Meet Ash Newland - Creator of Scrubba wash bag

Posted by Crooked Compass

With our new partnership now in play with innovative travel product Scrubba wash bag, we took some time to chat with the creator, Ashley Newland to ask about his brainchild and of course, talk all things travel.

Ashley Newland - Creator of The Scrubba wash Bag
Ashley Newland - Creator of The Scrubba wash Bag

Tell us a bit about yourself and your past adventures.

My background is that of a scientist and patent attorney, so before coming up with the idea for the Scrubba wash bag, my work involved protecting other people's inventions and brands. Nevertheless, I’ve always loved travel, and whenever I could I took as much leave as possible to explore the world! In 2010 and 2011 I travelled for a total of 8 months, ultimately exploring 22 countries across 6 continents.  The idea for the Scrubba wash bag came upon me in the lead up to the 2010 trip, and although I took a prototype on both trips, it took 2 years to get the final product to market.

Ashley Newland and the Scrubba wash bag
Ashley Newland and the Scrubba wash bag

What exactly is the Scrubba wash bag?

The Scrubba wash bag is the world's smallest 'washing machine' for travel and camping. Featuring a flexible, internal washboard that is capable of cleaning clothes anywhere in just minutes, the bag enables travellers to pack less, travel light, and save time and money while globetrotting by negating the need to loiter around dingy laundromats. Weighing only 142g and folding to pocket-size, the Scrubba wash bag blends old-fashioned technology with modern materials and manufacturing methods, resulting in an ultra-portable device that truly brings the effectiveness of the washboard into the twenty-first century. Suitable for all adventures, travellers can wash clothes anywhere by adding only 2-4 litres of water, a small load of garments, and a very small amount of cleaning liquid.  After sealing the bag and removing air through the twist-style valve, clothes are ready to be rubbed from the outside against the washboard for as little as 30 seconds.  After a quick rinse in the bag, clothing can be hung to dry.  Between washes, the Scrubba wash bag also functions as a high quality dry sac to keep valuables safe from the elements.

Ash Newland - Morocco Beach
Ash Newland exploring the coast of Morocco

What inspired you to create the Scrubba wash bag and accessories?

The idea for the Scrubba wash bag formed about 5 months before travelling to Africa to climb Kilimanjaro.  While chatting with a mate, I happened to mention that our tents, sleeping bags, and cold weather gear would greatly reduce the amount of clothing we’d be able to carry, exacerbating the already complicated task of doing laundry in certain remote parts of Africa. A few weeks later, after pondering the issue further, I started thinking about washboards, which are incredibly effective but highly impractical devices for travel. The Scrubba wash bag was born from the realisation that if we could incorporate a flexible washboard into a sealable waterproof bag, we could change the way people travel.

Ash Newland - Mt Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Ash Newland - Mt Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Tell us about some of the most exotic locations you have seen your clients use the Scrubba wash bag.

The Scrubba wash bag has been used in hundreds of countries and locations ranging from 5 star hotels to remote jungles and deserts, and it is this unique ability to adapt to innumerable environments and thus suit the diverse needs of modern travellers, that is actually one of my favourite aspects of the bag. One memorable location – certainly one of my favourites – to have hosted the wash bag is the Matanuska Glacier in Alaska, as documented by travel blogger and photographer @adventuresoflilnicki.

Photo credit @adventuresoflilnicki
Photo credit @adventuresoflilnicki

Do you have a favourite travel destination or a favourite travel activity and why? 

My favourite travel destinations have been Mongolia and Morocco, as both boast incredible culture and scenery, and neither are your run of the mill destination.  My favourite travel activity is actually just walking and exploring.  Whether this is in the nearby countryside or through the winding alleys away from the tourist areas, walking is one of the best ways to soak up unique cultures and environments, as it enables you to observe or immerse yourself in countless new experiences that simultaneously arouse and challenge the senses.

Photo credit: Lisa Pagotto, Crooked Compass - Terelj National Park
Photo credit: Lisa Pagotto, Crooked Compass - Terelj National Park

With the new partnership between Crooked Compass and Scrubba, out of the destinations we travel to, where would you most like to see travellers or local communities using the Scrubba wash bag?

While half of our customers use the Scrubba wash bag in hotel rooms to avoid hotel laundry charges, I get particularly excited when the Scrubba wash bag is used in the sort of remote locations for which it was initially developed. This is not only because I love seeing just how accessible laundry has become with the Scrubba wash bag, but also because the bag helps to reduce pollution by allowing grey water to be disposed of away from water sources. It would be great to know that the Scrubba wash bag is being used to clean clothes near some of the world's greatest rivers, mountains, and jungles, all while leaving no trace.

Ashley Newland with the Scrubba wash bag
Ashley Newland with the Scrubba wash bag

Do you have any advice for others looking to create travel accessories? 

Make sure that what you are trying to create is both useful and needed.  It is a good sign if your idea tackles a real problem that you have encountered while travelling.  Whenever I run into a problem, I get excited and use it as motivation, as it presents me with the opportunity either to solve it or find out about another entrepreneur who already has.

Erg Chigaga, Morocco
Erg Chigaga, Morocco

Apart from of course using the Scrubba wash bag, do you have any awesome travel tips that will help people to stay safe, travel light, or save money while exploring the world? 

I think packing light is my best tip. Pack just the bare essentials, as this will give you so much more freedom on your travels.  If you ever discover you need something that you left at home, you can simply buy it while abroad, with the added benefit that it will always remind you of the place you bought it.  Other tips are to explore alternatives to hotel accommodation.  With the likes of AirBnB, this is easier than ever, and you are likely to save money and experience more of the people and culture by broadening your focus in this way.

Trek the atacama with Crooked Compass
Valley of the Moon and of the Valley of Death - Trekking the Atacama

If you could do any Crooked Compass small group tour, which one would it be and why? 

Two of the many Crooked Compass tours that I would love to do are the Lost World of 3 Guyanas tour and the Trek the Atacama tour.  The Lost World tour has such diversity and incredible experiences, while the Atacama tour would be incredibly challenging and rewarding, not to mention something that very few other people will have done!

Kaieuter Falls, Guyana
Kaieuter Falls, Guyana

Where can people go to explore the Scrubba product range?

The best place to check out the Scrubba range for Australians is thescrubba.com.au.  We also have a global website for those outside Australia at thescrubba.com.  Additionally, the Scrubba wash bag can be found in stores around the world including Mountain Designs (AU), REI (US), Moosejaw (US), MEC (Canada), Globetrotter (DE), Tokyu Hands (JP) and Burnsco (NZ). People can also follow us on Facebook and via @scrubbaproducts on Instagram.

Scrubba Wash Bag - Photo Credit Camp Trend
Scrubba Wash Bag - Photo Credit Camp Trend