5 Best Biodegradable Soaps for the Outdoors for 2023

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If you are planning a whitewater rafting trip soon, you will want to make sure you pack the right supplies. One of the most important items on your list should be a Chacos Sandals and biodegradable soap. Biodegradable soap is environmentally friendly and highly recommended when you venture out to the great outdoors. In this article, we will discuss the different types of biodegradable soap and list the 5 best soaps for outdoor use in 2022!

What is biodegradable soap?

Biodegradable soap is a type of soap that is environmentally friendly. It will do less harm than traditional soaps to the rivers and waterways that you raft on. It is made from natural ingredients and organic oils that will break down quickly once it enters the environment. There are many different types of biodegradable soap available on the market.

Biodegradable soaps can be used for body washing, washing dishes, clothes detergent, and shampoo, and comes in many forms.

Why use biodegradable soap?

In the 1950s, manufacturers of soap and detergent began replacing natural oils with surfactants, foaming chemicals produced in a laboratory.

The foamy surfactants were carried down the drain and into municipal water systems when people began using these surfactant-laden soaps, but water treatment plans couldn’t filter them out.

This resulted in highly toxic chemicals affecting our aquatic life.

Fortunately, in 1972, the Clean Water Act was passed, compelling businesses to eliminate some of the most harmful chemicals. However, because of the 1996 change in regulation, it has become simpler for hazardous chemicals to be utilized in house products.

Because of this, even today’s most common soaps, including nearly all dish soaps, may harm the environment.

Soap is a globally popular consumer product with annual sales of around $100 billion, so many people use it.

The more people who use typical soaps, the more chemicals they put into our environment, including the rivers that are our primary water source and where we spend our Summers rafting.

The carbon footprint of regular soap

The amount of carbon released by soaps is quite remarkable. According to the European Commission, various soaps, detergents, and other cleaning products emit 200 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) per person into the atmosphere every year.

Vegetable-based oils negatively impact the environment when used to make soaps. A lot of water, land, and energy is required to manufacture vegetable oils. Palm oil, which is used in a majority of the regular soaps, is produced using an extremely extractive process that destroys thousands of acres of native vegetation in Southeast Asia.

The detergent chemicals sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium Laureth sulfate, which are found in most liquid soaps and detergents, are petroleum-based. In aerobic conditions, most surfactants biodegrade over time, but they aren’t readily degradable in anaerobic situations like underwater and underground.

Many soaps (as well as many bar soaps) contain chemicals that are causing significant harm to human health and the environment.

Detergents are water-soluble, meaning they produce heavy foam which has negative effects on the environment.

How do use biodegradable soaps?

OK, now that you’re on board with biodegradable soap, I’d like to share some “best practices” for using soap in a variety of situations with you.

Keep the river clean

The key to using biodegradable soap is to keep it out of the river and streams. As we previously stated, soaps don’t break down as quickly in water and must be disposed of in another manner.

It’s pretty simple. Dig a hole 200 feet away from other water sources and pour your wastewater in it. Putting it in a hole lets the soil act as a filter, helps accelerate the biodegradable process, and protects wildlife from disturbing it by helping to hide the scent.

When I’m running a trip, I always remind my clients that it’s critical to grab the opportunities river excursions provide, but not to leave a trace. I’ve pulled up my raft up to river camp locations and seen dishwater and food debris clogging the pools near camp. We have to do better. I believe everyone should practice Leave no trace practices when exploring the great outdoors.

The 200 feet rule

When it comes to battling soapy water, I generally use the 200-foot rule. The rule is to scatter or dispose of your wastewater 200 feet from your campsite. You may either scatter it or dig a hole for the water to go in – just make sure to fill it in before leaving.

If you’re washing dishes, having something to carry the water away from other sources of water is handy. The same goes for hand-washing or taking a sponge bath. It’s essential that you don’t pour soapy wastewater back into freshwater streams, rivers, or another water source, but rather into the ground where the soap’s chemicals may decompose.

What are the different types of biodegradable soaps?

Biodegradable soap comes in many forms and comprises essential oils and natural ingredients. The most popular ones are Liquid, Bars, Wipes, and Soap sheets.

Liquid soap

A small bottle of Liquid soap is versatile and tiny, making them ideal for various cleaning tasks. Because they have extra moisturizers, liquid soaps are generally more gentle on the skin. A bottle is also less likely to spread germs.

Just a few drops of highly concentrated liquid soap go a long way, and most people use anywhere from 15 to 20 washes per ounce. A single capful has multiple uses and is usually enough to clean the whole body. Germ cleaning, bacterial destruction on clothing, and cleaning dirty dishes are just a few of the things that can be done with a little bottle while whitewater rafting.

Bar soaps

Bar soap is made primarily of animal fats and oils, so it’s a long-lasting, cost-effective hygiene option. It’s also been claimed to have the lowest environmental effect overall because of its natural composition and compostable packaging.

On the other hand, bar soaps require more water to produce enough lather and have increased pH levels that may harm sensitive skin.


Wipes don’t need water, so you can clean yourself whenever you like on camping trips. They are multi-use and you may use them to clean hands and sterilize cuts. If water is not readily accessible, they are also fantastic for cleaning camp equipment or using in place of showers.

The size of the package varies based on how many wipes are provided. Wipes are limited to a certain number per container and may be heavier/bigger than other cleaning choices.

Soap sheets

Soap sheets are a good lightweight hygiene solution. These tiny cleaning marvels are smaller than the size of your palm and may be used for a variety of cleaning tasks, such as washing camp cookware, or small containers.

For washing dishes or bigger things, for example, several sheets will be needed, and your hands must be dry to remove them from plastic packaging. They must also be kept safe since if water leaks in the package, they’ll dissolve.

The best liquid soaps

Sea to Summit wilderness wash

Sea to Summit wash

Sea to Summit offers this concentrated, biodegradable soap, advertised as low-sud multi-purpose wilderness wash, is thick and can be used in fresh or saltwater. There are no scents in the soap.

The bottle lid is a nice measuring tool, and the plastic is quite durable, so you won’t have to worry about it breaking. With the power of just one capful of this soap, you can clean practically everything.

I use this for dish soap or body wash on longer multi-day trips.

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10/03/2023 08:00 pm GMT
Campsuds liquid soap


Campsuds liquid soap is packaged in a bottle with an easy-pour spout, claiming to be the first all-purpose biodegradable outdoor cleaner for campers.

It has a citrus-lime natural fragrance and is comprised of all-natural substances. The soap comes out rather thin. On the other hand, a few drops will stretch after mixing with water, so you can use the soap sparingly. Campsuds perform better when cleaning dirty or greasy dishes after removing some grease.

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10/03/2023 08:25 pm GMT

Dr. Bronner Organic Liquid soap

Dr. Bronner Organic Liquid soap

Dr. Bronner’s is a family-owned business that dates back to 1948 and is the most renowned brand in the pure-Castile liquid soap, organic personal care product sector. All soaps come in eight distinct fragrances (including an unscented option) and liquid and bar forms.

Each product has no synthetic preservatives and is made with organic oils, such as Coconut oil, Potassium Hydroxide, Palm Kernel Oil, Olive Oil, Hemp Oil, and Jojoba Oil. It is well known for being easy on people with allergies and other sensitivities.

The best Bar soap

Ursa Major

the best bar soaps

The Ursa Major bar soap is formulated with volcanic exfoliant particles, and invigorating peppermint, eucalyptus, rosemary, and grapefruit scents to give you a boost in the morning.

Naturally infused peppermint oil stimulates circulation, while the grapefruit helps to moisturize the entire body. According to Ursa Major, the bar is soft and gently exfoliates without being excessively harsh. According to Ursa Major, it should last between two and three months.

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10/03/2023 09:00 pm GMT

Kirks Original Coco Castile Soap

Kirks Original Coco Castile Soap

Since 1939, Kirk’s Castile soap is made with 100% Premium Coconut Oil and free from Phthalates, Sulfates, Parabens, EDTA, Glutens, and Artificial Colorants.

They specialize in producing environmentally friendly biodegradable soap that includes recyclable packaging. Their bar soap is composed of 100% pure premium coconut oil, which is gentler on the skin and leaves it conditioned without leaving any residue.

Price: $5.00 for a 3-pack

Mt. Mazama Rogue Soap

This soap is one of my favorites since it is produced in Oregon, where I am from. It takes its name and inspiration from the Rogue River in Southwest Oregon.

Mt. Mazama Rogue Soap

The bar is rougher at first but not difficult on the skin. It does, however, aid in the removal of dirt and grime. The soap’s natural oils help to keep your skin moisturized, and the packaging is completely biodegradable.

Rogue Soap is made from bentonite clay, geranium, organic palm oil, coconut oil, olive oil, fruit oil, and bentonite, and it has a pleasant cedar and sage scent.

Price: $8.00

The best Wipes

When it comes to biodegradable wipes, they are all pretty much the same. Biodegradable wipes are all much better than baby wipes and can be used as an alternative for showering or cleaning dishes when need be. 

Sea to Summit Wilderness Wipes

Sea to Summit Wilderness Wipes

When on a trip into the wild, you may use Wilderness Wipes to “shower.” They’re made from a thick, soft material and two are enough to wash your entire body. The wipes include aloe vera and vitamin E, which help promote smooth skin and youthful radiance.

They are great for washing hands, an alternative to toilet paper, and even dishes. 

Price: $6.00 per pack

Coleman Biodegradable wipes

Coleman products have always been synonymous with the outdoors. Their fragrance-free wipes live up to their namesake. I have used these wipes for years to clean my personal camping gear on trips and for clients at lunch stops. 

Coleman Biodegradable wipes

Price: $11.95 per pack

Dead Down Wind Base Camp Wipes

Dead Down Wind Base Camp Wipes

I took these wipes with me on a recent trip and found that they lasted longer than the other wipes I’ve tried. They’re also bigger than their competitors, measuring 7″x8,” which makes it feel like a hand towel!

Price: $3.99 per pack

The best Soap sheets

Kind Lather Soap sheets

KindLather sheets are made with safe, natural plant-based ingredients, and the packaging is 100% recycled and biodegradable. These soap sheets are extremely lightweight and as flat as a piece of paper.

Kind Lather Soap sheets

Each soap is hypoallergenic and has a non-irritating formulation. They have scented, unscented, and “extra sensitive” varieties available. Their body lather product comes with enough sheets for over 150 hand washes. 

Coleman Soap sheets

Coleman’s soap sheets are a simple and inexpensive cleaning product. One box includes 50 single-use soap sheets that may be used for dishes, hand washing, and laundry. A single sheet will clean your hands, or several can be combined with water to clean multiple objects. When removing the sheets from your hands should be dry.

Coleman Soap sheets

Price: $4.00 for 50 sheets

The best Biodegradable Soap

On all my rafting trips I pack two different types of biodegradable soap in Dry Box. The first is the Sea To Summit Wilderness Wash. I use this to wash all my dishes, for my hand washing station, and even for washing my clothes on hot multi-day rafting trips. 

I bring a bar of Mt. Mazama Rogue Soap to bath with and throw in the Coleman Biodegradable wipes to handle any quick cleans I need to do at a lunch stop. 

For me, these biodegradable soaps get the job done, and I am ready to hit the river. 

Just remember, whichever biodegradable soap you choose, make sure to practice Leave No Trace!

All Forward,

Also Read :

What Is The Best Inflatable Kayak To Buy?

What Wikipedia Can’t Share About How Chacos Treat Your Feet

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