How To Shower and Stay Clean While Camping (2022)

Read this guide to learn about showering, bathing, and staying clean while on your camping or hiking trip.
How to shower while camping

Guides, Hygiene

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There are many things to plan for and consider when camping or hiking, such as how to start your fire and how to prepare your food, but one thing that’s often forgotten is how to stay clean. Showering and bathing on your trip can help you feel fresh and ready for your day, as well as keep you healthy while out in the wilderness.

If you’re camping at a public campsite, you may have a public bathroom with a shower to share with other campers, but on your primitive camping or hiking trip, that option will likely be unavailable to you. In this guide, you’ll learn about the best techniques for keeping clean, showering, and bathing while in the backcountry.

Table of Contents

5 Tips for Staying Clean While Camping

Through in-depth research and experience, we discovered these tips for keeping up your hygiene while camping:

  1. Bring a Camping Shower
  2. Take a Sponge Bath
  3. Use Dry Products
  4. Build a DIY Camping Shower
  5. Take a Dip

Bring a Camping Shower

You can purchase portable camping showers to take with you on your trip. This could be an ideal option for those who are car camping or aren’t hiking to their campsite. However, since portable camping showers can take up a lot of space in your hiking pack, it may not be best for backpacking trips.

Here are the most common types of camping showers you can purchase:

  • Gravity camping showers: This is the cheapest, basic option that uses gravity to release water through a spout from a shower bag or container of water. If you’re considering bringing a portable shower while backpacking, this may be your best bet, since it’s typically more compact than the other options.
  • Electric camping showers: These use battery power, solar power, or power from your car to heat water and release it through a spout. Similar to gravity showers, there’s no way to properly regulate the water flow, so if you have to be conservative with water usage, this may not be the best option for you. Although, it’s a great choice if you’re looking to take a hot shower with warm water.
  • Pressurized camping showers: These options utilize air pressure to force water through the spout from an air compressor or an air pump. You can control the water flow by how much pressure you apply, so it can help you conserve your water source.
  • Shower tent: No matter which of the camping showers you choose, you may want to also bring a camping shower tent to help protect your privacy. You set them up just like your shelter tent, but they have a simpler structure. You can normally put your portable shower at the top of the tent and take your shower just as you would at home. Privacy could be an important part of camp showering, especially if you’re traveling in a state park or populated camping area.

Take a Sponge Bath

If you don’t want to bring along a portable camp shower, you could simply bring a sponge, a small water container or bucket, and soap. Taking a simple sponge bath can make you feel fresh and rejuvenated after a day in the wild.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to sponge bathing while camping:

  1. Fill up a container or bucket with water.
  2. Put some soap into the water.
  3. Immerse the sponge into the water and rub your body with the soaked sponge.
  4. Repeat until you feel rinsed and clean.
  5. Empty the waste water at least 200 feet away from your camp and hiking trails.

Use Dry Products

If you’re looking for an easy way to feel clean without taking a shower or a bath, you could bring along some baby wipes and dry shampoo. Wiping off your body with baby wipes can clean off dirt and bacteria that built up during your trip. Dry shampoo can help you with that greasy head of hair from a long day of sweating on the trails.

Note: Be sure to choose an unscented dry shampoo, so it doesn’t attract bears or pests to your campsite.

Build a DIY Camping Shower

If you don’t want to buy a portable shower, you can make your own do-it-yourself camping shower with products you have lying around your home. It could be as simple as a bucket with holes on the bottom for the water to flow through by gravity, or it could be more elaborate like the one in the video below.

Take a Dip

One of the most obvious ways to clean yourself while camping is to take a dip in a nearby river or lake. Jumping in and going for a swim can wash off the dirt you built up throughout the day and clean off the grease from your hair.

However, we don’t recommend bringing any soap into the natural water with you, because it could pollute the water and potentially harm the wildlife living in it. Fish and other animals that call the river home are not used to surviving with those kinds of chemicals in their environment, even if you have a natural or biodegradable soap.

How to bath while camping

Other Things to Consider About Camp Showering

While you’re out in the backcountry, you may not feel like you need a shower like you would back at home. In fact, you’d be surprised how little you care about your cleanliness while roughing it at your campsite. However, maintaining personal hygiene can still be important for keeping your body healthy, especially if you’re on a longer trip.

If you’re camping in colder temperatures, keeping clean can be a bit more difficult, since getting wet isn’t really an option. We don’t recommend using a camping shower or going for a swim if the temperatures are below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, since it could lead to cold illnesses or hypothermia.

Related: How to Keep a Tent Warm

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I camp without a shower?

Yes, you don’t need to shower while on your camping trip if you don’t want to, but it could be a smart way to keep your body clean and healthy, especially if your trip extends beyond a few days.

How do you clean yourself when camping?

Our five tips for cleaning yourself while camping are: bringing a portable camping shower, taking a sponge bath, using dry shampoo or baby wipes, building your own DIY portable camping shower, and taking a dip in a nearby river or lake to rinse off your backcountry stench.

How do you heat water in a camping shower?

Some portable camping showers use electricity through batteries or solar power to heat the water in the container. If you’re using a gravity camping shower without electricity, you could warm up the water on your fire or camping stove before putting it into the container to make your own hot shower. However, you should be very careful not to overheat it to the point where it will burn your skin while showering.

Does soap and sanitizer attract bears?

The scent from soap and sanitizers is known to attract bears and insects, so choosing unscented options is the best way to protect against that. We also recommend dumping any used water that could smell like your soap at least 200 feet away from your campsite to avoid attracting unwanted wildlife near your shelter.


 

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