What Hikers Have to Know: Is it Possible to Wash Clothes During Hiking Camp?

Written by Wendy Tucker

Hiking and camping sound fun, not until you realize that “cleanliness” is relative in these situations. Hygiene and clothes cleanliness when hiking and camping are not similar to your weekend vacation trip. You cannot shower or take a dump anywhere and anytime you want. More so, you cannot do laundry or leave it at the nearest laundry shop.

We are not discouraging you. In fact, we will try to help you compromise to have a more comfortable and relaxed state of hygiene and experience.

If you are going for a trail hike for a few days, here are some things you have to prepare.

Clothes to Bring


You have to consider the clothes to bring as there are types of fabric that are easier to clean and dry. More so, if you are only planning a hiking trail for a few days, you do not have to worry much about doing laundry on the trail. But, for a longer hike and camp days, here’s a tip:

Find synthetic fiber clothes with moisture-wick or fast-dry labels. Avoid cotton. Instead, choose nylon, spandex, or polyester. You can also go for Merino wool; this type of fabric dries fast and has antimicrobial properties.

Synthetic fiber clothes are the type to naturally dry when set out in the sun for a few hours. You would not have a problem washing and drying them.

What to Bring?


You have to go prepared. There’s no convenience store around to buy laundry detergents. Aside from your hiking and camping gears, grab these two things:

  • Waterproof bag: Several hikers use gallon-sized Ziplocs for their waterproof bags. But, dry bags are much easier to use, and you can get a black bag that easily warms under the sun. Using a waterproof washbag is the easiest method to wash your clothes at a hiking camp. Although there are several methods to wash clothes, this one is the most accessible wherever you are.
  • Biodegradable laundry detergent: Experts and hike enthusiasts recommend beginners to use biodegradable soaps or detergents. You cannot wash your clothes without soap, right? However, there’s a concern with the use of laundry detergent. It might contaminate ` source of water at the trail. Worse, it might harm the wildlife. Although a few drops of laundry detergent is not much of a big deal, it’s best to prevent doing so. An accumulated “small thing” will somehow turn into a big one, which might, in turn, harm the environment.

Wash Clothes on the Hiking Trail or Camp


If you are on hiking camp for a few days, you might need to wash your clothes. Washing your clothes should not be that difficult. Although it is not as easy as leaving them at your neighborhood laundromat, you have to know these things to wash your clothes efficiently.

Do not wash clothes in rivers, lakes, or streams. Although you use biodegradable laundry soap and detergent, it is not advisable to wash your clothes in small bodies of water. There are vulnerable water-borne organisms in these stagnant bodies of water.

If you want to use these water sources to wash your clothes, you can hop in and rinse them off without soap. Not only you are subtly washing your sweaty clothes, but you can also enjoy the extremely refreshing stream of flowing water. But, if you have the waterproof bag with you, then the following steps are the best thing you can do.

  1. Prepare the waterproof bag by filling it with water. Warm water works better. Set the bag out under the sun for a few hours to make the water warm enough.
  2. Add a little detergent in the bag and the clothes you want to wash. Ensure that you are only using a small amount. It would be hard to rinse them after. Leave enough room to help you to shuffle the clothes inside the bag.
  3. The same with a laundry machine; you have to introduce friction to remove the dirt on the clothes. Shake the bag for 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Dispose the used water away from the closest water source. It’s best to do it approximately 200 feet away.
  5. Wring the clothes and refill the waterproof bag with clean water. Shake the bag again to rinse the clothes. Once the soap suds are gone, wring the clothes, and hang them under the sun to dry.

Drying your clothes is the most challenging one. There’s no available dryer in most campgrounds, much more on camping trails. Although there are a few ways to dry your clothes, the one that can guarantee you the most is time. Thus, start washing your clothes early so you have enough time to dry.

Moreover, as we have mentioned, if your clothes are synthetic fiber then you do not have a problem drying them. What matters is time; you need to have a maximum dry time so you can wear them back after laundry. It would not take a day to dry these clothes. It will only take 30 minutes to dry them under the sun, but for cold weather, you can hang them for an hour or two under the sun.

Note: Do not try this with underwear and socks. These clothes have different fabrics making them slow to dry.

Final Thought

You might be preparing for a trail hike and camp for a few days. If you want to do laundry on the trail, you have to come prepared. We have already mentioned the ways on how you can clean your clothes on the trail. But, if the steps and considerations are too much for you, you can always drop off your laundry at the nearest laundry shop once you have finished your trail.

If you have already decided to wash your clothes after the camp, it is best to set an appointment beforehand. Laundry shops like Liox accept advanced schedules for laundry pickup and delivery. Skip the hassle and book their service now!


Wendy Tucker


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