How to keep your butt clean on tour?

2 02 2011

Keep this handy...

If you don’t want to hear about butt hygiene stop reading now.  You will be offended.

A lot of the time when people think they got sick from food poisoning they actually got sick from butt poisoning.  Your shit has all the necessary ingredients to make you sick so it’s no surprise that if you don’t follow sensible protocols you’ll end up sick from your own germs when camping. I’ll cover what I do when camping on a bike tour with no running water.  If you have access to a shower or tap or river it’s easier to stay clean and you can alter my suggestions as needed.

It’s really important to know yourself so you can plan accordingly. When I get up in the AM in camp and have a cup of tea I need to shit. So I’m already scoping out the situation as I brew my tea.  I keep a roll of TP and hand sanitizer in a ziplock bag.  If I am in a remote area like Baja I add a lighter and trowel.  I also have a small squeezable bike water bottle handy and some biodegradable soap in a small squeeze bottle.

When nature calls I’ll:

  • grab my supplies and find a suitable spot [away from streams, lakes, etc..]
  • dig a hole
  • shit
  • clean up with TP
  • burn TP [someplaces this is not appropriate depending on fire hazard]
  • cover everything in hole
  • use soap and water bottle to clean butt [be thorough]
  • use hand sanitizer when all is said and done as a final sterilization step

You’ll want to organize your supplies so you pack them away as you go.  That way when you use the hand sanitizer you are just grabbing the outside of a couple ziplocks or mesh stuff sacks. When in doubt hit the hand sanitizer again and keep in mind the outside of the sanitizer container is likely one of you dirtiest surfaces in your panniers so put some in one hand and put it away before cleaning your hands so you don’t have to touch it again.

What this accomplishes?

  • you end up with a clean butt so you are not as likely to develop saddle sores
  • you can wear underwear for more than one day with less risk of problems
  • you don’t get as stinky as fast
  • your hands stay clean of butt related germs so you don’t get sick

Keep in mind:

  • your friends can make you sick through shared utensils, food or water so enforce a high standard of group hygiene
  • hand sanitize before each meal and a few times a day to keep the germ count on your hands down
  • wash thoroughly if a shower, bath tub, stream or lake presents itself [don’t put soap in a stream or lake even if it’s biodegradable]
  • I try and put on clean boxers every day or every second day depending on my clothing spares and laundry opportunities
  • urinating does not have any significant risk of making you sick so feel free to hand sanitize afterwards, but don’t break out the same biohazard kit you used when you defecated
  • I don’t like wet wipes, but some people do use them to stay clean when bathing is not an option
  • although not essential if water is plentiful that squeezable water bottle and biodegradable soap will let you have a pretty good camp shower. If you are camped with someone attractive of the opposite sex you can help each other out with refills of the water bottle and accurately aimed squirts of water…=-)



5 responses

2 02 2011

Thanks for your blog, one of my favorites, it makes my world better. Keep riding and bloging. Stay active.

2 02 2011
Ty Smith

This was one of your best posts yet!

This may be sexist, but I think only “us guys” can appreciate the finer points of the art of shitting, whether it be outdoors or indoors, lol!

I do have another suggestion for bathing:

When backpacking, my wife and I bring a portable camp shower. It is just a large water bag with a shower nozzle attached. We just heat up some water and pour into the open top. Of course, we use our biodegradable campsuds as well, and only do the shower a good 100+ feet from any water source.

The other nice feature of this campshower is it only adds the weight of the light plastic nozzle to your load, as the water bag is multi-purpose.

Unfortunately, I can’t remember the name right now, as we bought it years ago and it is buried away with our backpacking stuff, but I’m sure you could still find one today.

Bottom line, there is nothing, and I repeat nothing, like a hot shower at 10,000 feet in the middle of nowhere.

Thanks again Vik! Love your stuff!


2 02 2011

If you like them I’d guess biodegradable wet wipes would be a valid alternative to the full bum wash after a poop. Possibly less messy as well.

3 02 2011

@Jammy – I think that would be true for the ladies and perhaps the less hairy guys out there. I won’t go into further detail!…=-)~

3 02 2011


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