One of the most challenging parts of glamping (or camping, for that matter) is staying clean. It’s one of the most common reasons some people refuse to camp: the greasy hair, the unbearable body odor, the gritty dirt in unmentionable places…. It is no surprise that adventurous campers get filthy, what with all the hiking, swimming, and playing. But even if you are a mellow, read-books-in-a-hammock, drink-wine-around-the-campfire type, it is truly amazing how you can get so dirty, so quickly.
It is for this reason that a good camping hygiene kit is a must. You could bring your entire bathroom with you in a suitcase (if you have the car space, go ahead), or you could cave and visit a nearby hotel every night just to use the shower (again, if you have the funds and desire for that, I won’t try to talk you out of it). But for those of us who want to keep our bodies - and our campsites - clean without much fuss, here are the top ten must-haves for camping hygiene:
After camping both with and without a family-sized pack of baby wipes, I can guarantee that these will make your outdoors experience one-hundred times more enjoyable. Without all the comforts of a private bathroom, using the toilet at even the nicest campsite can leave you feeling a little… unclean. Before you set off for the camp lavatory, grab your pack of baby wipes so that you have a little more to work with than paper-thin camp toilet paper.
Wipes are also great for cleaning your hands after messy meals or dirty chores like collecting wood and hanging a hammock. Use them for wiping down your table and any camp accessories that might collect dirt and dust. Best of all, if you don’t have access to a shower, baby wipes are the best possible substitute. Whether in the bathroom or your tent, you can strip down and really get in there with some wipes. You’ll be surprised at how clean and refreshed you feel afterwards.
This one is less of a product suggestion and more of an ingenious camping hack. We’ve all been there: dumping the entire contents of a water bottle on our hands to wash off dirt and grime. Not only is it a ridiculous waste of potable water, it’s clumsy and inefficient.
No more! Set up a simple washing station at your table and cleaning your hands and dishes will be quick and easy. Set a spigoted water jug (the 2-gallon kind they sell at the grocery store for a few dollars) on the edge of your table and bungee a plastic paper-towel rack the top (if you don’t have a rack, simply feed the bungee through the cardboard roll of the paper towels). Fill the rack with a roll of biodegradable paper towels, set a bottle of gel-based hand sanitizer beside it, and you have a convenient washing station for hands, dishes, and anything else that might get a little dirty. To prevent a muddy mess, you can place a large tupperware bowl or gallon bucket beneath the spigot to catch the waste water.
Silicone Dish Sponge
If you plan on keeping anything clean while camping, you’ll need this. Other than its most obvious use (cleaning your camp dishes), it also serves to replace a few other hygiene products. If your site has a shower - or if you bring your own shower bag with you, silicone sponges are great loofahs. If you place one at your washing station, you can use it with a bit of soap to scrub your hands. And it’s great for cleaning up your table before and after a meal.
The best feature of silicone dish sponges is that they are naturally antimicrobial. So instead of keeping a soggy, bacteria-laden kitchen sponge around your camp, collecting dirt and germs, these silicone sponges dry quickly and resist bacteria. If they do get a little dirty, simply toss them in a pot of boiling water to zap the germs. For dried-on food messes or really dirty hands, use some cheap nylon scouring pads. This set of sponges and pads is the best combo for all kinds of camp clean-up!
Solar Shower Bag
Though there are many ways, this is probably the best way to shower while camping. First, it’s great for rinsing off after a long, dirty day of outdoor adventures. Leave it in the sun during the day to heat up the water, then tie it to a branch overhead, or use a pop-up privacy tent, and you’ll have an instant shower. Or, place it on a table to create a dish-washing or boot-washing station like the one described above.
There are a variety of portable camping showers on the market, ranging from cheap to less cheap. While in many situations cheaper products perform just as well as expensive ones (paper towels or hand sanitizer, for example), I have found through experience that a good solar camp shower is worth splurging on. Otherwise, you may end up with cold, leaky, glorified Ziploc bag.
Dr. Bronner’s Soap
You. Will. Thank. Me.
This soap - aptly referred to as Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap - is a one-size-fits-all solution to dirt and grime. It replaces a dozen other products in your hygiene kit, including shampoo, hand soap, dish soap, laundry detergent, face wash, body wash, and even mouth wash. No, I’m not kidding -- yes, it is amazing. So instead of packing all of these individual items, instead buy a single bottle of Dr. Bronner’s and whip it out anytime you want something - or someone - to be a little less gross. Best of all, it’s biodegradable and eco-friendly, so you don’t have to stress about your impact on the beautiful environment. It really is the ultimate camping hygiene hack.
If you plan on cleaning yourself at all while camping, a towel is a no-brainer. However, regular cotton bath towels are bulky to pack and take forever to dry. Instead, opt for a lightweight microfiber towel. They’re absorbent and fast-drying, and this one comes with a handy carrying case so that your towel doesn’t get flung into the dirt or lost among other random items while packing.
Aside from showering, these are also great for your washing station for drying hands and dishes, as well as wiping up dust and fine dirt from surfaces like your table and tent.
Handheld Broom and Dustpan
This one took me a while to figure out. For years, I suffered through piles of dirt and twigs being tracked into my precious tent. And once dirt gets inside the tent, you will never feel clean again.
If you have the same issue, simply grab a handheld broom and dustpan and sweep the filth away. This is also useful for keeping your camp footprint clean, as well as your table, chairs, and benches. Where there is camping, there is dirt… but it’s amazing what a little housekeeping can do for a site!
Dental Care Kit
Fairly self-explanatory. You probably already thought of packing a toothbrush and toothpaste, but there are better (cleaner) ways than bringing your own home set camping with you. A toothbrush that comes with a built-in antimicrobial travel case is great for keeping dirt and germs at bay. And rather than bringing a messy, sticky toothpaste bottle, use the magical Dr. Bronner’s as toothpaste (and mouthwash) instead! I told you, it really does do it all. Last, be sure to pack a small container of floss. Camping or not, you have to keep those pearly whites sparkling!
Without hair products, glamping would be… well, camping. Some people don’t mind greasy, lifeless hair as long as they have their handy hair tie around their wrist. As for the rest of us, we would rather look and feel our best, even while roughing it.
To avoid packing leaky shampoo and conditioner bottles, opt for your favorite dry shampoo. I highly recommend R+Co Death Valley Dry Shampoo -- with this in your hygiene kit, you really could come out of Death Valley looking like a rockstar. For something more affordable, try Batiste Dry Shampoo (the Cherry scent is my favorite, you’ll look and smell great). Or, for a really handy hack, just bring the ancient bottle of baby powder you have hanging around your guest bathroom. It does the same exact thing as dry shampoo, at a fraction of the cost (shh… it’ll be our little secret).
Again, this one is kind of obvious. But you shouldn’t just grab any old lotion. Definitely opt for unscented, as many scented lotions can attract pests -- bugs, bears, and other unwanted camp-crashers. Also, do your skin a favor and pick up a lotion with relatively high SPF (at least 30). You’ll be hanging around in the elements for days on end, and you would be surprised how much sun you can soak up even when you try to stay in the shade.
Herbal Choice Mari Lotion fits the bill perfectly -- it’s unscented and has adequate SPF for outdoor fun, and its ingredients are more natural than what you typically find in other sunscreens. Another of my favorites is Neutrogena Healthy Defense; it’s perfect for the face and doesn’t have a strong chemical smell, which I love because my sinuses are particularly sensitive to sunscreen smells. Regardless of your choice, a good SPF lotion is vital for guarding your skin against harsh elements, dry air, and harmful UV rays.