When I go backpacking, keeping completely clean is out of the question, but there are a few strategies I employ to prevent myself from getting sick or developing rashes on the parts of my skin where salt builds up.
- I try to carry enough Purrell so I can sterilize my hands after taking a number 2. Two ounces usually holds me for a week. If I run out, I also bring along a few old pieces of soap that I can use to wash my hands.
- When I go to bed, I always change into a pair of sleeping clothes, usually a thin base layer top and long johns to keep the built-up oil and funk on my skin from soiling the inside of my sleeping bag. I also try to wash my face with a little leftover cooking water to get the built-up salt off my forehead, eyebrows, around my ears. I wipe my shins with a damp wash cloth to get rid of salt build-up which can develop into a painful heat rash, and change into a clean, or cleaner, pair of socks to sleep in.
- After I cook, I always rinse out my cook pot and try to get it as clean as possible. I mostly make soup or noodles at night so this is usually easy. Since I always boil water before I eat anything or make tea, I don’t worry too much about keeping my long handled spoon or cooking gear absolutely spotless, because they’re self sterilizing.
- When it comes to clothing, I try to do a load of wash about once a week if I’m passing through a town. Otherwise I rinse out my pants during stream crossings or dip my techwick hiking shirt in water and wear it dry. I try to rinse out a pair of socks at night and hang them up under my tarp when I go to sleep. I never bring more than one hiking shirt, pants, and underwear on a trip.
- Other than brushing my teeth periodically, that’s pretty much all I do to stay clean on trip.
How do you stay clean on backpacking trips?
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