Don't be afraid to leave your own bathroom! If you are well prepared, you can keep beautifully clean and fresh while camping.
Keeping clean and fresh while camping can be achieved with simple solutions and without the need to include elaborate and bulky items in your camping setup which, in the context of our style of car camping without a trailer, will be impossible to transport.
While laundry baskets, bulky camping toilets, clothes stands and shower rooms would definitely come in handy, with a little planning and some lateral thinking, most people can comfortably get by without them.
Toiletry or shower bag
Your choice of toilet or shower bag should really be any type of bag that has more of a flat rather than round shape and, dare I say it, is not too big. The one we personally use can hang from a hook to keep it up and out of the way but accessible and dry.
You can check out our camping checklist for tips on bathroom items to take with you camping.
Towels can take up a lot of space in your car, particularly in summer when each person not only needs a bath towel, but a swimming or beach towel as well. Thick towels can take up even more space and will also take longer to dry, which is a particular inconvenience in wet or cold weather, or when you are touring and you have wet towels on board.
So you can see we have two good reasons to avoid the nice big thick fluffy towels. We suggest you select a thinner, standard sized bath towel for each member of the family, and keep them separated from your home towels, or with your camping gear, ready to go. To avoid getting these towels mixed up with the others in the wash, we suggest you mark them, say in a corner, with a permanent marker pen so they can be easily identified when you are sorting through your laundry at home.
Likewise with beach or swimming towels, it's nice to have a full wrap around beach towel for general use, but the bigger they are the more problematic they will be for camping. So again, buy a smaller thinner beach towel for each person, and permanently mark them for camping.
One of the great things about our camping and touring setup is that your destination is really only limited by the capacity of your vehicle to get you there and back – and that means you will often be without shower facilities.
Solar Powered Shower
In the absence of shower facilities, a solar power shower in the shape of a hot water bottle is a viable option. While these products are designed to heat the water by sitting them out in the sun for several hours, they can also be filled with warm water heated on the stove – a much more reliable and accurate heat source.
For hand bathing you will need a bucket or large bowl full of warm to hot water, a sponge, a smaller bowl containing soap mixed with water, shampoo etc. and another bowl to use to ladle the rinsing water from the bucket.
Pump Style Shower
Compact and lightweight pump style showers are also available in camping stores, some powered directly from a 12V or 240V power source, and others via a rechargeable battery. You will also need a bucket full of warm to hot water, some soap, shampoo etc and, if you prefer, a sponge. You can place the bucket on a table and shower with one hand holding the shower head. Alternatively, you could hang the shower hose from a tree or shower room (if you have one) or get someone to hold the showerhead for you.
Probably the most vexing challenge when setting up a campsite is establishing appropriate toilet facilities when they are not otherwise made available, and then responsibly disposing of the waste afterwards.
Usually only those with plenty of cargo room will have the capacity to carry one of the bulky portable toilets and a toilet and shower tent found in camping stores – such as if you have a camper trailer, a particularly large car, no kids etc.
If you are without a portable toilet and are camping away from provided toilet facilities, you will need a shovel / spade or trowel to dig a hole as we describe under point 3 in our Leave No Trace article. Add toilet paper, hand sanitiser and a folding toilet seat and you have basic facililties. If this arrangement doesn’t suit your style, then stick to campgrounds with provided facilities and everyone will be happy.