How to Stay Hygienic When Camping Outdoors?

Updated on

Maintaining personal hygiene is one of the biggest challenges that you will encounter when you are camping in the woods. Without your home’s modern conveniences that you have become used to, keeping away dirt, grime and bacteria during a camping trip is not as easy as some people assume. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t mean that it’s not achievable. If you have an upcoming camping or hiking trip, the following tips will help you to remain clean, odor-free and healthy, while protecting the ecosystem around you.

Keep the Site Clean

Before you unpack your camping bag, you should spend a few minutes clearing the areas where you want to set up camp. Ensure you remove rocks, twigs, rotten leaves and any other debris that might attract bugs. Clearing the site provides a comfortable sleeping surface. Also, if you lose anything, it will be easy to find it when the area is clean, as opposed to an area that is full of debris. You also need to keep the campsite clean throughout your camping trip. If you dump kitchen waste haphazardly, it will attract houseflies, which will, in turn, contaminate your food. Therefore, ensure you have at least two separate trash bags – one for food materials and other for non-food items. Also, you should clean your dishes immediately after every meal. You should also keep your tent clean. Instead of stepping with shoes inside your tent, leave them outside so that you don’t make your tent stuffy.

Bring a Change of Clothes

Whether you are planning to spend several months in the wilderness or you will only be camping for a single week, make sure you bring enough clothes. Some minimalists only carry two sets of clothes, one for hiking and the other one for the campsite. As much as you might be trying to save space and keep your backpack light, your clothes will start smelling sweat after a few days. And you will find it unbearable to hike or sleep in them. If you had not carried ample clothes, then you might not have an enjoyable hiking and camping experience as you might have envisioned.

Maintaining good camping hygiene requires you to have enough clean clothes. It’s also important to know when you should change and clean your clothes. As a rule, never sleep in the same clothes that you were hiking in. Sleeping in sweaty, dirty clothes will soil your sleeping clothes and leave a sweaty smell all over your campsite. Besides that, when you sleep in dirty clothes, you might end up with skin rash, among other skin problems. Once you arrive at the campsite from the trail, remove the dirty clothes, wash them and put on a new set of clean clothes. Also, don’t forget to bring enough socks, underwear, and vests, as they are easily forgotten.

Carry a Hand Sanitizer

A hand sanitizer should be among the first things that you pack in your backpack, as you prepare for your camping trip. They provide a lightweight and compact means of dealing with germs when you are out in the woods. Make sure you wipe your hands with the sanitizer after a visit to the bathroom, before you prepare your meals and just before you start eating. If you don’t wipe your hands using a sanitizer, the germs lodged in your nails will end up in your mouth. And with time, those germs will lead to a stomach infection.

Use Biodegradable Soap

When you wash your clothes or your utensils at home, that waste will vanish down the drain, which means it will not come into contact with the plants and animals in your vicinity. However, when you are camping in the wilderness, the phosphates present in those soaps will be washed directly into the rivers, lakes, and streams, thus destroying those natural ecosystems. The good news is that there are several biodegradable soaps, which you can use during your camping trip. Dr. Bronner’s and Campsuds are among the most popular biodegradable soaps that you can find on the market. Apart from being organic and biodegradable, these soaps are multipurpose, which means you can use them for bathing and washing utensils.

Carry a Camping Shower

Just because you will be spending time away from civilization, doesn’t mean that you should not be taking a shower. Skipping the shower will leave you feeling tired, not to mention that you will be emitting a foul smell. The good news is that you have numerous options when it comes to taking a bath when campaign. If you brought a camping shower, then you just need to fill it with water and leave it in the sun for a couple of hours. By evening, your water will be warm, and you can now enjoy a refreshing shower. If you have enough wood, you can boil some water, mix it with cold water and take a shower.

If you are camping near a river or a lake, then you just dip yourself inside for half an hour or so. Swimming will not only remove dirt and sweat on your body, but it will also leave you feeling refreshed. If the water source is not deep enough for you to swim, then you can just fetch some and bathe outside the water. But don’t swim where other hikers are collecting their water or fishing. Also, don’t use soap when you are swimming in a river or lake, as the soap residue might be harmful to the ecosystem. And if you are deep in the woods or you are camping in the desert away from a water source, you can just use camping wipes. Make sure you use biodegradable wipes, since they are friendlier to the environment, compared to conventional wipes.

Keep Your Boots Clean

After hiking with your boots for a couple of days, they might start to emit some unpleasant odors. While some people tend to ignore this smell, it doesn’t mean that you should do the same. Warm, moist conditions, providing the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and fungi. Therefore, if you don’t clean your boots, you might end up with foot infections such as athlete’s foot, toenail fungus, and foot abscess. Also, wearing wet boots might also lead to blisters, which might turn your camping trip into a miserable experience. How you will take care of your boots will depend on the material they are made of. For instance, if they are made of synthetic, then you can wash them and they will be completely dry within a few hours – if it’s sunny outside. On the other hand, if they are made of leather, then they might require at least 24 hours or even more to dry. For the leather boots, you just need to wipe their interior with alcohol, and it will kill the odor-causing bacteria.

Dealing with Periods

Menstrual cups provide the eco-friendliest solution for dealing with periods. Choose the washable type, which is made of silicone. However, you should note that as much as these cups don’t produce any waste themselves, you will still need to learn how to empty them properly. Therefore, make sure you follow the campsite’s disposal guidelines. Also, ensure that your hands are before putting the cup in. Dirty hands can lead to contamination and infections. It’s highly advisable to give these cups a test run before you attempt to use them in the wilderness. And if you feel that the cups are too much of a challenge to use, then you can still opt for disposable tampons and pads. Make sure you pack the tampons and pads well after you use them. Alternatively, you can plan out your trip in a way that it doesn’t coincide with your periods.

Closing Remarks

Staying hygienic when camping outdoors doesn’t have to be such a difficult task. With the above tips, you can easily maintain cleanliness and hygiene, as you enjoy the great outdoors with your friends and family.

Photo of author

About the author


Hi, I’m Brian Bradshaw. I’m a super duper mega hiking enthusiast, with a love for everything that has to do with outdoors, hiking, gear, footwear and more.

Leave a Comment