4 Must-dos to keep Clean throughout Your Hike!


When you start planning your next backpacking trip, you think about every eventuality, but do you leave out personal hygiene because there isn’t a bathroom in the woods?! Just because you are walking off into the wild doesn’t mean you have to live like a caveman! Cleanliness and hygiene is the key to staying healthy throughout your trek. But mind you, this should not be at the cost of harming nature…

And if you want to find out more, then read on!

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To stay healthy and fit, personal hygiene is most important. Just as you wouldn’t go even a day without taking a shower to stay clean, when hiking you need to modify your cleanliness modes to a certain extent.

1. Personal Hygiene

Hands – Whether you’ve been eating or digging, your hands tend to become dirty.  So try to wash your hands often, or use a hand sanitizer.

Bathing – May not be possible all the time. You may use liquid soap and a camp shower suspended on a branch. Alternately soak some bandanas or sponge in some alcohol or biodegradable soap and give yourself a rub down.

Feet – Your feet bear the brunt of your walk. So pamper them and take a breather every 2 hours or so to clean your feet and dry them before moving on. Don’t miss any chances to dip your feet in creeks, and if you can’t find water, use some body lotion or muscle rub on your feet.

Teeth – Dental hygiene is also very important, so carry a toothpaste and toothbrush. And don’t forget to floss.

Going to the toilet – Use a backpacker’s trowel to dig at least 4-6 inches deep into the ground. Do your thing and then cover it back up well, including the toilet paper. And put a stone over it to prevent people from stepping over it. And keep the shovel clean and in a Ziploc bag along with your toilet paper.
Keep in mind you need to go quite a distance from any water source!


2. Cleaning up

Clothes – You need to be extra careful with this. You need to wash out the salt and sweat from your t-shirts and underwear. But you must do it responsibly. The best option is to put them in resealable plastic bags with a quart of water and a few drops of liquid soap. Then seal the bag and squish well. Pour out the water on the ground far away from any water source. Rinse out with another quart of water in the same bag.

Dishes – Try to clean them as much as possible while eating. Then clean in hot water and dry. Do not bury or throw away leftover food as that will attract animals and bugs. Instead try to carry only as much food as you will need at a time in separate Ziploc bags.

Trash – If fires are permitted, burn everything that is biodegradable to ash. Do not leave food around. Carry away anything that will contaminate nature.

3. Keep Nature Clean

  • Avoid synthetic soap, carry a biodegradable one instead.
  • Use alcohol wipes and soaks to clean up. They evaporate and therefore do not contaminate the environment.
  • If you will use soap, use a camp shower at a certain distance from any water body.
  • Do not use perfumes or cosmetics
  • If you have any trash that you think is not biodegradable, like plastic or cigarette butts, carry them out in Ziploc bags and dispose them off the right way.

4. Packing Checklist – When packing keep these things handy for a clean hike!

  • A bottle of hand sanitizer
  • A small bottle of isopropyl alcohol
  • A few handy bandanas
  • Body lotion or muscle rub.
  • Dental Floss
  • Toothpaste and toothbrush
  • Liquid camping soap for washing and the like – preferably biodegradable.
  • A Camp Shower may not be a bad idea
  • Wipes
  • Some heavy duty trash bags – they can be used for multiple purposes like protecting your stuff, covering the ground, keeping water clean.
  • Ziploc bags
So the next time you go backpacking, keep these pointers in mind, to stay healthy and also  not to spoil Mother Nature in the process!

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