Everything You Need To Pack To Keep Camping Messes Tidy

Camping is awesome! Well ... until you come home and find bugs in your food, mud in your tent, musty clothes, and a car that looks like a tornado blew through it. Yup, camping is great, but it is an undeniable fact that it can also be incredibly messy. Whether you're a minimalist camper or you go all out and bring a little slice of home with you on your camping trip, it can seem impossible to keep things tidy and prevent camp dirt from finding its way into everything. On top of that, most of the camping "hacks" out there just involve buying yet another piece of equipment to take up what limited space you have.

If you love camping and want to keep things tidy without buying yet another piece of camping dedicated equipment, we've got just the packing list for you. Each of these items can be used at home and while camping and has multiple uses that you can adapt to your own camping style.

Bring a few lengths of rope or bungee cords

Rope and bungee cords are some of the best friends you can have when headed to the great outdoors. Not only are they amazing tools for your campsite, but they can also keep things tidy and in their place. Bungee cords can be used to keep bundles of wood together for your firepit, strap down items to your roof rack, secure items to your backpack that can't fit in your bag, or even for a quick workout. Okay, we're joking about that last one (mostly). But as you can see, bungee cords are truly one of the most diverse camping tools you can have in your arsenal!

Regular old rope will also do the trick, though. Grab a few different lengths that you can use for various tasks. For example, use a short rope to loop through a roll of paper towels and dangle it off a tree branch or another perch to keep the roll clean while you cook. You can use a slightly longer rope as a clothesline to dry out clothes after sweating in them all day or hang up your sleeping bag to air out. Finally, you can also use a longer rope to create an overhang with a tarp to cover your food prep or sitting area when it's raining outside.

Lay down a tarp or outdoor rug to stay clean

A tarp or outdoor rug is another camping must-have that will keep your campsite much tidier. Simply use the tarp or rug to set up an area where shoes are a no-no and only socks and bare feet are allowed. For the best results, place your choice at the entrance to your tent or camper and regularly sweep away or shake off any dirt. 

If you bring any chairs, tables, or other patio furniture with you when camping, a tarp underneath can help keep them a bit cleaner. This will reduce clean-up time and also prevent any debris from getting left wherever you store your patio furniture in your car or under your camper. Best of all, you can easily hose off the tarp or rug at the end of your trip and hang it over the rope you brought to dry before you leave!

Outdoor rugs are great for those who want a bit more of a cozy camping aesthetic. On the other hand, tarps have many different uses besides being used for the ground, such as a makeshift tent or — as mentioned above — an overhang for your campsite. Regardless, these items can be used to prevent dirt, mud, and other debris from getting into your tent or camper. For those using the former, this is especially important for keeping sleeping bags and pillows a bit cleaner.

Use more vertical space with hanging shoe organizers

Okay, let's say you set up a tarp area to keep your campsite clean and you have to remove your shoes. There you are, standing there with your shoes in your hand, wondering what to do with them. You don't want to take them inside your tent or camper — that would defeat the whole purpose. However, you also don't want to leave them outside on the ground where they could get wet or creepy crawlies could make a home out of them. Here's a better solution — use a hanging shoe organizer. This will keep your dirty shoes from making a mess and ensure you don't find a surprise inside them in the morning.

While this tip works best for people with campers and RVs, tent campers can use shoe organizers too if you can find a good place to hang them up. They don't only have to be used for shoes, either — they can also double as a condiment or cleaning supplies holder to save some space in your camper's tiny cabinets.

Keep your clothes and kitchen organized with clear plastic bins

If you don't already have some clear plastic storage bins lying around, it might be time to get a few. Not only are these going to totally change the way you camp and keep you more organized and tidy, but you can also use them for storing your camping supplies when you get home. Doesn't that sound better than just shoving everything into a closet or cabinet? We think so!

We specifically recommend clear plastic for camping so that you can easily see what's inside the bin without having to open every single one to find what you're looking for. While they aren't as insulating as a cooler, you can still use them to store dry food ingredients and easily move things around from your picnic table prep area to the firepit once you're ready to cook. If you're only camping for a couple days, you can use the bins with some frozen water bottles to keep your perishables cool. Finally, you can also use these bins to separate your clean clothes from your dirty clothes. There will be no mistaking which bin has your dirty laundry in it when you can see your dusty shirt through the clear plastic.

Save space with pop-up laundry baskets

A small caveat to that last point we made in the previous section: Are you going to be away for a week or more and won't be doing any laundry during that time? Well, you might want to consider storing your dirty clothes in a mesh pop-up laundry basket instead of a bin. This will keep your clothes from basically stewing in your bodily odors and turning musty. Yuck. This can be hard to wash out with a regular laundry cycle, and the mesh basket promotes a bit more airflow and keep smells from intensifying while waiting to be washed.

You can also use a pop-up laundry basket as a makeshift trash can. Simply open the basket, place a trash bag inside, and secure it with a clothespin if it's windy out or doesn't stay up. This will make it so much easier for you and your family to keep the campsite clean. Additionally, when you're cooking, there's nothing worse than having to fiddle with a sagging trash bag as you try and throw away messy scraps — and spill them everywhere. This little hack fixes all of that.