Campgrounds and recreational areas often provide washing and bathroom facilities. If there are no facilities, then follow this information on what to do in the backcountry.
For bathing, washing clothes, or washing dishes, collect a pot of water from a lake or stream. Move 60 m (200 ft.) away from the water's edge and wash yourself, your clothes, or your dishes with biodegradable soap.
When you’re done, spread the water on the ground, spraying it far away from campsites and water sources. Staying far from the water's edge lets the soap break down and filter through the soil before it reaches the lake or stream.
If you’re washing dishes, strain the water first, before you spread it, to catch all of the food scraps. Food scraps should be packed and carried out of the backcountry. Learn more about dealing with garbage in the backcountry.
If you don’t have biodegradable soap, you can use no-rinse bath and shampoo products or wet wipes (which must be packed and carried out).
Wash your hands in a tub of water away from all water sources. If the water hasn’t been boiled, then use hand sanitizer after washing your hands.
If you can’t wash your hands with soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that has more than 60% alcohol. Hand sanitizer does not work if your hands are greasy or dirty, so clean them first if you need to.
After going to the bathroom and handling any toilet paper, wash your hands.
Brush your teeth with clean water that you’ve already treated. Never put untreated water in your mouth or on your toothbrush. Learn how to filter, boil, and treat your water. Brush your teeth at least 60 m (200 ft.) away from all water sources.
Current as of: January 12, 2022
Author: Environmental Public Health, Alberta Health Services
This material is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified health professional. This material is intended for general information only and is provided on an "as is", "where is" basis. Although reasonable efforts were made to confirm the accuracy of the information, Alberta Health Services does not make any representation or warranty, express, implied or statutory, as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness, applicability or fitness for a particular purpose of such information. Alberta Health Services expressly disclaims all liability for the use of these materials, and for any claims, actions, demands or suits arising from such use.