Author Topic: When hiking how do you wash your clothes?  (Read 578 times)

gunwharfman

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When hiking how do you wash your clothes?
« on: 12:24:42, 21/03/21 »
If I'm not on a site I look for running water nearby, I lay out my groundsheet, half fill my flexible bowel with cold water, put in my 'detergent,' and then place the bowel on, and to one side of the groundsheet. The clothes I want to wash are then put in my bowl of water.

I take off my shoes and socks, step onto the groundsheet (towel to hand) and then place my feet in the bowl and step up and down, 'like pressing grapes' for a while. I obviously wash and freshen up my feet as well by doing this. It can be good fun and sometimes a welcome interlude from the plod, plod, plod of daily hiking.

If there are smooth rocks around I may decide to 'slap' a particular garment on them a few times, and if items are 'delicate' I may choose to wash them by hand instead.

If it's nice and sunny I might choose to stay there a while and let my clothes dry in the sun, or just peg them to the back of my rucksack if I want to hike on.

It can be a very therapuetic interlude.

richardh1905

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Re: When hiking how do you wash your clothes?
« Reply #1 on: 12:33:59, 21/03/21 »
Washing clothes whilst hiking? What a strange concept  :D

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gunwharfman

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Re: When hiking how do you wash your clothes?
« Reply #2 on: 12:36:47, 21/03/21 »
 ;D

jimbob

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Re: When hiking how do you wash your clothes?
« Reply #3 on: 12:42:48, 21/03/21 »
But why do you put the detergent in your flexible bowel. I see you put the clothes in the bowl without detergent.  ;D
Were you having a bit of bother in the movements department.  :D
The only walk I've been on where this was a necessity was the Camino de Santiago, which is totally geared up for washing clothes anyway. It was ghe drying I often found patchy because I walked in a colder, damper period. The number of people walking with their scanties pinned to the back of their bags to dry was quite amusing.
Too little, too late, too bad......

gunwharfman

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Re: When hiking how do you wash your clothes?
« Reply #4 on: 12:43:10, 21/03/21 »
It's also a time when I might choose to have a shower. I have this wonderful little showerhead from Lifeventure, it just screws onto a water bottle and I then hang the bottle from a branch. If I'm using cold water I just have to steel myself for the initial cold water shock but it's fine after that. I always carry two of those small square blue sit-on mats, one which I use to stand on when having my shower.

gunwharfman

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Re: When hiking how do you wash your clothes?
« Reply #5 on: 12:50:32, 21/03/21 »
Jimbob you've confused me.  :)

I forgot to mention, I've found that to be successful I have to work to a sequence, nothing worse than standing in a bowl of water then realising I've left my towel in my rucksack, which might be 10' or more away from me. As I walk over to get it my wet feet pick up every bit of dirt, grass, etc and when I walk back to my groundsheet I just pick up more.

Skip

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Re: When hiking how do you wash your clothes?
« Reply #6 on: 12:51:10, 21/03/21 »
When hiking how do you wash your clothes?

I don't.

You mention running water nearby (which suggests a brook, gill or beck) and also say that you use detergent. What happens to the contaminated water - does it go back into the watercourse?
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Birdman

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Re: When hiking how do you wash your clothes?
« Reply #7 on: 13:18:19, 21/03/21 »
I rinse underwear and socks if there is a fast flowing river. They can dry quite easily by hanging them on my backpack. Everything else is less critical and I just wait for a good opportunity. But if I finish early and it is a nice dry sunny afternoon, I may rinse and dry the larger items too.

Under no conditions do I ever use any kind of soap/ deterrent in the wild, not even biodegradable type (is also bad). Washing with soap I do only in towns with a proper sewer. And that includes washing myself with soap. I do bathe (without soap) in fast flowing streams or some of the bigger lakes.
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gunwharfman

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Re: When hiking how do you wash your clothes?
« Reply #8 on: 14:15:29, 21/03/21 »
I'm afraid so, my detergent is just a small dollop of baby shampoo, thats all I carry with me, I'm not offering any excuse.

Perranwell

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Re: When hiking how do you wash your clothes?
« Reply #9 on: 14:40:12, 21/03/21 »
On a 29-night wild camping walk last summer, I found the only thing that demanded washing was pants. Washed them in streams and stuck them in a mesh pocket or on bushes to dry. I did hit a week of rain, but had 3 spare pairs with me. In any event, no great hardship to put a pair on damp.


Still, it was a challenge I wanted to solve. So in the autumn I invested in two pairs of merino underpants. The prices of those have always put me off, but crikey they've been an amazing buy. In an experiment towards my next hike, I've worn just those two pairs ever since: and they're still like brand new. I treat them very carefully and hand-wash them in a little organic liquid soap in the sink. But on a hike I'm sure they'd come up nice just in water.


The issue with pants is smells, and merino ones solve that to a mind-blowing degree. However unhygienic one's prepared to be on the trail, there does come a point when pants have to be washed. From my experiments with these two pairs at home, I feel confident that point will be suspended for longer now. So I might just risk taking only the two pairs next time.


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On very hot days, salt stains can accumulate on my clothes, which is unsightly. But I think nothing of removing my pack and shoes and plunging fully clothed into a river before walking on. In good weather, the body is an excellent clothes horse and everything will soon dry.
« Last Edit: 14:44:38, 21/03/21 by Perranwell »

Birdman

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Re: When hiking how do you wash your clothes?
« Reply #10 on: 16:38:12, 21/03/21 »
@Perranwell, Yes merino wool is miracle stuff! On long hikes I often don't wash it for weeks on end. On a five week hike in the Himalaya I basically never took it off, as there was no opportunity to shower and it was to bloody cold anyway! I hiked in it and went to bed with it.
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forgotmyoldpassword

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Re: When hiking how do you wash your clothes?
« Reply #11 on: 17:31:26, 22/03/21 »
For longer hikes you need to start washing things, for shorter ones it doesn't matter much (unless you're taking public transport home, in which case it's a good idea to find an empty carriage/part of the bus). 


Fast flowing stream is the best bet, however soap is not a brilliant idea in streams and water courses as it kills a lot of the wildlife so you'll just want to use a brush or your hands to try and clean it through. 


For me it's about the only reason I use campsites when I'm solo, I want a proper shower and to be able to wash clothing properly.  There's a certain smell (which you stop noticing yourself) especially during the summer which gets 'baked on'.

richardh1905

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Re: When hiking how do you wash your clothes?
« Reply #12 on: 17:40:01, 22/03/21 »
For longer hikes you need to start washing things, for shorter ones it doesn't matter much (unless you're taking public transport home, in which case it's a good idea to find an empty carriage/part of the bus). 


Even if it isn't empty when you board, it soon will be!  :D
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ninthace

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Re: When hiking how do you wash your clothes?
« Reply #13 on: 18:06:49, 22/03/21 »
If I'm not on a site I look for running water nearby, I lay out my groundsheet, half fill my flexible bowel with cold water, put in my 'detergent,' and then place the bowel on, and to one side of the groundsheet.
..........
It can be a very therapuetic interlude.


I like the idea of a flexible bowel - how do you get the washing in and how to you get it back clean?   Mind you I can see how it can be therapeutic.  ;)
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gunwharfman

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Re: When hiking how do you wash your clothes?
« Reply #14 on: 18:11:31, 22/03/21 »
I have a 'routine' with underwear and socks in particular, I'm a 'wash them every day,' if I can, kind of bloke. My clothes changing time of the day is when I erect my tent for the evening. I carry two pairs of really comfortable stretchy but nicely grippy Decathlon boxers, about 4 each. At the end of the day, I put my clean ones on and wash my worn ones, so easy and they dry so quickly.

Sometimes en-route on really hot days, if I find clear and safe water, I will just strip off and walk-in up to my waist or armpits or just sit in shallow water with them on. One of the failings of my life is that I never learned to swim. When I get out I sometimes just get dressed even though my underwear is still wet, definitely a cooling experience but they still dry quickly.

I take two pairs of socks as well but only wash my worn pair when my tent is erected for the night. Socks take a while longer to dry, I just peg them to my rucksack the next morning.

If I have a shower on a site I often just walk into the shower with socks and underwear on and wash them whilst still wearing them, very nice and easy to do.