Best Ways to Wash Clothes While Camping

Last Updated on February 9, 2023 by Mosabbir

Take enough clothes on a camping trip so that you don’t have to wash them repeatedly.

However, it’s easy to clean them if you run out of options. So, instead of collecting all the dirty fabrics in your tent’s corner, it’s better to use some water, soap and clean them.

Read on all the given options so that you can understand how to wash clothes while travelling or camping.

How To Wash Clothes While Camping?

1. Use a Trash Bag

You might think that it’s not a sanitary cleaning method. However, the reality differs, and a trash bag can be your most significant help to clean dirty clothes. You just need some water and soap to enjoy fresh fabrics.

Fill the garbage bag with all your dirty clothes and add some water as well as detergent powder. Now, hustle the bag around as if you are mimicking a washing machine’s spin cycle.

Don’t overdo the movements to tire yourself.

After some time of jostling, transfer all the clothes to a different garbage bag filled with some water. Close the bag and shake to rinse the clothes.

You can hang all the wears after this step and let them dry. Overall, the technique is best when you are outdoors and have no access to any cloth washing resources.

2. Hand Wash Using a Plastic Container

You can wash your clothes on a camping trip using your hands. Take help of a couple of storage bins or any other plastic container.

The process is similar when you wash clothes in a bucket full of water.

The first step is to empty the storage bins and rinse them. One of them contains water, and the other one has both water and detergent.

The amount of water should be sufficient to accommodate all the clothes you want to wash. Do not overfill the containers. We suggest that you use warm water for effective cleaning results.

Now wash your clothes in the container with detergent water and rinse them in the other bin with only water. Hang the dresses on a clothesline afterwards and dispose of the dirty water.


3. Try a Scrubba wash bag

Scrubba is a washing machine inside a portable suitcase. You can compare it to a trash bag, but the cleaning method is comparatively easy, and the results are also impressive.

You will have multiple other options like Scrubba, but this one is made of high-quality materials and works as a dry bag when not used as a washer. Hence, it’s popular among hikers and camping lovers alike.

The Scrubba wash bag has an easy to follow 5 step washing process:

  • Add some water, detergent and your dirty clothes.
  • Close the bag by rolling its upper part and an inbuilt clip.
  • Remove the excess air from the bag using its valve.
  • Rub your clothes against the bag using your hands.
  • Please take out the clothes and rinse them by refilling the bag with water.

If you enjoy frequent camping trips, then Scrubba washes it deserves your attention. You will like the bag’s compact size, which allows you to take it on any trip. If you hardly go out in the wild, then Scrubba bag might not be a wise investment.


4. Hand Wash in a Collapsible Bucket

Here comes another affordable yet terrific method to wash clothes while camping. You can try a collapsible bucket, but a standard model will also work. However, the former is better because of its space-saving nature.

As you can understand, it’s better to use two buckets, so that you can easily wash and rinse all the clothes. However, you can do the needful using one bucket as well. Empty it and refill some water to rinse the clothes.

Decide the number of clothes depending upon the bucket’s capacity. It’s better to submerge the clothes in warm soapy water for around 30 minutes and then scrub clean them. Rinse all the washed clothes using water and then hang them to dry.


5. Plunger And 5-gallon Buckets:

You need a couple of buckets and two plungers for this method. Take 5-gallon buckets and new plungers. Now cut hold on both the bucket lids so that they can accommodate the plunger handles. Then, insert the plungers inside the bucket.

Use one bucket to wash the clothes and the other one to rinse them. So, fill water in both the buckets and mix detergent in one of them.

Place all your dirty clothes in the detergent mix and plunge them to clean. After some plunging, transfer all your clothes to the other bucket and repeat the process. Afterwards, hang the washed clothes to dry. Also read this How to dry wet clothes when camping.

As you can see, there is some work required to create a personal washing machine.

But, it’s an enjoyable activity. Isn’t it? And the cleaning results are also impressive.


6. Portable Washing Machine

Here comes the most convenient method to wash clothes while camping. If you enjoy extended camping trips, then a portable washing machine for your caravan might be the perfect investment.

It makes your holidays more enjoyable by offering effective cleaning results without much hard work.

On the downside, such an appliance consumes a lot of open space in your caravan. It’s expensive when compared to other methods. Plus, such devices need electricity to wash the clothes.

You can get some electrical outlets on camping sites.

So, try a portable washing machine if you have some extra space in the motorhome. You can also go for this appliance if you own a generator. And yes, you have to be a frequent traveller to include it in your camping tools.


7. Use a Ziploc Bag to Wash Clothes

If you want to clean only a few small clothes, then try a Ziploc bag. The bags are available in multipurpose designs so that you can use them for various other tasks.

So, you can include some of these bags while packing for the trip. Cleaning your clothes using a Ziploc is similar to the method of a dry bag.


8. Book a campsite with Launderette

Nowadays, you can book a campsite with almost any facilities, including laundry.

Whether you are planning to travel towards Croyde or Braunton, some camps offer such amenities. Multiple websites can help you to find camping sites according to your requirements.


9. Locate a Laundromat

Depending upon the camping area, you might find a nearby laundromat. It’s better to research before you start driving. Most of the camping areas will have a village close by.

The price varies according to the site, but it generally remains up to £4. If you want to use a large machine, then it can be up to £7.


Points to Remember

Use biodegradable detergent: If you are going outdoors in nature, then use biodegradable and eco-friendly detergent. Your average powder might not behave well in the wild. Be a responsible traveller and make no or minimal negative impacts on the environment.

Dispose of the dirty water carefully: Campers and RV have three water types: fresh, grey and black. Freshwater is for drinking and other activities. Greywater has some waste because you have already used it for any other task, and blackwater contains human waste.


As you can understand, the water left after washing the clothes is grey and you need to dispose of it off correctly. So, keep the following points your mind while throwing the wastewater.

  • Dump the water at someplace that’s 200 feet away from any water source
  • Never dispose of the greywater at a water spigot
  • Do not dump the water in campsite toilet or sink, unless it’s allowed
  • Try to dispose of the water in an open area so that it can quickly evaporate.

Never wash clothes in or around a natural water resource: Well, it’s easy to understand why we say this. Wash the dirty fabrics in a flowing river, and you might contaminate it and trouble the animals which drink this water. Or you might spoil your clothes by washing in a water resource that’s already dirty. These are the reasons why you should stay away from a water resource while washing your clothes. We suggest that you maintain a distance of at least 200 feet.

Don’t wash in the campsite bathrooms.: If you are camping on a site with bathroom sinks, do not use them to wash your clothes. The water supply in such places is limited. Hence, use the available water to wash your face, hands and do similar small tasks.

Moreover, it’s rude to occupy an entire sink on a campsite, a public place. Plus, you might make your clothes dirtier because all the other travellers wash their dirty hands and brush their teeth in these sinks. Hence, it’s not an excellent idea to use campsite sinks.

Don’t wash at Campground Water Spigots.: Yes, you read it right. Don’t make a mess at the campground water spigots. Washing clothes from such a resource is a wastage of water as well. So, we recommend that you carry the water in a container or bucket back to your caravan and use one of the washing methods we discussed earlier.


Best Camping Soaps

Dr Bronner’s Pure Castile Liquid Soap: As discussed, it’s better to use a 100 per cent biodegradable soap or detergent. Hence, try the Pure-Castile soap as it’s bio-degradable because of organic ingredients.

Campsuds: If you need an all-purpose cleaner, then Campsuds is one of the best options to try. Not only clothes, but it’s also suitable for your face, hands and any other washable item.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Type of Fabric is Easiest to Clean While Camping?

Well, you can clean any of the clothes while camping. But, the problem is drying them without any electrical appliance. So, choose fabrics that are labelled as fast drying or moisture-wicking. We suggest that you try lightweight clothes that are made of spandex, nylon and polyester.


Primarily, you need a fabric that can dry within 1 to 2 hours if set out in sunlight. You would not like something that takes hours to leave all the moisture. So, 100 per cent synthetic fibre wears are great. You can also try 100 per cent polyester-based t-shirts, synthetic or blend socks and nylon shorts.


When Should I wash Clothes While Camping?

Maintaining good hygiene should be your priority on camping trips. So, pack enough clothes that can cover all your stay. Change the clothes once you reach the camp every night. You can switch the shorts and shirts. But, change underwear and sock while taking a bath.

Do not change your clothes immediately once you reach the camp, especially on scorching days. Instead, switch your wears before going to bed so that you can sleep fresh. Once you change, wash the old ones.


What Detergent Should I use While Camping?

When travelling or camping, you should use environmentally friendly biodegradable detergents. Such cleaning agents easily dissolve in the soil without making any negative impacts on our ecosystem.

How to dry clothes while camping?

One of the best ways to dry your clothes while camping is to use a clothesline. Also, take some clothespins. If you want to leave immediately, then use a microfiber cloth to dry them.

Wring out all the fabrics and put one of them inside a microfiber towel. Roll the towel while squeezing it tightly.

Unroll the cloth, and you will see that it’s dried up to a large extent. Apart from these two methods, you can also use a tabletop electrical dryer on camping trips.



Now you know how to wash clothes while camping. You can choose one of the old-fashioned ways of handwashing the clothes, or you can try a portable washing machine for added convenience.

Take some washing lines to take benefit of nature. Also, include some of the clothespins to keep the fabrics safe.