5 Best Eco-Friendly Soaps

Most guides will tell you some fresh water and vigorous scrubbing will keep you plenty clean, but if your stink requires stronger weapons, you’ll want to find something biodegradable for your next river trip. That means no phosphate, surfactants, triclosan, or any “anti-bacterial” ingredients. The first two spike algal growth resulting in mucky, sluggish rivers. Conversely, triclosan, found in hand sanitizers and most hand soaps, is extremely toxic to aquatic life.

Here are our top picks for eco-friendly soaps that will save the fish and your tent-mate from a smelly demise.

1) Baby-mild Unscented Castile Soap Dr. Bronner’s

Instead of chemical-laden fragrances, Dr. Bronner’s baby-mild soap uses olive oil, perfect for those of us exposed to sun, wind and water all day everyday. Dr. Bronner’s is known for being the “swiss-army knife” of soaps so use this vegetable-based, organic product for anything; shampoo, toothpaste, dish soap… you name it!

Best Eco-Friendly Soaps: Dr. Bronner's

2) Wilderness Wash Sea to Summit

This super-concentrated wash goes a long way with just a few drops at a time. It also comes in a super durable container that will survive life in an ammo can for weeks without spilling.

Best Eco-Friendly Soaps: Sea to Summit Wilderness Wash

3) Campsuds Citronella, Lavender, and Peppermint Oil

A dual-purpose product, this soap doubles as a natural insect repellent with essential oils. In buggy areas, the citronella will save you from bites and keep you smelling fresh.

Best Eco-Friendly Soaps: Campsuds

4) Wonder Wash – All Terrain

This pH neutral soap can be used as shampoo and body soap. It’s designed to soothe irritated skin and is gentle enough to clean even the most sunburned areas.

Best Eco-Friendly Soaps: Wonder Wash

5) Unscented Argan Oil Cleasing TowelettesAcure Organics

Avoid using water entirely and freshen up with these biodegradable wipes. A few swabs of the pits, knees, neck and groin are all you need to stay clean.

Best Eco-Friendly Soaps: Acure Argan Towelettes

That said, it’s important to remember that no soap, eco-friendly or not, should be used directly in the river. Biodegradable soaps need soil to be broken down, so follow Leave No Trace guidelines and do your bathing at least 200 yards away from any water source. A bucket and a washcloth are all the tools you need.

Whatever you do, remember that no one notices your smell after a day or two and who knows, maybe you’ll take a second look at the bottles cluttering your bathroom and replace them all with just one.


Image credit: All Terrain, Sea to Summit

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