I had a couple of questions about cleaning while out there. How do people generally go about cleaning the things they use for cooking and the like? Just save a bit of water and rinse them off?
Also, what about personal hygiene? Do people bring toothpaste and toothbrush. Soap for bathing? I would assume people at least take toilet paper along. Or do people ruff it completely and bring none of this with them?
I always try to wash my dishes and cookpot with soapy water and rinse with hot water. Otherwise I run the chance of getting the runs. I wash my hands before cooking and after each "abulation" with soap and water or gelled alcohol. I also carry handi wipe singles or sanitizing wipes.
Paste and toothbrush every evening after dinner.
We don't stop hiking because we grow old, we grow old because we stop hiking. Finis Mitchell
I take toothbrush and a tiny tube of paste. Like all human waste, mouth rinsings get buried. Some of the areas require you to pack out toilet paper; for areas that don't the biodegradable kind is better than the Charmin or other store brands.
Since I boil water 99% of the time I'm able to avoid lots of washing of the pot, and rinse my bowl/mug thoroughly with any leftover hot water from the pot. If there are more than a few scattered remnants of food I bury it with the toothbrushing water.
You can use wet wipes for washing - surprising how far you can go with a single wipe. Face first, then the rest. Sometimes I like to heat a little more water than I need in the morning to "soak" my head. I'm able to wash my (short) hair with a cup of water and a couple drops of Dr Bronner's.
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki
Teeth. If I'm just out for a night or two I don't use tooth paste or powder, just a brush and a water rinse. Your teeth won't fall out if you do this once in a while. That saves weight/bulk and it's LNT. Plus less scent for Mr. bear.
Body: Once, before I knew any better, I spent a long hot sunny buggy day on the trail. Once in camp I jumped in the lake to cool off and wash off the crud. I did not have soap but to my horror I left an "oil slick" on the surface of pristine lake, formed by all the sunscreen/bug juice still on my skin but unnoticed.
Now, I still dip in the lakes but not before a thorough rinse far from the shore with as little soap as possible. With practice it's amazing how little soap you need to clean up. And of course I never use soap in the lake. I usually buzz down my hair so I'm almost bald before a long trip so I have nothing on my head to wash.
Pots: I only carry one. For breakfast I eat my oatmeal (all I ever eat for breakfast on the trail) first and then make my hot chocolate or coffee in the same container without rinsing first. The beverage acts as the rinse water for the oatmeal. Sure I have little chunks of oatmeal in my coffee but I don't care. This method is good for conserving water in the desert too.
One thing that is very important is to wash your hands very well after every poop with no exception. I use copious amount of hand sanitizer and/or my alcohol stove fuel and lots of friction between my hands. Yes, washing your hands with soap and hot water is more effective but not always practical on the trail.
Extreme? Maybe. But everything is relative.
_________________________ If you only travel on sunny days you will never reach your destination.*
* May not apply at certain latitudes in Canada and elsewhere.
My spoon, fork, etc are dipped in the pan of boiling water for my coffee after being wiped on my pants/shirt/socks. I heat a tad of hot water in a pan and use my spoon to clean it - no soap is required. If is really dirty, I scrub it our with a handful of sand first. In fact ever since I was a boyscout, I have never used soap to clean anything that I eat off while camping because soap can make you sick and its hard to rinse off. You kind of clean as you go.
I always carry a tooth brush and a small squished tube of tooth paste. I do have a couple CCs of a special liquid soap that I would use for cleaning a wound or some other rare usage. I don't carry soap on short trips, on longer trips a motel soap bar is just right.
There are small travel deodorant anti perspirant things at the drug store. I rarely pack one but often keep one in my truck...
Swimming rinses me off, but you can take a sponge bath in as little as 6 ounces of warm water and a bit of "No Rinse Body Bath". Its the astronaut bath stuff. This stuff really works, removes the stink and you'll feel a lot better. The corner of a small towel dipped in a cup of warm water is nice for cleaning yourself, and then just dry off on the rest of the towel. The best towels are made of microfiber and called "hair towels".
On longer trip personal hygiene and health in general becomes much more critical and time consuming. I'm not much worried about pathogens where I camp, and to that extent I do filter my water, even the water I boiled because it tastes better. I Carry a pur hiker water filter, as its about the fastest and easiest and most reliable that I've owned. Anyway a good supply of clean water is more important to me than washing my hands or god forbid - using soap on my cup or pans. Jim YMMV Jim
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.
If it is less than 2 nights, no toothbrush or paste. My teeth won't fall out in such short time, and I brush every day at home, so it is not that often that I don't. If more than 2 nights, I bring a brush with small amounts of paste.
I always bring baby wipes. I only use them for cleaning my south end when I face north, after a good off load. To me, there are two main areas that I am strict at keeping clean. Anything that goes in the mouth, or touches things that go in mouth need to be cleaned. Also, any area that gets a lot of rubbing needs to be cleaned and prepped. This usually means between my thighs, and my butt cheeks. They get cleaned with baby wipes, and then something that is slick and repels water gets applied. This can be petroleum jelly, hydropel, or various other similar things. I either burn the baby wipes, or carry them out.
I've taken a vow of poverty. To annoy me, send money.
The only thing I ever have to worry about cleaning is the spoon I eat with. Everything else is really just boiling water to put into my freeze dried food. Even my spoon I'm fairly lax on sanitizing since I'm not really going to get sick from my own germs, and then it goes into a plastic bag just to keep dust off of it.
As far as personal hygiene goes, I of course have TP and also some wet wipes. The wet wipes are just to clean really any area that rubs or sweats after a long day of walking, but that's only if there isn't a body of water around. If there's a lake or a decent sized pond, I'm probably going for a dip as well.
I tend not to worry about toothbrushes unless I'm gone more than one night, and I usually don't bring toothpaste since I'm only concerned about keeping plaque off of the teeth.
I also bring along some hand sanitizer too. It's a nice extra to have for when you need to haave some clean hands and also if you happen to have any cuts that have been cleaned and wouldn't mind a quick bit of germ killing.
Other than that though, that's about it.
In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.-Aristotle
For teeth....floss always. For 1-3 nighter, no brushing or paste. Longer stays, I've been known to make my own tooth brushes from green twigs...it works. My wife gets sample packs of tooth paste at her work. Soda works well too. Flossing is key, for me.
For dish/spoon, I sterilise with hot water and wipe dry. Generally use tortillas as my "plate" so there is usually nothing to wash. Rarely more than boiling water in the pot.
Body...if there is a lake/river/creek, I'll swim after sponging off. If I use soap, it will be Bronners, very sparingly. No deodorant....after a coupe days you can smell other hikers deodorant a hundred yards away. If desert hiking, I'm going to stink. You can only get so dirty. TP...not usually. Plenty of 'natural TP' arround.
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