Dirt, grime, and sweat are some of the reasons many people don’t want to spend time far from flushing toilets, running water, and hot showers. After all, people don’t like three layers of dry sweat on their skin or encrusted dirt in every crevice of their body – all things that are often unavoidable when camping far away from civilization or spending time outdoors.
But just because you can’t avoid droplets of mud drying on your shins or sweating in humid 30-degree temperatures doesn’t mean you can’t still stay clean and – relatively – odor-free while enjoying time in nature enjoy.
Start with your hands
After spending years chronicling her and her husband’s adventures through the Pacific Northwest on her blog, Emily Mandagie recommends washing your hands frequently—preferably with soap and water. But since that’s not always feasible in the great outdoors, hand sanitizer is the next best thing.
[Related: How to leave the great outdoors exactly how you found it]
Hand sanitizers with at least 60 percent alcohol are effective at killing germs that live on your paws and can make you sick if you touch your food, nose, mouth, or eyes. Use it frequently, especially after using the toilet and before eating.
Pro tip: If you’re camping in a group, make sure everyone has their own bottle so you don’t keep asking where the hand sanitizer is.
wipe it off
The easiest and most efficient way to clean up outdoors is with wet wipes. You need something with germicidal abilities that isn’t too harsh on your skin, so better skip hand sanitizer wipes (which can be drying) and baby butt wipes (which don’t kill much). of germs). Instead, look for products from brands like Ursa Major or Allez that are effective at killing microorganisms but are also designed for outdoor use and have natural ingredients and skin-soothing properties.
Remember that you want to leave nature exactly as you found it. So if there aren’t bins along your way, you’ll also need to bring a zip-lock bag to pack used wipes.
On these more compact models, water comes from a nozzle attached to a bag that generally holds between two and 24 liters of water. But even the smaller portable showers are bulky, making them better suited for outings where size or weight aren’t a concern, such as traveling. B. Car camping.
Wash off or rinse off
You don’t have to have a portable shower to lather up. A bottle of water and some biodegradable soap are enough to wash your hands and other contaminated areas of your body. A squeeze bottle with a sports cap will do the job just fine, but a bottle with a perforated cap offers a more shower-like stream.
Mandagie prefers something more immersive: a quick dip in a cool lake. “It’s such a refreshing way to feel clean after a long, sweaty hike.” If you decide to soak in nature’s bathtub, you need to make sure you wear reef-safe sunscreen and leave soap out of the equation. This includes the biodegradable type as it breaks down in soil rather than water, thus polluting natural water bodies.
Rent a shower
When wet wipes just aren’t enough anymore and you’re not willing to jump in for a full shower setup for the back of your SUV, you can often find an honest real shower no matter where you travel. You just have to know that you have to pay for it.
Taking a real shower is what Mandagie calls a “hygienic reset,” and involves scouting out local gyms or YMCAs that may offer inexpensive day or shower passes for weary travelers. Pay at reception and you’ll be sparkling clean in no time.
If they have any, campgrounds often allow people to use their shower facilities for a fee. Check with local businesses to make sure they let visitors in and clean up before heading out.
Keep your bathroom game tidy
If you spend days or even hours outdoors, you’ll probably need to relieve yourself at some point. Adhere to the “Leave No Trace” principles: dig a hole 15 to 20 centimeters deep, at least 30 meters from natural water sources; Go into the hole and cover everything with soil when you’re done.
Before you travel, check with the local park office if you are also allowed to bury waste such as used toilet paper. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to unpack it instead, so make sure you have opaque ziplock bags or dog poop bags ready. If you want to skip the toilet paper, consider biodegradable wet wipes. Just keep in mind that most don’t biodegrade quickly in soil, so you still need to pack them.
Alternatively, grab a portable bidet whether you’re conducting your business outdoors, in portable toilets, or at campsites. There are several brands that make purpose built devices, but your typical squeeze top sports water bottle will do the job just as well. Just make sure you label it so you don’t accidentally drink from it after it gets dangerously close to your caboose.
Clean your clothes
Aside from a laundromat, there aren’t many options for doing laundry when spending time outdoors. But there are a few things you can do to get the stink out of your clothes in the meantime.
Bring a spray bottle with one part rubbing alcohol and one part water. You can also add a few drops of your favorite essential oil if you wish. Spray the mixture liberally on smelly clothes to get rid of the stench for about a day – or until you start sweating again. Keep in mind that it won’t do anything about stains or mud, but it might leave you less likely reeling in your own physical musk if the laundromat is still a few days away.
[Related: How to do laundry the green way]
If you need a deeper clean, grab a portable wash bag. These devices are waterproof, ultra-compact, and structured internally to allow for movement. Just add dirty clothes, water and biodegradable soap and shake until your clothes are clean. Rinse, wring out and hang to dry. Dump used water in a nearby sink if you have one, but if you’re just using a squirt or two of biodegradable soap and no harsh chemicals, it’s also usually acceptable to spread dirty water over a large area on the floor.
Unless you plan to wait for the clothes to dry, we recommend using this method only on sunny or windy days and with quick-drying fabrics like polyester.