For some years now, whenever we would go camping or to the park, we always brought “baby wipes” with us. It started because we had a small child or two in tow. But we quickly discovered that those wipes get used by the adults just as often, if not more, than the kids. These DIY hand wipes for camping are a perfect way to save money. Seriously, wet wipes make everything better.
When water is in short supply, having an alternate way to wipe dirt, sweat, and campfire soot away becomes important! So now camping wipes have become a staple on all our trips, and are a requirement for any successful camping trip with kids.
But even better than expensive store-bought baby wipes (often made with questionable ingredients anyway), is this great DIY version you can make yourself and feel better about using. Save money. Better for the environment. Win-win!
The recipe is similar to these DIY flushable wipes, but with a couple of camping-related additions. It’s flexible and easy to tweak to your particular needs. So I’ll tell you how we do it and give a few suggestions for substitutions you might be interested in.
How to Make DIY Camping Wipes
We use a coffee can to hold these which is easy to use and carry assuming you’re car camping (or even take them in your RV or travel trailer). You’ll want to stay away from glass containers since glass and camping don’t always mix well.
If you’re going to hike in to your camping spot, then pull out a good handful of them and seal up in a zip-top type bag or homemade reusable bag for portability. I’d still recommend you put the whole coffee can with the rest of them in the car, though. When you hike back to your car after your camping is over — or if you’re going to head out to do some sightseeing — you’re going to be really happy to have an ample supply of these great wipes readily at hand!
What you need to make the homemade camping wet wipes:
- A container to hold your wipes -As I say, we find this nice squat coffee can worked well for today’s fat rolls of paper towels which sort-of “swell up” when they get wet. You could also invest in a high quality container like this (add your affiliate link) And remember, no glass.
- A roll of sturdy, good quality paper towels – This is not the time for your bargain brand towels which are likely to just fall apart when they get soaked. A sturdy brand like Bounty is perfect.
- A knife to cut the paper towels – This is a great use for that electric knife if you have one. (Yes, it is good for something other than carving turkey!) A long serrated bread knife will definitely do the job, too.
- Water – Distilled if you have it. Or boiled for 3 minutes if you use plain tap or “regular” bottled water (which, let’s face it, is often just “tap water” put into a bottle!)
- Witch hazel – While this is a little less common than it might have been in years past, you can still find it at many drug stores or on Amazon. I use quite a bit so I order witch hazel in bulk.
- Liquid soap – I like to use baby wash for this, but if you were even more “crunchy mama” inclined, you could go with something like castille soap (i.e. Dr. Bronners). And if you weren’t dealing with any skin sensitivities, you could just use liquid hand soap or shower gel. The recipe only uses a small amount.
Oils needed for the homemade wipes recipe:
- Carrier Oil – I love to use fractionated coconut oil here. It’s got great antibacterial properties, is very skin soothing, and the “fractionated” form stays liquid. If you don’t have any though, any light oil — I’ve used the avocado oil I cook with, for instance — would work fine. You could even use baby oil if the whole petrochemical thing doesn’t bother you.
- Essential Oils – For this mixture I really like using Tea Tree (Melaleuca Alterniforia) oil which is very cleansing, Lemon oil for its fresh scent, and Citronella oil. (You can also use Bug Off Oil here.) The three together are useful as a personal “deodorant” too… which can be a helpful quality when you’re sweating out in nature!
Bonus “Camping Wipes” Printables for Your Container
Directions for these homemade disposable personal wipes:
Okay, got your ingredients assembled? Here’s how you actually make it!
1. Boil 1-1/2 cups water, let cool a bit so it’s warmish, but not hot.
2. While the water is cooling, cut your roll of paper towels to be the right height to fit into your container. (It will be “roughly” cut in half, but the particular container you use will obviously dictate what size you cut your roll to.)
3. Put cut roll of towels, cut-side down, into your coffee can (or other container) and set aside.
4. Add 1/2 cup Witch Hazel to the warm water.
5. Add 1 TBSP fractionated coconut oil (or other light oil). Stir to mix.
6. Add 1 TSP baby wash or other liquid soap. Stir GENTLY to mix — you don’t want it to “bubble” up.
7. Add 6 to 8 drops of Tea Tree oil, 3 to 4 drops lemon oil, and 6 to 8 drops citronella oil. Mix gently again.
8. Pour mixture over the roll of paper towels in the coffee can. Put the lid on and roll around gently and let sit upside down, then turn back right side up and leave until the paper towels have absorbed all the liquid.
9. Wiggle the cardboard center “tube” out of the paper towels. Once it is saturated, it should come out pretty easily and may also bring up the “end” of the interior of the roll so you can start pulling them from the middle.
You’re ready to go! Do be aware that Lemon essential oil can cause “photosensitivity” so if you’re super-sun-sensitive, you might even just want to leave it out. There is little enough in this formula that it should not cause problems, but if you’re concerned, the rest of the formula with just the tea tree and citronella oils will work fine.
Need some camping meal ideas? 10 Easiest Car Camping Meals
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or if you don’t have time to make it:Natural Biodegradable Camping Wipes DIY Body Lotion