Being able to keep yourself at least somewhat clean while trekking back home is not only a great boost to your morale but it will help reduce the risks of illness and infection. The entire kit won’t take up very much space in your bag, nor weigh a ton.
Hand sanitizer is a must have. Use it after bathroom breaks and before eating. It is also dual purpose in that most of them have enough alcohol content to double as an assist with starting campfires. I have found small bottles at the dollar store sold in a three pack.
Bar soap and a washcloth will certainly be welcome after a long day’s hike. Obviously, you wouldn’t want to use your drinking water for washing up. But should you come across a water source, you’ll be able to wash up. The washcloth can just be an old one from your linen closet. While you can use a bandana for this purpose as well, having a separate wash cloth adds almost no weight nor bulk. You might even want to have two towels, one wash cloth size and the other a bit larger, dish cloth size. The soap you can find for free the next time you stay at a hotel, or pick it up cheap at the dollar store.
Toilet paper is, of course, almost a necessity for most people. Take a roll, remove the cardboard tube, and smash it flat. This dramatically reduces the size of the roll. Otherwise, consider using baby wipes instead. Baby wipes will serve you well for quick clean ups as well as toilet paper. They are great to have and don’t take up much space. You can either purchase it in travel sizes or by the larger container size and just take a stack out and put it into a plastic bag. They do dry out if not sealed properly, keep that in mind.
While we’re not looking to win any sort of beauty contests on the trail, don’t overlook the importance of a comb or hairbrush. Not only will you feel a bit more human after brushing your hair, especially after dunking it into a stream or lake, using them will help you find ticks.
While missing a day or three of brushing your teeth won’t be the end of the world, most of us would probably appreciate a fresh mouth feeling. You could buy a small, folding travel toothbrush but, let’s face it, a regular size one isn’t all that much bigger and certainly doesn’t weigh any more. Toss in a small tube of toothpaste and some dental floss. Naturally, the floss can also be used for expedient sewing repairs should the need arise.
Lip balm, while not really related to keeping you clean, will be very important to prevent chapped lips. Spend a day on foot out in the sticks, with the wind blowing against your face all day, and you’ll quickly see the need for it.
Spare socks and underwear are important as well. Keep them dry in a ziplock bag until you need them. At the end of the day, whenever possible, rinse out your socks and hang them to dry overnight, putting on the new pair in the morning.
All of these items will fit into a gallon size ziplock bag with room to spare. Of the items you don’t already have on hand at home, you can pick them up very inexpensively.