Washing clothes when camping: the easiest ways

Going on a camping trip can be a fun and exciting way to explore the great outdoors, but it also means leaving behind some comforts of home. That’s why it’s important to know how to washing clothes when camping.

Washing clothes when camping

The main methods to wash clothes while camping

Whether you’re a seasoned camper or a first-timer, these tips will help you stay clean and refreshed while enjoying the beauty of nature during your trip.

Scrubba wash bag

  1. Fill the Scrubba wash bag with water, ensuring that you don’t overfill it. Add a small amount of detergent (if desired).
  2. Add your clothing to the wash bag, making sure not to overfill them. Leave enough room for the clothes to move around during the process.
  3. Roll the top of the bag down tightly, expelling as excess air as possible. Clip the ends of the bag together.
  4. Press down on the clothing inside the bag and rub them against the internal washboard. This helps to remove dirt and stains from the clothes.
  5. After a few minutes of scrubbing, drain the water after washing dirty clothes from the bag.
  6. Refill the bag with clean water and repeat the scrubbing process to rinse the clothes.
  7. Drain the rinse water from the bag and wring out the clothing.
  8. Hang the clothing to dry.

Using the Scrubba wash bag can help you to wash clothes while camping effectively, without the need for laundry facilities or other equipment.

It’s a great option for anyone who wants to stay clean and comfortable on their camping trip.

Plunger & 5-gallon bucket

  1. Fill the 5-gallon bucket with water and add detergent according to the package instructions.
  2. Place the clothes you would like to wash into the bucket and use the toilet plungers to agitate them for several minutes.
  3. Drain the soapy water and refill the bucket with clean water.
  4. Use the plunger to agitate the clothes again in the clean water to remove any remaining soap. This tool will help you to minimize your hands wet.
  5. Drain the water and wring out the clothes. You may need to repeat steps 3-5 for dirty clothing.
  6. Hang the clothes up to dry.

Dry bag

People wash clothes while camping like that because it is a convenient and efficient way to keep clothes clean:

  1. Fill the dry bag with enough water to cover the clothing you want to wash.
  2. Add clothing and some detergent or soap to the water.
  3. Seal the bag. Roll the top of the dry bag and seal it tightly to prevent any water from leaking out.
  4. Shake the bag vigorously for about 5-10 minutes.
  5. Rinse. Then, open the bag and empty the soapy water. Refill the bag with clean water and agitate it again to rinse the clothing.
  6. Dry. Remove the gear from the dry bag and hang them up to dry. You can also wring out any excess water from the gear and use the microfiber towel to get rid of excess water.

Note: Make sure to dispose of the soapy water responsibly, away from any water sources.

Trash bag

The steps are the same:

  1. Fill the trash bag with water.
  2. Add detergent.
  3. Add clothing.
  4. Seal the bag tightly.
  5. Agitate. Gently agitate the bag for several minutes to help loosen dirt and grime from your gear.
  6. Rinse.
  7. Dry.

Camping washing prohibitions

Many campsites have specific rules and regulations regarding laundry:

  1. Wash clothes while camping in natural water sources. This is usually prohibited to prevent contamination of the water and maintain its quality.
  2. Laundry at the campground bathroom sink. This is due to the limited amount of water in such places.
  3. Hanging clothing on trees. Hanging clothes on trees can damage the bark and harm the tree.
  4. Using detergents and soaps that are not biodegradable. These chemicals can harm the plants and animals in the area and pollute the water sources.
  5. Leaving clothes unattended. Clothes should not be left unattended in public areas, as they may be considered littering and may attract animals.


How do you wash clothes while boondocking?

Boondocking, also known as dry camping, refers to camping in a remote area without access to hookups for electricity, water, or sewage.

If you are boondocking and need to wash clothes, there are several ways to do so without laundry facilities.

Handwashing. Fill a large basin or bucket with water and detergent, then soak and agitate the clothes by hand for several minutes. Rinse the clothing with clean water and hang them up to dry.

Scrubboard. A washboard is a traditional tool used to wash clothes while camping. You can find one online or make one yourself.

Fill a basin with soapy water, place the gear on the washboard, and scrub them back and forth until they are clean. Rinse the clothing with clean water and hang them up to dry.

Portable washing machine. There are several portable washing machines available on the market that do not require electricity or running water.

A portable washing machine works by hand cranking or foot pedaling to agitate the gear. Then, you need to rinse the clothes with clean water and hang them up to dry.
Laundromat. If you are near a town or city, you can properly dispose of a laundromat to wash your clothes.

How do you wash clothes in the wilderness?

Find a water source. Look for a clean water source where you can wash your clothes. You can use a stream, river, or lake.

Create a camping washing machine. Find a flat rock or a container and fill it with water from the water source. Add some biodegradable soap or detergent and stir the water to create suds.

Soak and scrub. Soak your gear in soapy water for about 15-20 minutes to loosen the dirt. Then, scrub them with a brush or your hands to remove any stains or dirt.

Rinse cycle. Once you’ve scrubbed your gear, rinse them thoroughly with clean water from the water source. Make sure to rinse them several times to remove all the soap.

Dry. Hang your clothing on a washing line to dry.

If the weather is wet, you can lay them out on a rock, dry microfiber towel, or a flat surface to dry.

How to wash clothes while camping: get your garments clean in the backcountry

Use biodegradable soap. Biodegradable soap does not harm the environment.

Choose the right spot. Find a spot away from any water sources, at least 200 feet away from any lakes or streams. This helps prevent the soap from contaminating the water source.

Use a washboard or a large rock. If you don’t have access to a washing machine, you can use a washboard or a large flat rock to scrub your gear. Fill a bucket with water and add some soap, then use the washboard or rock to agitate the water and scrub your clothes.

Rinse cycle. Make sure to rinse your gear thoroughly to remove all the soap. Repeat this step until the dirty water becomes clear.

Hang to dry. Hang your gear to dry in the sun or near a fire on the washing line.
Make sure to select a spot that’s well-ventilated to prevent mildew on drying clothes.

How to heat water for camping laundry?

1. Campfire.

2. Portable stove. This method is faster than using a campfire to get warm water to wash clothes while camping.

3. Solar shower. A solar shower is a bag or container that you can fill with water and leave in the sun to heat up.

4. Hot springs. If you are camping near a hot spring, you can use the natural warm water for washing clothes while camping.


Washing your clothes while camping can be a bit challenging, but it is definitely possible.

Regardless of which method you choose, be sure to pack enough clean clothes for your trip and to dispose properly of any dirty and bad water or soap.

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