The Best Method For Washing Your Clothes While Camping

Maybe you've found one of the most breathtaking places to camp in the United States, or you've set up your tent or RV at one of your bucket list national parks. However, if you decide to stay for a while to spend time outdoors and take in the view, you'll probably notice that your clothes will start smelling a bit ripe after a few days (no matter how odor-resistant they claim to be). Now, you have to figure out how to wash your clothes while camping. Of course, if your campsite has a laundry station or if you are headed to town soon and can find a laundromat, then you don't need to worry much about this problem. But if your campsite doesn't have laundry or you have set up camp somewhere out in the wilderness, you'll have to get more creative.

As it turns out, the best method for washing your clothes while camping is also the simplest. To do it, all you need is biodegradable soap, water, and a large bag that won't leak — a dry bag, Scrubba wash bag, or a big Ziploc should do the trick. This clothes-washing method is the best because it is super easy and doesn't require you to bring anything you probably wouldn't already be packing (unless you buy a special wash bag for this purpose). So, how do you do it?

How to wash your clothes in a bag

The basic idea behind the campsite bag washing method is to mimic the environment of a standard washing machine inside your waterproof bag. To do this, first, you need to fill your waterproof bag halfway with water. Warm water often cleans clothes better, so if your water is chilly, you can consider heating it over a fire or leaving it out in the sun for a few hours before using it. Next, add in your biodegradable soap and dirty clothes, leaving plenty of space for the clothes to move around in the water and rub against each other to get clean.

Now it's time to initiate a machine's wash cycle, and you can do this by first squeezing the air out of the bag (if possible) and then rolling the bag around on the ground or massaging it with your hands. Another option is to pick up the bag and shake it for five to ten minutes. The goal is to get the clothes to move around in the water and rub against the other clothes inside as much as possible so they get clean. When this is done, you can empty the soapy water and repeat the same process with clean water. When all the suds have been rinsed away, go ahead and squeeze your clothes out and hang them to dry in the sun.

Other camping laundry tips

When using the bag method to do laundry, you will want to ensure the top of your bag is completely sealed during the washing process. This means that if you choose to use a bag that doesn't seal at the top (like a standard trash bag or grocery bag), you will want to tie the top of the bag yourself to prevent any water from splashing out when you shake it or move it around. You will also want to make sure the bag is heavy-duty enough not to tear during the process.

Furthermore, when doing laundry outdoors, using biodegradable soap is extremely important so as not to cause damage to the local environment. Regular household soaps and detergents contain chemicals that don't break down and can disrupt the protective mucous layer of fish and other aquatic animals if they get into the water system. Luckily, many biodegradable soaps on the market are super convenient and can be used for both your body and your clothes to help save space and weight when packing. However, even when using biodegradable soaps, you should always empty your sudsy water at least 200 feet away from water sources.

For more camping tips, check out what you need to know for your first-time solo camping experience.