Here's how to get clean when you're not at home – without destroying the planet

an illustration of someone cleaning their hand with a washcloth

Some people take to the wild with ease, but when it comes to the rest of us, we like to be prepared for when we’re staying away from home.

However, no matter how tempting it might be, it’s not great for the environment to go out and buy the first mega-pack of wet wipes you see.

Fear not – whether you’re camping, festivaling, having a grownup sleepover, or anything of that ilk, there are plenty of easy and environmentally ways to keep clean while you’re staying away from home.

Invest in multi-use hygiene products

Octavia Coates, founder of campervan hire and holiday company The Well Heeled Hippy, has spent a fair amount of time away from home and offers this advice from experience.

Easy to pack and carry on the go, a multipurpose body and hair bar is handy and better for the environment than having loads of plastic bottles.

Octavia also recommends Dr Bronner`s Organic 18-in-1 Baby-Mild Unscented Pure-Castile Liquid Soap, which she describes as ‘a camper’s dream’.

Baking soda is your friend

Baking soda, or bicarb soda depending on where you’re from, is a popular multi-use non-toxic cleaning hack ingredient that works great as a deodoriser.

If you sprinkle some in your shoes, it will also help keep your feet from smelling before your next shower.

It’s a good idea to carry some with you if possible, as you can also use it to wash your clothes in a pinch.

Pack a wash cloth and/or sponge

Wet wipes are popular choices among festival-goers, but single-use products like that aren’t exactly environmentally friendly.

Many wet wipes contain plastic, which breaks down into microplastics over time. These microplastics aren’t great for the environment in and of themselves, and they can absorb harmful chemicals, often ending up ingested by wildlife and which are in turn ingested by humans.

Even some that say they’re ‘flushable’ on the pack aren’t breaking down enough in pipes to stop blockages from occurring.

As for how to wash yourself with just a flannel, Octavia says: ‘With limited water, the most hygienic way to wash would be half of you at a time.

‘Dampen your skin with your hands and then lather the soap onto your body.

‘Using a clean wet damp flannel, then wipe away the suds. It’s basically a good old-fashioned bed bath’

Focus on your hair

Whether you’re trying to save water or keep a cold shower as short as possible, you might think about washing only your hair if you have access to running aqua.

‘Just washing your hair will give your body a wash as the suds slide down,’ advises Octavia.

‘Here you can save your much-needed water supply especially if you are wild camping and don’t have campsite access.’

Leave your makeup at home

Sorry huns – the less you have to scrub, the better, and makeup should really be thoroughly removed.

As Octavia says: ‘It’s easier to stay cleaner without a layer of old foundation or remnants of mascara.’

If you want to pack a more tailored cleanser for your face, Octavia recommends Simple’s Kind To Skin Micellar Cleansing Water.

If you really can’t bear to part with your makeup, keep it as minimal as possible so you don’t have to remove as much every day. Think tinted moisturiser instead of foundation, and a little eyeliner instead of mascara.

If you can’t break up with your wet wipes, pick the right kind

If you’re really married to your wet wipes, there are a number of more environmentally friendly options on the market.

Biodegradable wet wipes – which are the most eco-friendly?

While many wet wipes contain plastic, there are eco-friendly alternatives which contain no plastic and will cause less harm to the environment when they start to break down.

As with all wet wipes, you should still dispose of these in the bin unless they are certified as Fine To Flush.

These are some of the more eco-friendly brands.

Cheeky Wipes – reusable baby wipes made from cloth and essential oils

Cheeky Panda – all of Cheeky Panda’s products, including baby wipes and facial cleansing wipes, are made from bamboo and water, and are 100% biodegradable and compostable.

Bambino Mio – another company offering reusable wipes, which you can simply use with water

MyPura – Plastic-free, biodegradable, compostable wipes made from water and organic aloe vera.

Aldi Mamia – plastic free, biodegradable and, with prices starting from just 52p for a pack of 64 regular (non-sensitive) wipes, they’re a good option for those on a tighter budget.

Nivea – the skincare giants do a plastic-free wipe which contains argan oil and aloe vera.

Simple – all of Simple’s wipes are now made from sustainably-sourced plant-based fibres which biodegrade naturally – plus the packaging is also recyclable.

And if you want to opt for flushable wipes, make sure you look out for the industry body Water UK’s ‘fine to flush’ mark – that’s the way to know for sure they’re OK in your pipes.

This article contains affiliate links. We may earn a small commission on purchases made through one of these links but this never influences our experts’ opinions. Products are tested and reviewed independently of commercial initiatives.

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