What do you need to know about hygiene before going camping?

Before you go camping, there are a few things you need to know about hygiene. This includes how to maintain hygiene on camping trips, how to go to the toilet when camping, and how to shower when camping.

Is it possible to maintain hygiene when camping?

Yes, if you’re at a developed, frontcountry campground or a resort, maintaining hygiene is easy – in most cases, you’ll have access to hot showers, laundry rooms, and flush toilets. At backcountry campgrounds, you can bring a camping shower or bathe in streams, rivers, or lakes, and carry a healthy supply of wipes to help stay clean.

Why is hygiene important when camping?

Hygiene is particularly important when camping because you’re more likely to get a stomach bug while camping trip than at home due to the lack or inaccessibility of places to wash your hands and your food and kitchen equipment being exposed to more germs, insects, and dirt. 

What to pack in a camping hygiene kit?

Below, we’ve made a list of all the items you should keep in your camping hygiene kit.

  • Biodegradable soap
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Trowel
  • Toilet paper
  • Wipes
  • Period products
  • Toothbrush.
  • Toothpaste.
  • Dental floss
  • Washcloth.
  • Unscented moist towelettes or baby wipes
  • Quick-drying towel
  • Laundry bag or bucket for washing clothes in

What products make camping hygiene easier?

Below, we’ve made a short list of products that simplify hygiene when camping.

  • Wet wipes
  • FUDs (Female Urinary Devices)
  • Dry shower sprays
  • Disposable biodegradable washcloths
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Biodegradable soap
  • Quick-drying towels
  • A trowel (for catholes)
  • Period underwear
  • Plenty of spare underwear

How to be hygienic without running water?

Without running water at camp, you can maintain hygiene by washing your body and hands in ponds, lakes, or creeks, or by using full-body wipes/washcloths, dry shower sprays, and plenty of hand sanitizer.

Is it hygienic to wash in rivers or lakes when camping?

Yes, it’s perfectly hygienic to bathe in rivers and lakes when camping. Just make sure you use biodegradable soap only – other types contain chemicals that may harm algae, plants, fish, crustaceans, and insects, and pollute the drinking water used by other land animals.

How to wash clothes when camping?

If you need to wash your clothes when camping, start by stuffing your clothes into a dry bag, leaving enough room for the items to move when soaked. Next, add warm water and biodegradable soap, and throw in a massage ball to agitate the contents. Close the bag, then shake, rub, and squeeze it for 5–10 minutes. Dispose of the gray water responsibly, then add fresh water to rinse and shake or rub the bag for a further 2 or 3 minutes. Finally, wring your clothes out then hang them out to dry.

How to keep your camping sleeping area hygienic?

To keep your tent’s sleeping area clean and hygienic, make sure you take your shoes off at the door, give your dog a brush down before it enters the tent, and eat only in the vestibule or screen room. It’s also a good idea to give the sleeping area a sweep every second day to remove dirt and debris, then wipe the floor with a mild detergent before putting your sleeping mats and bags back in.

How to maintain food hygiene when camping?

We’ve listed our top tips for camping food hygiene below.

  • Make sure all cooking equipment is clean before use
  • Clean all working surfaces and tables with anti-bacterial spray before and after use
  • Store ready-to-eat foods separately from raw foods to avoid cross-contamination
  • Keeping different food types in sealed containers
  • Wash or sanitize your hands regularly
  • Do not store any food on the ground 
  • Bring a cooler and plenty of ice
  • Store your cooler in the shade and only open it when necessary

How to sanitize water when camping?

To make your water safe for drinking when camping, you can boil it or use a gravity filter, pump filter, straw filter, UV sterilization device, or purification tablets. 

How do people go to the toilet when camping?

If you are staying at a campground without toilet facilities, you should pee and poop at least 200 feet from any trail or water source. If allowed, you should dig a cathole for poop and carry out TP in a trash bag.

Peeing for males is easy. For females, we recommend using a female urinary device (FUD) or squatting against a tree.

What types of camping toilets are there?

There are four main types of portable camping toilets: dry flush toilets, porta-potty toilets, folding toilets, and bucket toilets.

How does a portable camping toilet work?

Most camping toilets are powered either electrically or manually with a hand or foot pump. They have a freshwater tank, a bowl, and a separate tank that serves as a receptacle for waste. Like your toilet at home, the fresh water tank flushes out the waste from the bowl after flushing, depositing it in the receptacle. When the receptacle is full, you simply detach it and dispose of the contents in a designated waste disposal facility.

What features to look for in a camping toilet?

When buying a camping toilet, you should look for a model that’s easy to use and has a good weight capacity. It should also be a suitable type for your needs, easy to use, and of adequate size for your group.

How to clean and maintain a camping toilet?

To keep your camping toilet clean, we recommend emptying it every morning and replacing the water and chemical cleaner in the water tank. After doing so, give the bowl and all surface areas a wipe-down with an antibacterial surface cleaner.

Can you put toilet paper in a camping toilet?

You can use regular toilet paper in a camping toilet, but most manufacturers recommend using ‘quick dissolve’ or soft, biodegradable toilet paper.

How often does a camping toilet need emptied?

How often you need to empty your camping toilet depends entirely on how often you use it. That said, even in the case of ‘light use’, we highly recommend emptying it once every two days, especially in summer months when high temperatures can make toilet odors especially pungent. 

What are guidelines for camping toilet waste disposal?

You can dispose of your camping toilet’s waste at campground dump stations, in vault toilets, and at truck stops with dump stations.

What are waste management practices when camping?

For campers, waste management practices refer to how you poop and pee in the wild and how you dispose of waste in portable camping toilets.

How do you pack out waste when camping?

The best way to pack out waste when camping is in resealable plastic bags. If you are concerned about spillage, then place these inside a larger, heavy-duty plastic bag, tying a knot in the top, or in a dedicated dry bag.

Where can you poop in the woods?

If permitted by the relevant authorities (not all permit it), you should dig a cathole for poop at least 200 feet from water sources, trails, and other campsites.

What techniques are there for pooping in nature?

The easiest way to poop in nature is the tree squat, which involves propping your back against a tree, squatting down into position, then pooping in your cathole. Alternatively, you can use a tree seat, which involves sitting on a tree, scooting back until your butt protrudes over the side, then doing your business.

Why should you dig a cathole before pooping?

Digging a cathole ensures that your poop isn’t seen or stood on by other hikers or campers, and prevents it polluting the environment you’re pooping in.

How do you dig a cathole?

You should dig a cathole that’s between 6 and 8 inches deep. Deep enough to be hidden from other humans and animals, yet close enough to the surface to maximize decomposition within rich soils. The hole you dig should be wide enough to hold the entirety of your deposit – 4 to 6 inches wide is good in most cases. In all cases, you should dig your cathole at least 200 feet from water sources, trails, and other campsites.

How to shower when camping?

If you’re at a campground that doesn’t have shower facilities, you can take a shower by making a DIY camping shower or by buying a purpose-made camping shower like the Sea to Summit Pocket Shower. If carrying a shower to camp is too much hassle, you can always just bathe in a lake, stream, or river (using biodegradable soap).

What types of camping showers are there?

The main types of camping shower are electric pump showers, gravity showers, gravity pump/pressure showers like the NEMO Helio, solar showers, and roof rack pressure showers for RVs.

What features to look for in a camp shower?

The main features to look for in a camp shower are ease of use, portability, pressure, and run time.

How to clean and maintain a camping shower?

To clean your camping shower, fill the bag with hot water with a dash of bleach, seal the bag, then give it a shake and leave it to soak for a few minutes. Finally, empty the bag, rinse it thoroughly, and leave it to air dry. Store the bag in a cool, dry room with adequate ventilation.

How to make a DIY camping shower?

You can make a DIY camping shower in various ways. The easiest ways are using a gallon water jug with holes punched in the lid or a portable water storage tank with a spigot. Either of these can be left to warm up in the sun and then hung from a tree branch when it’s shower time.

For an upgrade in convenience and portability, you can cut a hole in a dry bag and use epoxy to glue on an o-ring that attaches to a stopper cap. This can also be let to heat up in the sun and then hung from a tree. 

If you’re happy to carry a little extra weight, the next options – a garden sprayer with a garden hose nozzle and a garden sprayer with a DIY shower head made with a punctured plastic bottle – are the ones for you. The former needs no extra work and the latter only a plastic bottle that you will cut in half, puncture, and then fasten to the sprayer nozzle with electrical tape, using a wine bottle cork to prevent it slipping off.

What materials are needed for a DIY camping shower?

To make a basic camping shower, you only need a gallon water container and a few feet of rope or cord to tie it to a tree. For more advanced models, you’ll need to work a little harder but still only need rudimentary materials – namely, a plastic bottle, a wine cork, and some duct tape to make a faucet or spigot with.

What is biodegradable soap?

Biodegradable soap is a type of liquid or bar soap that uses ingredients that can be broken down naturally by bacteria, which means they won’t remain in the soil or any water source.

What are the best biodegradable camping soaps?

The best biodegradable camping soaps are Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soap, Campsuds by Sierra Dawn Products, and Sea-to-Summit’s Wilderness Wash.

How to keep your campsite clean?

Below, we’ve listed some tips to help keep your campsite clean.

  • Use reusable cooking equipment (not single-use)
  • Clean up before dark
  • Assign cleaning chores to each member of your group
  • Take care of post-meal cleanups asap
  • Have a place for everything and make sure it is returned there after use
  • Repackage store-bought food to minimize waste
  • Use established campsites that are big enough for you and your group
  • Use camping furniture to minimize impact on the terrain
  • Bring a clothesline for drying gear
  • Create a toilet area 200ft from your campsite and any trail or water source
  • Clean and tidy up your campsite before it gets dark
  • Keep your campfire small

How to keep your tent clean when camping?

Below is a list of tips to help you keep your tent clean when camping.

  • Pitch your tent in a spot that won’t become muddy if it rains
  • Buy a tent with a large vestibule and make this your “dirty area”, i.e. where you can eat and wear or leave dirty clothing and shoes
  • Pitch your tent near a tree or create a tarp shelter at your campsite for extra storage
  • Bring plenty of bags (duffels, dry bags, and trash bags) and storage containers
  • Never leave food scraps lying around
  • Make a camp kitchen
  • Eat outside your tent
  • Bring a cooler
  • Bring a dustpan and brush
  • Buy a foldable camping cart
  • Keep bugs out by keeping mesh windows and doors zippered shut
  • Clean your tent out before packing up