When you’re out in the great outdoors, the last thing you want to worry about is your laundry. But, if you don’t want to end up wearing dirty clothes, you’re going to have to find a way to wash them. Here are a few tips on how to keep your clothes clean while camping and hiking.

Do Some Laundry Before You Go

This one might seem obvious, but it’s worth mentioning. If you do your laundry before you go camping or hiking, you’ll have less clothes to worry about keeping clean while you’re out in the wilderness. Plus, it’s always nice to start your trip with a clean slate (and a clean set of clothes).

Pack Light

Packing light is not only good for your back – it’s also good for your laundry situation. The fewer clothes you have to keep clean, the better. So, when packing for your trip, be sure to only bring the essentials.

Choose Well

Wear Merino Wool where possible. This is actually my top tip as Merino wool has natural anti-bacterial properties and also wicks sweat away from the body. This goes a long way to reducing body odor and smelly clothes. And consequently less washing needing doing.

Hand Wash When You Can

If you don't have access to a washing machine, hand-washing is always a great option for campers and hikers. If you’re able to wash your clothes by hand, do it. It’s gentle on your clothes and will help them last longer. Plus, it doesn’t require any special equipment – just soap, water, and a little elbow grease.

  1. Do use a camping sink if you have one. A camping sink is a portable sink that you can set up at your campsite. They usually have two compartments—one for washing and one for rinsing—which makes doing laundry much easier (and less messy).
  2. Do not wash your clothes in a stream or river: Keeping grey water away from a water source is a responsible approach. If you have access to river water, be careful to do the washing and dispose of the water away from the stream.
  3. Simply fill up a large container with water from the stream and add a little bit of eco friendly soap. If you do have to use detergent, make sure it is biodegradable and phosphate-free so that it doesn't pollute the environment.
  4. Then, wash the clothes rubbing the fabric between the knuckles of both hands, and then rinse them in the clean water from the container. Hang them up to dry, and voila! Clean clothes.

Use a Portable Washing 'Machine'

If hand washing isn’t sufficient, there are portable washing bags that you can use. As illustration, I've included an instructional video from Scrubba below.  These are small innovative pieces of equipment and easy to use (just be sure to read the instructions carefully). They can be a lifesaver when you need to wash your clothes while camping or hiking.


Do try to wash your clothes during the day. Washing your clothes at night may seem like an easy way to save time, but it can actually make things more difficult because it gives bugs and other critters a chance to get into your food or gear. Washing during the day will also give your clothes plenty of time to dry before nightfall.

Let Nature Do the Work

If all else fails, let nature do the work for you. Hang your clothes up outside and let the sun and wind work their magic. This won’t get your clothes perfectly clean, but it will help get rid of some of the odor.

Camping is a great way to get away from it all and connect with nature—but that doesn't mean you have to tough it out when it comes to doing laundry. By following these tips, you can keep your clothes clean without any hassle (or extra weight in your backpack). So go ahead and enjoy that fresh air—your laundry will be just fine.

For more washing and cleaning tips for a happy camping experience have a look at these:

Let’s be honest, dishes are the worst! No one likes doing them, especially when you’re enjoying yourself and relaxing on your camping trip.
BEST CAMPING SHOWERS - Time For Some Good Clean Fun?
Camping wild can be so much fun. Smelly campers not so much! But don’t feel like finding a waterfall is your only chance of a shower.

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