7 Tips for Staying Clean on a Whitewater Rafting Trip

Whitewater rafting trips are an adventure of a lifetime. But when you’re camping out every night (and far from a hotel), how do you stay clean? In this article, we’ll navigate the ins and outs of bathing while on the river and offer some of our top tips for staying clean. 


couple swimming in a river


1. Swim at Every Opportunity

The easiest way to stay clean on a river trip is by swimming at each and every opportunity, both during the day and at camp. Aside from the occasional capsize, there are always plenty of tranquil stretches and pools where your guide will give you a chance to swim and refresh along the way. In addition, we’ll often fill our solar shower during the day and let it heat up on top of the boat so you can enjoy a warm shower at camp. 


couple enjoying a view


2. Take Advantage of Waterfalls and Hot Springs

Some river trips are blessed with waterfalls along the way, offering a natural shower where you can easily wash in the fresh (albeit cold) water. But it’s hot springs that are the highlight, with the opportunity to soak your weary muscles and bathe while being surrounded by the beauty of Mother Nature. If you're keen on the idea of soaking in hot springs during your rafting trip, be sure to check out the Middle Fork of the Salmon river in Idaho! 



3. Bring Biodegradable Soaps and Wipes

If you’re someone who needs soap to feel clean, then be sure to bring biodegradable soaps that you can use to wash yourself at camp with a bucket of river water. Be aware that we don’t allow people to use biodegradable soaps in the river, so you’ll need to find a secluded spot above the river's high water line to have your “bath”. Alternatively, you can bring moist towelettes or wipes to clean the body areas you’re most concerned about at the end of the day. 



4. Invest in Dry Shampoo or Pack a Hat! 

Adventurers who are worried about getting greasy hair can pack a dry shampoo, which can be applied without the need for any water. It generally comes in aerosol or powder forms and can be easily applied to your hair, keeping it grease-free until you have the opportunity to take a real shower. Alternatively, many avid rafters and campers choose to pack a hat, wear braids or sport a ponytail. 


man looking into the distance


5. Wear Quick-Drying and Antimicrobial Clothing 

Wearing quick-drying and antimicrobial clothing will help to prevent the “stink” in the first place by preventing odor-causing bacteria from taking root. They’re also convenient in that you can rinse them at night and they’ll be ready to wear the next morning. Merino wool is a great option for breathability, warmth retention and odor prevention! 



6. Pack a Few Reusable Dirty/Clean or Compression Bags

Keeping your clean gear separated from your dirty items is key to maintaining good hygiene in the backcountry. We recommend packing a few reusable compression, stuff or dirty/clean bags for your adventure.  You can use these small bags to store your dirty clothes, keeping them away from your clean items, or simply organize your gear. Smaller ziplock bags are also helpful for the disposal of female hygiene products, which can be placed in the trash containers at camp.



7. Carry Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizer is a convenient way of maintaining good hygiene on river trips, whether it’s after going to the bathroom or before eating a meal. A small bottle can easily be slipped into your pocket and will save you a trip to the hand-washing station. Your ROW Guides will provide hand sanitizer on any of our multi-day rafting trips as well! 

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