the Pee Rag (and other tips for peeing outside)

Tuesday’s are for tips. Today, I’m writing about peeing in the woods, using a pee rag, and—surprise—fertilizing your garden with pee.

The Art of Peeing in the Woods

My sister & I learned to pee outside before we learned to sit on a toilet. Drip dry, Dad say. Shake it, Mom said. Run around naked until bath time, Grandma said.

Grandma was resourceful. If we didn’t have running water, I know she would have invented the pee rag. More about that in a minute.

I’m one of those women who squats next to the trail mid-conversation, out of habit, without thinking. Shocking, I know. On Outward Bound courses, I mastered multitasking: look at map, assess student risk, pee while talking out plan with co-instructor.

My favorite peeing outside position used to be grab-a-tree-and-stick-out-booty. It kind of looks like a triangle. These days, I just squat and pull the crotch of my pants forward. If you’re interested in reading about other tried and true pee positions, here’s a list of resources:

14 Ways to Pee Outdoors for Women (yes, I’ve tried them all)

How to Pee in the Woods: A Quick Tutorial for Girls

A Lady’s Guide: How to Pee in the Woods (YouTube)

The one tip some outdoor resources get wrong is to never pee on the trail. Sure, on a busy trail, on a busy day, don’t block traffic on the trail to pee. But if the environment around the trail is fragile—cryptobiotic soil, for example—peeing on the trail is actually an excellent (and often the best) option.

Pee Rags and Hygiene

My sister and I were fortunate to have both a yard to run and pee in as well as a grandma to look after our hygiene. For a lot of people, peeing outside, without toilet paper doesn’t come so naturally. Wads of toilet paper in the woods make me sad. Litter! I want to scream. But I also know if it wasn’t for the backyard and grandma, I wouldn’t be so comfortable without toilet paper.

Fear of bacteria. Fear of being stinky. These are reasonable fears about peeing outside, especially without a daily bath. A pee rag, though, basically solves the problem.

Any bandana will do. So will a piece of old t-shirt, bedsheet, or towel. Or, you can buy a Kula Cloth, made out of antimicrobial fabric & designed specifically for peeing!

I opted for a pink pee rag, tied to my handlebars, when I rode down the Baja. Before the trip, I cut up an old tank top and brought a piece for lubing my chain. Same color, same fabric, for both pee & chain lube, confused me on more than one occasion.

Pee Rag Method #1: The Freedom Flag, Flapping in the Sunshine

In the desert, or any area where water is scarce, tie the pee rag in a place where UV can kill bacteria. Hang it from your pack, on your handle bars, on a windshield wiper of your car. Pee comes out sterile, but bacteria might grow if the pee rag stays wet. As long as it dries, it doesn’t smell!

Here’s some fun UV & bacteria reading along with my cliff notes:

Dr. Annie’s Experiments: Does Sunlight Kill Bacteria on Laundry?

  • Yes!
  • Almost as much as a hot dryer with disinfection setting

Outside Online: Can the Sun Clean my Workout Clothes?

  • Sunlight will kill bacteria on wet fabric exposed to the sun
  • The fabric needs to dry all the way

Pee rag & UV has been my tried & true method for well over a decade (my transition, if you will, from Drip Dry & Run Around Naked). On Outward Bound courses, I would pull the young gals aside & tell them to designate a bandanna for a pee rag. At first, they would think this was gross, but by day two or three pee rags would be flying freely off their backpacks. By day four the boys would be copying their bandana-tied-to-backpack style.

On longer trips, it’s a good idea to rinse the pee rag with a little water & soap every few days (or every few weeks if you’re not sensitive, like me).

Pee Rag Method #2: The Rinse (or Bidet) & Let Hang (or Drip Dry)

When water isn’t an issue, some people like rinsing their pee rag after every use. Hanging it in between uses—on your backpack, handlebars, boat, or windshield wipers—is still best practice. It still needs to dry.

In humid environments, a squirt bottle bidet (straight from the bottle cage if you’re bike While touring) is an excellent option. Drip Dry works well for this method, or you can follow it up with a pee rag.

No Pee Rag, No Problem

Without a pee rag, smooth rocks and leaves are a good option. Honestly, I forget my pee rag about 35% of the time and this is the pee-in-the-woods style I fall back on.

Bringing Pee-in-the-Woods to the Garden (Your Veggies will Love it!)

I keep a bucket & pee rag next to the greenhouse. Some farmers have a bale of hay for peeing, and then mulch their vegetables with the peed on hay. Pee is an excellent source of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium for plants! Tomatoes, squash, and greens especially love pee fertilizer.

Because of it’s salt content, pee needs to be diluted with water to around 15-to-1 for outside use & 30-to-1 for potted plants. Or, soaked into mulch so it releases slowly.

Resources on Fertilizing with Pee

Biological Fertiliser – Human Urine

Gee Whiz: Human Urine Is Shown to Be an Effective Agricultural Fertilizer

Urine: the ultimate ‘organic’ fertiliser

I’m off to finish up some garden chores. Tomorrow, I’m meeting a friend to ride. As a gift, I’m planning on bringing her a basil plant I’ve been fertilizing with pee since April.

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