How to Shower When Camping

How to shower when camping is an opportunity that presents itself when you come across a gently cascading waterfall.

Truthfully, although this sounds idyllic, the odds of this happening are probably not too realistic. How to stay clean while camping will involve many creative methods and techniques.

A camping bath is perhaps more realistically going to happen when you come across a lake or river. It could also likely take place during a good downpour. Did you know that campers even shower without water? Does that even make sense?

feet in the river

It is true that hygiene, while in the wild, can at times be difficult to maintain. There are many issues involved, such as the availability of water, privacy, cold temperatures, and other conditions that are far from ideal for staying textbook clean. (Learn How to Make Coffee While Camping)

In spite of this, that still is no excuse to try your best to maintain decent bodily hygiene when you are camping.

Here are some exciting ways to keep clean while camping in the outdoors.

Get In That Lake, River, or Pond

If you happen to be camping near the water, you are in luck. Provided the body of water is safe, clean, and free of critters and predators, go ahead, take a dip and get a good scrub. Things could not be better for a bath in the wild than this.

When you go camping, bring biodegradable soap to keep the water source clean and unpolluted. As a general rule, pick a spot at least 200 feet away from your campsite and 200 feet away from any drinking water source that may exist (about 70 adult-sized paces approximates the same distance).

Once you have identified a spot, start bathing, paying particular attention to your underarms, groin, and face. On warmer days, bathing in a body of water is an excellent option for maintaining your personal hygiene while camping.

The Backpacking Shower

This particular method requires that you have specialized gear.  I assure you, though, that it feels entirely like you are taking a shower because, in fact, you are. There are specialty companies that make backpacking shower devices, which are essentially large bags that can hold water.

You fill up with water these large bags. After doing so, simply hang the bag at a height taller than you, and gravity does the rest.  What this does is create pressure for the water to escape from the bag, creating a shower. Keep in mind that the water will run out quick (around 7 minutes for a 10L bag), so get it over and done as fast as you can.

Look For a Campsite or Recreation Centers

This might sound like cheating, but this is indeed a practical way to get a legitimate shower. Many campsites have private showers with running water. Just subject yourself to the rules regarding the use of these facilities if you can come across a campsite with such water amenities.

You might also be camping near places that have a recreation center, and most of them have showers. If they cater to sports, then you can be sure that they have showers. Just pay the applicable fees to use the shower facilities for a really thorough and refreshing scrub down.

The Water Bottle Shower

This is similar to the backpacking shower, but with much less water. The water bottle shower can be used if you do not have many other options, and water is scarce. All you will need is a water bottle (ideally two bottles for more water). You will strategically empty the water all over you. (Read 10 Tips for Camping in the Rain)

Once wet all over, apply soap to your entire body. When you are ready to rinse, use the second bottle to carefully wash off the soap residue. Remember to slowly allow the water to escape from the bottle for better control and the even use of the limited H2o.

To refine this method, you can have a separate bottle cap punctured with a little hole to regulate the water’s release. Of course, I need not tell you to do the bath in a private place.

The Bucket and Rag Method

This method used to be my favorite before I purchased a portable shower bag. Get yourself a bucket and fill it up with water. You can even heat some of the water over a campfire first in case it is a bit cold.

Using a rag or a sponge, immerse it wet into the bucket and wipe down your entire body until you have gotten rid of all soap residue. If you do not have soap, the water by itself is fine. Since you will repeatedly dunk the rag or sponge in the bucket, clean your body parts from cleanest to dirtiest for a more hygienic method.

Baby Wipes

Hey! If these are good for babies, why not you? Earlier in this post, I mentioned showering without water. If you were wondering how that is, well, here it is. Admittedly, this is not technically a shower, but for purposes of getting clean, it will qualify.

The baby wipe method is a thorough wipe down of your entire body exclusively using baby wipes or some other similar cleaning disposable napkins.

As I said, if babies use these to get clean, then they must be safe and ok. In reality and actual practice, it is a widely used way of staying clean for many campers. Thanks to the wipes formulation, they are highly effective for maintaining minimum hygiene standards.

A baby wipe down might not be that thorough a cleaning, but if you are only a bit dirty, it can do until you get a chance to have a shower. (Learn What is Primitive Camping)

Showering When Camping

baby taking a bath

It is true that your ability to stay clean when camping is limited, but there are many ways to at least observe the minimum hygiene requirements. With a little patience, compromise, and creativity, cleanliness while on the backpacking trail is not that difficult to achieve.

How to Shower When Camping