Keeping clean while traveling and in camp – it’s important, for yourself, your gear, and in general.
I’ve bought and tried a number of products over the years and have found the items listed below to be products I keep going back to. I’ll add more to the list and write more on specific items as time goes on, though this is a working list of products I use regularly and can heartily recommend.
I’ve broken this topic down, so far, to three sections:
For details on how I manage dishwashing and waste water in camp, check out the blog post: Shore Camping and Waste Water
There are a lot of soaps to choose from.
Whether on the road or not, I prefer soaps that are biodegradable. The soaps I’ve tested and use most are:
SEA TO SUMMIT
Sea To Summit has a wide range of products aimed at adventures both on land and water.
I’ve used mostly their soaps: Citronella Wilderness Wash and Wilderness Wash. These are great all purpose concentrated soaps. I use them regularly in camp and when traveling for bathing, washing my hair, and washing clothes as well as for dishes when hiking, biking, or canoeing.
I’ve used both the Citronella and the regular and find I reach for the Citronella more often. It’s not overly powerful, citronella wise–just a slight pleasant scent I actually look forward to–and doesn’t last all day as far as repelling bugs, but it does help and feels super clean.
Both the Citronella and Regular come in 1.3oz/40ml, 3oz/89ml, and 8.5oz/250ml. I originally bought one each of the 1.3oz and now get the 8.5oz and refill the smaller bottle. The smallest size is super convenient to keep in my VenturePal Daypacks for hitting the showers or for biking, hiking, and canoeing.
I also have a Sea to Summit X Shot Collapsible Cup, only 2.5oz/75ml, that I keep mostly for rinsing after brushing my teeth. Collapses flat, so is easy to keep in a pocket or pack when you’re on the go. I like it enough I’ve thought about getting some of their other collapsible items: X Series of Collapsible Hybrid Dishware
Check out the Sea To Summit website (no affiliation) for their entire line of products.
Dr Bronner’s Magic Soaps, the iconic American product started in the late 1940’s by Emanuel Bronner, is another great concentrated soap.
I’ve used various Dr Bronner’s products for decades, going way back to my back-to-the-land days in the late sixties. I use this for dishes when in camp, for general washing, brushing my teeth, just about anything that needs cleaning. I’m currently switching back and forth between Dr Bronner’s and Sea To Summit soaps to compare, but generally use Sea To Summit Citronella for general bathing year ’round and washing shirts when it’s buggy out, and Dr Bronner’s Peppermint for dishes and teeth and general cleaning around camp.
I use Dr Bronners Organic Hand Sanitizer, too, and keep one up front in the van and one by the sink on the trailer for those times I want a quick bacteria and germ-killer.
Mrs Meyers Clean Day products, started by Mrs Thelma Meyer, mother of nine in Iowa, to keep alive the great smells from her mother’s garden, are another favorite around camp.
I particularly like her Basil Hand Soap and usually keep some at the sink in my outdoor kitchen, and the spray bottle size of her Multi-Surface Everyday Cleaner, which I’ve found to be great on my galley counter and other surfaces.
ACCA KAPPA WHITE MOSS
Acca Kappa White Moss, while not exactly an adventure product, has been my favorite bath soap for fifteen years or more, I bet.
Fresh, subtle, scent and creamy lather. I don’t use it all the time when camping, opting instead for a small bottle of one of the soaps above I can use for body, hair, and clothes (you sometimes wash underwear, socks, or t-shirt when you bathe in camp, right? I mean, it just makes sense to) but when there’s a good showerhouse around, this is the soap I use. The link above is for the 3.5 ounce bar, which will last ages. I also buy it in a pack of 12 1 ounce bars, much easier size for the road.
FIEBING’S SADDLE SOAP
Fiebing’s Saddle Soap is a great all purpose leather cleaner used the world ’round.
Great for cleaning boots and other smooth leather products. Cleans and lubricates without affecting suppleness or strength like some cleaners. You should always use a good leather conditioner or neatsfoot oil after a good cleaning to replenish oils in the leather.
Fiebings has a range of great products for leather.
Do you use Wet Wipes? How do you stay clean? Where do you wash up?
All questions I get on a regular basis. The world of wet wipes is heating up these days, with so many more adventurers and folks going camping. I’m working on a review of several different wet wipes in various sizes and strengths that I’ve used extensively, including:
- Shower Pouch – I’ve bought them by the box. They’re huge at 12″ x 24″ and a favorite for when I want a whole body wipe. You know, instead of taking a shower because there is no shower around.
- Makeup Remover Wipes from Neutrogena – a favorite from my studio days for more than just makeup. If it’s okay for your face it’s okay for anywhere on your body. I like these a lot.
- Burt’s Bees – Been trying three different types of wipes from Burt’s Bees: the Sensitive Facial Cleansing Cucumber & Sage, the Sensitive Facial Cleansing with Cotton Extract for Sensitive Skin, and the Micellar Cleansing Towelettes. I like them all. These are typically the wipes I grab a couple of for putting in a zip lock and taking with me throughout the day when hiking, biking, canoeing, or driving.
- Combat Wipes -just got, haven’t tried, look interesting, says biodegradable
With any of the above wipes, whether biodegradable or not, I would not bury them or try to get them to compost in a composting toilet. Take far too long, if they break down at all. Bag ’em and pack it out.
What about a toilet when back country camping, or way between towns and rest areas?
That’s a question a lot of people have but often don’t ask. I do get asked, though, what I do as a full-time traveler. Some folks don’t think about it until they’re out here miles from anyplace with a restroom.
I have a Nature’s Head Composting Toilet, though put off getting one for a long time, thinking it too extravagant a cost, and got by with simpler methods, like the composting bucket described in my blog post Room With A View. Having the Nature’s Head now is simply more efficient, easier to use, and a lot more agreeable to any family or friends I may have visiting.
It’s easy to set up a simple composting toilet with 5gal bucket, some heavy duty trash bags, and a snap on toilet seat. The trick is to keep solids and liquids separate. Keeping them separate eliminates the awful odor associated with most outhouses. Solids go into the bucket, mixed with peat moss or coco fibre.
Here’s the details on putting together your own Simple Composting Toilet.