How To Wash Clothes While Camping

When you head off camping, you often face little worry about getting dirty. It is part of the parcel that living in the great outdoors means you will get grubby. However, because you have a limited amount of clothes when camping, you’ll need to clean them at some stage.

Unfortunately, it isn’t possible for everyone to magic up a portable camping washing machine to do this. However, it can be much easier than you think to wash your dirty clothes.

You can find some ingenious ideas for a portable camping clothes washer in our guide. By the end, you’ll find that keeping clothes clean on your next camping trip can be much easier than you imagine.

washing clothes on camp

While an extended camping trip is made easier using campsite washing facilities and a camping washing machine, these camp washer and dryer methods make it easy to keep camping clothing smelling fresh and feeling clean. (Read Can You Wash A Tent in A Front-Loading Washing Machine?)

Best Ways To Wash Clothes While Camping

Here are some of the best ways to keep clothes clean when camping.

Wash in a Trash Bag

Clean garbage bags are one of the most adaptable items you can bring on a camping trip because they can be used to wash your clothes and don’t take up much space.

If you don’t have many other options, a beautiful study garbage bag is the ideal gadget for washing your clothes while camping.

The only other items you’ll need are warm water and eco-friendly detergent.

It’s incredibly easy to wash your clothes in a clean garbage bag. Use two garbage bags, one for soap and water and the other for clean water to rinse.

  1. To start, place your soiled garments in one of the garbage bags and fill it with enough warm water to soak the garments.
  2. You don’t need boiling water to wash your clothes, but it should be heated enough to remove stains.
  3. Add a little laundry detergent into your DIY camping wishing machine. Close the garbage bag and vigorously shake it around.
  4. After a few minutes, transfer the clothing to a new trash bag with only water and no detergent.
  5. Close the bag and shake again as you are now on the rinse cycle.
  6. Once you have clean clothes, you can wring them out and start drying clothes in the best place to hang them.

garbage bag

Scrubba Wash Bag

A Scrubba wash bag is a washing machine bag that may be carried around. Consider it a more effective and convenient version of the garbage bag method to wash camping and hiking clothes.

There are many various washing bags like the Scrubba. Still, this one stands out since it is constructed of high-quality material and successfully gets the dirt out of clothes on the go.

This is a unique bag for cleaning camping and hiking clothes, as well as for travel. It’s like a dry bag, except it includes a flexible washboard and a gripping surface on the inside.

When not in use for washing, it doubles as a compact size dry bag, making it a favorite among campers and backpackers to pack with their gear. (Learn How To Use Fire Starter)

The Scrubba washes your clothes in a simple five-step method.

  1. Fill the container halfway with water, detergent, and clothes.
  2. Close the bag with a roll and clip.
  3. Remove extra air using the built-in valve.
  4. Scrub the garments inside the bag like doing a hand wash
  5. Unload the water and rinse your clothes inside the bag.

Portable Washing Machine

Portable washing machines are available, and they may be the most practical way to wash clothes while camping in an RV compared to the trash bag method for washing clothes.

Because they are frequently camping for more extended periods of time, many RVers use portable washing machines as the top choice of a camping washing machine.

If you go camping for extended periods of time, a portable washing machine can be a sensible investment to clean your clothes. When tent camping, the best camping washing machine uses one of the handwashing methods to clean clothes above.


Use a Laundromat

If you cannot use a camping washing machine, then you may need to use the most accessible laundromat. It may be easier said than done as it will be based on where you’re camping.

Check local laundry facilities because you may need them if you have an accident with your sleeping bag rather than just dirty clothes.

What Not To Do When Washing Clothes When Camping

Don’t Wash Your Clothes using a natural water source

Natural water sources should not be used to wash your garments. You may not only dirty your clothing, but you will almost certainly contaminate the natural water source from which animals live and drink.

Any washing, even with eco-friendly biodegradable soaps you should properly dispose of water at least 200 feet from natural water sources in a spread-out area where it won’t find its way into the waterways. (Learn How Long Does Aloe Vera Last)

Don’t Wash In The Campground Sinks

Do not wash your clothing in the sink if you are camping at a campsite with bathroom sinks where people wash.

Water is frequently scarce and should only be used for hand cleaning, face washing, and tooth brushing.

While convenient for washing clothing, you never know what other campers do in the sinks.

Dry Bags

With a dry bag, hand cleaning your camping clothes is simple. If you’ve ever gone camping, chances are you already have a dry bag, so purchasing new gear isn’t necessary.

  1. Select the appropriate dry bag size for the number of garments to be cleaned. Almost anything will fit in a huge 20-liter bag. A 5-liter dry bag is a standard size; this size is adequate, although you may need to make a few loads.
  2. Fill the dry bag halfway with clean water, then add dirty garments. Make sure the bag is sable and supported up while you add water.
  3. Add the biodegradable soap of your choosing when hand washing. You can even use the soap you use with your hands wet to wash your face rather than taking laundry detergent.
  4. Please don’t close the dry bag properly; instead, leave the air inside and roll it down three times, allowing more room for agitation.
  5. Lay the dry bag on its side and roll or shake it for a few minutes once it’s closed.
  6. Carry the dirty water at least 200 feet away from streams or lakes once you’ve finished cleaning your dirty clothes using this DIY camping washing machine.
  7. Pouring your dirty water into a 6 to 8-inch deep kitty hole is one of the best ways to dispose of it.
  8. Wring out your clothing and hang it on a makeshift line to dry it.

5-Gallon Bucket Camping Washer

Here is the proper way to wash your clothes while camping, and there is no wash bag insight.

The following method uses two camping buckets and plungers. So, everything from merino wool socks to dirty hiking pants can be as clean as possible in no time.

Driving into town to find a laundromat, feed a machine with quarters, or carry back wet laundry to hang is a nuisance. Even using the dry bags method above can be cumbersome and tiring as water is heavy. (Read Do I Need To Ground My Generator When Camping)

Here, you have the best portable washing machine for a campsite to wash clothing.

While you can’t use it to do a full load, it is enough to get around four shirts in one go.

  • To use, sort all your dirty clothes into how they wash and how dirty they are.
  • If you wash the least dirty first, you can reuse the water for two or three cycles before you need to change the water.
  • Always keep your socks and underwear to wash last.

Like all the above methods, you’ll need to ensure your gray water is correctly disposed of. Even with a small amount of soap or detergent, it can upset natural wildlife when you clean your clothes.

Before you begin washing using your camping bucket washer, use a baby wipe to remove stubborn spots. Minor grease stains can be broken down enough so they can be removed.

What you need to make your first bucket washing machine

  • A 5-gallon plastic paint bucket with a lid that is clean
  • A brand-new, spotless plunger
  • Drill using a drill bit that is the right size OR use a sharp knife.
  • A small amount of detergent for laundry
  • Your dirty campground clothes

If you double up on the bucket and the plunger, you can wash and rinse without wasting water. Besides this, you have two camp buckets to pack gear into.

1. Cut a hole in the lid with a drill or a knife.

The lid’s hole should be centered. Make it just big enough to accommodate the plunger handle. The idea is to have enough wiggle room, yet it can stop soap and water splashing everywhere.

Start with a small hole and slowly expand if necessary. Making the hole bigger is significantly easier than making it smaller.

You can use a hole saw bit, a spade bit, or a sharp knife to cut the hole. Just remember to wear the appropriate safety equipment and ask for help when using tools on slippy plastic.

2. Cut holes in the plunger with a drill or a knife

When making your DIY washing machine, it’s crucial to remember to cut holes in the top of the toilet plungers.

As you pull and push the plungers through the holes in the bucket lid, it creates agitation in the water and your dirty clothes. (Learn How To Survive Camping)

Because the holes allow water to flow freely, the plunger does not push to the side.

3. Add water, clothes, and laundry detergent into your 5-gallon bucket.

Fill the bucket halfway with water, add the filthy clothes and laundry detergent.

Powdered detergent works best, and you won’t need much with such a small washing machine.

4. Close the Lid and Plunge

For several minutes, agitate your washing by plunging up and down to mix the soap and water into your clothes.

5. Fill Second Bucket With Clean Water

If you use two buckets, use the second to rinse your clothes before wringing and hanging them to dry clothes in the sun.

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