How To Stay Clean While Camping

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Written By Jay Clatworthy

Off Grid Camping contributor.

Stay Clean While Camping

How to stay clean while camping?

Camping is one of the most fun and engaging outdoor activities people of all ages enjoy. It connects you with nature and allows you to enjoy various activities to keep you occupied—hiking, fishing, building and gathering around a campfire, and even playing sports. All these outdoor activities will eventually get you soaked in sweat. 

When doing so, it is essential to remain hygienic as much as possible, especially when you’re out camping for a couple of days. This is a vital step in preventing any bacteria build-up that may lead to infections and diseases. 

There are alternative ways to stay clean despite having no access to any facilities. Here are some tips on how to stay hygienic outdoors: 

Shower

Showering is the most well-known and effective method to kill bacteria and unwanted odours. It can be done in various ways when camping, and it only depends on the available facilities and resources nearby. If you are camping at a place with a shower facility, consider yourself lucky. You can take a regular bath daily to refresh and cleanse your body. We wrote a whole article about the best camping shower here.

If there is none, an excellent alternative is looking for a body of water in nature, for instance, a lake or river. It is crucial to avoid using soap when taking a bath in any natural body of water to avoid harming creatures living in it. A simple swim is enough to cleanse your body from sweat and dirt. 

However, if there aren’t any shower facilities or bodies of water nearby, you still have another option. With your sponge/towel, quench it with water and soap and wipe it all over your body. You can also use wet wipes to clean your body whenever your water supply is low. 

Wash your hands

When engaging in outdoor camping activities, campers would eventually get their hands dirty. It is best to wash and sanitize your hands, especially since you’re likely to keep them involved in everything you do. An effective and efficient method of cleaning your hands if you have access to water is through handwashing. 

This breaks the chain of infection, preventing you from acquiring illnesses. If possible, you should not rinse your hands directly on any body of water to avoid harming its inhabitants, especially if you’re using soap with lots of chemicals. It is more advisable to collect water from it and rinse your hands on the soil, which quickly absorbs fluids. 

However, when you have an insufficient water supply or have no access to water at all. An excellent alternative in cleaning dirt and germs off your hands is through the use of alcohol, sanitizer, or wet wipes. 

Brush your teeth

Experienced camping enthusiasts recommend three ways to brush your teeth in the wild. The first option is to use is natural alternatives for toothpaste, such as active charcoal and baking soda. Both have anti-bacterial capabilities and acid-base balance properties. 

Some campers also prefer brushing their teeth with warm water, which softens the toothbrush’s bristles, leading to a gentler feel for the teeth and gums.

The last option is the swallow-your-toothpaste method. This may not be hygienic for some, so it takes some getting used to. 

Regardless of which method you choose, it is vital to clean and brush your teeth before sleeping and first thing when you wake up.

This practice ensures that there isn’t any bacteria build-up that may lead to serious problems. It would be best to keep in mind that bacteria increase when saliva is absent. This happens fast when we are asleep at night, so always brush your teeth first thing in the morning.

Camp with a hygiene kit

When camping in the wild, you should always have a hygiene kit that contains essentials that are highly useful during your stay with nature. 

Some things to have in your kits include biodegradable soap, dental care products, sanitizer/alcohol, tissue paper and wipes, trowel, towels, reused plastic, and menstrual/feminine products as necessary. 

Biodegradable soap, sanitizer/alcohol, and wipes are essential in keeping your body clean and from sweat, dirt, and germs. 

Dental care products include a toothbrush, toothpaste (if possible, use natural alternatives), and dental floss. These will help clean and freshen your gums, teeth, and tongue from any leftover foods, preventing bad breath and bacteria build-up. 

Tissue paper, wipes, and a towel will serve helpful, especially when properly disposing of wastes in the wild. 

Use sleeping bag liners

Camping experts highly recommend the use of sleeping bag liners to extend the life of your sleeping bags. Sleeping bag liners are a layer to be placed inside your sleeping bags and are the ones that catch all the dirt and sweat your body excretes during your sleep. 

These liners are easy to remove, making them convenient to clean from any dirt and sweat gathered from your sleep. It is important to remember that sleeping liners are a lot cheaper than sleeping bags. That is why camping with a sleeping bag liner along with you is an easy way to stay clean during your stay in the wild. 

Dispose of your waste properly

Disposing of your waste is one of the highly disregarded initiatives during camping, but in fact, this is one of the most important things to do.

 In disposing of trash, it is crucial to place them inside any trash bins provided. If there aren’t any visible, you can make use of what you have, such as plastics. 

By doing so, you are making your camp clean and away from any possible hazards that can cause unwanted injuries. Properly disposing of your waste is effortless, but at the same time, undervalued by campers. 

How to shower when camping?

Showering is the most well-known way to keep yourself clean and refreshed every day. It is effective in removing dirt and bacteria that you may have gathered during your daily activities. In camping, it is crucial to value proper hygiene, and one best way to maintain that is through showering. This enables you to feel fresh and comfortable in any environment you would be staying in. However, it is important to remember the proper procedures in taking a shower away from your home.

Campsite shower facilities

Having access to a campsite with shower facilities is convenient for taking a shower. You would have nothing to worry about as these shower facilities are similar to what you are used to at home, making camping hassle-free and hygienic. 

Camp shower

During instances where you have no access to a nearby shower facility, an excellent alternative is a camp shower which is slightly similar to a shower facility. The only difference is that the water supply is lesser. You may pack water for showering with you or manually gather water to your trail tent from a nearby body of water such as a lake or river. 

Before immersing yourself in your trail shower, there are certain things to consider, such as avoiding using any bathing agents that are chemically harmful to nature. Opt for biodegradable soap instead in case water waste leaks to a nearby body of water. 

River/Lake

Swimming in a body of water is an excellent alternative when planning to cleanse your body from dirt and bacteria. However, it is necessary to be considerate to the inhabitants of these waters. A great way of doing so is by avoiding chemicals in cleansing your body, most of which are found in soaps and shampoos.

How to present foul odours when camping?

There are many activities camping can offer that can help connect us with other fellow campers and with nature. However, engaging in these fun activities may result in sweat and dirt build-up, leading to foul odours. Staying active under the heat of the sun also contributes to this negative outcome. Here are some ways to combat stinky odours:

Change your clothes frequently

One of the most effective methods to avoid foul odours is by changing your clothes frequently. Clothes are mainly worn to protect our bare skin from our environment; they cover most of our bodies. 

However, one of the downsides of clothes is that they collect and absorb all the sweat and dirt our body excretes from all the camping activities. These can get stinky, especially when they are not washed and dried well. It is crucial to change clothes once we sweat and after showering to feel fresh and, of course, smell great.

Don’t sleep in sweaty clothes

It is unhygienic and is terrible for our health. One of the main reasons to stop sleeping in sweaty clothes is that your skin will absorb all that sweat and dirt your body has excreted, resulting in foul odors and skin irritations. If you aim to smell good, it is crucial to change clothes when you are soaked in sweat. 

Keep yourself dry

If you want to smell good during camping, keep yourself dry as much as possible. Our body naturally excretes sweat and moisture containing salt and water, which are usually odorless. Sweat is secreted by our eccrine glands, which are found all over our skin. 

We also have our apocrine glands in a few areas of our body, such as our armpits and breast. They usually secrete odorless moisture containing protein and fats, which attracts bacteria. 

Once the bacteria feed on these secretions, the odorless smell of these apocrine glands slowly turns unpleasant. This is why it is highly prudent to keep dry and change clothes frequently. 

A tip to keep these apocrine glands dry is to use antiperspirant which blocks the sweat glands, keeping these areas dry, thus, preventing foul odours. 

Regularly clean your body.

Cleaning your body regularly is one of the easiest ways to feeling fresh. You must consider packing hygiene kits during your camping trips to ensure that you have all the essentials to clean your body from any bacteria build-up from sweat. Some things to consider may include taking a shower regularly, swimming, and sanitizing with alcohol and wipes. 

Where to put trash when camping? 

When camping, it is not enough that your body is the only thing that remains clean, but also your surroundings. Keeping your trash inside their designated bins helps to ensure that you follow the leave-no-trace principle. The use of trash bags, plastics, and containers will serve as excellent alternatives if there aren’t any accessible bins. 

Trash bags

Trash bags are considered essential during camping trips. They serve useful in the long run, especially when there aren’t any visible trash bins around your campsite. These bags’ primary use is to contain and hold our solid waste in one area, providing us a place to throw our trashes properly. 

However, it is crucial to keep in mind that you should bring your trash bags along with you when leaving your campsites. It will be useless to store your trash in one place if you’re going to leave it anyway. This practice is considered basic etiquette and is part of the leave-no-trace principle known to campers.

Containers

Containers are durable and do not tear easily, especially when keeping hazardous waste, as compared to trash bags. The only downside of containers is that they aren’t as convenient as trash bags–that is, they are not lightweight.

Plastic

Similar to a trash bag, plastics may serve as excellent storage for your trash. Make sure that the plastic you use is recycled because it will also be thrown together with your trash in the dumpster.