How to Prevent Infection in the Wilderness?

It is crucial to carry a first-aid kit when you head on out into the back country. If, for some reason you forget to bring any with you, fear not there are a few things that you might be able to find in the forest (or you might unknowingly have on you) that might help to clean your wound and prevent infection until you get back to civilization.

Here are some creative ways to clean your wound to prevent infection.

How to prevent infection in the wilderness? Creative ways to treat a wound

1. Urine

While urine is not a disinfectant it is somewhat sterile. (according to a study as well as a recent one in 2015, here on the antibacterial properties of urine there are still small amounts of bacteria in pee). While not the most pleasant method, it would work in a pinch. As pretty much all water has some degree of bacteria and organisms.

2. Plastic bag

If the wound is deep, you’ll need to clean it and this is where you can get a bit creative by using a clean plastic bag to irrigate the cut. Just poke a hole in the bag, and give it a squeeze. The pressure should help flush out and debris. While this is not a disinfectant, having a clean wound is just as important as having a disinfected wound.

honey is great for a wound
Honey is a great antisceptic

3. Honey

Honey has antimicrobial properties and can also help to heal a cut. Although you might not have brought any honey with you, it’s possible you stumble upon a bee’s nest somewhere out there. In that case, you would be in luck as it has many healing properties.

4. Pine or Birch sap

Pine sap is a natural antiseptic, as well as birch trees which contain saponins, that can be used as a form of natural soap. You can get a bundle of birch leaves in a basin with some water and use it as a soap substitute.

pricy pear has antibacterial properties
Good idea is to bring a book that will help you identify all the fauna around

5. All sorts of Plants

There is a range of natural plants growing in different regions of the world that you can use to help prevent infection. This will depend on where you are hiking and the season. Plants like:

  • Prickly pear cactus
  • Oregano
  • Soapwort
  • Yucca

These can all be used as a way to help clean and disinfect your cut as they all have anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties.

You can read up more on some of these plants here and here.

cut in the wilderness
Any type of cut can lead to infection quickly if not addressed

Home disinfectant items to bring just in case

1. Hydrogen Peroxide

You probably already know this one, but hydrogen peroxide is great for hundreds of different uses, one of them being – that it is a great disinfectant.

2. Vinegar

Vinegar can help to clean the wound and kill bacteria. Be sure to dilute it with water, as undiluted vinegar can irritate the skin. Though chances are if you are in the backcountry you may not have any on you, nor would you likely think to bring any.

3. Alcohol

You can use vodka, rum or any other type of alcohol that you have on you, the higher proof the better, just in case you brought some with you for a little tipple.

4. Superglue

Superglue is a great bit of survivalist gear as it can be helpful in closing a wound. Be sure to clean the wound before you attempt this. Also, duct tape is a great creative way to help close a cut. Just be sure that the wound is closed before applying the glue or the duct tape.

Some more tips

How to treat a wound in the wilderness?

1. Stop the bleeding

One of the most important things to do when treating a wound is to stop the bleeding. You can do this by applying pressure to the wound with a clean cloth, bandage, or if all else fails even your hand.

2. Clean the wound

Sterilize the wound with soap and water, or if you don’t have any on hand use any of the things we mentioned above.

3. Dress the wound

Cover it with either a bandage or clean gauze to help protect the area from further infection.


There are many other items that can be used to clean and disinfect a wound, but these are some of the more creative ones. So if you find yourself in the wilderness without a first-aid kit don’t worry you still might be in luck; just be sure to keep it clean and you will be fine.

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