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  • Writer's pictureKern River's Edge Team

What’s the best way to stay clean while camping?

Updated: Sep 18, 2022

It’s finally time to head out for your much-anticipated camping trip! But before you go, make sure you’re prepared with the right supplies to stay clean and healthy while you’re away from civilization. To help you out, we’ve listed out a few must-have tips on how to stay clean while camping.

How to keep a campsite clean

One of the most important aspects of enjoying a camping trip is keeping the campsite clean. A messy campsite can make things uncomfortable for you and other campers, as well as attract wildlife.

  • Contain Trash: It is important to contain all trash, including food wrappers, food scraps, empty cans, packaging, and cigarette butts. If you're camping in a developed area, make use of the available trash and recycling bins. If there are no bins available, carry your trash out with you when you leave, and keep it contained in a closed container or bag while you’re there. You can also reduce the amount of trash you produce by packing food in reusable containers and avoiding single-use items like paper plates and plastic utensils. By taking some simple steps to manage your trash, you can maintain the cleanliness of your campsite and help protect the environment at the same time. (Are there bears in Kern River?)

  • Contain Human Waste: If selecting a campground with restrooms isn't an option, then you’ll need to find other ways to manage human waste during your camping trip. This usually means you’ll need to bury everything. Once you have selected a spot away from your campground, you’ll need to dig a hole that is six to eight inches deep. You’ll need to make sure you properly dispose of all toilet paper and other trash afterwards (don’t bury these items). Toilet paper is an animal attractant so be sure to pack it out rather than bury it. We prefer the double bag system: one bag for clean toilet paper and a second bag for already used paper. To further reduce your impact, consider using a portable toilet or composting toilet. These options can help to minimize your footprint, while still allowing you to enjoy all the best that nature has to offer. (RV dump stations by Kern River)

  • Contain Fire: If campers are cooking over a fire, they should make sure that the fire is completely extinguished before leaving the area. Any debris from the fire, such as ash or charred wood, should be removed and disposed of properly.

  • Contain Dishes: When you're out camping, there's no dishwasher to clean your dishes for you — but paper plates and cups are a lot of waste. That means you’ll need to build a wash station and use biodegradable soap to wash your dishes after every use. To do this, bring a refillable water dispenser and a 1 or 2 gallon jug of water. Set it up on top of a table or on top of some bins and use a bungee cord to attach paper towels to the water dispenser. You can use this area to wash hands and dishes.

Simple camping hygiene tips

While camping can be a great opportunity to relax and connect with nature, it’s important to take some basic steps to ensure that you stay clean and healthy.

One of the most important things you can do is to keep your hands clean. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after using the bathroom, handling food, or coming into contact with any surfaces that might be contaminated. It’s also a good idea to carry hand sanitizer with you for times when you don’t have access to soap and water.

In addition, be sure to pack personal hygiene items like toothpaste, toilet paper, and feminine products. And don’t forget to pack plenty of towels for wiping off mud and dirt. A small line of rope can serve as a quick and handy drying line for towels and washcloths.

If you plan to use a sun-shower, it’s important to use biodegradable soap so that you lessen your impact on vegetation in your campsite.

By following these simple tips, you can help ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable camping trip.

Looking for more camping tips and tricks?

We’ve got you covered! Check out our additional resources on all things camping, and if you’re ready for a camping trip, book with us online!


Recreating responsibly includes packing trash bags to leave our wild spaces cleaner than you found them. There is a glass ban in the Sequoia National Forest, so remember to use plastic storage containers, ziploc bags, or bota bags for camping gear and kitchen supplies instead of glass. Practice Leave No Trace principles and pack out what you pack in. See more Kern River camping tips.

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