Camping showers are a tremendous invention. Over the past two years, over 11.84 million people went camping in Australia.
From spending time in a caravan to shacking up in tents, camping is a popular activity and accounts for over $7 billion in revenue each year—and that number is only increasing!
But what about proper hygiene when you’re on the road?
Although you can have great personal hygiene with simple tricks like packing multiple outfits, bringing extra water to hand wash, and using natural water for bathing, that sometimes doesn’t do the trick. Camping showers—whether at your location or self-created—are the best way to maintain cleanliness on your next camping trip.
And whether you’ve gone camping plenty of times or are just heading out on your first outdoor excursion, here’s everything you need to know about showering and staying clean while traveling.
Camping is all about minimalism. Although you might be tempted to pack all of your hygiene essentials—from bath soap to body lotion—it’s not feasible (or smart) when you’re on the road. You might not have space, for one. It’s also hard to find shower facilities sometimes. Which is why you need to plan ahead.
However, that doesn’t mean you should abandon personal hygiene altogether! The first step is to create a straightforward hygiene routine that relies solely on the essentials.
Beyond the camping essentials—like water, map/compass, and a first aid kit—you’ll want to have your hygiene necessities, too. Here are your must-haves: toothbrush and toothpaste, soap, shampoo, clapstick, sunscreen, towels, toilet supplies and toilet paper, and any feminine hygiene products (if applicable).
You might not have a shower on your camping trip. If this is the case, you’ll have to create another solution. Rather than trying to find full-on camping showers (which may or may not be available), opt for a daily rinse. This can be as simple as splashing water on your face or body with biodegradable soap, or even using camping wipes.
For anything related to your hands, opt for hand sanitizer. Since you probably won’t find a sink anywhere and you won’t want to waste all your body/face wipes washing your hands, sanitizer is a great alternative. It’s also smart to have on hand for when you need to go to the bathroom in the woods!
Extra clothes and undergarments are a must. If you’re really trying to be a minimalist while camping, be sure you opt for extra undergarments. But if space isn’t a serious issue, make sure you have a few changes of clothes.
After a long day in the woods, or especially if you’re going to be hiking or walking, having a new set of clothing to change into is invaluable. Even if you simply change your clothes rather than have a full shower, the new clothing will make you feel clean and refreshed.
It’s best not to bring or wear cotton since this type of fabric tends to soak up sweat the quickest. Cotton is also a type of fabric that gets dirty quickly and can cause chafing.
A tip is to opt for synthetic clothing, which is moisture-wicking and lightweight. This helps to limit bacteria and remove excess sweat, leaving you feeling refreshed (even after a grueling hike).
If you’re really trying to be conservative with packing and space, you can also use products like dry shampoo to substitute bringing shampoo, conditioner, and other hair-washing products.
Some campers recommend bringing a strong deodorant to mask any odors and eliminate the need for showers. But if you’re camping in an area that may have bears, a precaution is to actually not bring deodorant as it may attract bears and other wildlife to your campsite.
Learning tips and tricks for camping hygiene is great, but sometimes a change of clothes, a splash rinse, or even a wipe down won’t do the trick. If you’re feeling sticky and sweaty from sunscreen, bug spray, and hours in the water/sun, you’ll probably need a shower.
Sometimes you’ll get lucky and stay at a campground that offers showers. And sometimes you won’t. If you’re faced with the latter—don’t stress—you can create your own.
Here are the options and how to get started:
A solar camp shower (like it sounds) relies on the sun for warmth. To create this type of shower, all you need is a large bag that you can hang from a tree or higher post. You’ll use the sun to warm the water. And gravity will help the water flow.
Similar to a sponge bath in nature, a bucket shower is just that: a shower in a bucket. All you need to do is simply fill the bucket with water (warm or cold) and add biodegradable, eco-friendly soap.
Toss a washcloth in the bucket and use that to sponge off different parts of your body and rinse. You can also use the bucket to pour water over your head or other parts of your body if it’s not too heavy.
A tip with these sorts of camping showers is to be sure you have access to water or pack enough of your own. If you’re only packing cold water, keep the bucket in the sun so it can warm up before use.
Another option for camping showers is to invest in a portable shower. This is something that you can simply purchase online or from a camping store. Similar to the solar shower that hangs, a portable shower can hang from anywhere and is heated naturally by the sun.
As opposed to a DIY bag, the portable shower has an easy-to-use, refillable interior bag that can be easily rinsed and used again and again. It also has proper spouts that allow you to change the amount of water that comes out, or even close the spout when it’s not in use.
When it comes to showering in nature, remember that you can always rely on natural options to help you. If you’re by a waterfall, for example, take advantage of the fresh running water! As long as you invest in biodegradable, safe soap that won’t hurt the environment, you can easily use your surroundings to have a totally natural, and totally refreshing shower.
When it comes to drying off, towels can be bulky. Rather than bringing traditional towels (which are fluffy, get dirty easily and take ages to dry) or beach towels (which are bulky), use a microfiber towel.
Microfiber towels can roll or fold up to be super small, thus saving you space. They also come in different sizes for flexibility. There are various size options for use on your face, hands, or body. Compared to other towels, microfiber is one of the quickest-drying materials a huge plus for your outdoor adventures.
Camping is a load of fun. But before you head out it’s important to think about your personal hygiene. Having poor hygiene can create a miserable outdoor experience for both you and your camping partners, especially if you’re going to be in nature for more than a couple of days. Yuck!
Beyond a simple change of clothes or a wipe-down, you have to think about other hygiene methods—anything from packing a hygiene kit to creating a camping shower can help create a more pleasant experience for everyone.
And it’s infinitely better to do this before you head out! Stores to buy eco-friendly soap or microfiber towels will be scarce once you leave the city limits.
Whether you’ve been camping all your life and are browsing for some new tips, or are just starting to plan your first excursion, we hope reading this guide has given you some great ideas about personal cleanliness, camping showers, and hygiene must-haves.
If you have any other camping or hygiene-related questions, or you want to read about other awesome camping spots, trails, and hikes in Australia, feel free to browse our website or reach out to us directly. Happy camping!
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