10 tips on maintaining personal hygiene while camping

Backcountry camping or camping out on a campground for a few days always sounds like a great idea - enjoying nature, disconnecting from the grid, enjoying quality time with loved ones, and sitting around a campfire. But the thought of going multiple days without a shower is daunting. What about your greasy hair? And the general grimy feeling? And won’t everyone stink by day three?

The Gear You Need to Stay Clean(ish) in the Backcountry - Outside Online

While some may like to let nature take its course, here are some important tips for maintaining your personal hygiene - for everyone’s sake - while on the trail or campground:

  1. Pack two outfits to alternate days. By having two outfits, you can wash one with extra water (or water from a nearby source) and hang it up to dry at night. Even if you don’t have access to water, you should hang it up to air out through the night.

  2. Bring extra water for undergarment laundering. If you don’t have access to water nearby, bring extra water so that you can, at the very least, wash underwear, socks, and bras daily.

  3. If there is a lake or stream along your trail or near your campsite, take a bath in nature. Just rinsing off in fresh water will remove excess dirt and oils.

  4. If that’s not your thing or there is no water, bring extra water and biodegradable soap in order to bathe yourself. Just strip down at least 200 feet away from your campsite and 200 feet away from any water source that may exist. Then, using the water and soap, bathe away, paying particular attention to the groin, underarms, and face.

  5. If there is no lake or stream, and it’s too cold to take a bath with soap and water, an alternative is to bring baby wipes or biowipes and clean yourself with this method. These are also useful for when nature calls.

  6. In any of the above bathing scenarios, use a microfiber towel for quick drying.

  7. Use hand sanitizer after every bathroom break, as well as before cooking and eating.

  8. If greasy hair bums you out, try an unscented dry shampoo (unscented to avoid those B’s - bears and bugs), or work some baby powder into your roots to cut the grease.

  9. Wear synthetic-material clothing that wicks moisture. Bacteria thrives in moist conditions, so avoid cotton clothes that may soak up the sweat and opt for wicking clothes instead.

  10. Bring a toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss as well as the above materials, but avoid deodorant, perfume, hairspray, shampoo, and any other scented and environmentally-unfriendly materials. Also remember to avoid brushing teeth and bathing within 200 feet of a water source or your campsite. You may be a welcome guest, but it is ultimately nature’s home, and it’d be terribly rude to contaminate it.