13 Tips for keeping clean when camping without a shower

13 tips for staying hygenic when camping with no shower

Last year we were caught out by a lack of shower facilities for 4 days. Only one female shower was available on site, and the shower was broken. Not having a shower open did not worry my son, Nicholas, a typical boy, but I was not overwhelmed by the prospect of no washing facilities.

We are gearing up for our camping trips this year, and I don’t want to be in a situation where I do not feel clean due to a lack of shower facilities. 

To avoid this, I have been researching ways to overcome this if it happens again. I don’t want to use many different camping methods, so I am testing different ways to stay hygienic without a shower during a lockdown.

How to keep yourself hygienic when camping with no shower facilities

  • Dry shower in a can
  • Antibacterial handwash diluted with water
  • Biodegradable or baby wipes
  • Natural streams or rivers
  • Water sprays
  • Bottled water with biodegradable soap
  • Strip wash using a collapsable bowl, water and soap
  • Dry shampoo
  • Camp near a beach
  • Gravity-fed solar camping shower 
  • Use local swimming pool showers
  • Sleeping bag liners
  • Micro towel and natural soap holders
  • Camping near a beach

1- A dry shower in a can will keep you clean without water

If you do not have access to running water, a ‘dry ‘Shower in a Can, is the perfect solution and is quick and easy to use for a few days.

Many different makes are available to purchase, either a gel or a foam solution. They are pump-action 100ml cans filled with antibacterial and antiviral soap with or without a fragrance.

‘Shower in a can’ does not need water, as it is a water-based product. To use, you pump the foam onto your skin; the detergent in the foam will dissolve any dirt or oil on your skin. As the foam evaporates, it dissolves any grim, and you do not need to rinse or wipe it off with a towel.

The cans’ size makes them easy to tuck away in a rucksack or with your camping gear. So it is ideal if you do not want to add to your camping gear and want something simple and small to take with you. 

If you are interested in using a dry shower in a can to stay clean whilst camping, we tested two brands, including the most popular expensive Shower in a Can and Muc Off Dry shower. Our findings shocked us, as the most costly is not always the best.

2 – Cleaning yourself with wet wipes due to lack of running water

Biodegradable wipes or simple wet wipes can be used to clean all of your body.

I always take unscented, sensitive wet wipes with me when I am camping. When we go on long walks, it’s lovely to wipe my hands or face, especially if it is hot.

The wet wipes were my saving grace when we lost shower facilities at our campsite last year. I used them to clean my body, face, neck, arms, and groin area. Although they do not beat water and soap, they are hygienic to freshen up in the morning and wipe away the grime at the end of the day.

They are straightforward to use and store, but often I have found that the packets do not seal correctly, so keep them in a sealed bag or container to stop them from dying out.

You can purchase biodegradable wet wipes, although they are more expensive. If you use everyday wet wipes, remember to dispose of them correctly.

3 – Camp near a beach and have a dip in the sea to keep clean

Camping near a beach or within walking distance is a natural solution to cleaning yourself. If you use regular soap, it will not lather ideally, don’t use soap or wash liquids when bathing in the sea. 

Your skin will feel sticky as the salt dries, and to avoid skin irritation, you will need to dust yourself down with a soft towel gently. Using talcum powder will help, especially if you have kids and don’t want them to become sore.

Bathing in the sea makes your skin feel fresh, exfoliated and rejuvenated without spending a fortune for the experience. The sea has natural mineral salts. Depending on where you bathe and the cleanliness of the ocean can have antiseptic qualities. Plus, bathing in salt water can reduce inflammation of muscle joints.

If you have any open sores, be aware that swimming in an ocean can expose you to bacteria leading to infections.

4 – Use local swimming pool showers

Try to find a campsite that is near local swimming pools. Swimming pools have showers; you can have fun in the swimming pool and have a nice long shower afterwards. 

You can wash all of the chlorine from your hair, pamper yourself with your favourite shampoo and blow-dry your hair.

5 – Quick dip in a stream will help to keep you clean

Natural streams and rivers can be used to bathe and keep yourself clean, but you cannot use soap. Using any soap, even if biodegradable, will harm fish by reducing oxygen levels. Wash and rinse with soap before thoroughly bathing in the river or stream.

Be aware of the dangers of bathing in natural streams or rivers, such as the surrounding areas, undercurrents, stagnant water and possible animals in the water or surrounding. If not suitable, find another water source to clean yourself or carefully fill a water container and move away from the river or stream.

6 – Antibacterial handwash diluted with water

Mix antibacterial hand gel with water, a quick and easy way to stay clean

Everybody carries antibacterial handwash due to Covid-19. It is an ideal way to keep not only your hand hygienic but your body as well. It does need to be diluted with water. Before camping, you can mix antibacterial hand wash into a bottle and use it with a damp cloth.  

It would be best to shake the bottle to mix each time you use it, as the gel will separate and float to the top. It will feel oily on your skin if you do not combine it before using it.

If you have several water bottles, remember to mark the bottle with the antibacterial hand wash mixture, as you do not want to mistake it for drinking water.

7 – Fill the water spray bottle before leaving for your camping trip

Filling a water spray bottle is easier to use and control than using a regular water bottle to wash. It will be cold, but you can heat it over a fire or a kettle if you have EHU and fill the bottle, but make sure it is not boiling.

Using biodegradable soap is possible or ordinary soap, but make sure you dispose of it correctly. Using a spray is easier to wash any soap from your body.

Using a spray water bottle, you will use lease water, and the coverage over your body is more, and you are spraying instead of wetting a flannel or sponge.

8 – Bottled water with soap or soap sheets to keep yourself hygienic when camping

Soap sheets are compact and easy to use. Available in various fragrances. Easier than using bars of soap, plus not messy, sticky bars of soap to store.

Filling cleaned coke bottles with water or your camping water container before your trip is a pain. But suppose you are camping in one location. In that case, it is more manageable than worrying about buying water to clean yourself.

Ideally, keep your water container for drinking only and just as an emergency. So you do not want to worry about drinking water during your camping trip.

You can heat bottled water in a kettle if you have EHU or over a fire. Use a flannel instead of a sponge, as it will be a nightmare to rinse yourself due to the foam created using a sponge.

If you do not want to take a soap bar, you can use gel soap, pump soap or soap sheets. Soap sheets are ideal, and you can keep them in your bag, carrying them easily when you are out and about, especially if you do not want to use soap dispensers available in toilet blocks.

9 – Strip wash using a collapsable bowl

Collapsible bowl and soap sheet, colour coded so you all use the same bowl

Collapsible bowls are great when you are camping. They do not take up much space in your car and are easy to store. Having colour-coded collapsible bowls will help everybody clean and wash up plates and cups with the correct bowl.

Suppose you do not have a shower tent but a dark sleeping area. In that case, you can quickly turn this into a temporary washing area. Lay plenty of towels on the floor to protect your tent floor.

Prices range from £4.99 on Amazon, and they are worth the investment.

10 – Dry shampoo in a can to wash your hair

Dry shampoo is a quick and easy way to keep your hair clean. They work by soaking the oils and dirt from your hair. They come in an aerosol, powder or foam. 

Dry shampoo cannot clean your hair, and you will want to wash it as soon as you get home or have the opportunity. But this is a swift solution if you do not have running water.

11 – Sleeping bag liners will not keep you clean, but they will protect your sleeping bag

Sleeping bag liners will not help keep you hygienic; they will protect your sleeping bag from dirt and natural body oils if you cannot have full body washes. A sleeping bag liner should be a priority purchase if you are wild camping or camping over several nights without the opportunity to have a full-body wash.

Using a sleeping bag liner will save time washing your sleeping bag and not reduce the lifespan with the bonus of increasing warmth at night.

12 – Gravity-fed solar camping shower for a speedy shower for one

5 Gallon Solar Shower – Water heats in a approximately 3 hours

Solar showers rely on natural sunlight to warm your water so you can take a comfortable shower. 

The black shower bags absorb the heat for 7 hours. Shower bags can be hung from a tree or in your shower facility tent. They can leak, so it is essential to place the solar gravity shower away from your tent.

I am still not 100% sure about a gravity-fed solar shower, and we will be testing ours more at different times of the year. Although they are ideal for use on the beach to clean sand from you, especially for children.

Are you aware of the different types of solar showers available? There are 4 different types. There are gravity-fed, pressurised, rechargeable pumps and 12v pump showers. Before you buy, you need to consider the type of camping trip you are taking. This will affect what you buy. Read our article on deciding on the best shower for your trip. We provide information on the different types of showers, cost, weight and water capacity.

13 – Micro towel and soap bags

Microfibre tower – lightweight, easy to pack and dries quickly compared to an everyday towel from home

If you are travelling light, a micro towel is small. They fold away easily compared to our everyday towels at home.

Micro towels are available in different sizes, and often with small carry boxes, you can keep them clean. It is speedy and easy to dry. You do not need to leave them hanging outside all day, crossing your fingers that they will be dry for the next day.


I'm a single parent who loves pitching a tent and exploring the countryside at any opportunity. I am working with a glamping pod company and helping them to set up a family campsite in East Riding Yorkshire.

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