While numerous campsites nowadays offer plenty of the amenities you enjoy at home like a working shower and a proper toilet, it’s tough to stay on top of your personal hygiene while you’re outdoors. Your skin and hair are constantly exposed to dirt and bacteria, that’s why keeping clean, although sometimes difficult to manage, is a must when you’re at camp.
If you have had plenty of camping experience (or tried backcountry camping), you know how hard it is to live in the woods for a period of time with no electricity and running water – just pure nature. And if you haven’t experienced this, you probably would in the future! It’s important to be prepared and to know how to keep yourself clean even with just limited resources.
Here are 10 essential personal hygiene practices you should follow the next time you go camping:
Research your campsite well
Many individuals go camping to simply relax in nature. They love the fresh air and the beautiful sights, but they prefer established camping facilities complete with home-like conveniences. Other campers love the challenge of being in nature itself, choosing campsites that are more secluded and don’t offer modern amenities.
Whichever of the two you choose, it’s important to do some research about our campsite or call ahead to find out what amenities they offer. Electricity? Showers? Bathroom? Nearby lake? This will help you determine what to pack.
For example, if your campsite doesn’t have running water, you might want to bring a few extra clothes because it won’t be easy to wash them there.
Bring the right clothes
To keep sweat and odor at bay, bring lightweight and fast-drying clothes (of course, considering the season you’re camping). Experts recommend nylon, spandex or any synthetic moisture-wicking fabric. Wool is great for cooler weather. Cotton must be avoided as it will absorb sweat and dirt and stay damp.
Don’t re-wear clothes as much as possible
If you won’t have access to running water, make sure the clothes you bring will last throughout the duration of your trip. As much as possible, don’t re-wear clothes if they’re not washed or aired out.
The weight may be an issue if you’re backpacking or if you’re staying for over a week, so at the very least, bring extra underwear and socks.
Here’s how to wash your clothes outdoors if you have limited resources.
Don’t forget the hand sanitizer
Even if you can’t shower and clean your body every day while on your trip, you should make it a priority to keep your hands clean at all times – not just for hygiene, but for health purposes as well. Your hands are what you use to cook and eat after all.
The easiest, most compact way to keep the germs off your hands is by using alcohol-based sanitizer. The amount of ethyl alcohol in the gel kills germs on contact. Always keep a small bottle in your pocket during your trip! Don’t forget to use them every after bathroom break!
Use biodegradable soap only
While you’re looking out for your hygiene, you should look out for the well-being of nature as well. Only use biodegradable soap (which only use organic ingredients) when bathing in your campsite. Regular soaps promote algae bloom in nearby water sources.
Even when you shower using biodegradable soap, remember to do so at least 200 feet away from any lakes or streams to avoid contaminating them, according to the Leave No Trace guidelines.
Pack some dry shampoo
Haven’t had a proper shower in a couple of days and starting to have greasy hair? This is where the beauty of dry shampoo comes in – its alcohol or starch content will soak up the extra grease and oil, giving you a fresher feeling and appearance. Just remember to bring the unscented variety.
Leave the “scent” at home
You might think that since a bath every day won’t be possible, you can just freshen up with your deodorant or a spray of cologne, right? Well, experts actually recommend the opposite. As long as you regularly wipe or clean your armpits, you won’t need your deodorant.
Leave it at home along with your shampoo, cologne/perfume, hairspray or any product that’s scented and environmentally-unfriendly. The sweet smell of these products will only attract bugs and wildlife, including bears.
Take a dip in the lake
If where you set up camp is a secluded area with no working bathroom and no water access, you can clean yourself by getting in a nearby lake or river (flowing river is best as it has the least amount of bacteria). It’s not only refreshing but it rids your body of excess dirt and oil. Just don’t use soap, biodegradable or not!
If it’s too cold for a shower or there isn’t a nearby body of water, you can wipe yourself clean using bio or water wipes (again, unscented), paying extra attention to your face, underarms, and groin area.
Deal with your period properly
Getting your period outdoors sure is a hassle, but dealing with it is a big part of a woman’s personal hygiene. Tampons and sanitary pads can be used, but you can never dispose of them in nature, meaning you’ll have to pack them out with you until you find the right place to dispose of it.
The most environment-friendly option is by using a reusable menstrual cup. Find out how you can properly dispose of the waste here.
Pack a small shovel
It’s hard enough to bathe yourself without a bathroom, what more if you need to do your business? The truth is, it’s really not that complicated. A shovel will be very useful in conducting your business in a hygienic way. Dig a hole (a new one each time) and cover it once you’re done. Keep the hole at least 1 football field away from your campsite.
Follow these easy practices to stay on top of your personal hygiene while camping – you don’t wanna be that smelly camper that others will be talking about!
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