Have you ever wondered how to stay clean while camping? Going camping is often seen as a guarantee you’ll end up dirty, covered in mud and with hair that has, at some point, literally been dragged through a hedge backwards. That can be the case – and we’ve all had trips like that – but it doesn’t have to be. You can still stay hygienic and have a nice time. And when you come back, you’ll have the best shower of your life.
Top hacks on how to stay clean while camping
Let’s start with a pretty simple trick. Grab a pack of baby wipes (preferably the biodegradable kind) and use them to rub yourself down once a day. They’re sensitive enough to be used on babies, so they should be suitable for all skin types and in all areas. You also won’t get really wet and you should dry off naturally in a minute or two. The whole process won’t take long.
Bonus – if you’re at a festival and have glitter, makeup or temporary tattoos (or the kind of friends who draw glasses on you with a whiteboard marker when you’ve fallen asleep) on your body, baby wipes can usually remove these fairly easily without too much scrubbing. The main disadvantage is that they work best when you can stand up and move around in your tent, so you don’t need to do the most complicated and awkward yoga routine outside of India.
Next, there’s dry shampoo. Anyone with a fringe will tell you that this can be a godsend even when you’ve got a shower and ten different regular shampoos ready: just spritz, brush and you’re done! It’s a good idea to find the right kind for your hair and only uses a little bit, or it can actually feel greasier. If you do have this and are near a water source, rinsing your hair quickly using a bottle can help get rid of the dirt and the excess product and leave you with cleaner, more manageable hair. If you don’t like dry shampoo, baby powder can work pretty well as an alternative. Finally, if you have long hair it’s a good idea to keep it tied back. It’ll stay nicer for longer and if you’re only going on a trip for a few nights you might not even need to wash it at all.
Grab a bar of soap and hop in the river. Make sure that it’s the right kind of soap that won’t be harmful to the environment, and check that there’s nobody around if you’re going in completely skinny. It’s about as close as you’ll get to a bath and you’ll be able to wash everything. Top tip: put some flip flops or sliders by the side of the river so you don’t have to walk barefoot through the mud or hop around and tie up your trainers whilst you’re only wearing a towel. If you can, find an area where the water is slightly more clear so you don’t get covered in silt, and then have a really good scrub.
If you’re menstruating, you might not feel like spending time in a tent. However, if you don’t want to reschedule a trip or it doesn’t bother you too much, that’s not a problem. We’d recommend bringing a few spare pairs of underwear, grabbing tampons instead of pads (incidentally, these are also great if you need to start a fire) or even getting a menstrual cup. Try it beforehand and remember to wash it with unscented soap and, if you’re really in the wilderness, make sure you don’t do that anywhere near your drinking water supply. Alternatively, you can use some contraceptive pills to stop your periods so you don’t need to worry about this at all. It can mess with your hormones and mood, so speak to a doctor first.
Take hand sanitiser. And try a few out beforehand, because nothing is worse than sticky sanitizer hands. Depending on what kind of camping you’re doing and where you’re going, it’s likely that you’ll have to eat or use the toilet without having access to clean water and soap. To make sure you don’t get ill, grab a little bottle of sanitizer for emergencies. It also has two other uses: it can cool your hands down for a minute, which can be great on a hot day, and you can use it as a deodorant. Obviously, avoid this if you shave your underarms and have red, irritated skin, but otherwise, it’ll stop you from smelling for a few hours.
If you’re on a trek and you can’t take a fresh set of clothes for each day, just wash them. Remember that soap that you used on your body in the river? Most of the time you’ll be able to use that on your clothes, too. Just get your clothes wet, rub the soap on them and then rinse thoroughly (otherwise they get weird and starchy) and make sure you do this on a day when they’ve got time to dry. You can even make guy ropes into washing lines! I like to have a set of ‘tent clothes’ to change into at the end of each day that doesn’t get as dirty, so you can wear these while you wash everything else.
Just because you have to adapt doesn’t mean that you can’t stay feeling nice and fresh. Take some time to think about hygiene when you’re planning your trip. You probably won’t notice if you smell after a little while, but it’s still nice for those around you do not have to deal with constant morning breath and general pubescent fug. You’ll also feel better for it: you don’t need to pluck your eyebrows every day, but knowing that you’re not covered in dirt can really improve your mood and help you take care of yourself. Have a great trip!
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