Camping, Family Camping, Outdoor Education, Outdoor Gear

Organizing your Squeaky Clean Campsite

Organizing your squeaky clean campsite is an important part of camping. Not only will you be able to find exactly what you need when you need it, but you will also be the envy of the campground. Let’s face it, many people head out to go camping, and cleaning up is the last thing that they want to think about. I know for myself, I am actually trying to avoid the daily droll of normal life.

The thing I hate the most about being an adult is the fact that I have to clean. It is like the tasks are never-ending. Wake up, put the dishes away, load the laundry, clean the kitchen, it is endless. Well, we can’t escape organization and cleaning at the campground either. It is very important that you keep organizing your campsites until it is squeaky clean. Below you will find some great tips to help keep your site organized and avoid ending up as the butt of someone’s joke on the internet.

Organizing your squeaky clean campsite
We all hate cleaning but we all hate to live in a mess. Don’t forget you need to keep organizing your squeaky clean campsite.

Do you have other tips or tricks that you use to stay organized and clean while camping? We would like to hear about them in the comments below, on our Facebook, or on Reddit!

Keep your campsite clean – basic camping etiquette

This basic etiquette should honestly be a no-brainer. Yet, we see people completely trashing their campsites. They leave trash all over the place at the end of the day or worse when they leave. Trash can cause a whole host of problems including insects and animals. While it may not necessarily impact you all those who come after will suffer. Remember that cigarette butts are trash and don’t belong on the ground. Litter and rubbish just generally detract from the beauty of wherever you are staying so pick up your trash and deposit it in the proper areas. This will help prevent animals from coming into your campsite and getting into your food. While you’re at it pick up rubbish even if it’s not your own. Leave the campsite better than when you found it!

Organizing your squeaky clean campsite. Store toys neatly!
Toys are stored neatly by the tent and footlockers tucked away under the table. Tidiness is important even in the wilderness.

Further, while you are at the campsite it is not just trash that will make your campsite seem dirty. If you are in a large group or with a family try and keep your things organized. Not only will you have a better trip knowing where things are, but others won’t have to look at the unsightly space. Even in developed, private campgrounds people are trying to escape from clutter and overuse. Consider using well-labeled footlockers or Rubbermaid containers if you are car camping. Not only will things stay neat and secure, but at night you will be able to quickly find the things you need to limit noise.

If you help to keep your site neat and tidy during your stay then everyone can enjoy the natural scenery that surrounds you! Organizing your squeaky clean campsite will make you the envy of the whole campground! So while this is basic etiquette what kinds of things can you do?

Interested in learning about more basic camping etiquette?

Don’t be these campers!

Before I get into the things that will help, I think it is important to maybe do a bit of site shaming first. The fact is that when we go camping we don’t want to have to pick up after the drunk partiers, the lazy RVers, or the huge family reunions. Instead, we want to head out to relax. Yet in each of the cases below the campers before took no notice of the fact that they were leaving behind a terrible mess. So, don’t be like these campers and be prepared to organize your squeaky clean campsite!

Originally Posted: Harrison Lake campsite trashed over May Long Weekend
by: Global News. Image Submitted by: Allison Marshall

The number of trashed campsites just goes on, and on, and on, and…well you get the picture. Don’t be these people. Just don’t. Be prepared right from the start with the things you need to keep your campsite picked up and organized.

5 ways to organize your squeaky clean campsite

The first thing that you need to do is plan ahead! Know how you will take care of your trash, store your food, wash your dishes, and keep all of your gear together. If you take a few steps before you even head out you will ensure that your site stays neat and tidy. You do not want to be a chaotic mess during your camping trip. So, find a place for everything and put everything in its place. This will also help you limit the amount of time that you have to unpack and repack everything just to find that one piece of gear you need. Keep things clean as you go as well. Our list below does include some products that will make your life easier. For ease, we have provided all products at the end of the article as well.

1. Plan ahead for your trash

As I showed you in the examples above, trash tends to be the most visible issue that campers leave behind. That is because no one wants to camp in a garbage dump. Most of us are trying to escape the realities of living in a city or a suburb where we may face staring at a trashcan on a daily basis. It has been found that most people who leave trash behind do so because they did not plan ahead when it came to their trash collection. So here are a few tips to consider when planning how to handle your trash.

Backpacking – Secure your trash in a gallon zip-top bag. This will prevent you from shoving wrappers and trash into your pockets. It will also, to a minor extent, help with odors. Remember if you pack it in you must pack it out! Hold onto all of the trash until you can find a proper receptacle or the larger trash bag that you have in your car.

Car Camping – Pack at least two home-sized garbage bags for each day that you are camping. If you are camping in a campground find the provided dumpsters and place your trash in them. If the campsite provides a trash pick-up service, then know when and where to leave the full bags. Never leave trash out overnight as it will attract animals. You will also be happy to know that garbage bags have other uses too in a pinch so take some extras!

RV camping – If you are camping in an RV you have the benefit of hard walls and more storage, potentially. This means you can be very prepared by leaving a box of garbage bags right in the camper. Just like car camping in a campground know where the dumpsters are or when the trash pick up is. Luckily, with an RV you may get away with leaving your trash inside overnight meaning that you can fill your bags to capacity before making a trip to the dumpster. I personally also use a collapsible hamper as part of my trash detail in the RV. It doesn’t take up much space and makes for keeping things organized easier.

Organizing your squeaky clean campsite with a collapsible trash can
Collapsible trash cans make RV Camping clean-up a breeze!

Remember it is all of our responsibility to keep campgrounds and nature free of the trash.

2. Organized Storage

Keeping all of your items organized does not have to be difficult. In fact, a little planning upfront will save you loads of time unpacking when you arrive. It will also help you to quickly locate the things you need in the dark. Personally, I like to use footlockers which are a set rectangular size. However, differing-sized plastic storage containers that are see-through can be just as beneficial. In either case, the fact that they come with locking lids will help to keep most critters out. Some, if not already, can easily be made water-tight to protect the gear inside. No matter what you put inside make sure to label the outside!

Organizing your squeaky clean campsite with foot lockers
Foot Lockers make for great storage for family gear while also providing another campfire seat!

Don’t be afraid of adding in some color-coded compression sacks and smaller storage containers within your main storage boxes. Think of the footlocker like a closet. You likely keep your closet at home somewhat organized so keep your camping closet just as tidy. Trust me there is nothing worse than stubbing your toe in the middle of the night trying to find something that is scattered somewhere in your bag, car, or RV. Do everyone a favor and make finding things easy!

3. Dish Washing

You may be seeing a theme start to develop here. Organizing your squeaky clean campsite depends on planning and preparation! Dishwashing is no different. Many first-time campers believe that camp dishes can be done right at the wellhead, in a shared bathroom, or that water can be dumped anywhere. This is truly not the case. The smell of dish soap and rinsed-out food particles are a great attractant for insects and both small and large animals. Do everyone a favor and don’t feed the wildlife!

Before heading out on your camping trip see what resources are available and how to use them. In general, here are the things that you may see and how to plan to use them.

  1. Backpacking dishes – When backpacking you may be at a bit of a disadvantage when it comes to cleaning up. However, you should still do so between each meal that uses dishes. Collect your water in a collapsible wash basin, and use environmentally friendly soap. Wash your dishes and dispose of the dish water in the same trench you have made for bathroom waste. Never dump this dirty water directly into natural waterways.
  2. Campground wash station – Some campgrounds provide a dish wash station. If so, then you should do all of your cleaning at the station so that food waste is properly contained.
  3. Campground well heads – If you campground has a well-head where you get water then you should fill your wash basins with water and take them back to your camp. Never wash dishes at the well head as this will make a sloppy, muddy mess and could contaminate the well head. Just like with backpacking use a biodegradable, environmentally friendly soap for dish clean up. When completed dispose of the used water where instructed at the campsite. Some sites will have dishwater disposal areas and others may allow you to dispose of the water in the vault toilets. It is important that you find the proper location and if you don’t know ask the camp host or ranger!
Organizing your squeaky clean campsite with dish basins
A dish basin such as this will make dish clean-up at the campsite a breeze.
  1. RV dishes – There is not much to say here since being in an RV is just like being at home. You likely have a sink that you can wash in. Now that being said, I have been in campgrounds where people though it was okay to just release the gray tank into their campsite. Please, never just open your gray tank even if it is just soapy dish water.

4. The daily pick up

Just because you are outside in nature doesn’t mean that the daily chores stop. You still have to wash your dishes and you still need to pick things up off the floor! Well, ground in this case. At the end of every day before the sun goes down do a walkthrough of your campsite. Make sure that there is no trash lying around. Additionally, put any toys away that was used during the day neatly where they belong. This will prevent trips and falls at night time when heading to the latrine.

Organizing your squeaky clean campsite by picking up daily
Keep everything clean and orderly just like this campsite. Even while preparing for breakfast we kept our side neat. (Aside from that toppled toddler chair!)

Take an opportunity throughout the day to also keep your campsite looking organized. This can be difficult with kids, but just like at home if you keep up on it then it will not be as difficult. Do a quick run-through before leaving your campsite for the day also. Your campsite neighbors will appreciate your low impact on the natural setting. Not to mention how much more comfortable you will be moving around a well-organized campsite!

5. After camp policing

Just because you are worn out from a great weekend of camping, hiking, and exploring the natural world does not excuse you from completing a final clean-up. You need to ensure that the campsite is better than the way you left it. This will make the next campers’ life that much easier. So walk your site in a grid pattern and pick up any trash that you may have missed. Even trash from other people! Clean out the fire pit and dispose of ashes appropriately. If you have leftover firewood, then stack it neatly for the next set of campers (remember transferring firewood can transfer invasive critters). The camp hosts and the next campers will thank you for the five minutes you spent doing this task. I know I like arriving at a clean site so I always leave one for those who come after me.

Organizing your squeaky clean campsite by policing the site
Get the whole crew involved in picking up the campsite before you leave!

Final thoughts on organizing your squeaky clean campsite

Keeping your campsite looking nice throughout your camping trip doesn’t have to be a chore. Okay, cleaning is always a chore, but it doesn’t have to take a lot of time. Prepare ahead of time and know-how you are going to be organizing your squeaky clean campsite. With that knowledge at hand up front, it will make your chore a habit. A good habit that will make you have a better time camping and will leave the site ready for the next camper to do the same. That is unless you want to end up on a Reddit board for being a bad camper!

Do you have other tips or tricks that you use to stay organized and clean while camping? We would like to hear about them in the comments below, on our Facebook, or on Reddit!

As promised here is a quick list of the products that were referenced in this article. Consider adding some of these into your gear lists to ensure an organized, tidy, and well-maintained campsite!

Products for organizing your squeaky clean campsite