Matt Johnson

How to Brush your Teeth When Camping

Author: Matt JohnsonPhotos/Graphics: Mike HawthornePublished: Jul 18, 2022Updated: Dec 13, 2023

When camping, there are a few key things that you need to remember to make your experience as enjoyable as possible. One of those is how to brush your teeth properly. After all, you don’t want to come home to a mouthful of cavities! Here are a few tips on how to brush your teeth when camping.

Be sure to pack your toothbrush and toothpaste (and everything else you need).

Pack Up Your Toothbrush and Toothpaste
Properly packing up your toothbrush will keep it clean the entire trip.

This is where it begins. The first thing you need to do is to make sure you have a toothbrush and toothpaste with you. If not, how will you brush your teeth?

We recommend a small travel plastic toothbrush holder. Not only will this keep your toothbrush clean, but it will also help to keep the bristles from getting bent.

However, if you don’t have a toothbrush holder, you can also use a Ziploc bag. This will not do as good of a job protecting the bristles, but it’ll keep it clean.

If you have an electric toothbrush such as a Sonicare Electric Toothbrush, you can still bring that along. Just be sure to pack the charger as well!

How do I keep my toothbrush clean while traveling?

Here are a few steps to help keep your toothbrush clean while traveling.

  • Rinse well. Rinse your toothbrush with water before and after each use. Make sure any remaining toothpaste is rinsed off thoroughly.
  • Shake it off. After rinsing, shake your toothbrush off to help remove any water clinging to the bristles.
  • Give it a rest. If you’re not using your toothbrush, store it upright so air can circulate it. Never put a wet toothbrush back into its case.
  • Store it dry. If you’re going to be gone for more than a day, store your toothbrush in a clean, dry container. We recommend a travel toothbrush case or bag.
  • Avoid other items. Try to avoid storing your toothbrush next to other dirty items such as other people’s toothbrushes. Each brush should have its case.
  • Sanitize it. If you’re worried about germs, you can sanitize your toothbrush. There are special UV toothbrush sanitizers you can use, or you can disinfect your toothbrush with boiling water for 3 minutes.

Following those steps will help to keep your toothbrush clean and bacteria-free for the duration of your camping trip.

Find a water source.

Finding a water source can be tricky if you’re boondocking in the middle of nowhere. If you’re lucky enough to have a water hose at your campsite, you can brush your teeth just like you would at home.

If not, you’ll need to find a nearby stream, river, or lake. Moving water is always preferable as stagnant water can carry harmful bacteria. Once you’ve found a water source, fill up a cup or pot with water and bring it back to your campsite.

Don’t worry; using a natural water source to brush your teeth is perfectly safe as long as the water is clean and you don’t ingest it. However, if you’re concerned, you can boil the water for 1-2 minutes to kill any bacteria.

Brush good and brush often.

You were smart enough to pack a toothbrush, so now it’s time to put it to good use. Just like at home, you should brush your teeth at least twice a day.

I’m not going to get into the details of how to brush your teeth; you know how to do that. Just be sure to brush for a good 2-3 minutes, getting all of your teeth, front and back.

If you’re camping with young children, it’s essential to make sure they brush their teeth since they are more prone to cavities.

When you’re done brushing…

Now that you’re all done brushing your teeth, it’s time to clean up and get rid of the dirty water. If you’re at a campsite with a septic hookup, you can just dump the water into the sewer.

If not, you’ll need to find a place to dispose of the water. In general, you can pour the excess water on the ground.

Pack your toothbrush back into its holder (or Ziploc bag) and put it away until next time.

Is it OK to spit toothpaste on the ground?

Toothpaste is biodegradable, so it’s not harmful to the environment. However, some people believe that spitting toothpaste on the ground is unsightly, and the scent can also attract curious critters. Also, since we like to practice “leave no trace” camping, it’s always best to clean up after yourself.

While you can spit toothpaste on the ground (as we mentioned, it’s not harmful to the environment), if you want to be considerate of other campers, we recommend spitting it into a cup or a trash receptacle instead. This will leave your campsite clean and tidy for the next person.

Have a great smile even while camping!

That’s all there is to it! With just a few simple steps, you can brush your teeth while camping just like at home. Of course, there are a few things to keep in mind when brushing your teeth while camping, but as long as you’re prepared and have everything you need, you’ll be just fine. So go ahead and enjoy your camping trip with a great smile.


Matt Johnson

Senior Content Writer

Matt is an experienced camper and glamping enthusiast with a Master's degree in Wildlife Science from Texas A&M University. Authoring posts for GlamperGear, he shares his wealth of knowledge on picturesque campsites, luxurious accommodations, and the best gear for outdoor adventures. His passion for nature and knack for comfort in the wilderness make him an expert guide for your next camping endeavor.

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