How to Wash Clothes While Camping

Camping quickly dirties clothes but that doesn’t mean they need to stay dirty. Find out how to wash clothes while camping and you’ll never have to subject yourself to wearing dirty clothes again.

how to wash clothes while camping

Use The Onsite Laundromat At The Campground

If you’ve done a lot of camping, this might seem like a useless tip but many people don’t realize that a lot of campgrounds have onsite laundry facilities. These facilities will often take cash but some of the newer ones will also allow you to use a credit card.

Before you go out and buy any special tools for doing your laundry while camping, find out if the campground has facilities you can use. If they do, your problem is solved and you can skip down to the section on keeping your clothes from getting dirty while camping.

Here are 3 things to consider when doing laundry at a campground.

  1. Don’t Leave Clothes Unattended: When using a communal laundry area, don’t leave your clothes unattended. This helps prevent theft and ensures that the machines are available for other campers to use.
  2. Clean Lint Traps: If using a communal dryer, make sure to clean out the lint trap before and after use. This helps prevent fires and ensures that the dryer runs efficiently.
  3. Respect Quiet Hours: If you’re washing clothes in a communal laundry area, be respectful of quiet hours. Avoid doing laundry early in the morning or late at night when other campers may be sleeping.

Of course, this is all well and good if you have a laundromat at your campground, but what if you don’t?

Portable Washing Systems

Portable washing systems are a convenient and eco-friendly option for cleaning clothes while camping. These systems are designed to be lightweight and compact, making them easy to pack and transport.

Here are three popular types of portable washing systems for camping:

  1. Scrubba Wash Bag: The Scrubba Wash Bag is a popular option for camping and travel. The bag is made from durable materials and has a built-in washboard that allows you to clean clothes with minimal water and no electricity. To use, simply add water and a small amount of biodegradable soap to the bag, seal it, and then rub the clothes against the washboard for several minutes. Rinse the clothes and hang them up to dry.
  2. Lavario Portable Clothes Washer: The Lavario Portable Clothes Washer is another popular option for camping. This system uses a patented “passive agitation” technology that allows you to clean clothes using minimal water and no electricity. To use, simply fill the washer with water and biodegradable soap, add your clothes, and then lift the handle up and down to force water through your dirty clothes. Rinse the clothes and hang them up to dry.
  3. Wonder Wash: The Wonder Wash is a hand-cranked washing machine that is ideal for camping and off-grid living. This system uses a patented pressure system that forces water and detergent through the clothes to clean them quickly and efficiently. To use, simply add water and detergent to the drum, add your clothes, and then turn the crank for several minutes. Rinse the clothes and hang them up to dry.

Hand Washing Clothes While Camping

Hand washing clothes while camping is a straightforward process that requires only a few simple steps. Here’s how to hand wash clothes while camping:

  1. Fill a basin or bucket with water: Start by filling a basin or bucket with warm water. If possible, use biodegradable soap, which is better for the environment.
  2. Add Clothes: Add the clothes you want to wash to the water. If the clothes are heavily soiled, let them soak for a few minutes before washing.
  3. Agitate Clothes: Use your hands to agitate the clothes in the water. You can also use a washboard to help remove dirt and stains.
  4. Rinse Clothes: Once you have agitated the clothes, drain the soapy water and refill the basin with clean water. Rinse the clothes thoroughly in the clean water.
  5. Wring Clothes Out: Once you have rinsed the clothes, wring them out to remove excess water. Do not twist or wring the clothes too hard, as this can damage the fabric.
  6. Hang Clothes Up to Dry: Hang the clothes up to dry in a sunny, well-ventilated area. If possible, hang the clothes on a clothesline or drying rack, as this will help them dry more quickly.

By following these steps, you can keep your clothes clean and fresh while camping. Hand washing clothes is a simple and effective way to clean clothes without relying on a washing machine. It also allows you to reduce your environmental impact by using less water and energy.

If you think all of this is a hassle, it’s because it is. This is the reason why I try my hardest to keep my clothes clean while camping so that I don’t have to bother washing them until I get home.

Keeping Your Clothes From Getting Dirty

While camping, it can be difficult to keep your clothes clean, especially if you’re spending a lot of time outdoors. However, there are a few things you can do to help prevent your clothes from getting dirty in the first place.

First, consider wearing clothing that is specifically designed for outdoor activities. Many companies make clothes that are designed to be breathable, moisture-wicking, and quick-drying. These types of clothes are ideal for camping because they can help keep you comfortable and dry, even if you’re sweating or exposed to rain.

Second, be mindful of the activities you’re doing while camping. If you’re hiking or exploring, try to avoid walking through mud or other areas where dirt and debris are likely to get on your clothes. If you’re sitting around the campfire, consider wearing a cover-up to protect your clothes from smoke and ash.

Never dry your clothes over a campfire. This practice is dangerous and it’s only going to make your clothes smell like smoke.

Personally, I have a designated campfire jacket that I always wear when hanging out around the campfire. This jacket helps protect my clothes from smelling like smoke. Of course, if your clothes do end up smelling like smoke, you can always check out my page on how to get campfire smells out of clothes.

Third, pack extra clothes so that you can change into clean clothes if necessary. This is especially important if you’re camping for an extended period of time. Pack versatile clothes that can be worn in a variety of situations.

Fourth, consider bringing a laundry bag to store dirty clothes in. Keeping your clean clothes separate from your dirty clothes can help you keep track of what needs to be washed.

Finally, be sure to practice good hygiene while camping. This can help prevent your clothes from getting dirty due to sweat or other bodily fluids. Make sure to wash your hands regularly, and consider taking a quick sponge bath if you’re feeling particularly dirty.

By following these tips, you can help prevent your clothes from getting dirty while camping. While it may be difficult to keep clothes completely clean while camping, taking a few simple steps can help you stay comfortable and fresh during your outdoor adventures.

Have any of your own tips for keeping clothes clean or for washing clothes while camping? Tell us about them in the comment section below.

Jim Murphy

Jim's love for camping started at an early age. His parents would take him camping every summer, where he'd spend his days getting quality time in with his dad and his nights eating too many smores.

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