6 Alternatives to Showering While Camping

Are you planning a camping trip in the near future but unsure of how to keep clean and fresh without the luxuries of home? If you find yourself outdoors without access to a shower, it’s time to improvise! It’s all part of the adventure! Here are 6 alternatives to showering while camping that you can try!

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Campers across the province of Ontario are celebrating as the Ontario Provincial Parks officially opened for the season last week. However, this great news came with one catch – no showers for the duration of the season!

Not only are the public showers not going to open, but we have also been informed that outdoor showers on trailers and hanging camp showers will not be allowed.

I’m not sharing this to dispute the decision. I understand that it would be incredibly difficult to police who is and isn’t disposing of grey water properly post-shower.

We want our parks and the environment as a whole to thrive!

However, this may pose a challenge if you’re planning on camping in a tent, pop-up trailer or smaller trailer that doesn’t have indoor shower facilities.

Sure, it’s probably not going to matter if you’re only camping for a weekend at a time. By the time you hit that wall and really NEED a shower, you’re already walking through the door at home.

But what about that week-long adventure?

woman with blonde hair, wearing a pink shirt, sitting in front of a tent and looking into a hand mirror while wiping her face clean with a baby wipe

Check Out These 6 Alternatives to Showering While Camping

#1 – Wet Wipes or Baby Wipes

These wipes are designed to clean up a baby’s bottom, so why wouldn’t they work for us adults as well? If you know that you need that quick refresh during your trip, throw a pack of wipes in with your camping gear.

ALWAYS dispose of your garbage appropriately!  

Concerned about the impact on the environment? Why not consider a 100% biodegradable option like those manufactured by YuGi Baby Green (available on Amazon).

#2 – Wet Washcloth (No Soap)

While scrubbing with soap would cross the line into outdoor showering/bathing, you are free to wipe down with a soap-free wet washcloth.

This is a great way to quickly remove any dirt or grime.

Don’t forget to dispose of any water that you use to rinse out your washcloth as greywater, just as you would your dishwater or hand basin. (Greywater is further discussed below)

#3 – Dry Shampoo

Are you worried specifically about your hair getting greasy? Why not try a dry shampoo?

There was a time when these products were questionable, at best, but they have come a long way! In fact, there are many GREAT options available today.

Personally, I recommend Batiste Dry Shampoo! They offer a wide variety of products from tropical scents and volume-boosting options to those that are specifically formulated to your hair colour (ranging from ‘Brilliant Blonde’ to ‘Divine Dark’).

#4 – No-Rinse Body Bath

Similar to dry shampoos, No-Rinse Body Bath is a product that can be used without having to rinse off, creating greywater.

These products are used by diluting them down with water (per the directions on the bottle, measurements vary from brand to brand) and then applying them to the body with a washcloth.

#5 – Hand Sanitizer

If your biggest concern is the germs that you may pick up throughout your trip, why not make use of a hand sanitizer?

While this product is designed for use on your hands, you can dilute it down and use it on your body if you find that you are stuck. Just be cautious of sensitive areas!

#6 – Hop in the Lake

One of the greatest perks of going camping is the opportunity to jump in the lake and enjoy a good swim.

While this isn’t going to clean you to the degree that a shower would, it can definitely leave you feeling cleaner and refreshed, holding you over until a shower is available.

This is one of the most fun alternatives to showering while camping!

NOTE: NEVER USE SOAP IN THE LAKE. This includes ‘biodegradable’ soaps.

The truth is, no soap is 100% biodegradable. In fact, if you read the packaging on most biodegradable soaps, you will find that they advise you to use the product at least 200 feet away from any waterways.

line of wash basins sitting outside full of greywater

How to Dispose of Grey Water Correctly

You may be reading this and wondering, what is greywater, why do you keep bringing it up and how should it be dealt with?

Greywater refers to the wastewater that is created from activities like brushing our teeth, washing our hands, and cleaning dishes. This does not include sewage (or blackwater) which is water that has come in contact with feces.

Simply dumping this water on (or just off) your campsite can create a number of problems including:

  • Polluting the environment and local waterways
  • Harming local wildlife
  • Attracting wildlife to your site
  • Ruining the experience for campers that will follow after you

It goes against everything we are taught when being told to ‘Leave No Trace’ when camping!

There are steps that you can take to dispose of this water correctly, respecting the environment and your fellow campers.

Some campers will choose to bring an empty container to collect their greywater, taking it with them when they go to dispose of at home. However, this can pose a challenge for those limited on space!

Alternatively, when visiting sites like the Ontario Provincial Parks, greywater can be dumped in a vault toilet or designated grey water disposal area. If you are unsure of where to find these areas, simply ask your local park staff!

If you do have to dispose of water outdoors (backcountry camping, for example), you can dig a hole, dump the water into it and then cover it with soil.

Make sure that you are disposing of it at least 200 feet away from any water sources or trails.

woman in a red shirt crouched down beside a body of water washing her hands with the title 6 alternatives to showering while camping

If for any reason the above options aren’t working for you, or if you’re simply not comfortable camping during the current global situation, Ontario Parks is offering to shorten or cancel any reservations this year without penalties.

Are you planning on camping this season? If so, how are you handling the shower situation?

Share your go-to alternatives to showering while camping in the comments below!

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36 thoughts on “6 Alternatives to Showering While Camping”

    1. We’re getting ready to head off for 9 days on a waterfront site and you can bet we’ll be hopping in the lake while we’re there!

    1. I am SO happy that we can at least enjoy the parks. Most of our trips are shorter (weekend trips), so the showers aren’t really an issue – but we did have to use some of these options when we took off camping earlier this month for 9 days.

  1. Thank you, I am thinking to start camping and hadn’t even thought about grey water. This was so helpful!

    1. It’s one of the concerns that is often overlooked. I can’t tell you how many times I have watched people dumping grey water into the bush around their site without a second thought.

    1. I am a camping addict, I love it! However, not having showers available definitely means we have to be prepared.

  2. Your article helps me a lot especially in hiking and camping. Learning a new way of tricks and tips for camping hygiene is the best way that we consider our nature of cleanliness. We also the safe soap that wont hurt our environment and surroundings.

    1. While there are biodegradable soaps, it’s important not to mistake that phrase as meaning we can just allow the soap to run out on a campsite. While it will eventually breakdown, it takes time and can have a negative impact on our ecosystems in the meantime. That’s why most bottles of biodegradable shampoo actually recommend showering at a specified distance from any waterways! They aren’t as safe as we are often led to believe.

  3. I have lots of respect for people who go to Burning Man for example because the only thing that is holding me back is that you’re camping in a desert without a shower lol. I would like to jump in a lake in order to feel a bit fresh again!

    xoxo Simone | https://beautymone.com

  4. Honestly, nothing beats a good shower! However, if pressed while camping, I’d try the wet wipes; they’d be the next best thing (almost!)

  5. Great options, thanks for sharing. I definitely like the option of jumping in a lake. Just a shame the lake near the camp site we visit every year is one that at times has you come out dirtier than before. 😛 Thankfully, in my country showers at campsites are open again since July 1st (and some campsites even thought of some creative options to still have people be able to shower before that). Can’t wait to go camping again.

    1. They have officially announced here that showers will be closed for the season, but that’s not going to stop us from enjoying out trips!

    1. On a regular basis, there are really nice comfort stations at the Ontario Parks with nice showers. So, on a regular year, that wouldn’t be a worry. However, this year they aren’t opening them due to concerns with COVID-19.

  6. I can understand why that is opening up yet, but I know I would be disappointed for sure. I know I would be stocking up on wipes and hand sanitizer as my hair hates dry shampoo and I have actually never heard of no-rinse body bath so I will have to inquire about that. These are great tips!

    1. Baby wipes were the BEST thing on our last 9 day trip. It’s amazing how refreshed you can feel after wiping yourself down!

    1. As a camping lover, I want to make sure to share information about how to enjoy the environment while minimizing our impact. Grey water can do horrible things to an ecosystem if it’s allowed to just pour into the waterways.

  7. Backcountry camping or camping out on a campground for a few days always sounds like a great idea – enjoying nature, disconnecting from the grid, enjoying quality time with loved ones, and sitting around a campfire. But the thought of going multiple days without a shower is daunting. What about your greasy hair? And the general grimy feeling? And won’t everyone stink by day 3?

  8. These are great tips. I think jumping in a lake is a great opinion and a fun way to keep cool too! I went to a festival last year and used a “shower in a can” which was a bit like the no-rise body wash. It was a weird experience but crucial when there was no showers!

    Em | http://www.loveemblog.com

    1. I am a HUGE lover of the option of just jumping in the lake for a quick refresh. I feel like it’s part of the camping experience!

  9. Personally, my favourite part of camping is embracing the lack of showering, but then again I’ve never gone entire weeks without access to some form of designated cleaning facility. I like the idea of using a damp cloth, and I do always take hand sanitiser to use before meals. Some very valuable suggestions, thanks for sharing! Happy camping!

    1. I enjoy the fact that you’re not expected to look as ‘presentable’ as you would at home. I can just throw my hair up without caring about how it looks and skip washing it longer than I would at home. That being said, I know that’s not for everyone. That’s why it’s great that there are so many alternatives available! Everyone can get out and enjoy their trip the way they enjoy best without having a negative impact on the environment in the process.

    1. I feel like the greywater discussion is one that we should be having a lot more in the outdoor travel community. It’s not something that someone new to camping would necessarily know, so it’s our responsibility to help them learn how to camp responsibly!

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