Are Campground Bathrooms Safe To Use?


If you are going to camp for more than just a couple of days, one of the first questions you might ask is if the campground has a bathroom, especially if you are tent camping. Depending on where you stay, and how new the campground is there is a chance that they will have multiple bathrooms with flushing toilets, and even showers. Some campgrounds even have laundry mats in them so you can wash your clothes, and save some storage on packing. If you are going to a place that is more desolate, you might find that the only bathroom they have is one that has a seat and a hole in the ground. A big question we always get is how safe and clean are the bathrooms at a campground, and should people be using them.

Are campground bathrooms safe to use? Typically, all campground bathrooms are very safe to use and are normally very clean when you go to use them. Campgrounds employ people to clean them out daily, especially bathrooms that have running water. Bathrooms that are just like an outhouse with a seat and hole in the ground are normally pumped once or twice a week into a septic truck to keep the smell down. Always check the stall or portable for any sort of critters or bugs before you sit down to use the facilities. It is also a good idea to wipe down anything you are going to sit on with a wet wipe, or some sort of wet paper towel or napkin.

Types Of Camp Bathrooms

There are usually two types of bathrooms in a campground for people to use. The first is the more modern bathroom that will have running water, and are usually in newer campgrounds, or campgrounds that get a lot of people visiting. These bathrooms will have a row of sinks, and usually will have urinals (for men), and a bank of enclosed stalls. Most of these types of bathrooms will also have two or three working showers in them, which is a HUGE plus. The second type of bathroom is one that looks like a normal outhouse, or a small shack that has a toilet seat and has a hole that goes down into a septic tank. These toilets have to be cleaned multiple times a week depending on camper count, and usually have a more undesirable smell to them. The should have screened vents on the bottom and the top of the shack. If you have to use this type of bathroom, make sure nothing in your pockets is going to fall down the hole, and NEVER go into one if something does fall.

Are Campground Bathrooms Clean?

Most campgrounds have camp hosts or employees that will go through two or three times a day and fill up the toilet paper, paper towels, and toilet seat covers. They will also wipe down any dirt or mess that people make, so they are fairly clean for the most part. Most campgrounds that have workers like this also have a cleaning crew that comes in once a day to spray down the sinks and toilets with disinfectant and will mop the floors. Before sending your kids in to use the bathroom, it is a good idea for you to at least pop your head in and take a look before they enter because there are times when people do not clean up after themselves, or think it is funny to trash a bathroom. If you notice anything strange with a bathroom, you can tell the camp host, or any ranger driving by and they will get it cleaned up. There has only been a handful of bathrooms in my life that I thought were not clean enough to use.

Should I Shower?

Showering is probably one of the best things a campground can offer to people. There is nothing better than getting the sweat, dirt, and sunscreen off before you sit down at the campfire at night, but can also cause the most harm to you. Campground showers are notorious for giving people athletes foot. This is a fungus that can spread very easily from one person to another if you are not careful. If you plan to use a shower at a campground, you should always wear a pair of shower sandals to protect your feet. While bathrooms are usually clean, it is very hard to get rid of athletes foot, so shower sandals will save your life. One other thing you want to do is keep your towel and clothes in a bag so they are not sitting on something that other people were using and could have contaminated. Other than that, I would just make sure there is no weird stuff like blood of feces on the curtain or walls before you use it, and you should be fine.

Do They Cost Money?

Most campground toilets and bathrooms are free to use if you are paying to stay at the campground. There are times though when you might have to pay to use either a shower or laundry mat at the site. I have seen this range from 75 cents to $1.50 peruse, but you normally get around 15 or 20 minutes in the shower. It is a good idea if you bring a bag of quarters with you just in case. My family normally brings around $10 dollars in quarters that always stay with our gear just in case you need it for showers or even parking. If you run into this situation and do not have any money, there is normally a general store that can break a five-dollar bill for you to use.

Can I Get Sick?

The likelihood of you getting sick from a bathroom is usually very minimal, but it has happened before. The biggest thing to worry about is the athlete’s foot I talked about, so if you are careful you should be fine. You can always bring disinfectant wipes or a can of Lysol with you if you think that there might be a chance of it not being cleaned properly. There is only one time that I went camping and ended up getting a cold, but I do not believe it was from the bathroom. Like I said before, just do a check before you use anything, and you should be safe from germs.

Are They Open All Day And Night?

Even though most campgrounds have normal operating hours, and quiet time, generally bathrooms will stay open 24 hours a day, and are normally only closed for cleaning times, which is early in the morning, and late afternoon when people are having breakfast and dinner. If the showers are sectioned off by a door, they might lock it, but the sinks and toilets should be open to everyone all day and night. I have never run into a problem of a bathroom being closed unless there is something wrong with it and was closed for cleaning or repairs.

Read The Message Boards

When you first enter a campground, you will start seeing big wooden signs called message boards. This is where campgrounds and other campers can leave messages, important notices, and anything you should know when staying at the campground. There is normally one for every different campsite you go into and it is a great idea for you to stop and take a look at them because they will tell you what might be out of order, and if they have seen any sort of critters in the area to look out for. This is where they will also post which bathrooms might be not working, or are out of order, and where you can go to find another one that is in use. I always stop at them when I am headed in, or will take a walk with my family to read them after we get set up. There is a lot more on them than you might think, so take the time to read it.

What Should You Bring With You?

Never expect a campground bathroom to have everything you need for getting clean or using the bathroom. It is a good idea to have a ziplock bag with the following in it, so you are able to get everything done:

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Soap or Body Wash
  • Change For The Shower
  • Disinfectant wipes
  • Tampons or Sanitary Napkins
  • Hand Sanitizer

It is also a good idea to have a roll of toilet paper as a backup, and always bring your own towel if you are taking a shower. Having all of these things in one location will make a trip to the campground bathroom very easy.

Final Thoughts

For the most part, campground bathrooms are very safe and clean, so I would not be worried about using them. Watch your feet when you want to use a shower, and always bring a bag with all the necessities with you, or you might have to walk back to camp again. Always check the bathroom and toilets for bugs and critters before you just sit down to use the facilities, and you will be just fine.

Terry Minton

I am the owner of Fast Cast Rods. I live in the mountains of Northern California where I love to be outdoors hunting, fishing, camping and hiking with my wife and three awesome kids.

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