How To Stay Clean While Camping – Everything You Need To Know

a woman showering under a small waterfall

Ever been on a camping trip with no way to take a shower?

So you couldn’t fully enjoy it because you were all stinky and sweaty.

You want to go out in the wild again, but don’t want to become a wild boar?

Don’t worry! I got you covered.

In this article, you’ll find out everything you need to know about how to stay clean while camping.

Ready?

Let’s get clean!

Camping Hygiene Gear Checklist

a travel hygiene kit

First things first – to stay sparkly clean while camping, you need to prepare at home.

That means packing the right kind of personal hygiene supplies. From baby wipes to trowels, I got you covered.

Baby Wipes

Let’s face it – baby wipes are always a good idea to have with you.

A dirty shoe? They’ll clean it right up.

A quick makeup removal? They got you covered.

Greasy fingers after snacking on the go? Nothing a baby wipe won’t fix.

However, they are especially great to use while camping and hiking. If you aren’t near a lake or a river, they’ll help keep your hands and face clean.

Also, they can be used to bathe yourself, but I’ll say more about that later.

It’s better to take baby wipes that are unscented so you won’t attract any curious animals.

Hand Sanitizer

All out of baby wipes?

Don’t fret – you can use hand sanitizer instead.

These little things are the greatest of germ killers out there – and they’ll last you a good while too.

Just a quick heads up – you want to get the alcohol-based ones if you really want to be 100% germ-free. It is also better if it’s unscented (for the same reason as the baby wipes).

Toilet Paper

several toiler paper rolls

Next to baby wipes and hand sanitizer, toilet paper can come in handy too.

Let’s say you brought some bacon on your trip. You want to eat it, but don’t want to get your hands greasy.

Well, instead of using your bare hands to hold it, you can use a piece of toilet paper.

Make sure you take biodegradable toilet paper with you.

Here’s a fun trick that might come in handy:

Try using toilet paper to mark your path.

For example, say you want to go from your tent to the forest, but you don’t have any device with you to show you the way back. Well, just TP your path!

Of course, be sure to pick up all the toilet paper on your way back.

Respect the Leave No Trace initiative!

Biodegradable Soap

A bar of soap has many uses!

Need to clean the dishes? Use your soap.

Shower time? Use your soap.

Sweaty and dirty clothes that smell like campfire smoke and need washing? Soap soap soap.

As you can see, a bar of soap will come in handy in many situations, so be sure to bring one.

Make sure it’s biodegradable so you don’t harm your surroundings when using it. A castile soap is a great option.

Toothbrush, Toothpaste & Floss

Just because you are camping doesn’t mean you should neglect your oral hygiene.

Again, you don’t want to harm nature so when buying toothpaste, make sure it’s an all-natural one.

Floss is optional. However, after using it, your teeth will feel as if they have been to a high-end spa. So, why not give them that treat?

Quick Drying Microfiber Towel

A quick-drying microfiber towel is a next-level item to have with you while camping.

You can even bring two if you are feeling particularly hedonistic. One for your body and one for any other occasion.

However, if you only have one, don’t fuss. If it gets dirty, simply boil it in water on your camping stove, rub it a bit with your soap, rinse it out, and voila!

As the name suggests, your microfiber towel will dry you out quickly after a camp shower.

Also, it can serve you as a mat when needed. You don’t want pine needles sticking out and making you itchy while you’re laying on the ground.

Trowel

a trowel

You might be wondering why you would need a trowel with you.

Following Leave No Trace principles, you’ll need to dig a hole when you go to the bathroom out in the wild. So, if you’re wild camping, at some point on your trip, you’ll need a digging tool. You don’t want to dig a 6-8 inch hole with your hands.

Why do I need to dig a 6-8 inch hole? (I hear you asking)

You’ll find out below in the Nature Calls section, where I’ll explain the entire procedure in greater detail.

Zip Bags

Zip and garbage bags are essential items to bring on your trip.

They’ll serve as a home for your dirty baby wipes and used toilet paper, as well as any other waste you need a place to stash.

The best thing to do with used toilet paper is to place it in a small plastic bag, tie it securely, and then place it in your zip bag.

I suggest you buy non-transparent zip bags if you don’t want to have to look at your disposals every day.

Garbage bags can also be used as portable washing machines for your clothes, but more on that later.

Sanitary Products

You don’t want to be caught bleeding and unprepared for it!

There are reusable and disposable products that’ll help you when the bloodbath starts.

Reusable products are things like period-proof underwear and menstrual cups.

Disposable products are things like traditional pads, tampons, and even toilet paper.

Further down, I’ll talk more about handling your period in the outdoors, and disposing properly of sanitary products.

Shower Time!

a campground shower sign

You might get dirty, sweaty and stinky on your camping trip.

Yes, it can feel like you are one with nature. It might even feel kind of sexy.

But NO.

You don’t need to stay smelly!

Let’s go through some different ways of bathing in nature and keeping yourself fresh and clean.

Swimming In Lakes & Rivers

Swimming is an awesome way to keep yourself clean.

Of course, it’ll be more convenient to swim during the day when the sun is up. Unless you are camping in super hot weather where even the night is warm and swimming will feel nice.

Or if you feel like channeling your inner Wim Hof, you can throw yourself into cold water and explore your limits.

Do not use soap when swimming in nature! Not even biodegradable! It can damage the ecosystem and harm the creatures that live in the water.

Baby Wipes Bath

Remember when I said that baby wipes are always a good thing to have with you?

This is the laziest – but an effective enough way to keep yourself clean. And if you don’t have any water sources nearby, it could be the only way.

All you need are baby wipes and a zip bag for storing them after use.

Strip down your clothes. Wipe your face and your neck with one side of the wet wipe. Then, use the other side to wipe your intimate parts and armpits. Take another one and wipe your arms with one side, and your legs with the other side.

Ta-da, all fresh and ready!

Baby wipes are not biodegradable. So, be sure to ditch the used ones in a zip bag when you are done, so you can dispose of them properly when you find a bin.

Portable Showers

a portable shower bag and shower head

For this method, you’ll need a bit more equipment.

First of all, you’ll need a solar shower reservoir or a dromedary bag. These shower bags use heat from the sun to give you free hot water while you’re backcountry camping.

Optionally, you can also get a camping shower tent that you can use for a bit of extra privacy.

Fill your portable shower bag with water, and use it like an ordinary shower. Lather up your face, neck, armpits, and groins and rinse yourself off using your little shower head.

Established Campgrounds Showers

With this method, you can go crazy!

Having a proper shower in an established campground after a few days of camping in the wild will feel like going to a 5-star hotel.

You can even wash your hair with shampoo and conditioner.

Do keep in mind that you’ll probably have to pay a fee for using the facilities of the campground. Unless you feel adventurous and want to sneak in while no one’s watching.

When Nature Calls

Basically, you can pee in any part of the forest. Just be careful not to clog in some ant hole.

And also, distance yourself from your campsite at least 150 feet. Bears are attracted to the scent of human urine. So, you definitely don’t want an unexpected visit.

For number 2, there’s a bit of work you should do.

Remember that trowel that I said you should take with you?

Now is its moment under the spotlight.

Dig a 6-8 inch deep hole in the ground with it. Near a tree is ideal so that you can use it to keep your balance while doing your business.

Pop a squat over the hole you dug and bombs away!

When you are done, backfill the hole.

No, wait. Rewind.

Wipe yourself first, put your underwear and whatever else you’re wearing back on. Dispose of the wipes or toilet paper you used in a plastic bag and then in a zip bag. Then, backfill the hole you made.

Going With The Flow

As I mentioned before there are reusable and disposable products for ladies on their period.

Let’s take a detailed look at each one of them.

Reusable Period Products

You should definitely consider investing in period-proof underwear. They are not only useful and comfortable for camping trips, but for any occasion.

If you have two pairs, you can use one during the day, then wash them with your biodegradable soap and let them dry out. Wear the second pair during the night, then wash it in the morning and put your first pair back on.

You can survive your whole camping trip with just two pairs.

If you only have one pair, you can wear them throughout the day, and wash them in the evening. Then, when you are going to sleep, use a disposable product.

If you don’t have any pads or tampons, you can use a few pieces of toilet paper that’ll resemble a pad and wear it with your regular underwear.

In the morning you just put the used toilet paper in a plastic bag, then in your zip bag. And you are ready to go again in your clean, fresh period-proof underwear.

If you have stains on your regular underwear, wash them out and let them dry so you can use them again in the evening.

Simple and easy, just like that.

Another reusable option is menstrual cups, but I can’t say I am too fond of them.

Disposable Period Products

This option for handling your period while camping is a no-brainer. Use tampons and pads as you do at home. Note that you should pack a little more than you think you’ll need.

Do not leave used pads or tampons in nature!

I already said it a few times, but I’ll say it again.

Put them in a small plastic bag, tie it safely and then place all that in a zip bag.

When you get back to civilization, dispose of the zip bag in a trash can.

Outdoor Laundromat

There are a few ways you can keep your clothes clean while you are camping.

You can go swimming in a lake or river with your clothes on. But do take off your shoes.

Do a couple of turns in the water then get out, take off your clothes and let them dry.

Or, if you have any kind of bucket with you, fill it with water and put a small amount of your biodegradable soap inside. Rub your clothes well, rinse them out and let them dry.

If there is an established campground site nearby, they’ll have plenty of water and buckets. So, again, you can go crazy and wash all your clothes thoroughly.

Another fun way to wash your clothes is to fill one of your large garbage bags with water and soap, put your clothes inside, and tie it well. Wave the trash bag around to your side like a propeller.

After 3-5 minutes, take out the clothes, throw out the water away from your campsite and other water sources, and hang your clothes up to dry.

Before you head out on your trip, check to see if you’ll have water sources near you. Cause if you don’t, you’ll need to bring extra water with you just for washing clothes.

And if you don’t feel like doing laundry while on your trip, just take extra clothes. Change them every two to three days and you’ll be fresh and clean throughout your trip.

You can put the dirty clothes in a plastic bag and keep them there until you get back home and have a proper laundry party.

Bonus Tips, Tricks & Hacks

a woman running her fingers through her hair by a stream

Aside from all the major ways to keep yourself clean, here are few bonus tips, trick & hacks:

  • For greasy hair, use dry shampoo
  • Wash your feet before going to bed
  • Use a sleeping bag liner in your sleeping bag for an extra fresh feeling

Let’s Wrap It Up

Wow, that was a lot to cover, but hopefully it’s given you a few good ideas about how to stay clean while camping and hiking.

Be sure to plan and prepare well before heading out on your trip.

Ditch the idea that you have to stay stinky on your trip.

Maintain your personal hygiene, and make sure all the products you bring with you are biodegradable and all-natural.

Preserve nature and support the Leave No Trace initiative with the knowledge you gained here.

Go now and have a clean fresh fun time on your camping trip!