What are the recommended eco-friendly soaps and detergents for UK river-side camping?

Safe and sustainable cleaning options for camping enthusiasts are plenty these days. For those who enjoy camping by the riverside in the UK, it's more important now than ever to make the switch to eco-friendly soaps and detergents. This is not just to keep the rivers, and consequently the planet, clean but also to ensure that your personal hygiene does not take a backseat while you are out enjoying the wild.

Find Out Why You Need Biodegradable Soaps and Detergents for Camping

Consider this — you're camping by a peaceful river, surrounded by the tranquillity of Mother Nature. But every time you wash your clothes or dishes, or even simply wash your hands, the soap and detergent you use flow into the river, adding chemicals that can harm wildlife and pollute the water. This is where biodegradable soaps and detergents come into play.

Biodegradable products break down naturally over time, causing no harm to the environment. They're typically made from plant and mineral ingredients that are free from artificial preservatives, colours, and fragrances. These soaps and detergents are not only kinder to the skin, but they also work well in both hard and soft water conditions, making them perfect for camping.

Additionally, most biodegradable soaps are concentrated, meaning you don't need to use as much as regular soaps. A little goes a long way, reducing the amount of waste you generate while camping.

How to Choose the Best Eco-friendly Soap for Camping

When you're selecting the best eco-friendly soap for your camping trip, there are a few key factors to consider. First, ensure the soap is truly biodegradable. Look for clear labeling that the soap is free from phosphates, bleach, and artificial fragrances or colors.

Many companies will claim their soap is 'natural' or 'green', but this doesn't always mean it's biodegradable. A truly eco-friendly soap should be free from petrochemicals, chlorine, and other synthetic ingredients.

Next, think about your personal needs. Are you looking for a soap that can be used for washing dishes, laundry, and personal hygiene? Or do you prefer to have separate products for each task? There are multi-purpose soaps available that are designed to handle a variety of tasks, making them a convenient choice for camping.

Recommended Eco-friendly Soaps for Camping

There are numerous eco-friendly soap options available on the market, but here are a few that stand out for their effectiveness, versatility, and commitment to environmental sustainability:

  1. Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Liquid Soap: This certified organic and vegan soap is not only biodegradable but also multi-purpose. You can use it for washing dishes, laundry, and even yourself.
  2. Sierra Dawn Campsuds: Made from natural vegetable-derived ingredients, this biodegradable soap is compact and ultra-concentrated. It's great for camping, as it can be used in fresh or saltwater, and even in cold water.
  3. Sea To Summit Wilderness Wash: This super concentrated wash is biodegradable and paraben-free. It's gentle enough to use on skin and hair but tough enough for dishes and clothes.

Best Eco-friendly Detergents for Camping

If you need to do laundry while camping, there are eco-friendly detergent options as well. Just like with soap, look for detergents that are biodegradable and free from harsh chemicals.

  1. Ecover Zero Laundry Detergent: This plant-based, biodegradable detergent is fragrance-free and gentle on clothes. It's tough on stains, making it ideal for camping.
  2. Biokleen Laundry Liquid: This concentrated, eco-friendly detergent is free from artificial fragrances, colors, and preservatives. It's powerful yet gentle, making it perfect for washing clothes in the great outdoors.
  3. Seventh Generation Free & Clear Laundry Detergent: This biodegradable detergent is made from plant-based ingredients and is free from dyes, fragrances, and artificial brighteners. It's gentle on clothes and tough on dirt and grime.

Remember, the intention is to leave no trace behind and protect the beautiful riverside environment you're enjoying. By opting for biodegradable soaps and detergents, you're doing your part to ensure the sustainability and preservation of these natural spaces for future generations to come.

How to Use Eco-friendly Soaps and Detergents While Camping

When it comes to using eco-friendly soaps and detergents during your wild camping trips, there are a few helpful tips to remember. Begin by using modest amounts. Eco-friendly products are usually super-concentrated, and a small amount is often enough to do the job. This not only helps you conserve the product but also reduces the amount of waste produced.

If you're using a multi-purpose soap, such as Dr. Bronner's Pure Castile Liquid Soap, Sierra Dawn Campsuds, or Sea To Summit Wilderness Wash, you can use the same soap for washing dishes, doing laundry, and personal hygiene. This eliminates the need for multiple products, reducing your packing load.

Using soap sheets, such as those from Sea to Summit, can also be a good option. These sheets are easy to carry and quickly dissolve in water, making them a convenient and space-saving solution.

When washing dishes or doing laundry by the river, avoid doing it directly in the river. Instead, collect water in a portable basin or sink, do your washing, and then dispose of the greywater at least 200 feet away from any water source. This will help further reduce the impact on the environment.

And don’t forget, even the most eco-friendly soap should not be used in natural water sources.

Why It's Important to Choose Eco-friendly Options while Camping

In our quest to enjoy the wilderness, it's our responsibility to safeguard it as well. The use of regular soaps and detergents while camping can have a damaging effect on the environment, especially when camping by the river. These products often contain chemicals that can harm aquatic life and disrupt the delicate ecosystem.

Eco-friendly soaps and detergents break down naturally, leaving no trace behind. Using them is a simple yet effective way to make your camping adventures more sustainable and less harmful to the environment.

These environmentally friendly products are also healthier for our skin. Many are made from plant-based ingredients and are free from harsh chemicals, artificial fragrances, and colors. They're often gentler on the skin, making them a good choice for those with sensitive skin or allergies.

By choosing eco-friendly soaps and detergents for your camping trips, you're not only doing your bit for the environment but also ensuring a healthier, safer experience for yourself.


Wild camping by the riverside can be a soul-enriching experience, taking us closer to nature. However, it's crucial to remember that our enjoyment should not come at the cost of the environment.

Switching to eco-friendly soaps and detergents is an easy and effective way to reduce our impact on the natural world. Whether you're washing dishes, doing laundry, or maintaining personal hygiene, choose biodegradable, plant-based products that are cruelty-free and fragrance-free.

It might be as simple as opting for a laundry soap that's tough on stains yet gentle on the environment, or toilet paper that's biodegradable and forest-friendly. Or perhaps you'll consider a multi-purpose wilderness wash, or soap sheets that leave no trace.

Remember, it's not just about enjoying the beauty of a national park, a riverside, or a tranquil wilderness spot. It’s about preserving these precious spaces too. In the words of the Leave No Trace principles, "Take only pictures, leave only footprints." And with eco-friendly soaps and detergents, we can help ensure that the footprints we leave are as light as possible on our precious planet.

Copyright 2024. All Rights Reserved