Author Topic: Keeping Clean  (Read 10066 times)

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Offline giantrider

Keeping Clean
« on: January 18, 2006, 01:26:14 am »
What does one do about keeping clean clothes and underwear while on extended tours. I have observed in some of the packing lists that 3 pairs underwear and bike shorts might be all that you would pack. Do you wash them out daily? How do you dry them? I know from the little bit of touring that I did on the C&O canal, finding a way to wash clothes or bathe was limited to washing in the Potomac or using the handpumps.


  • Guest
Keeping Clean
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2006, 09:06:06 am »
I've found that I don't need any more clothing for a long tour than a short one. Two pairs of cycling shorts, worn against the skin, are all that is needed. Cleaning one pair on a daily basis just seems easier than dealing with a bag full of dirty shorts. The same should also hold true for underwear worn beneath a touring short. Biodegradable *camping* soap can be used just about anywhere.

Synthetic fabrics tend to dry quickly...unlike cotton. As with washing, drying just a couple of items is a very simple process...hang them in a handy spot. On a sunny day, a pair of shorts can be turned inside out and placed on top of a rear rack to dry. The sunlight could also help to kill any bacteria present.

Packing less clothing helps in the weight and bulk departments as well.

Offline pmspirito

Keeping Clean
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2006, 11:52:36 pm »
At the end of the day I shower (campground, motel, lake, etc) with my clothes on and give them a washing and take them off and then give me a washing. I hang them on the bike or somewhere to dry and put on a dry pair of shorts and shirt that i will sleep in and wear the next day.  (thats 2 sets of clothes) and I have a third set of dry clothes in the pannnier. So that works out to the pair you wear, the pair that is drying and the pair that are dry and clean in the pannier.  Often the clothes you wash at night will not be dry in the morning so as you ride off have your damp clothes hanging in the wind as you ride.

best wishes from the back of the pack,  Peter & Judy Spirito
best wishes from the back of the pack,  Peter & Judy Spirito

Offline driftlessregion

Keeping Clean
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2006, 12:13:10 am »
Where there is water there is the opportunity to wash out your cycling shorts no matter what the weather. Throw them on the back of the bike, on the BOB bag, whatever the next day if they need a few more hours to dry. It is important to wash out the bacteria daily. You can wear dirty T-shirts after the ride but I would never wear shorts more than one day without washing them. Too much enouragement for saddle sores.

Offline wellerpauld

Re: Keeping Clean
« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2009, 05:23:57 pm »
I wear speedo's under my cycling shorts.  This tends to help with any nasty stuff and I seem to only need to wash out the speedo's.   

Offline johnsondasw

Re: Keeping Clean
« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2009, 08:32:49 pm »
In addition to all the above great ideas, it's a real treat to stop in a town and wash everything in a laundromat.  I only takes an hour and a half or so, and we sometimes get it going around lunchtime in a nearby cafe, or on a park lawn if we're having lunch out of out bags. 
May the wind be at your back!

Offline tonythomson

Re: Keeping Clean
« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2009, 06:15:36 am »
Never travel without a supply of Wet Wipes for babies.  Keeps you clean every where and that in turn stops any sores appearing as well as before eating.  I only travel with one pair cycling shorts and wash them out daily providing I can dry them - use the hair dryer in motels, only ever carry synthetic cycling shirts etc and love my Livestrong tees for the evening.  All these dry so quickly. 

Just starting to record my trips

Offline staehpj1

Re: Keeping Clean
« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2009, 09:02:17 am »
I don't pack underwear when touring.  I take two pairs of bike shorts and two jerseys and wash them daily if it is convenient, but I really could get by with one set since they wring out well, dry fairly quickly, and I don't mind putting them on damp since they are usually wet from sweat pretty quickly any way.

Also...  If I have to go a few days without showering or washing clothes it isn't the end of the world.  Daily bathing and daily changing of clothes is a relatively recent cultural development and is not a necessity.  Cowboys used to go all winter in the same clothes and were on horseback all day.  I get a shower every day when I can, but don't freak when I can't.  Some times on the TA we went several days without and didn't contract dreaded diseases, get huge saddle sores, or spontaneously burst into flames.   Also I have found that in places where you might have to go a few days without a shower, people tend to be way less prissy about such things, so offense is generally not taken by folks you meet if you are a bit "fragrant".


  • Guest
Re: Keeping Clean
« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2009, 01:43:37 pm »
Cowboys used to go all winter in the same clothes and were on horseback all day. 

Right but they seldom saw their 30th birthday :)

Having backpacked for a couple of weeks at at time and camped below zero so I can vouch that you won't die by not taking a shower or bath for a while. You might get lonely though.


  • Guest
Re: Keeping Clean
« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2009, 01:53:40 pm »
If not doing some sort of bathing every day freaks you out, you can always warm a little water and wash up iwith something like a Pak Towel if no shower is available.  I don't wash off-bike clothes too often, but then again in "real life: I often wear clothes many times before washing them.  I carry two sets of riding clothes and typically wash one set at the end of the day.  It does tend to dry quickly. But if overnight conditions prevent drying, I stick them in the mesh outer pockets of my panniers.  Unless it's raining, that does the trick.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Keeping Clean
« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2009, 03:02:10 pm »
In the absence of sufficient volumes of water to clean properly, which, with me on a long tour can be often, I have found 70-91% Isopropyl alcohol is the next best thing. Underarms and deodorant in the mornings. Other times. It works very well. It is an anti bacterial-microbial. You can get the 50% wintergreen in Dollar General stores and Family Dollar stores for cheap.

Offline paddleboy17

Re: Keeping Clean
« Reply #11 on: December 03, 2009, 12:12:56 pm »
You can always hang up your worn bike shorts inside out.  It gives them a chance to dry, and let the sun's UV waves kill the bacteria.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Keeping Clean
« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2009, 03:20:40 pm »
Staehpj1 has it. A few days without the customary fully body ablutions will not hurt you, though you may experience some discomfort. Actually, you get used to being unwashed just  like you become accustomed to being washed. It is the transition that bothers you. Not that I am for being dirty. I am not for it. It's just that formal campgrounds and motels every night get to be expensive over the long haul. The USA simply does not make for travel the way they do in western Europe. If you cross the country by bicycle and free camp most nights, you may have to go four or five days without a hot shower, or a cold one. The longest I went without cleaning was nine days in eastern Europe. I got so used to being dirty it did not bother me at all. If you can pay for campgrounds and motels most nights, that's good for you. I could, but I would rather keep my money.

Offline bogiesan

Re: Keeping Clean
« Reply #13 on: December 07, 2009, 10:34:02 am »
There is one aspect of not showering regularly that I don't see covered in the thread so far: keeping your sleeping bag clean on the inside. I carry a silk liner. It was not cheap at $60-75 but it protects my precious down from my sweat, skin oils, and anything else I've got on me. Other touring friends use ultralight fleece liners that are even cozier.

But, gotta say, after many years of backpacking, I far prefer supported bike tours where I know I am going to have a shower.

david boise ID
I play go. I use Macintosh. Of course I ride a recumbent