Basic hygiene doesn’t stay at home when you head out to the great outdoors. Regardless of whether you are roughing it in the backcountry, or relaxing in a leisure car camping site, staying clean or simply refreshing one’s self, it’s important to practice comforting and cleansing hygiene.
Personal needs may dictate what routines you need to follow, but here are a few basic applications of personal care that can easily be maintained to some degree in any campsite:
Coffee Can TP Holder: The classic hygiene aid is the coffee can toilet paper holder. The two main functions of a container for your TP is to keep it dry and keep it clean. A simple plastic zip-closure bag is the most basic method for accomplishing those tasks.
A step up is to put the roll inside a can/canister or other sealable carrier. Most of use grew up using outdoor biffys supplied with a roll of paper inside a large coffee can. These were often placed at the latrine site or carried there from camp. A step up to the metal coffee bin are the new plastic containers whose sides are soft enough to cut long slits into through which the end of the TP is fed, thereby creating a protected roll dispenser that can be carried to or positioned for use at the latrine site.
[Here’s a latrine tip: Keep an umbrella in your tent at night. Should you need to use the ‘facilities’ during a rain, you can use it to stay dry throughout the journey and process]
Utility Rack: Making a hanger rack from a tree branch is an easy way to create a place to hang small items for use around camp. Hooks for towels, washcloths, soap ropes and small toiletry pouches are especially useful next to your cleaning station or other hands-on work areas.
These are simply branches whose twigs are trimmed to serve as peg-like extensions upon which to hang items that are quickly accessible as needed. Tying a loop at the top end, these branch rakes can be suspended from a nearby tree or guyline. Smaller ones can be tied to the ceiling loop inside a tent for a handy place to stow small gear up off the floor.
Soap-In-A-Sock: Taking the soap-on-a-rope concept to the next functional level, a soap bar in a sock, a nylon stocking to be precise, not only provides the convenience of soap literally right under your nose, but keeps a lot of debris from sticking to it should it be dropped while wet. Simply drop a bar of soap into an old nylon stocking, tie the top end into a loop and it can be hung from a tree or rack. If the loops large enough it can be worn around your neck as well.
The additional advantage of the textured stocking is that the nylon weave makes it slightly abrasive and aids in scrubbing dirt away when washing up.
Plunger Washing Machine: I’ve only washed clothes during extended camping trips, usually into the backcountry and most often with merely a rinse in the lake, sometimes even with the luxury of bio-degradable soap. However, for quick washes around camp, especially car camping, you can create a serviceable washing “machine” using only a large bucket and a standard bathroom plunger (or big, club-like stick).
All you need to do is fill a large bucket/tub with hot water, add laundry soap and then add clothes to the point you can still slosh the water around. The plunger is your machine agitator that works the water and soap through your dirty clothes. I’ve also used a fist-sized, smooth-surfaced rock to be used to carefully coax out stubborn dirt (like using a washboard), too.
While you should always carry extra clean socks and underwear, being able to wash those items is another option during a long-term encampment.
There are many ways little contrivances can be used to make a campsite more comfortable. Some are more limited by size to car camping, but even the most modern campsite can benefit from using vintage tried and true methods to make camping even more refreshing.