On the ever-popular podcast The Trail Show, Bonus show #3 Disco shares a trail tip that I have been using ever since hearing it, carrying a blue sponge in my kit. The blue sponge is no special high-end piece of gear or needs to be sourced from a specialty maker, it is simply that a blue dish sponge that you can buy at any grocery store.
This little sponge, when paired with a zip lock bag, can help take your on trail personal hygiene up a notch. While most hikers new to the sport will embrace the daily layer of grime and wear it like a badge of honor, most old sages will tell you that is the worst thing to do.
Removing salt and dirt from your body daily on trail, especially before bed, can make a huge difference in one’s happiness. Removing salts will not only help keep your sleeping system cleaner, but it will also help your body thermoregulate better as you sleep avoiding the dreaded night sweats.
Daily washing can also help the biggest concern of most hikers, the dreaded chaffing….while most think that heat is the number one cause of this issue, the reality is salt and grime add just as much to chaffing as heat and sweat. So with some nightly washing, you can sleep better, avoid chaffing, and bonus smell better for your hiking partners.
On the Oregon Desert Trail we each carried a blue sponge, I usually remove the scrubby side, but on this trip, I found that scrubber worked really well for caked on dirt on my feet every day. By getting that grit off my feet each day I was able to reduce the risk of a blister, preserve my feet for big miles the next day and I kept my sleep socks clean.
The last thing you might ask is, “why not just use a bandana?” The sponge I find does a better job of cleaning, and with its water-absorbing properties, it helps stretch that precious wash water further at night.
So before you hit the trail for your next hike swing on by the local grocer or dollar store and get yourself a blue sponge, your skin and hiking partners will thank you for it.