Female Hygiene on a Bike: How to Prepare for a Multi-Day Journey

Cyclotourists, bikepackers, and other backcountry travelers love shaving down their gear to just the bare essentials, splitting toothbrushes in half, or rationing the squares of toilet paper with every wipe. But, when it comes to personal hygiene, I feel like I owe it to myself to splurge a little, given how much I put my body through day-in and day-out whilst on a long, multi-day journey.

It wasn’t until recently that I became aware of the lack of information around the topic of personal female hygiene and bikepacking. As I’ve been approached by more women with different questions on the subject over the years, I began to realize that there’s a need for this kind of information sharing, and that actually, there’s no distinctive guidance out there to help.

So, I want to share my knowledge and experience with the hope that it will help other riders better understand what female hygiene on a bike looks like. There’s no universal solution for everyone, and I can only speak from the anatomy that I know about, but perhaps you’ll find good tips and advice to integrate into future trips based on your needs.

Shower and Hair Care

Being able to wash your hair and body very much depends on where you are traveling and what infrastructure is available. For example, in Europe, we have easy access to paid accommodations and I’ll feel tempted to book a room every few days to enjoy a hot shower and do some deep cleaning. If taking a more frugal approach with mostly wild camping for days at a time, I will use wet wipes to muddle through the first layer of dirt or, if I’m lucky to find a fountain or natural water source, I’ll rinse my body to freshen up a little. Wet wipes are wasteful and can easily be replaced by a damp cloth when there is no water scarcity, but they are something I’ve turned to in desert locations. One thing is true: when the infrastructure is there and showers are readily available, the urge for a real shower arises much more often than when showering just isn’t an option.

At natural water sources, you should avoid using products regardless of how organic they claim to be, as the oils will wash out and could still cause damage to an ecosystem. A good alternative is to fill up a water bag or bottle and find a place far away from the spring to make sure the soap will do the least harm. For my skin and hair, I carry a 60ml Pure-Castile liquid soap from Dr. Bronner and a small dry shampoo bar from Nature Box. And on bad hair days? Nothing works better than a good braid!

Skin Care and Body Hair

I must confess, I feel like I exponentially age every time I hop on a bike for a few weeks. The constant exposure to the elements combined with the accumulated fatigue often results in burned cheeks and an array of new sun marks. But I always feel like this physical wear and the new collection of wrinkles from squinting my eyes are a fair souvenir for all the happy moments lived outdoors.

Superficial reasons aside, using a 50SPF sunscreen is crucial to avoid burning and further serious skin diseases. Some brands have oil-free products, which are ideal for the face and allow breathability, which prevents extra sweating. Topping up the day with a light moisturizing cream is a must for me, too.

To Underwear or Not Underwear

Chamois padding is very popular for riders as its cushioning provides extra comfort on the sit bones, although it can also become a breeding ground for bacteria when worn for multiple days in a row without a thorough wash. In my case, I opt to go chamois-free for as many days as possible and will save the extra padding for the bumpier tracks, which make me more prone to saddle sores.

Opting not to wear chamois means you’ll likely be using underwear—beware that using the wrong underwear can also lead to extra chafing! Wool underwear is a great solution because of its anti-microbial properties but I’ve also found that using a seamless microfiber thong with an inner cotton layer, essential for breathability, is comfortable for me. I wear a different pair each day and ideally, I’ll wash them in a sink with hot water for extra disinfection. If this is not possible, I’ll rinse them in a stream or pour water from the water bag and use a neutral soap. To dry my underwear, I hang it inside the tent overnight or on the bike whilst I ride.

Regarding body hair, I made the decision to have laser treatment years ago which means that nowadays, I barely think about this subject at all. But one unbreakable rule to me whilst on a long bike trip is to never fully shave your pubic area with a razor as the chances of getting rashes, in-growns, and itchiness are very high. If you have sensitive skin, as I do, a good approach is trimming with scissors, if you feel it necessary. Honestly, feeling comfortable and unashamed with your pubic hair and keeping it natural is probably the best way to go.

Menstruation and Toilet Time

Not everyone menstruates, but if you do, this is probably the subject that’ll concern you most when considering a long-term bike tour. When it comes to periods, every person is different. Regularity, duration, or discomfort varies from person to person, and listening to your body during those days will be your best bet.

You know what helps you, so bring extra snacks, medicine, or comfortable clothing, if that will soothe your experience. Exercise can cause changes in your cycle as well as heavier bleeding, so come prepared!

“Leave no trace” is especially applicable in this section which is why for the past few years I’ve been using menstrual cups. It took me some trial and error to find the right one for me as they often leaked, but now that I have found The One, I feel very relieved knowing there won’t be any spotting on my chamois or underwear. On the other hand, menstrual cups or discs can be a messy business if you have to change on the trail with little access to water, which is why I always carry emergency tampons or (reusable) pads for these occasions.

If it’s possible to anticipate where I’ll be when my next period comes knocking—my period tracker app helps me with this—then I will plan to be at an accommodation, to go through the more discomforting days in peace. It’s reasonable to organize a trip around a period, so don’t feel guilty if you’d rather stop cycling for a couple of days.

Getting comfortable with the idea of going to the bathroom in the wild is something you’ll have to do when venturing on even a slightly remote bike tour. And because the circumstances may not always be optimally discreet, I prefer knicks (shorts) over bibs to make these transitions faster.

There are devices female riders can use to stand up while peeing, but I’m more of a squatting-behind-a-bush kind of person. Rather than doing the “shake until dry technique,” bring some toilet paper or a reusable pee rag to properly dry the area as it’ll minimize the chance of bacteria growth. For number two, there are some things you should take into account. When choosing a spot, make sure it’s not close to any water source and that you dig a hole of 10-15cm in depth, that you’ll then cover up once finished. Obviously, you shouldn’t leave any traces of what you’ve been up to. Some companies, like PACT outdoors, are making products that aim to help ultra-light travelers reduce their impact from nature breaks.


With internal genitalia, women are more susceptible to concerns such as urinary or yeast infections. We all probably experience them at some point and, even though your specific needs may be different from mine, a bike fit and finding the right saddle will definitely help you in avoiding these issues in the long run.

Don’t be afraid to talk to a doctor before your departure as they might recommend precautionary procedures or supplies to bring with you in case of emergency.



For a more comprehensive insight into my personal experience of maintaining hygiene during a long bike journey, you can watch the video I made on the subject. There is no perfect way or solution that will fit everyone, so feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section so that together we can help de-stigmatize the subject and help each ride more comfortably.

No one should be stopped from following a dream because of insecurities related to hygiene. The more we share our experiences, the lower the barriers become!