How Do Hikers Shower? | Hikers University

When you're out hiking, there's nothing quite like a hot shower to wash away the grime of the day. But how do hikers shower when they're out in the wild?

Hiking is a great way to get in shape, but staying clean when you're out in the wilderness is hard. No one wants to hike all day and then come back smelly and dirty. Not only is this uncomfortable, but it can also lead to skin problems.

There are several ways that hikers can stay clean while on the go. One option is to use baby wipes or biodegradable wet wipes. Another option is to bring along a biodegradable soap and wash in a stream or river. Solar shower bags are also popular for hikers looking to freshen up.

When you're out on a lonesome hike, one of the last things you want to worry about is staying clean. But with a few simple tips and tricks, it's easy to stay fresh and clean even while hiking! In this blog post, we will discuss how to shower while hiking, including what supplies you'll need and some helpful tips for staying clean on the go.

Our hiking experts know a thing or two about staying clean while hiking. We took into account all of the different ways that hikers can shower while out in the wild, and we came up with our top tips and tricks. We also searched the top hiking forums to get even more tips from experienced hikers.

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How To Shower While Hiking?

Hiking is a great way to get exercise and enjoy the outdoors, but it can also be pretty dirty work. If you're planning on spending any significant amount of time out in the wilderness, it's important to know how to properly shower while hiking. But what if you're miles from the nearest campsite? In that case, you'll need to know how to shower while hiking. Fortunately, it's not as difficult as you might think!. With a little preparation and some helpful tips, you can easily stay clean and fresh even while roughing it in the wilderness.

When it comes to personal hygiene on a hike, water is always a key ingredient. In my experience, one 0.5 gal bottle of water is sufficient to clean the entire body, including the head for a girl with medium-length hair. Another bottle can be used to rinse off any soap residue. When campsites have a water source, such as a stream or lake, I typically use that for washing my hands and face since it's more efficient than lugging water from my camp. That said, there are times when Treating water before using it is advisable, such as when you're hiking in an area with questionable water quality. In these cases, I always carry enough water to both clean my body and treat any water I need for drinking.

There are also other ways to shower while hiking, depending on your personal preferences and the resources available to you. One option is to simply use a clean cloth or bandana to wipe down your body. This can effectively remove dirt and sweat, but it won't do much for actually cleaning your skin. If you're looking for a deeper clean, you can try using baby wipes or wet wipes. These are great for quick clean-ups on the go, and they'll leave you feeling refreshed and clean. However, they're not ideal for extended use since they can dry out your skin.

If you have access to water, whether it's from a stream or lake or even just your water bottle, you can use that to wet your cloth or wipes before cleaning your body. This will help to remove any dirt and grime more effectively. You can also use water to rinse off after using soap or wipes. Just be sure not to use soap directly in any water sources, as this can contaminate the water for other hikers.

Whenever possible, I like to shower properly, even while hiking. This usually isn't possible if you're carrying all of your supplies with you, but if you're staying at a campground or hostel that has showers, definitely take advantage! If you don't have access to a shower, you can try using a solar shower bag.

A solar shower bag is a water-resistant bag that is filled with water and then left in the sun to heat up. The bag has a black exterior, which helps to absorb the sun's heat, and a valve at the bottom, which allows you to control the flow of water. Most solar shower bags have a capacity of five gallons, which is enough to provide two people with a fifteen-minute shower. Solar shower bags are an environmentally-friendly way to enjoy a hot shower when camping or hiking, as they do not require any fossil fuels to operate. Additionally, they are very lightweight and easy to store, making them an ideal choice for travelers.

Sponge showers are another option for cleaning up while hiking. All you need is a bowl or pot of water, a sponge, and some soap. Simply wet the sponge in the water, add some soap, and then use the sponge to wash your body. Rinse off with clean water from your bowl or pot, and you're good to go! This method is great for conserving water, as you can reuse the same water multiple times.

Cleaning Up  Hard to Reach Areas

Even if you're able to shower properly, some areas of the body can be difficult to clean properly. These include your nether bits, feet, and armpits.

When it comes to cleaning your nether regions, baby wipes or wet wipes are usually the best options. This is because they are gentle and won't cause any irritation. If you're using water, be sure to direct the stream away from your genitals to avoid any unwanted surprises. Remember, the goal is to clean the area, not to irrigate it. In addition, it's important to use a mild soap that is designed for sensitive skin. And make sure you rinse thoroughly to avoid any discomfort.

Leaves vs Toilet Paper

As for cleaning your behind, you have two main options: leaves or toilet paper. If you choose to use leaves, be sure to select ones that are soft and not prickly. The best way to clean with leaves is to fold them into a square and then use them like you would toilet paper. Be sure to dispose of the leaves properly after use so that other hikers don't have to deal with your mess.

If you decide to go with toilet paper, be aware that it doesn't break down in the water the same way that leaves do. This means that if you're using a stream or lake to clean up, the toilet paper will float away and end up polluting the water. To avoid this, bring along a small bag to store the used toilet paper in until you can properly dispose of it.

Water Bottle with a Shower Head Attachment

Another alternative for washing your body is a squeezable water bottle with a shower head attachment. This allows you to direct the stream of water exactly where you need it, and the showerhead attachment can help to create a more powerful stream. These bottles are great for rinsing off after using soap or wipes. And they're also perfect for giving yourself a quick wash when you don't have time for a full shower.

When using this method, be sure to start with clean water. Fill up the bottle at a stream or lake and then attach the showerhead. Squeeze the bottle to wet your body and apply soap if desired. Rinse off thoroughly before putting away your bottle.

Switch Your Underwear Regularly

Another important tip for staying clean is to routinely switch out your underwear. This is especially important if you're sweating a lot or if you're not able to shower on a daily basis. Wearing the same pair of underwear for days on end can lead to chafing, rashes, and a buildup of bacteria. So be sure to pack extras and switch them out as needed.

You can also opt for special hiking underwear that is designed to wick away moisture and prevent chafing. These can be a bit more expensive, but they're worth it if you're going to be spending a lot of time hiking.


One of the most important tips for staying clean while hiking is to focus on your feet. This is because your feet are constantly coming into contact with dirt, mud, and other elements that can cause them to become dirty and smelly. Be sure to wash your feet every day, and consider bringing along a small brush to help remove any stubborn dirt.

You should also make sure to dry your feet thoroughly before putting on socks and shoes. And be sure to change your socks regularly to prevent blisters and fungal infections.


Another area that is often overlooked is the armpits. Be sure to give them a good wash every day, and consider using an antiperspirant to help control sweat. You may also want to invest in a good set of hiking clothes that are designed to wick away moisture. This can help to prevent the buildup of sweat and bacteria. Additionally, you can also bring along a small towel or cloth to help dry your armpits after washing.

How To Deal With Periods On a Hike

If you're a woman who hikes, then you know that dealing with periods on a hike can be a bit tricky. The first and most important tip is to always be prepared. This means packing extra pads or tampons and bringing along a small bag to store them in. Additionally, you may want to consider investing in a menstrual cup. These are great for long hikes as they can be left in for up to 12 hours at a time.

Another option is to hike during your non-period days. This obviously isn't possible for everyone, but it can be helpful if you're able to plan your hikes around your cycle. Lastly, don't forget to pack some pain relief just in case cramps strike while you're hiking.

What Are Hiking Hygiene Essentials?

When you hit the trail, it's important to be prepared for everything from a blister to a bout of diarrhea. That's why every hiker should pack a few key items to maintain personal hygiene when hiking. These will help you stay clean and fresh even when you're out hiking for days at a time. Some essential items to pack include:


Looking for a soap that can do it all? You'll need an all-purpose soap that can be used for both your body and your hair. All-purpose soaps are designed to be gentle enough for use on the face, body, and hands yet effective enough to cleanse the hair and scalp. They usually have a neutral pH and are free of harsh chemicals, making them ideal for people with sensitive skin. And because they can be used on both the body and hair, they're a great option for those who want to simplify their shower routine.

We recommend you opt for a biodegradable formula that's designed for use outdoors. These soaps are made with natural ingredients that are gentle on the skin and won't harm the environment.

As any hiker knows, it is important to take care when washing up in the great outdoors. Even biodegradable soap can have a negative impact on local wildlife and water quality. When sudsing up or rinsing off, always do so away from streams, lakes, and other water sources. If possible, use a container to collect wash water and dispose of it properly. By taking a few simple steps, we can all help protect the places we love to explore.

Washcloth or Bandana

A washcloth or bandana can be used for a variety of purposes, from wiping down surfaces to cleaning your body. When packing a washcloth or bandana for your hike, look for an option that is lightweight and quick-drying. Microfiber cloths are a great choice because they are absorbent and dry quickly. You can also find bandanas made from natural fibers like cotton or bamboo.

Just make sure to pack more than one! You'll want to have a fresh cloth or bandana for each day of your hike. And if possible, opt for a dark-colored fabric that won't show stains as easily.

Toothbrush and Toothpaste

While you might not be able to brush your teeth after every meal, it's important to make time for a good brushing at least once a day. This will help keep your teeth and gums healthy, and it will also help prevent bad breath. When choosing a toothbrush and toothpaste for hiking, look for lightweight options that won't add too much weight to your pack.

A travel-sized toothbrush is a great option for hikers. These brushes are smaller than standard toothbrushes, making them easy to pack and carry. They usually have collapsible handles, which further reduces their size. And because they're designed for travel, they often come with built-in storage cases that protect the bristles from dirt and debris.

When it comes to toothpaste, there are now many options that are designed for use on the go. These pastes come in tubes or tablets that can be easily carried in a backpack. Some formulations even come in powder form, which is ideal for hikers who are trying to save space and weight.

Whatever type of toothpaste you choose, make sure it's one that you'll actually use. If you don't like the taste or texture of a certain brand, you're less likely to use it regularly. And if you're not using your toothpaste regularly, then it's not doing its job!

Hand Sanitizer

Even if you're the type of hiker who never misses a chance to wash your hands, there will be times when soap and water are not available. That's when hand sanitizer comes in handy. Hand sanitizers are designed to kill 99.99% of bacteria and viruses, making them an essential tool for preventing the spread of illness.

When packing hand sanitizer for your hike, look for a travel-sized option that contains at least 60% alcohol. This will ensure that it is effective at killing germs and bacteria. Be sure to pack enough for each member of your group and extras in case you lose or use up your supply along the way.

Lip Balm

Hiking is a great way to get outside and enjoy some fresh air, but it can also take a toll on your lips. Dry air, combined with the sun's harmful rays, can quickly lead to chapped lips. Lip balm can help to prevent this by providing a barrier that locks in moisture and protects against the elements.

When choosing a lip balm for hiking, look for an option that is long-lasting and provides both hydration and protection. You'll also want to make sure that it doesn't have a strong scent, as this can attract bugs. With the right lip balm in your bag, you can focus on enjoying the trail ahead.


As any parent knows, wipes are essential for keeping little ones clean. But wipes can also come in handy for hikers of all ages. Baby wipes, for example, can be used to clean up after a meal, wipe down surfaces, or freshen up your body when you don't have access to soap and water.

When choosing wipes for hiking, look for durable and easy to use options. Many companies now offer biodegradable wet wipes that are safe for both people and the environment. These wipes are usually made with natural ingredients like bamboo or cotton, and they dissolve quickly in water, making them a great choice for hikers who want to minimize their impact on the environment.


While you can technically use soap to wash your hair, we recommend using a dedicated shampoo. Shampoos are designed specifically for cleaning the hair and scalp, and they usually have a higher pH than soap, which helps to remove dirt, oil, and buildup. Plus, they often contain conditioners that can help to hydrate and detangle your hair. When choosing a shampoo for hiking, look for one that is lightweight and easy to pack. You should also opt for a formula that is biodegradable and free of harmful chemicals.

Menstrual Cup (If necessary)

If you are a woman who menstruates, then you know that dealing with your period on a hike can be a challenge. But with a little planning and the right supplies, it doesn't have to be. One of the best ways to manage your period while hiking is a menstrual cup.

Menstrual cups are small, flexible devices that are inserted into the vagina to collect blood during menstruation. They can be worn for up to 12 hours at a time, and they are much more comfortable than pads or tampons. Plus, they don't require constant changing as pads do, which makes them ideal for long hikes. When choosing a menstrual cup for hiking, look for one made from medical-grade silicone. This material is safe for use in the body, and it won't leak or cause irritation.

Pack Towel

A pack towel is a small, lightweight towel that is designed for use on the go. Whether you're hiking, camping, or just spending a day at the beach, a pack towel can come in handy. The main advantage of a pack towel is its size. Unlike a regular towel, which can be bulky and cumbersome to carry, a pack towel can easily fit into a backpack or daypack.

In addition, pack towels are usually made from quick-drying materials, so you won't have to worry about them getting musty or mildewed after a few days of use. Whether you're an avid outdoorsman or just looking for a convenient way to dry off, a pack towel is a great option.

What To Leave At Home

Now that you know what to pack for your next hike, it's important to know what to leave behind. Here are a few items that you don't need to bring on your next trip:


While it's important to stay clean when hiking, you don't need to worry about your underarms. In fact, deodorants can actually be harmful to the environment. Most deodorants contain aluminum, which can leach into the soil and water and impact plant growth.

Furthermore, the smell can attract animals to your campsite. So, unless you want a bear sniffing around your tent in the middle of the night, it's best to leave the deodorant at home.


Razors are another item that you can live without while hiking. Not only do they take up valuable space in your pack, but they can also be dangerous to use in the wilderness. If you accidentally cut yourself while shaving, you could be at risk for infection.

Plus, let's be honest: a little stubble never hurt anyone. In fact, it might even help to keep you warm at night. So, ditch the razor and embrace your inner grizzly bear.

Disposable Products

Disposable products, such as paper towels and napkins, are unnecessary. Not only do they take up space in your pack, but they also create waste.

If you need to wipe your hands or face while hiking, opt for a bandana or cloth instead. These items can be reused over and over again, and they won't end up in a landfill when you're done with them.

Leave No Trace Considerations

When hiking, it's important to practice Leave No Trace principles. This means that you should leave the wilderness in the same condition (or better) than you found it.

Here are a few Leave No Trace considerations to keep in mind:

  • Pack out all of your trash, including food scraps and used toilet paper.
  • Avoid washing yourself or your dishes in natural water sources, such as lakes or streams. If you must wash, do so at least 200 feet from any water source.
  • Use a biodegradable soap that is safe for the environment.
  • Always rinse your dishes and cooking gear thoroughly before storing them.
  • Respect wildlife and give them their space. Do not approach or feed animals.

By following these simple tips, you can help to protect the environment and ensure that everyone can enjoy the wilderness for years to come.

How to Go to The Bathroom While Hiking

One of the most important tips for staying clean while camping or hiking is to be aware of how you're going to deal with bathroom needs. This is especially important if you're going to be in an area with no toilets.

The first step is to always have a plan. If you know where the nearest toilet is, then make sure to map out a route before heading out on your hike. Additionally, it's always a good idea to bring along a small trowel or shovel. This will be useful if you need to dig a hole for dumping solid waste.

If there are no toilets available, then you'll need to find a place to go before heading out on your hike. This can be tricky, but it's important to find a spot that is approximately 250 feet away from water streams. Once you've found a spot, simply dig a small hole and do your business. Be sure to cover up the hole when you're finished.

Lastly, always remember to pack out any toilet paper or wipes that you use. This is crucial for preventing the spread of disease.

How To Wash Clothes During Hiking

Washing clothes while hiking may seem like a daunting task, but it's actually quite easy. There are a few different methods that you can use, and the best one for you will depend on your individual needs.

One option is to hand wash your clothes in any stream of water. This is a great way to save space as you won't need to bring along a lot of extra gear. Simply fill up a small basin with water, add some soap, and scrub your clothes clean. Be sure to rinse them thoroughly before hanging them up to dry.

Another option is to use biodegradable laundry bags. These are designed for washing clothes while camping or hiking, and they're perfect for those who don't want to hand wash their clothes. Simply add your dirty clothes to the bag, add water and soap, and then shake it up. The bags will clean your clothes without damaging them.

Lastly, you can always bring along a small travel washing machine. These are great for larger loads of laundry, but they do require a bit more setup. If you decide to go this route, be sure to read the instructions carefully before using it.

Caring For Your Clothes During Hiking

In addition to washing your clothes, it's also important to take care of them while you're hiking. This means keeping them clean and dry, as well as repairing any damage that may occur.

One way to keep your clothes clean is to store them in a waterproof bag when they're not being worn. This will protect them from dirt, dust, and water. Additionally, be sure to hang up wet clothes as soon as possible so that they can dry properly. We recommend going with the Scrubba Portable Wash Bag due to its compact size and eco-friendly, easy-to-use design.

It's also good to inspect your clothes regularly for any rips or tears. If you find any damage, be sure to patch it up or sew it back together before it gets worse. By taking care of your clothing, you can extend its lifespan and ensure that it will last for many hikes to come.

There is no one "best" type of fabric for keeping clean during a hike. However, synthetic fabrics such as polyester and nylon are generally more resistant to dirt and stains than natural fabrics like cotton. Synthetic fabrics are also more likely to dry quickly if they become wet. As a result, they can help you stay comfortable and avoid chafing.

Wool is also a great option for hikers. It's naturally odor-resistant and can help you stay warm in cold weather. However, it can be more expensive than other fabrics and may require special care to prevent shrinkage.

It's also important to change your clothes regularly while hiking, especially if you're sweating a lot. This will help you stay clean and prevent your clothes from becoming soaked with sweat. Additionally, changing into clean clothes can help you feel refreshed and avoid chafing.

How often you need to change will depend on the conditions and how much you're sweating. In general, it's a good idea to change into fresh clothing at least once per day. However, in hot weather or when hiking at a high level of intensity, you may need to change more frequently.

Your underwear is one of the most important pieces of clothing to choose carefully while hiking. Not only should it be comfortable, but it should also help prevent chafing. There are a few different types of fabrics that can help with this, including synthetic materials such as polyester and nylon. Additionally, many hikers prefer to wear boxer briefs or compression shorts to reduce friction. We recommend going with the Exoficio Boxer Briefs since they're specifically designed for outdoor activities.

Take off your mucky garments and wash them as soon as possible when you arrive at a campsite. Then, put on clean clothes and store your dirty ones in a waterproof bag. This will help you stay comfortable and avoid spreading dirt and bacteria to your clean clothes.

Some Useful Tips

Here are a few additional tips to help you stay clean during your hike:

Hand Sanitizer Is a Hiking Godsend

Washing your hands with soap and water is the best way to prevent the spread of germs. However, if you don't have access to soap and water, hand sanitizer can be a helpful alternative. Hikers are quick to attribute ailments on the trail to contaminated drinking water, but hand-to-mouth infections are also prevalent. The most common symptoms include diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. While these symptoms are usually mild and resolve on their own, they can still cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. In severe cases, hikers may need to be hospitalized for iv fluids and antibiotics.

Therefore, it's important to clean your hands regularly while hiking, especially before eating. Hand sanitizer is a convenient way to do this when soap and water are not available.

Brush Your Teeth

It's important to brush your teeth regularly while hiking, not only for the sake of your oral health but also to prevent bad breath. When you're out on a hike, you're likely to be close to other hikers for extended periods of time. As a result, it's important to do what you can to avoid offending others with your breath. In addition to brushing your teeth, consider packing mouthwash or mints. These can help freshen your breath in between brushings.

Change Your Socks Daily

Blisters and foot infections can quickly ruin a hike, so preventing them is important. One of the best ways to do this is to wear clean socks. Sweaty, dirty socks are more likely to cause blisters, and they can also lead to foot infections. It's also important to make sure your socks fit well. If they're too tight, they can rub and cause blisters. If they're too loose, they can bunch up and cause problems as well. Finally, it's important to change your socks if they get wet. Wet socks are more likely to cause blisters, so it's best to avoid them if possible.




Peter Brooks

Peter Brooks

I’m a hiker, backpacker, and general outdoor enthusiast. I started hiking out of college while working for the National Forest Service, and have been hiking ever since. I’ve been solo hiking and leading hiking groups for two decades and have completed hundreds of small hikes and some majorones such as the Appalachian Train and the Pacific Crest Trail, and hiked on four continents. I’d love to share some of my insight with you.

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