Amazingly Easy: How to Wash Clothes When Camping

How to Effectively Wash Clothes While Camping

Camping offers a great escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life to a world of nature, tranquility, and adventure. But the time away from home also brings a few challenges, and doing the laundry is one of them. If you’re wondering how towashclothes when camping, you’ve come to the right place! As a content writer, father of three kids, and an experienced camper, I’m here to help. Here’s our guide to effectively wash your clothes during a camping trip without the luxuries of a washer and dryer.

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Things To Know Before Washing Clothes During a Camping Trip

  • Choose traditional laundry detergents instead of concentrated brands; they’re gentler on fabric.
  • Bring along clothespins, a drying line, and a basin or watertight container.
  • Pack a natural, biodegradable, and non-toxic detergent.
  • Bring some borax or baking soda to help with soaking or washing.
  • Bring a hand-operated scrub brush if you prefer washing clothes by hand.

Choosing the Right Laundry Detergent

When it comes to selecting the best laundry detergent for camping, opt for a traditional brand as they are specially formulated to be gentle on fabric. If you’re set on bringing along a concentrated detergent, you’ll need to dilute it at least 10 times the amount recommended on the instructions before you use it. Opt for a detergent that’s natural, biodegradable, and non-toxic, as you’ll likely be washing your clothes in natural bodies of water like rivers or lakes.

Alternatively, if you’d like to leave a smaller environmental footprint, you can wash your clothes using just water and borax or baking soda as a natural soap alternative. Both are biodegradable and won’t leave as much of a lasting impact on the environment.

Gathering the Equipment for Washing Clothes During a Camping Trip

Aside from the soap, you’ll need a few extra pieces of equipment to help you effectively wash your clothes. Start by bringing along some clothespins, a drying line, and a basin or watertight container to wash in. You can also bring a hand-operated scrub brush if you prefer washing clothes by hand.

It’s important to note that rubber items such as rubber boots or toys with rubber parts should be washed separately with mild soap and a washcloth, not in a washing machine or a basin of sudsy water. Additionally, if you’re planning to hang your clothes on a line, avoid washing with harsh detergents as it can damage the fabric.

Washing Clothes When Camping

To start, think about the amount of clothes you’ll need to wash. Larger items, such as sleeping bags, tents, and outdoor clothing, should be washed outside in a large basin or container.

Start by shaking out any excess dirt and debris from your items, then fill the basin with enough water to fully submerge your clothes. Then add a small portion of detergent, or a combination of borax and baking soda. Submerge the items and use the hand scrub brush, if brought, to vigorously work the suds into the fabric of the clothing.

Once the items have been well scrubbed, rinse in clean, running water. Hang the clothes on the clothesline or a tree limb and allow them to air dry. A fan or small handheld fan can also help speed up the process. If it’s chilly outside, hang the clothes indoors to dry.

Some Tips to Consider

  • If you’re washing clothing made out of wool, silks, or other delicate fabrics, take extra care when washing and use a mild hand soap.
  • Bring a laundry bag or drawstring bag to keep all your laundry items together.
  • Pack items that you know you may have to handwash like wool sweaters or underwear.
  • If you’re living off the grid for an extended period of time, set up a small washing area near a water source and invest in an affordable hand-crank washer.


Washing clothes while camping can be a bit of a challenge – but it doesn’t have to be. With the right understanding of laundry techniques and a few pieces of supplies, you can easily clean your clothes and be on your way. All that’s left then is to enjoy the camping experience that awaits.

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