7 Best Soaps for Camping in 2021 (Buying Guide)

7 Best Soaps for Camping in 2021 (Buying Guide)

Table of Contents

    The strongest testament to the necessity of soap at a campsite is most likely to come from campers who have been out in the wild with somebody who didn’t bring any. Even on a brief backpacking excursion, the chores that fill a long day can leave an unpleasant scent on just about anyone. It can seem like a luxury that stays at home while the rough and rugged go out into the wild, but camping soap is essential for use as body wash, dish soap, or at the very least hand sanitizer.

    Even at a campsite with no water source, the right camp soap can be paired with one of these camping showers and towels to keep people and their various camping gear, cool gadgets, or reusable cutlery clean and ready. One of the surest ways to keep everything in your rucksack lasting a long time is to clean it as often as you can, and that takes the right kind of soap. 

    In a hurry? Here’s the test winner after 10 hours of research:

    Dr. Bronner’s - Pure-Castile Liquid Soap (Baby Unscented, 4 ounce) - Made with Organic Oils, 18-in-1 Uses: Face, Hair, Laundry and Dishes, For Sensitive Skin and Babies, No Added Fragrance, Vegan
    760 Reviews
    Dr. Bronner’s - Pure-Castile Liquid Soap (Baby Unscented, 4 ounce) - Made with Organic Oils, 18-in-1 Uses: Face, Hair, Laundry and Dishes, For Sensitive Skin and Babies, No Added Fragrance, Vegan
    • MADE WITH ORGANIC OILS and CERTIFIED FAIR TRADE INGREDIENTS: Dr. Bronner's Pure-Castile Liquid Soaps are made with over 90% organic ingredients. Over 70% of ingredients are certified fair trade,...

    7 Best Soaps for Camping - Overview

    And here’s an overview of the best soaps for camping on the market today:

    Overview
    Dr. Bronner’s - Pure-Castile Liquid Soap (Baby Unscented, 4 ounce) - Made with Organic Oils, 18-in-1 Uses: Face, Hair, Laundry and Dishes, For Sensitive Skin and Babies, No Added Fragrance, Vegan
    Sea to Summit Wilderness Wash Citronella, with Citronella, 3.0 fl oz / 89ml
    Biodegradable Camp Soap - 8 oz - For Fresh & Salt Water - For Hands, Dishes & Clothing - Unscented Liquid Camp Soap
    Friendly Soap Natural Shampoo Bar Lavender & Geranium 95g
    Coghlan's Camp Soap, 4 fl. oz.
    Title
    Dr. Bronner’s - Pure-Castile Liquid Soap (Baby Unscented, 4 ounce) - Made with Organic Oils, 18-in-1 Uses: Face, Hair, Laundry and Dishes, For Sensitive Skin and Babies, No Added Fragrance, Vegan
    Sea to Summit Wilderness Wash Citronella, with Citronella, 3.0 fl oz / 89ml
    Biodegradable Camp Soap - 8 oz - For Fresh & Salt Water - For Hands, Dishes & Clothing - Unscented Liquid Camp Soap
    Friendly Soap Natural Shampoo Bar Lavender & Geranium 95g
    Coghlan's Camp Soap, 4 fl. oz.
    Price
    $7.49
    Price not available
    $9.98
    $6.20
    $3.99
    Rating
    Overview
    Dr. Bronner’s - Pure-Castile Liquid Soap (Baby Unscented, 4 ounce) - Made with Organic Oils, 18-in-1 Uses: Face, Hair, Laundry and Dishes, For Sensitive Skin and Babies, No Added Fragrance, Vegan
    Title
    Dr. Bronner’s - Pure-Castile Liquid Soap (Baby Unscented, 4 ounce) - Made with Organic Oils, 18-in-1 Uses: Face, Hair, Laundry and Dishes, For Sensitive Skin and Babies, No Added Fragrance, Vegan
    Price
    $7.49
    Rating
    Overview
    Sea to Summit Wilderness Wash Citronella, with Citronella, 3.0 fl oz / 89ml
    Title
    Sea to Summit Wilderness Wash Citronella, with Citronella, 3.0 fl oz / 89ml
    Price
    Price not available
    Rating
    Overview
    Biodegradable Camp Soap - 8 oz - For Fresh & Salt Water - For Hands, Dishes & Clothing - Unscented Liquid Camp Soap
    Title
    Biodegradable Camp Soap - 8 oz - For Fresh & Salt Water - For Hands, Dishes & Clothing - Unscented Liquid Camp Soap
    Price
    $9.98
    Rating
    Overview
    Friendly Soap Natural Shampoo Bar Lavender & Geranium 95g
    Title
    Friendly Soap Natural Shampoo Bar Lavender & Geranium 95g
    Price
    $6.20
    Rating
    Overview
    Coghlan's Camp Soap, 4 fl. oz.
    Title
    Coghlan's Camp Soap, 4 fl. oz.
    Price
    $3.99
    Rating

    Maybe soap clashes with the image of dirty hands that have seen a good day’s work, but when you get out to your campsite you’ll understand how precious a good scrubbing can be for campers, pets, and gear alike. There are many secondary benefits to some soaps, like the kind that serves a double function as insect repellent. Bar soap or liquid soap won’t take up much space in the pack, and everyone will be glad to have some kind of cleaning product along, especially if they plan to share a tent. 

     

    A girl taking a shower in a waterfall.

    Stay fresh and clean anywhere you go with the right camping soap.

    1. Dr. Bronners Pure-Castile Liquid Soap

    Dr. Bronner’s - Pure-Castile Liquid Soap (Baby Unscented, 4 ounce) - Made with Organic Oils, 18-in-1 Uses: Face, Hair, Laundry and Dishes, For Sensitive Skin and Babies, No Added Fragrance, Vegan
    760 Reviews
    Dr. Bronner’s - Pure-Castile Liquid Soap (Baby Unscented, 4 ounce) - Made with Organic Oils, 18-in-1 Uses: Face, Hair, Laundry and Dishes, For Sensitive Skin and Babies, No Added Fragrance, Vegan
    • MADE WITH ORGANIC OILS and CERTIFIED FAIR TRADE INGREDIENTS: Dr. Bronner's Pure-Castile Liquid Soaps are made with over 90% organic ingredients. Over 70% of ingredients are certified fair trade,...

    This soap from Dr. Bronners is extremely versatile and comes fragrance-free or in peppermint, although there are some similar soaps from this company up on Amazon that have scents like lavender if you prefer. One advantage of liquid soaps like this one is the comparative ease in working up a lather. Clearly dedicated to the leave no trace guidelines, this pure-castile liquid soap boasts ecologically friendly characteristics almost across the board. It’s crafted with natural ingredients, including 90% organic ingredients and 70% ingredients that are certified fair trade. This is a biodegradable camp soap, which means the soapy water you dump out and leave behind will leave no trace. 

    The pure-castile liquid soap is made from plant-based ingredients and none of the synthetic preservatives that are used in some other brands as thickeners or foaming agents. Dr. Bronners says this soap is three times more concentrated than other soaps, so it will stretch further over multiple washes. Just remember that to get this advantage you need to dilute the product with water before you start washing.

    This vegan, non-GMO liquid soap is also packaged in 100% post-consumer recycled plastic bottles. It can be used for pretty much any application you can think of for camping soap: washing your hair, face, laundry, dishes, and many others. It works fine on babies and those with sensitive skin as well. The bottle is compact enough to bring with you in your rucksack without any problem. 

    PROS

    • Environmentally friendly
    • 18 uses in one
    • 3 times concentrated
    • Natural ingredients

    CONS

    • Moderately priced

    2. Sierra Dawn Campsuds Outdoor Soap

    Sierra Dawn Campsuds Outdoor Soap Biodegradable Environmentally Safe All Purpose Cleaner, Camping Hiking Backpacking Travel Camp, Multipurpose
    2,492 Reviews
    Sierra Dawn Campsuds Outdoor Soap Biodegradable Environmentally Safe All Purpose Cleaner, Camping Hiking Backpacking Travel Camp, Multipurpose
    • ALL PURPOSE CLEANER – The #1 best-selling soap for campers, backpackers and travelers! Extremely tough on dirt and grease. Great to use on your hands, face, hair, clothing, dishes and anything else...

    The Campsuds variety of a multi-purpose liquid soap comes in a nice pine scent that isn’t too overpowering. It works as a body wash, dish soap, laundry detergent, or any other purpose you might use soap for. In accordance with the leave no trace guidelines, this soap is 100% biodegradable because it’s crafted from vegetable-based cleaning agents.

    It’s also concentrated but maybe not as much as other brands. It only takes a few drops on a dirty dish or tool to work up a lather and get scrubbing. The bottle is lightweight and portable, though it doesn’t specifically state whether it’s made from post-consumer or recycled materials. You can keep it for use at home but under no circumstances should you use this soap in a washing machine unless you want to scoop a large overflow of bubbles off your laundry room floor.

    PROS

    • Portable
    • Concentrated
    • Pine scent
    • Environmentally friendly

    CONS

    • Non-recycled bottle
    • Not for use in laundry machines

    3. Sea to Summit Citronella Wilderness Wash

    Sea to Summit Wilderness Wash Citronella, with Citronella, 3.0 fl oz / 89ml
    181 Reviews
    Sea to Summit Wilderness Wash Citronella, with Citronella, 3.0 fl oz / 89ml
    • Best Use: Biodegradable, super-concentrated liquid soap for body, fabric & dish cleaning. Citronella and Sandalwood essential oils will help to deter bugs and odors

    The Sea to Summit Wilderness Wash is one of the most dependable camp soaps on Amazon. Sea to Summit doesn’t overindulge on details in their product description, but that’s because this simple soap just works. Like the other soaps that adhere to the leave no trace guidelines, this soap is biodegradable. In fact, it’s even certified by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. It is also thick and highly concentrated, so it should last you over multiple camping trips depending on how long you go camping.

    This soap has citronella essential oils added in, which gives it a nice scent but doesn't do much to deter mosquitoes as you might expect it to do. Another super useful feature of this Sea to Summit Wilderness Wash is the attention to detail they’ve put into the bottle. The bottle it comes in is tough enough to store in a rucksack, the lid is tight to prevent spills, and the size of the bottle is tailored to meet airport security regulations in case the first leg of your trip is in the sky. 

    PROS

    • Leave No Trace certified
    • Concentrated
    • Durable, spill-proof bottle
    • Biodegradable

    CONS

    • May take lots of soap for laundry
    • Not a mosquito deterrent

    4. Direct 2 Boater Biodegradable Camp Soap

    Biodegradable Camp Soap - 8 oz - For Fresh & Salt Water - For Hands, Dishes & Clothing - Unscented Liquid Camp Soap
    67 Reviews
    Biodegradable Camp Soap - 8 oz - For Fresh & Salt Water - For Hands, Dishes & Clothing - Unscented Liquid Camp Soap
    • BIODEGRADABLE SOAP - Formulated & SAFE for FRESH & SALT WATER - No Dies or Fragrances. Ideal Backpack Soap, Dishsoap, Biodegradable Hand Soap, Camp Wash, Portable Hand Soap, Camp Dish Soap,...

    This biodegradable soap is great for anyone with a sensitive nose or a concern about chemical dies since it doesn’t have either one in its formula. Its usefully been formulated for both fresh and saltwater sources, so you can bring it along when you go camping or when you go fishing. It also works well in chlorinated water, and in any of these water sources, the water can be hot or cold. The size of the bottle makes this brand one of the more portable choices in camp soap.

    It is scented but the scent is not overpowering at all. It may cost a dollar or two more than some competitors, but the price is still under $10 so the difference isn’t that large. They didn’t follow the leave no trace guidelines that closely in the development of this liquid soap, leaving in preservatives and some hard to pronounce chemical agents. In any case, you can tell they had boats and fishing in mind, so this is a solid biodegradable camp soap for any campsite near a water source. 

    PROS

    • Biodegradable
    • Works in various water sources
    • Portable

    CONS

    • Contains preservatives
    • More expensive

    5. Friendly Soap Natural Shampoo Bar

    Friendly Soap Natural Shampoo Bar Lavender & Geranium 95g
    249 Reviews
    Friendly Soap Natural Shampoo Bar Lavender & Geranium 95g
    • contains castor oil to create a deeply conditioning, creamy lather

    This Friendly Soap comes in a bar shape, which can have some advantages over liquid soap, especially if you plan on hiking a rocky path or steep incline and don’t trust a liquid soap bottle to stay closed the entire way. For backpackers who will be on a long trip, the bar soap may be more convenient since it can usually sit for a longer period.

    Be wary of warm environments though, because bar soap can melt if it’s left exposed to too much heat. The Friendly Soap bar is nice enough for personal use, but it doesn’t offer any multi-purpose advantage like some of the other models on this list. It does contain essential oils of lavender and geranium, which both have natural stress-relieving qualities. You can work up a nice, creamy lather with this soap bar because of the added castor oil. 

    This soap bar is also free from palm oil, parabens, sulfates, triclosan, and phthalates, opting instead for essential oils like coconut oil, castor oil, and olive oil. It is crafted cruelty-free and boxed in plastic-free recycled (and recyclable) packaging. If you’re only going to use your camp soap for bathing, this could be just what you’re looking for. Just make sure to travel with it in some kind of carrying case or Ziploc bag to prevent any moisture in the bag from activating the soap bar and creating a messy lather when you don’t want it. 

    PROS

    • Essential oils
    • Recycled packaging
    • Creamy lather

    CONS

    • Limited applications
    • Bar soap

    6. Coghlan Soap

    Sale
    Coghlan's Camp Soap, 4 fl. oz.
    267 Reviews
    Coghlan's Camp Soap, 4 fl. oz.
    • 4-ounce bottle of biodegradable liquid soap

    This basic camping soap should have a limited appeal to the environmentally conscious, but it doesn’t go as far as some of the other varieties in this guide. It is biodegradable, but there is no indication that the leave no trace guidelines were adhered to by Coghlan in any other way. There’s no mention of enriching ingredients like essential oils, nor organic ingredients, and there is no promise made regarding the presence of preservatives which likely means that it does have some inside. 

    The Coghlan Soap is one of the cheapest camping soaps on the market, but follow the first leave no trace guideline and plan ahead before you set out on your camping or backpacking trip, because this camp soap is only formulated as a cleaning agent for tools, gear, and dishes. It can be used as a hand sanitizer, but they don’t recommend it as a soap for more sensitive parts of the body. Similarly, this Coghlan soap is limited in terms of additional features as well.

    It doesn’t act as an insect repellant. There may be parabens and triclosan inside, so don’t purchase this model if you take issue with those chemical additives. All that being said, the Coghlan soap is absurdly cheap at less than $4, so if you only need a camping soap to add to an existing body wash, this could be your best option.

    PROS

    • Inexpensive
    • Biodegradable
    • Works for cleaning gear
    • Hand sanitizer

    CONS

    • Not body wash
    • Contains preservatives
    • Not “leaves no trace” compliant

    7. Coleman Camp Soap Sheets

    Coleman Camp Soap Sheets for Dishes and Hands, 50 sheets - Mini Travel Soap Sheets
    1,823 Reviews
    Coleman Camp Soap Sheets for Dishes and Hands, 50 sheets - Mini Travel Soap Sheets
    • 50 biodegradable soap sheets stored in the provided small plastic compact container. These soap sheets use minimal space leaving room for all your travel or camping accessories

    Innovation in the camp soap market has come from Coleman in the form of these soap sheets, which resemble a washcloth when you first take them out of the packaging but dissolves instantly in your hand to create a soapy, sudsy lather you can use as a hand sanitizer or as a replacement for dish soap. The pack is really cheap at $3.99 and comes with 50 soap sheets, so it should last you a long time if you aren’t a horribly messy or accident-prone person.

    They are FSA approved so you can take them with you on airplanes if need be. While they don’t seem to align with all the leave no trace guidelines, these Coleman Camp Soap Sheets are nonetheless biodegradable. They do, however, come in a plastic carrying case that is not advertised as ecologically friendly in any way.

    These soap sheets are fragrance-free and they’ll fit in any bag or even the glove box of your car. You need to mix them with hot or cold water in order to activate their dissolving features. For those concerned about preservatives or chemical additives, this Coleman product absolutely contains 1.5% triclosan. If you plan on doing any serious washing up, these sheets are probably not going to be enough for you, but they are handy to keep around for a quick hand washing or to wash a dish or two. 

    PROS

    • Inexpensive
    • Innovative design
    • Hand sanitizer
    • Biodegradable

    CONS

    • Very limited applications
    • Water-activated
    • Contains triclosan

    Some people sitting on a rock ledge, watching the sunset.

    The majority of camp soaps are environmentally friendly to prevent damaging the natural beauty of the outdoors.

    Our Winner

    Overview
    Dr. Bronner’s - Pure-Castile Liquid Soap (Baby Unscented, 4 ounce) - Made with Organic Oils, 18-in-1 Uses: Face, Hair, Laundry and Dishes, For Sensitive Skin and Babies, No Added Fragrance, Vegan
    Title
    Dr. Bronner’s - Pure-Castile Liquid Soap (Baby Unscented, 4 ounce) - Made with Organic Oils, 18-in-1 Uses: Face, Hair, Laundry and Dishes, For Sensitive Skin and Babies, No Added Fragrance, Vegan
    Price
    $7.49
    Rating
    Overview
    Dr. Bronner’s - Pure-Castile Liquid Soap (Baby Unscented, 4 ounce) - Made with Organic Oils, 18-in-1 Uses: Face, Hair, Laundry and Dishes, For Sensitive Skin and Babies, No Added Fragrance, Vegan
    Title
    Dr. Bronner’s - Pure-Castile Liquid Soap (Baby Unscented, 4 ounce) - Made with Organic Oils, 18-in-1 Uses: Face, Hair, Laundry and Dishes, For Sensitive Skin and Babies, No Added Fragrance, Vegan
    Price
    $7.49
    Rating

    For the sheer versatility of it, the generous quantities in each bottle, and the variety of scents, Dr. Bronner's Pure-Castile Liquid Soap has earned our Top Pick as the best soap. It’s easy to take along with you and there’s almost no cleaning chore that it can’t accomplish. For an ecologically responsible, nicely scented, robust camp soap, there’s simply nothing that can beat this Dr. Bronner variety. That’s why it's our top pick as the best soap for camping.

    Leave no trace guidelines

    Many camping soaps available on the market make mention of their ecological benefits, from biodegradable soap to soap made with organic ingredients with no preservatives. In addition to the personal preferences of individual campers, this can be explained with a quick run-down of the leave no trace guidelines, seven minimum impact guidelines meant to help outdoor enthusiasts of all varieties preserve the backcountry or anywhere else they happen to visit. Briefly, the seven leave no trace guidelines are as follows:

    1. Plan ahead and prepare.
    2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
    3. Dispose of waste properly.
    4. Leave what you find.
    5. Minimize campfire impacts.
    6. Respect wildlife.
    7. Be considerate of other visitors.

    These guidelines are meant to protect the natural environment, but some of them are also common sense safety tips for campers. The majority of camping soaps attempt to follow the leave no trace guidelines, which is why so much of their advertising is based on natural ingredients and slimmed down recyclable packaging. With these helpful hints in mind, take a look at this collection of some of the best soap for camping so you can stay nice and clean on your next venture into nature. 

    Bonus tip: Check out how to use Dr. Bronner's Pure-Castile Liquid Soap to get rid of aphids in your garden!

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    Riley Draper is a writer and entrepreneur from Chattanooga, Tennessee. As a world traveler, he has been to more than fifty countries and hiked some of the most elusive trails in the world. He is the co-founder of WeCounsel Solutions and has published work in both national and global outlets, including the Times Free Press, Patch, and Healthcare Global. When he's not writing, he's probably on a hiking trip or climbing in the mountains.

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