lost, such as contact lenses or cotton pads.
Margo Selby wash bag
Margo Selby is a British textile artist based in Whitstable, and we love the fun bright and pastel tones of this abstract patterned bag (with wipe-clean interior). Best of all, its unusual shape – tall and wide (22cm x 25cm) but narrow (9cm) – means it slots easily into a rucksack or weekend bag, and it can hold bottles of shower gel or shampoo, which are prone to spillage, upright. A mess-free way to travel.
The Flat Lay Co open flat make-up box bag in sage green
This is the second entry on our list from The Flat Lay Co but it’s just too clever not to include. The box bag lays flat as an open-topped 20cm-square box when unzipped, so you can easily see and reach for your products. But when the zip is fastened, it magically comes together to form a smaller, neater rectangular wash bag that’s compact enough for your suitcase. We love this muted sage velvet exterior, but it’s available in 12 different fabrics, patterns and colours.
Fjallraven kanken toiletry bag
This, from the Swedish brand, is a durable and long-lasting option that’s nice and compact (23.5cm x 16cm x 10cm) and has foam padding in the sides to protect its contents; we love it for practical trips when you travel light, such as backpacking or camping. It has two zipped compartments accessible from the outside, one larger (for your main bottles) and one smaller for anything you want to keep separate, such as your toothbrush. There’s also an interior mesh compartment and elastic loops for tweezers and brushes.
The verdict: Women’s wash bags
For a classic, uncomplicated, compact option with easy access, we love Space NK’s large travel bag for short breaks and weekenders. If you want something more comprehensive for longer trips, Stacker’s hanging wash bag offers more space and compartments than you could possibly need, but will no doubt manage to fill up.
Help reduce your beauty waste with the best refillable make-up products
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.