About twenty years ago (sheesh I’m old), my husband I went camping in Colorado. It was one of the most memorable experiences in my lifetime. The peace I felt in the mountains was something I’d previously only experienced while walking through Notre Dame Cathedral and admiring the emerald green grass surrounding Stonehenge. My brother in law calls Colorado “God’s Country” for good reason.
However…biodegradable or not, paper towels about in the wilderness will have negative effects on the local wildlife and natural beauty of the area.
According to family members, the state’s popularity has left a mark on the many parks and campgrounds.
That being said, I will still use homemade camping wipes. The paper towels aren’t the only part of this homemade tutorial that are biodegradable.
I distinctly remember how smoky and dirty I was after a week of camping. This time we’ll be camping closer to THREE weeks.
How to make wet wipes for camping:
This post includes affiliate links. See my full disclosure here.
You need these supplies to make body wipes:
- A roll of paper towels
- A container for your wipes. I LOVE theSterilite Flip Top Shoe Boxfor this!
- 3 – 4 cups of distilled water, or tap water that has been boiled for 3 minutes to kill any bacteria then allowed to cool to lukewarm.
- 1/2 Tbl Fractionated Coconut Oil (I’m a HUGE fan of Fractionated Coconut Oil, aka FCO.)
- 2 TBL Witch Hazel
- 2 Tbl biodegradable liquid soap, “camp soap” or “pure unscented castile soap like Dr. Bronners“
- 10-20 drops Tea Tree Essential Oil – optional
- 2 drops Lemon Essential Oil – optional
I want these wipes to be shower wipes for camping so instead of cutting the roll of paper towels in half, I left the entire roll intact. Since we are going to carry our wipes out with us for disposal, I opted not to use unbleached 100% recycled paper towels for the comfort of the kids. Choose the brand that is best for your family.
For the backpacking part of our trip, I am putting these wipes in zip top bags to make them lighter and so we also have bags to put the soiled ones inside. While we are moving to reusable waterproof bags, I still have a large stockpile of plastic zip top bags thanks to my Costco addiction.
Put your paper towel roll into the plastic container. (Note: No, we aren’t planning on using all of them during the backpacking portion of our trip lol. We’ll be on the road for two days driving there from Florida plus these come in handy after a few minutes at the pool, park, or just going outside because the humidity here is ridiculous right now.
Are these essential oils essential for camp wipes?
The essential oils are optional and not required to make effective wipes. However, the biodegradable soap is definitely required. If you decide to rinse off after using these wipes (though not necessary) or if you use them as a single use wash cloth, please make sure to do so at least 200 yards away from a water source. Use the wipes to clean soiled dishes then rinse.
Remember to bury your waste water because the soil acts as a natural filter and speeds up the biodegrading process. Even the biodegradable soap has negative effects on the fish and wildlife in the stream.
I chose to use tea tree oil because it is a disinfectant, astringent, keeps the wipes from mildewing and helps repel ticks. The two drops of lemon oil helps degrease your skin. It also cuts the strong scent of the tea tree oil. The wipes will not last as long commercially wipes will because the homemade version lacks the chemical preservatives. The tea tree oil slows the mildewing process but will not prevent it completely. Wipes last longer in less humid climates than they do in Florida.
For ultimate freshness, make your batch of wipes right before heading out on your camping adventure!
Mix your liquid ingredients in a bowl or jar. Pour a little bit on the paper towel in the Sterilite container, then rotate the paper towel and repeat until all sides are wet. The middle will be only slightly damp at this point. The water will gradually saturate the entire roll. Once the roll is damp, you can pull out the cardboard roll in the center and discard.
You’ll feel much cleaner when you have some of these handy.
I plan to keep the wipes in the Sterilite at home then in the camper and bring bags of wipes out and about with us. Have fun!
(You need these too —> DIY Bug Bite Wipes)
Make sure you subscribe to my newsletter so you don’t miss any of my new camping tips, like the DIY Dry Shampoo for Camping that I have coming up…even if you plan to sport this super cute tank top.