How Do You Wash Clothes When Camping? (5 Easy DIY Methods)

Ever wonder how folks wash their clothes when camping? Well, today I will share with you 5 easy ways you can DIY wash your clothes when camping.

Camping is the ultimate escape. Escape from our monotonous and busy lives, concrete, traffic and lets us experience the fresh air of the great outdoors. However, being on the road does not mean you can skip out on the daily chores, hygiene, and routines you have to do at home. A big part of having fun when you’re camping involves getting dirty. But, how do you wash clothes when camping? Here we tackle this topic and provide several options to wash your clothes while adventuring outdoors.

Many modern campsites have coin-operated laundry facilities that can make your camping (and washing clothes) much easier. You can also use some of the gear you have on hand, like a trash bag, storage bin, bucket, and others to hand wash your clothes. 

There are plenty of other convenient and useful ways you can wash your clothes while camping. A few of which I will discuss in this article. I will also give you some helpful tips on washing your clothes as well. So, be sure to check out those items at the end. 

BTW, while we are on the topic, make sure you check out our other hygiene-related articles like “Camping Showers Explained” and “Off-Grid Toilet Options

Best Ways to Wash Clothes When You’re Camping 

Nobody wants to miss out on the fun times when they plan to go camping. The whole fun of camping is probably running, jumping, and just having fun out in nature. But all of this is sure to get all your clothes dirty especially if you have brought kids along. After a day or two, if you’re running out of all your clean clothes, it’s time to wash all of them properly. So here are a few convenient ways you can wash your clothes even when you’re on the roads.

Wash Them By Hand

The simplest yet fool-proof way you can wash all the dirty piles of clothes is by your hand. You won’t always find campsites that provide washing facilities for your clothes. If you find yourself fretting over having no clean clothes left, you can always depend on your ever trustworthy hands. Just remember to bring some washing bowls and detergent. 

The method is quite easy and pretty much anyone can do it. Start by warming up some water in a kettle. Fill up your plastic washing bowl with warm water and add some detergent in there. Now use those hands to scrub away the dirt from your clothes. Give the cloth a quick rinse with clean water and hang them up to let them dry.

Using a Trash Bag To Wash Clothes When Camping

Using your trash bags to wash your dirty clothes can seem odd. If you have brought some trash bags along and are all out of options, it might just prove to be your best friend. Give it a try and you’ll surely be amazed. As usual, you would need some detergent and water.

Put all the unclean clothes in your trash bag. Fill up your trash bag partially with some water and detergent. Close the trash bag’s mouth and jostle it around imitating a washing machine’s spin cycle. When you think you’ve washed the clothes enough, take the clothes out and give them a good rinse. Finally, you can hang them to let them dry.

Use a Scrubba Wash Bag

Scrubba wash bags are now readily available on the market. If you are unfamiliar with this equipment, you are missing out. Scrubba is a portable and easy-to-use washing machine bag. Since it folds and takes up little space and uses little water, it’s a must-have for serious campers and backpackers.

You could check it out as it’s the perfect tool for washing clothes when you’re traveling or camping. The only downside would be that it costs $50. It isn’t that useful for someone who is camping as a one-time thing. 

Fill up your Scrubba bag with dirty clothes, water, and detergent to about 20%-40%. Close up the bag, fold it in half and let out the excess air. Now all you need to do is use your hands to scrub your clothes until they are clean. Then take out the clothes to rinse them and hang them to dry.

Book a Campsite with Washing Facilities or Laundromat On-Site 

Since camping is a very popular activity these days, you’ll find campsites with pretty much any facilities. Campsites with washing facilities are pretty common as well. You can also camp somewhere close to a Laundromat. You can drive to the nearest Laundromat and wash all the clothes there.

When you’re camping with children, the number of dirty clothes can become overwhelming. It can prove to be a hassle washing all the clothes outside. If you want to avoid going through this hassle, booking a campsite with washing facilities or near a Laundromat would be the easiest and most convenient way out. 

Use Your Campfire 

If you’ve never heard it, it may come as a surprise that you can use your campfire as a washing machine. It’s not a common and well-known method but this certainly works as ash is like nature’s detergent. You can wash your clothes with it just like people clean dirty pots and other things with fire. 

But if you’re doing this for the first time, it is a bit risky. It’s best to be cautious during your first tries. But when you get the hang of it, you will think of it as the best way to wash your clothes whenever you’re camping. 

Start by mixing small amounts of wood ash with warm water. The grey paste you get should be mixed with a few drops of oil. Now you’ll get a soapy texture that you can use. Add this paste to the dirty areas of your clothes and leave them for a few minutes. 

Then do your washing and hang the clothes to dry. All the hard stains will easily get washed out with this method. So this is a rather efficient way to wash clothes with hard stains.

Useful Tips on Washing Clothes When You’re Camping

If you are new to camping, washing clothes outside can be a new experience. For you, I have compiled a few tips that would prove to be useful to washing clothes when you’re out camping:

Pack Dark Clothes

You can’t avoid getting dirty when you’re out camping. So it’s a good idea to pack clothes in dark colors and patterns. They will hide any marks and stains and will be easier to wash.  

Choose Your Detergents Carefully

When you’re washing your clothes outside, it’s a must to use eco-friendly and biodegradable detergent. Since we are responsible for our environment, make sure to pick eco-friendly and biodegradable detergent.

Dispose of your Grey Water in a Proper Place

If you are unfamiliar, grey water is the term used in the RV industry as the water that is used and drained from NON-HUMAN WASTE sources such as sinks and showers/baths. Conversely, water and waste from toilets is referred to as the black water.

After washing your clothes, the greywater you get must be disposed of properly. It should be disposed of 200 feet away from a natural water source. This is a must as you would not want to contaminate the freshwater sources where animals live and drink. 

Bring Everything You Might Need to Dry Your Clothes

Drying clothes when you’re camping requires nothing more than a string. You can also bring foldable drying racks that will prove to be helpful for a long journey. Make sure to pack the extra pegs. Since no matter where you dry the clothes, the pegs will be needed. The Scrubba product showcased below solves all of these problems in one small,, packable item.

BTW, while we are on the topic, make sure you check out our other hygiene-related articles like “Camping Showers Explained” and “Off-Grid Toilet Options”.

3 Awesome Portable Washing Machines For Car Camping Or Truck Camping

We decided to show a couple of really good options. Because everyone’s situation is different, we chose to show products that work for all budgets in all scenarios. If you’re car camping, truck camping, or vanlife and need to wash clothes, there is an option here.

Maybe you’re backpacking and need a small, light packable option to wash clothes, there is one for all of you, here you go! The Scrubba is honestly the best bang for the buck with size and weight factors. However, if you are living in a van and need to wash clothes, we included a good portable washing machine.

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Washing Clothes In An RV

If your washing clothes in an RV, you’re probably looking for options too. Because Recreational Vehicles come in all sorts of sizes and shapes, you may or may not have a washing machine in your RV. Most large 5th wheels do have them as people tend to live in those rigs for longer periods. However, we found a great resource over at Compact Appliance that covers this topic well, check it out here.


Camping is a fun activity that lets you unwind from your busy life. To help any new camper getting ready to experience the wholesome outside, this article provides you with all the information concerning “How do you wash clothes when camping?” 

I hope you can have a great camping experience now that you know the different ways you can wash your clothes even when you’re camping out. The tips should prove to be helpful as well. Best of luck camping outdoors with your friends or family or just alone. Thank you for reading this article.

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