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How to beat the stink when camping

clean-200x148Brian, a 17-year-old Eagle Scout from Troop 965 in Chicago, whips through his daily grooming routine and feels clean all day.

But when he went on a long camping trip to New Mexico, things got dicey.

“I got one shower every seven days. In between, I needed to do whatever would make things bearable,” Brian says.

Dallas Shewmaker, owner of, a camping-supplies rental company, offers these hygiene tips for campers:

Carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer in your pocket and use it frequently — especially after going to the bathroom and before eating.

Rub down with isopropyl alcohol on cotton balls each night. Make sure you hit underarms, feet and groin areas.

Don’t wash your hands in a standing pool of water. Often, the water will have more bacteria than your hands.

Carry at least two pairs of socks. Wash out one pair each night.

Carry a small bottle of biodegradable soap to give yourself an occasional sponge bath.

Using antiperspirant in the backcountry is generally not recommended. Scents attract animals and bugs. But if you do, make sure it’s unscented.

Carry a travel-size toothbrush, toothpaste and dental floss — and use them often.

33 Comments on How to beat the stink when camping

  1. helps a lot

  2. this would help

  3. deoderant????

  4. All u scouts talk about Philmont is it really that goo????????????????

  5. How about deoderant? Like everybody else said, getting dirty is one of the best parts of camping. Good tips, though!

  6. A little dirt never hurt! Getting dirty is the best part about camping!

  7. Recommend a sponge bath using a rag and water, with biodegradable soap, rather than rubbing alcohol. Alcohol will strip your skin of natural protective oils, causing irritation if you’re on a long trip. You can also use white ashes, sand, or loamy soil as a soap substitute.
    Consider wearing natural wool as a base layer (t-shirt and jockey shorts), it’s natural antimicrobial properties do a great job of keeping you dry and cutting down on odors. Smartwool and Patagonia make plenty of great options, try Sierra Trading Post for deep discounts.
    Oh, and don’t bathe in a body of water that people use for drinking water. Spread any dirty water away from drinking water sources.
    I’ll have to try timbozo’s suggestion of apple cider vinegar – sounds promising!

  8. billy joe bob // September 17, 2009 at 1:48 pm // Reply

    thaks i will use them tips when i go camping next and when i go to philmont next year.

  9. Eagle Scout14 // September 8, 2009 at 3:11 pm // Reply

    I went on a week long conoe trip and remembered all of that stuff and it came in pretty handy if ya ask me.

  10. Instead of rubbing down with alcohol, I would suggest carrying a bottle of raw apple cider vinegar and use that – it kills bacteria, and is less abrasive on the skin. You can even put it in a small spray bottle (around 2 or 3 ounces) and just spray it on.

  11. A Scout is Clean.

  12. Those are good tips but i like being dirty.Its the best part of camping.

  13. but i don’t know how to take an outdoor shower without a shower!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙁

  14. A small package of antibacterial moist towelettes such as “Wet Ones Big Ones” work great. They’re lightweight and take up almost no room. Make sure to pack the used ones back out!

  15. i love the outdoors

  16. using deodorant really helps!! Luckily my dad bought a portable shower so all you have to do is put it in a bucket of water and you have a shower!!!

  17. Personally I’d have to go withwebelowon

  18. Modest Camper 778 // August 18, 2009 at 11:09 am // Reply

    One way is to always volunteer to wash the dishes after meals. Liquid Dishwashing soap (such as Lemon Fresh Joy Dishwashing Liquid or another liquid dishwashing soap such as Palmolive liquid soap) can really keep the stink down and is not very harsh when disposed of in discarded wash water areas of the campsite. A great way to keep the stink out when camping is to “bucket Bathe” by washing yourself without removing all of your clothing such as with a shower.

  19. thats just gross lava scout

  20. doesn’t every scout go swimming to take a bath

  21. If the Outdoor Code permits using a small bottle of shampoo under a small waterfall, is it okay to rinse the soap suds off of our utensils in a small minnow stream that contains crayfish? Maybe, a better idea is to get small cups of water from the water source of the waterfall and wash yourself off with the shampoo and water at least 90 feet up the bank of the waterfall stream so that the shampoo suds dissipate and are filtered out of the water source by the leaves, soil, and sand of the water source bank.

  22. friendly scouter // August 8, 2009 at 9:55 am // Reply

    If you are camping in a beach and you have water shortage, you can wash in the sea with baby shampoo. No salt will stick to your bady and you will feel clean.

  23. Thanks! I’ll remember that on my next camping trip.

  24. ressesman101 // August 2, 2009 at 2:56 pm // Reply

    wash yourself with a small bottle of shampoo under a small waterfall.

  25. Unscented baby wipes

  26. shower.take a bath in a stream.seriously!

  27. TSteele077 // July 28, 2009 at 9:51 am // Reply

    Take along a large sandwich bag of Corn Starch. During long hikes and working outside you may get chafted between your legs. Taking corn strarch will absorb the moister there so you can go on camping.

  28. try using baby powder put it down you shirt.

  29. master rater // July 27, 2009 at 4:08 pm // Reply

    kinda hard 2 remember ain’t it

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