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Backpacker Magazine – August 2003

Trail Stale?

Freshen up stinky clothes with this homemade, portable washing machine.

by: Mike Clelland


Don't wait until you're told, because by then you'll smell like fermenting cheese, and the guys might kick you out of the tent. Now, before the stink sets in, go out in the woods and wash your sweaty, dirty clothes. Here's the easiest way to do your laundry.

Load Start with a medium-size stuff sack, preferably waterproof. Toss in filthy clothes and fill halfway with water. Add a few drops of biodegradable soap and close the sack with a few twists.

Soak This cycle happens as you walk 200 Leave No Trace-approved feet from water.

Agitate Shake the sack vigorously for several minutes. Smell-test clothes. Repeat as necessary.

Rinse Drain dirty water and refill (halfway) with clean. Shake the sack, wring out clothes, and repeat.

Dry Run a clothesline in the sun, or drape damp clothes over your tent. Pull socks over the handle of trekking poles that are solidly planted and standing up.



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