How to Keep Clean Without Showers

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We’ve all experienced it – the scary smell of someone who’s been on a trek for days and hasn’t showered. The aggressive scent of a stranger’s B.O. is uncomfortable to be around, and you wonder, do they know they smell that bad? How can they not know?

You might get used to the smell of your own funk, but I assure you, other people never do. I figured that out the hard way when I tried all-natural deodorant.

Sometimes you don’t have access to a shower.

How to Shower When Camping

Bring The Right Products

Baby wipes, two washcloths or hand towels, bar soap, mini spray bottle, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, enough underwear to have at least one clean pair per day, headband or hat, drinking water.

Optional: Travel size 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner, baby powder, hand sanitizer.

This rinseless shampoo is perfect for camping. 

Hair: Leave hair in a braid or put it up, and try not to play with it. The excess oil from your hands will add to the oil your hair produces naturally, making it more greasy than normal. Baby powder will soak up excess oil, should you chose to bring it. No water? Use the rinseless shampoo. You can also wear a head scarf or hat if washing your hair is not an option.

how to shower when camping

Skin: Avoid lotion, other than sunscreen, especially if it’s scented. Sweet perfume smells attract mosquitos, making you an easy target for bug bites. Use the small spray bottle filled with water, one washcloth and bar soap to wash your face, underarms and body. Use second washcloth to dry. You can use baby wipes instead of washcloths if needed.

Teeth: Brush em! Make sure you use purified, bottled water for this daily task. There’s nothing worse than being sick on a trek!

Lady Parts: Baby wipes are a girl’s best friend. Always wipe front to back and be sure to bring enough clean underwear to have at least one pair per day to avoid infections. It’s also a good idea to stock up on toilet paper before you leave in case the communal supply runs out.

Hands: Nails can get gritty. If possible, cut them short before you go so there is less space for dirt to hide. If you bring hand sanitizer, use it often! Hands touch everything. Try not to touch your face if you can help it! This will cut down on acne.

Feet: Clean your feet with baby wipes, and be sure to bring a few pairs of socks.

If you have the opportunity to jump in the ocean, do it!  The salt water will clean your skin and hair for the short term, and kill germs.

How do you shower when camping? What are your tips for staying clean on the road?

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About Author

Ellen wanders. She wandered her way through Europe in 2007 during a semester abroad in Madrid, then through parts of the South Pacific after college graduation, and spent a year in South and Central America during 2010. Most recently, she went on a solo adventure south of the border to research and write the travel guidebook Go Girl Guides: Mexico.

3 Comments

  1. SweetCupcake1000 on

    Thank you For this advice!! I was really thinking of how I would do this until I came across this page. Thank you??

  2. You should not use 2-in-1 shampoo while camping – if it gets into rivers it can kill fish and damage the ecosystem. It is also really gross because often people will drink from water sources that people shampoo in or close to.

    Your tips here should be edited to better respect our environment – it belongs to all of us!

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