10 Ways to Stay Clean on the Trail

10 Ways to Stay Clean on the Trail

10 Ways to Stay Clean on the Trail


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One of my pet peeves while I’m hiking is the inability to take a nice, long shower after a day of sweating and getting dirty. Though that’s the fun part for many people, for me, I start to feel like I have bugs crawling all over me.  If you’re the same, then you know that even taking a shower while out in the backcountry can make you feel as though you’re just getting dirtier. So, here are some tricks to combat that filth while you’re out and about:

Wet Wipes and Hand Sanitizer

These little things can go a very long way, and they don’t take up much space in your bag. A small package of Wet Wipes can be used to wipe yourself down at night before bed. Clean under your arms, and other places that just don’t feel clean (no need to go into detail). Additionally, use hand sanitizer to clean your hands after you go to the bathroom and before you eat.

When Life Gives You Lemons, Use it As Deodorant

Although you would think deodorant is a must on the trail, even the natural kinds can make you very available to bugs and wildlife. Instead, if you can manage it, bring some lemon slices, peels, or even a little bottle of lemon juice, and use it where you would use your deodorant. Don’t overdo it of course, and be aware if it starts to go bad.

Know When to Change Clothes

You can’t bring too many outfits when you go hiking, nor can you let yourself wear the same dirty clothes. It’s a good idea to change your clothes before you go to bed at night, because sleeping in a dirty garment can really harm your skin. If you can manage to shower before changing, that’s even better. Wash your socks or undies if you get a chance, but make sure you have others to wear while those dry.

Turn It Around or Wear it Inside Out

If you find that you didn’t bring enough clothes or you’re going to be out longer than you intended, you can always reuse clothing. Rotate your socks to not only make the most out of them, but help prevent your feet from getting blisters. Underwear can be turned inside out too, but if you do, just keep that to yourself.

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Take a Shower That’s Clean For All

When showering, remember two things. One, is biodegradable soap. The other, is making sure that whatever water you’re relying on to cleanse is being taken far away from the source as not to harm it. You can also take shavings of soap to use for a single-time wash. Other options are taking a dip in a nearby lake, or using the hand sanitizer or an alcohol rub on your body with a cotton ball to take off the dirt.

Stay Dry with Powder

Taking a travel-sized bottle of baby powder or cornstarch is great for keeping you dry. Put a little on your feet or your back when you begin to sweat and after you’ve taken a shower. It will keep your skin feeling clean and smooth. Use an unscented kind to not attract bugs or animals. Just be careful not to breathe any in as the talc can be harmful.

Your Hair

Baby powder can also be useful when your hair starts to get oily. No matter if you’re a girl or a guy, long hair or short, putting a bit in your hair will help absorb some of the grease. If your hair is long or poofy, tying it up in a braid or a bandana will help keep it out of your face and distract you from how yucky it might be getting.

Your Teeth

Plaque can build up quickly, and if you’re not staying on top of it, you’re breath is going to stink! Bring pre-cut strands of floss in a bag, and some pre-treated disposable brushes to keep your teeth clean on the go. Seriously, do us all a favor and don’t forget this one.

Your Skin and Face

Your skin can break down quickly when you’re not properly showering and you’re out all day getting dirty. Just cleaning when you get the chance will help, but bring along some lotion or aloe to keep your skin moist. Use a moisturizer and little face wipes to get all the grime off your face, and make sure to give your skin a chance to breathe as much as possible.

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For Ladies

If you’re going to be hiking during your time of the month, forego the tampons and pads and try the Diva Cup. This will not only make your trip less of a hassle, but keep you feeling clean while doing something good for the environment. Additionally, some ladies like to use a thin panty-liner on their undies so that you can make the pair last longer.

Remember these tricks to keep you clean and comfy, but make sure to look out for the environment while you’re at it.

hanalarock I'm Hana- a freelance travel writer and teacher who currently lives in South Korea. I'm originally from New York, but have spent the last two years traveling and living abroad. My first time hiking in the US was when I traveled around the country as a teenager. Though, my first adult backpacking trip was a year ago, when I hiked from Thailand down to Singapore for a month. I'm looking forward to many more adventures in the future. Visit my site for more information.