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Staying Clean On Tour

Old 10-09-10, 07:56 PM
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Staying Clean On Tour

The other day while traveling the Skydrive in Virginia, we came across a touring cyclist. He looked happy but ragged. That's actually putting it kindly: he actually looked "ridden hard and put up wet".

Which led to the question, what have you guys discovered lately to work well other than basic things like washing your clothes and keeping clean clothes separate in a vacuum or zip loc bag and using zinc-containing body powders?

I'll start with a great product for pets that works well on humans too. It's doggie wipes. Don't laugh - they work like a charm. Here's an example

https://www.petco.com/product/102864/...shee-Wipe.aspx

So what are your favorite methods?
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Old 10-09-10, 08:31 PM
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Arriving at my campsite, I first set up my tent. In order of preference I either take a hot shower, jump in a nearby lake or river, use a "pocket shower" https://www.seatosummit.com/products/display/59, or use wipes. Weather permitting, I then do my laundry in a large zip lock bag and hang it up on a clothes line. All of my clothes are fast drying synthetics.

If my clothes are not dry enough to put away by the next morning I flag them off my bike until they are dry.
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Old 10-09-10, 10:48 PM
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Just pack a towel
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Old 10-09-10, 11:42 PM
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I shower in the campground or hostel shower facilities.

Or if for some reason those are not available:

-- I swim in lakes, rivers, or the ocean
-- I shower in the beach showers
-- I shower in the truckstop showers
-- I use sinks in toilet facilities to take "bird baths"
-- I use baby wipes.

As for keeping clothes clean ... the dirty clothes go on the top of the clothing pannier, the clean clothes are on the bottom. When they are all dirty, I locate a laundromat or use the laundry facilities in the campground or at the hostel.
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Old 10-10-10, 12:58 AM
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Wash up the next morning with the cup of coffee stop , after an impromptu chosen campsite with no services .
.. sponge bath in the WC.
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Old 10-10-10, 01:48 AM
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comb, small wet towel for sponge bath.
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Old 10-10-10, 04:50 AM
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In campsites, I shower in the evening and again inthe morning. Camping wild, I try to take a dip in a river/lake or use a tap/hose.
One problem I had taking a sponge bath, I though I was all alone in the woods but I had some company: ticks. If you hang around a deer forest without any clothes on, they will zero in on you.
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Old 10-10-10, 08:58 AM
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Service station bathrooms are my first choice. I'll clean up and do laundry. Hang my clothes on my bike to sun dry. I solo tour and generally don't seek out campgrounds. Rivers in Missouri are dirtier than I am after a week riding so I'll pass on dipping in the river! I also carry a few baby wipes. The only thing I don't like about them is the sticky film they leave behind.

Lol. The 'happy but ragged' person you met on the road could easily have been me! If I'm traveling solo, that' how I role...happy but ragged.

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Old 10-10-10, 09:55 AM
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I can tell I'm touring in the wrong part of the world... After reading all these comments about being able to actually SHOWER in CAMPGROUNDS, well.... let's just say I would be thrilled to actually find a campground. (I have been told there are tons of them here in Argentina, so I'm hoping we actually find some of them - we've only been in this country for 400 km so far)

Basically, I ditto what's been written above - shower is great if one is available. After that, I would happily settle for a jump in a lake or river. Trouble is, we don't find many rivers or lakes in the Peruvian desert or Bolivian altiplano... And the restaurants only have a small basin of water sitting out front to wash your hands in. Running water is a major luxury.

What I mostly do is use some water from my water bottle to wet a washcloth and wash up with that. Obviously I can only do that if I have enough water to spare, which I frequently don't. For those times when I don't, I carry around wet wipes and use them. I really don't like all the lotions and junk they have in them though - Wet Ones are the best I've found, so I carry another local brand for washing hands after changing tires and such and reserve the Wet Ones for washing up in the wild.

We also found we almost stayed in hotels throughout Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia just so that we could wash up. It was well worth the cost of hte hotel in order to be clean.
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Old 10-10-10, 10:21 AM
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Hey Nancy, give the no-rinse stuff a shot... out of everything i've tried it evapourates quite well but, doesn't use alcohol. All you need is a towel, some water and the rinse. The only thing i don't like about wet ones and wipes is having to pack around the garbage with you, this rinse stuff is basically a wet-wipe without the fabric..
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Old 10-10-10, 10:45 AM
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Some people don't give a rat's behind about how they look while touring. I can't tell you how many times I overheard people say that a backpacker looked "dirty" or "like a bum" or "stinks" while travelling around the world. In Panama where I do some work, it's common to see travelers that look really filthy from days of being on the road where there are few facilities to shower. Plus it is really hot and humid which does not allow your clothes to dry properly, so you stink. When hiking here it takes but a couple of hours for you to both get really grungy and stink plus be sticky wet. Yikes!

Trying to look smart and/or presentable helps a lot with the locals. They just plain treat you better. Stupid little things like shaving, not having clothes with holes in them, etc. go a long way because in poor countries people are trying sooo hard not to look shabby. Once in eastern Europe I was backpacking with some less than perfect clothes and found no one would talk to me at cafes. So I went into a local store and bought a smart, lightweight coat of the kind often used in Europe. It was 100 bucks which I could hardly afford. But it looked right smart and hid most of my clothes down to my knees when zipped. Sort of like a really smart looking motorbike touring jacket a la BMW. Wow, what a difference. My social life really improved! Even got invited into some folks homes to get cleaned up and shower. It was a great investment. Never forgot that lesson. Ever since I invest a little tour money trying to look good-enough by local standards.

Another technique to "look clean" rather than "be hygienic" was to throw away faded clothes after 2 to 3 weeks and buy new ones wherever I was at. Always kept the weight low but a fresh supply of ok-looking clothes was at hand. And always kept one nice shirt in store for going out at night. Guess it was luxury touring of a sort, but I saw no reason for total deprivation on extended tours.

Also, about keeping the good-travel-ambassador look abroad: I tried not to have hanging clothes off my person or packs. Nothing wrong with that really, but in many places it's considered really low class. Of course YMMV and sometimes there's no choice since there are no places to dry out.

Guess keeping clean and looking smart are two separate, but related, subjects. One is good for the soul, but both are good for your social graces.
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Old 10-10-10, 07:03 PM
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Originally Posted by safariofthemind
Another technique to "look clean" rather than "be hygienic" was to throw away faded clothes after 2 to 3 weeks and buy new ones wherever I was at. Always kept the weight low but a fresh supply of ok-looking clothes was at hand. And always kept one nice shirt in store for going out at night. Guess it was luxury touring of a sort, but I saw no reason for total deprivation on extended tours.
It's people like you who make it worthwhile shopping at the Goodwill
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Old 10-10-10, 07:10 PM
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Right on. I shop there too sometimes :wink:

It's a little extra effort like that that gets you closer to people in a new place. Not many people in a cafe will want to sit next to a stinky "bum".

Plus the excuse - "I am just a poor student" - was used up long ago...
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Old 10-10-10, 08:10 PM
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Originally Posted by safariofthemind
Another technique to "look clean" rather than "be hygienic" was to throw away faded clothes after 2 to 3 weeks and buy new ones wherever I was at.
Your clothes look that bad after 2-3 weeks??? What are you doing to them?


(The quality of these photos is not the greatest ... taken with disposable camera in 2004)

Me at the start of my 3-month Australian tour in my favourite yellow jersey:


Me toward the end of my 3-month Australian tour in my favourite yellow jersey:


And I still have that jersey ... and it is still one of my favourites.
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Old 10-11-10, 05:00 AM
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Originally Posted by safariofthemind
Another technique to "look clean" rather than "be hygienic" was to throw away faded clothes after 2 to 3 weeks and buy new ones wherever I was at.
I have to say that I don't get that one. Why would clothes be shot after 3-4 weeks. I have some jerseys that are 30 years old and still reasonably presentable.
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Old 10-11-10, 11:06 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1
I have to say that I don't get that one. Why would clothes be shot after 3-4 weeks. I have some jerseys that are 30 years old and still reasonably presentable.
The clothes are actually fine functionally, they just look faded. For example, if I take a pair of inexpensive black jeans that can serve for going out at night, they start to fade after a couple of weeks. Given that a pair of inexpensive jeans costs 20 dollars, I just give away the old ones and get a new pair. Same with T shirts and dress shirts. Not so much a problem with wool clothes, cycling jerseys, etc.

Looking presentable is also in the eye of the beholder. If one is spending all of one´s time in national parks for example, the standard can be suitably modified versus touring in urban places. Honestly, I don´t worry too much about it North America or Australia-NZ, but it is a subtle issue I have noticed in parts of Europe and LAmerica and Asia. More to do with how you get treated by folks, service people, and potential helping angels. Of course YMMV - I am sure if you are young, fit and attractive that makes up for a lot - no such luck here
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Old 10-11-10, 02:50 PM
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Originally Posted by safariofthemind
The clothes are actually fine functionally, they just look faded. For example, if I take a pair of inexpensive black jeans that can serve for going out at night, they start to fade after a couple of weeks. Given that a pair of inexpensive jeans costs 20 dollars, I just give away the old ones and get a new pair. Same with T shirts and dress shirts. Not so much a problem with wool clothes, cycling jerseys, etc.

Looking presentable is also in the eye of the beholder. If one is spending all of one´s time in national parks for example, the standard can be suitably modified versus touring in urban places. Honestly, I don´t worry too much about it North America or Australia-NZ, but it is a subtle issue I have noticed in parts of Europe and LAmerica and Asia. More to do with how you get treated by folks, service people, and potential helping angels. Of course YMMV - I am sure if you are young, fit and attractive that makes up for a lot - no such luck here
I don't wear jeans on a tour ... they are way too bulky and heavy. A pair of nylon or nylon-blend zip-off (convertable) pants are so much lighter and fold down to practically nothing, more versatile because they can be worn as long pants or shorts, and they dry faster than jeans. I can wash them, hang them out, and within a couple hours they are dry ... or toss them in the dryer for 20 minutes. They are comfortable both on and off the bicycle.

I also pack very light wicking T-shirts and a long-sleeved merino so that I can wear them on and off the bicycle too ... plus they are light, pack small, and are easy to wash and dry as well.

For the cycling part of the tour, I wear cycling shorts (either by themselves or with another pair of shorts over them), and I usually have at least one jersey, simply because my cycling shorts and the jersey I select are comfortable choices for cycling all day.

But these clothing choices are not something I'd want to give away or toss every few weeks ... and there is really no need to because they don't wear out that fast and they don't fade that fast.
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Old 10-11-10, 04:13 PM
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I am by habit a user of camp sites – a hot shower at the end of day and somewhere to do a bit of laundry and wash up the dinner things – on long tours a day off at a camp site every 10 days or so to do a comprehensive laundry and any odd jobs like bike maintenance

On the occasions that I have had to serial wild camp keeping myself clean becomes one of my priorities – not so much for other peoples benefit but to ensure that I remain healthy – so I use freshwater showers at beaches or wash in lakes and rivers as I come across them – where I cannot then if I have enough fresh water then blanket baths using a small towel I carry for the purpose - clothing is all synthetic and easy to wash – if necessary gets eked out – wear for two days instead of one and if there is an opportunity to do a bit of impromptu roadside laundry of a few items then I take it – keep one set of clothes to wear sparingly in case I want to eat at a café in the evening – and then find a regular camp site as soon as possible to put the world back together - I’m on holiday - whatever the physical hardships of cycling I don’t need to surrender my personal standards any more than is necessary!
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Old 10-11-10, 06:48 PM
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Abstaining...
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Old 10-11-10, 06:56 PM
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Talking about being "chemically" clean...anybody heard of a tourer getting charged with DWI/RWI - Riding While under Influence - here in NC? Our smokeys don't kid around I tell you
https://www.gastongazette.com/news/bi...iding-dwi.html
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Old 10-11-10, 09:00 PM
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Originally Posted by safariofthemind
Given that a pair of inexpensive jeans costs 20 dollars, I just give away the old ones and get a new pair. Same with T shirts and dress shirts. Not so much a problem with wool clothes, cycling jerseys, etc.
And I prefer clothes that are at least two weeks old. Perhaps I should send you my mailing address.
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Old 10-12-10, 12:08 AM
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Here's an interesting writeup about how we all are perceived on the road.
https://bicycletouringpro.com/blog/th...by-the-public/

In danger of being too PC, ignore the ethnicity in the following picture. We can all be perceived this way:

Last edited by safariofthemind; 10-12-10 at 12:09 AM. Reason: added link
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Old 10-12-10, 04:08 AM
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Speak for yourself!

Here's me cycling through France on my 2007 tour ...






But really, as far as I'm concerned ... wear what you want to wear, carry what you want to carry on the bicycle, shower when you want to shower. The article, and some of the things you've said (OP), assume that we're actually noticed out there. In reality, most people will hardly give us a passing glance, and if we do happen to briefly make it onto someone's radar (i.e. at a grocery check-out), our actions and attitudes will make much more of an impact than what we're wearing. Smile, say something pleasant to the cashier, compliment the town ... and you'll be remembered for being that pleasant cycletourist. And it won't matter if you happen to be wearing something that's less than perfect, or if your hair isn't styled just right.

Last edited by Machka; 10-12-10 at 04:22 AM.
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Old 10-12-10, 07:56 AM
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Originally Posted by safariofthemind
Here's an interesting writeup about how we all are perceived on the road.
https://bicycletouringpro.com/blog/th...by-the-public/
I honestly don't care if people think I look like a homeless-hippy-athlete... I do!

IMG_0476..jpg

oh... and keeping clean, whenever I find a shower I just get under it clothes an' all...

Last edited by imi; 10-12-10 at 08:04 AM.
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Old 10-12-10, 08:03 AM
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Once we almost had to stay in a primitive campground, because the next campground was feared to be too far.. We pulled into the next campground just about dark, but we made it.. So, ever since I carry along a portable shower. A cold shower is better than none at all.. That was the one and only time, we almost had a problem with staying clean.. Riding two days in the same sweat soaked chamois. Horrible.
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