The Best Biodegradable Soaps for Camping

Woman washing hair in outdoor shower on summer day

Using soap while hiking, camping, or backpacking is a great way to protect yourself from whatever germs you may encounter in the great outdoors. And since the onset of the Covid pandemic, washing and sanitizing your hands has become even more common. So if you want to protect your health while also protecting the health of the environment, consider using a biodegradable soap the next time you need to wash yourself, your clothes, or your dishes out in the wilderness.

When many popular brands of hand or dish soap are used in nature, their chemicals linger in the environment for many years because they do not break down naturally. As a result, these traditional suds may significantly affect the local flora and fauna. Using a biodegradable soap with chemical components that break down naturally will help safeguard the well-being of Earth's plants and animals. 

What Are Biodegradable Soaps?

Biodegradable soap is a cleaning product that organically decomposes over time. When hikers, trekkers, and campers need to wash or clean their goods, these soaps may lessen the environmental impact. "Soap is considered biodegradable if at least 90% of it degrades into water, carbon dioxide, and biological material within six months of being disposed of," says Amy Turner at Cascada Travels.

Non-toxic soaps are manufactured using organic oils to be ecologically sustainable. Soap formulas may contain oils to provide a scent and create a therapeutic bathing experience. Lavender and peppermint oils, for example, can help a stressed hiker relax. Ingredients like tea tree oil, eucalyptus, and pumice can help relieve aching feet. Other typical oils used in soap compositions include jojoba, castor, and almond.

Natural, biodegradable soap may come in the shape of a bar or as a liquid. Liquid soaps often simplify bathing for hikers or trekkers who have restricted bathing water sources. Shampoo and conditioners can also be marketed as biodegradable, many coming in liquid or cream form.

Impact of Biodegradable Soap on the Environment

Before exploring the advantages of utilizing biodegradable soaps over standard bar soaps, it must be acknowledged that every soap, even an all-natural, biodegradable product, has an effect and may harm the environment, particularly aquatic wildlife.

If you are committed to leaving no trace, you will likely learn to trek and camp without using soap or handwash. Using biodegradable soaps is not necessarily a bad idea. Instead, many argue that carrying suds on your multi-day hiking or camping excursions is necessary for general cleanliness and health. It helps you feel rejuvenated and ultimately feel clean and civilized in remote places. But if you are going to venture into the outdoors with soap, choosing a biodegradable soap will increase the chances that nature and the environment will be preserved for future generations.

Keep reading to learn about the benefits of using biodegradable soap and what to look for in a quality product.

Camp shower hanging from a pole

Benefits of Biodegradable Soaps

Environmentally Friendly

Because of the nature of biodegradable soaps and other eco-friendly substances, they are safe for the environment (when disposed of properly). In addition, biodegradable soaps, unlike other toxic chemicals or polymers, cause little or no risk to existing ground flora or wildlife.

They also present much less of a threat to aquatic animals. Although exposing your suds to rivers should be avoided if possible, a quality biodegradable soap will ensure that fish and wildlife are not exposed to harsh or toxic chemicals if they find their way into a nearby water source.

Extensive Use From a Single Bottle

Concentrated biodegradable washes are meant to be blended with water. You only have to use 1-2 drops of soap for each cleaning application. A tiny container of biodegradable soap will likely last longer than a larger, heavier bottle of standard soap.

Protect Your Skin

Chemical-based soap likely includes synthetic compounds that can be detrimental or damaging to your skin. For example, Triclosan, an anti-bacterial ingredient often found in soaps and toothpaste, may irritate the skin. In addition, formaldehyde, a preservative in many soaps and cosmetics, is normally present in low doses and may trigger allergic responses and skin rashes in certain people.

An eco-friendly soap is appropriate for everybody who wishes to protect their skin, not simply those with sensitive skin. A naturally made bar of eco-friendly biodegradable soap will moisturize the skin without exposing it to harsh chemicals.

Plenty of Antioxidants

Biodegradable soaps help to repair the skin by controlling inflammation and keeping the skin hydrated, which helps the user to have younger-looking and healthier skin. This is because many of the ingredients used in organic soaps are natural antioxidants, and the soap-making process doesn't extract these substances for other purposes. In addition, certain antioxidants, like vitamin C, also promote the production of collagen, which is essential for having youthful skin.

The softer pH levels of organic soaps (often between 9 and 10) help care for your skin over the long term, keeping you feeling clean and looking fresh.

Highly Moisturizing

Another amazing benefit of using a biodegradable soap is that it is highly moisturizing for your skin. For example, glycerine is a byproduct of the soap-making process. Glycerine draws moisture within and around the skin, enabling your skin to retain that moisture.

Store-bought, commercial soaps typically go through a process intended to remove glycerine, which is extracted and used in other items, such as moisturizers and related skincare items.

A Natural Aroma

When we wash our hands, we all enjoy the lovely aroma of soap, which leaves us refreshed and ready for the day. The issue, however, is that the "fragrances" listed on the label of your soap or body wash container are often produced with chemicals. For example, phthalates, known as "plasticizers," are often employed to produce strong-smelling scents in oils, perfumes, and soaps. These ingredients have been proven to affect the reproductive systems of laboratory animals. The effects of low levels of exposure on humans are yet unclear, but it's a risk that many people are unwilling to accept.

The scents of eco-friendly biodegradable soaps are not as overpowering as chemical-based soap and will generally be natural and more pleasingly fragrant. Some truly wonderful scents are created from essential oils and plant-based components. Lavender, peppermint, velvety cocoa butter, and vanilla are the most popular.

Great Give Back

An eco-friendly biodegradable soap company with a good reputation will be dedicated to reducing its environmental impact and will manufacture its goods with sustainability in mind. Some environmentally conscious biodegradable soap companies go a step further by donating a portion of their proceeds to charitable causes, planting trees, or supporting grassroots organizations.

You may become a more knowledgeable user and look to reciprocate with every purchase by just completing some background study on a sustainable and environment-friendly brand before buying their products. Additionally, you may be supporting a small company that respects the environment.


Natural, organic biodegradable soap brands guarantee that no animals are harmed during manufacturing or testing, which is another fantastic advantage.

The usage of tallow or lard, which are both animal products, may occasionally be found in natural soaps, although these instances will always be clearly stated on the packaging. The fact that these items don't contain pesticides or compounds generated from synthetic sources means that animal testing is not necessary for them.

Scented vs. Unscented Biodegradable Soaps

Scented biodegradable soaps are excellent for giving you that fresh scent or giving otherwise foul-smelling clothing a lovely scent boost. Some also have a reputation for helping to keep insects away.

However, it is best to use unscented, biodegradable soaps in wooded areas when hiking, backpacking, and camping. A neutral soap is preferable because animals have acute senses of smell and will be able to pick up on your scent from some distance away. 

Furthermore, the unscented variety may feel a little nicer on your skin if you have allergies. If you decide on a scented soap, keep it in a bear-proof container like a bear canister or bear bag so as not to draw any predators or scavengers your way.

Qualities of a Good Biodegradable Soap

There are some desirable qualities you should look for when buying a biodegradable soap. Make sure to check the product label for the following things that make a superior biodegradable soap product. 

Free of SLES and SLS

SLES and the slightly less harsh SLS are foaming agents used in a wide variety of bath and cleaning products. These substances deplete the skin's natural oil, allowing water to permeate. You can develop eczema or even dry skin as a result. Additionally, these surfactants will lessen the water's surface tension and may harm aquatic life. Keep an eye on the label as a quality biodegradable soap will not have these harsh chemicals.


Parahydroxybenzoates, commonly known as parabens, are synthetic compounds that inhibit the growth of bacteria and mold. Cosmetics, medications, foods, beverages, and personal care products are all preserved by using them. They last longer as a result.

After being discovered in the cells of patients with breast cancer, the usage of parabens was subject to considerable debate. A preliminary study found that parabens interfere with hormone activity.

Checking a biodegradable soap's ingredients list to ensure that it is paraben-free is, therefore, always a wise decision to keep yourself at bay from this toxic chemical.

Dye-Free and Fragrance-Free

The simpler the soap, the better if you intend to use it outside. Prevent using unneeded chemical additives like artificial colors and scents. (And if you're in bear country, keep away from anything fragrant.)

The Best Biodegradable Soaps for Camping

For those who like being in nature and wish to live healthily, having pure and safe biodegradable soap that can be used for various purposes is a necessity. There are many biodegradable soaps on the market, but the best ones will help you abide by the "leave no trace" principle while also keeping you fresh and clean. Now that you know the benefits of using biodegradable soaps and the qualities you should look for in a product, let's explore five of the best biodegradable soaps for camping or hiking.

Concentrated Campsuds Outdoor Soap

Concentrated Campsuds is an all-purpose outdoor cleaner that campers have trusted for over 50 years. So whether you are commuting by sea, land, or air, you can put it in your bag and bring it along. It is the ideal pocket soap package for campers, hikers, and outdoor adventurers!

The 2 fl. oz. / 181g bottle of Campsuds travel pocket soap is very handy, transportable, and lightweight. It is gentle enough to wash your hands, face, and hair, but the natural and biodegradable ingredients will also thoroughly clean your camping dishes and clothes. For efficiency for all your cleaning needs, you will only need a few drops of Campsuds. It works well with salt water as well as hot or cold water. You can also use the soap with wipes

The all-natural materials used to make Campsuds deteriorate over time when used outdoors. You can dig a trench 6 to 8 inches deep for the soapy wash and rinse water before disposing of Campsuds carefully. This enables microbes in the soil to safely and thoroughly break down and digest the Campsuds while replenishing the soil's nutrients.

Lemon and lime essential oils are ingredients used in Campsuds, which leave your hands and washables with a fresh and energizing smell. 


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Sierra Dawn Campsuds Biodegradable Soap

The Sierra Dawn Campsuds Biodegradable Soap is an all-purpose soap available in quantities of 2 fl. oz. – 16 fl. oz. Because it removes grime and dirt, it is one of the camping soaps with the highest sales volume.

This biodegradable soap is produced using a combination of purified water and cleaning agents derived from vegetables. It also contains natural scents and essential oils, leaving you with an uplifting scent reminiscent of pine.

Because this biodegradable soap has such a high concentration, you only need a few drops of it mixed with water to produce sufficient suds for a wash. It is also suitable to be used as a cleaning product around the home as well.

Sierra Dawn Campsuds is an excellent liquid soap overall, and you should not have to use large quantities to get cleaning jobs complete. And although it is biodegradable, you should follow the recommendations about the use and disposal to best assist the complete breakdown of the soap within the environment.

The Sierra Dawn Campsuds biodegradable soap is popular among campers, hikers, and other outdoor enthusiasts. It is available in smaller travel-size bottles for easy carrying. It is extremely effective against outdoor grime and grease. It is excellent and gentle enough for use on hands, face, hair, clothes, dishes, and just about everything that needs to be cleaned!

Sierra Dawn Campsuds Biodegradable Soap

by Concentrated Campsuds

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12/05/2023 06:36 pm GMT

Direct 2 Boater Biodegradable Camp Soap

This Direct 2 Boater Biodegradable Camp Soap is an effective product for cleaning up around any campsite. It is free of colors, scents, and harmful chemicals so that you may use it outside without fear of harming the surrounding environment.  

Direct 2 Boater Camp Soap lathers up effectively with both fresh and saltwater.

Because it includes no hazardous dyes or scents, this product is a great biodegradable dish soap for camping. Direct 2 Boater Camp Soap is not only tiny and portable but also multifunctional. It may be used for dishwashing, laundry, hand soap, and even cleaning camping equipment. It is free from irritants too.

Biodegradable Camping Soap
$13.28 ($1.66 / Fl Oz)

by Direct 2 Boater

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12/05/2023 04:01 pm GMT

Joshua Tree Biodegradable Plant-Based Eco Soap 

A biodegradable soap made from plants, Joshua Tree 8 Oz. Body Wash is created using olive oil and saponified coconut oil. This mild and effective alternative to traditional soap may be used for many cleaning tasks. For example, it is possible to use it undiluted as a body wash or shampoo, or it can also be used to wash your dishes or clothes when camping.

Joshua Tree Biodegradable Soap can be used indoors and outdoors without adverse effects. It comes in a small, easily-portable container with eight fluid ounces and is available in citrus, tea tree and mint, and lavender scent options. It also contains jojoba oil, which may help condition skin and hair so that the overall effect is more refreshing.

Joshua Tree Biodegradable Soap is made in the USA. This Michigan company uses only the highest quality components in its production.

Body Wash, Shampoo - Biodegradable Plant Based Eco Soap
$13.99 ($1.75 / Fl Oz)

by Joshua Tree 

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12/05/2023 03:12 pm GMT

Direct 2 Boater Biodegradable Wash

The Direct 2 Boater Biodegradable Shampoo and Body Wash is safe for use in freshwater and saltwater habitats, providing you with peace of mind. While exploring the great outdoors, this 2-in-1 gel keeps your hair clean and manageable. It is ideal for camping, hiking, boating, going to the beach, or just about any outdoor activity.

It is a 100% biodegradable shampoo and body wash and is fragrance-free. It is formulated with all-natural and organic ingredients and is also phosphate-free. It lathers well in salt, fresh, brackish, hard, or chlorinated water. It is ideal whenever you need a portable biodegradable body wash and shampoo. 

Biodegradable Shampoo & Body Wash Organic
$14.68 ($1.84 / Fl Oz)

by Direct 2 Boater

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12/05/2023 02:56 pm GMT

Final Thoughts

It's best to use as little soap as possible when you're in the great outdoors. If you absolutely must use soap, choose biodegradable soaps. Biodegradable soaps offer a wide range of benefits. They consist of natural ingredients, and there's also no animal testing done while making them. In addition, they're suitable for different skin types and are free of any harmful chemicals, which remain a concern for many people.

Check out some of the top biodegradable soaps before your next excursion and include them on your camping trip, as being a good steward of the land is every citizen's responsibility. However, daily-use products like soaps can have adverse environmental effects that must be kept in check. Eliminating waste and limiting your influence on the environment should always be front of mind. Therefore, using biodegradable soaps instead of synthetic soaps is a great way to give back to the Earth.

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