Glorious Mud! Full Guide To Preparation & Clean Up
Updated: Jan 23
Preparing Mud For Sploshing
Mud sploshing can be enjoyed indoors or out. Indoors has privacy and warmth, but outdoors is ready made with no clean up, apart from washing off on site.
I’m going to give you all the tips for both types! There's also a link to a free muddy video for you and details on how to win freebies later in the article.
Decide what kind of experience you want, deep mud, or just a bit of messy fun? With a partner or solo?
Just A Little Bit Of Messy Fun With Mud
Try a bucket of bentonite clay. Bentonite is easy to find and purchase online and absorbs 5x its weight in water, which is a much better ratio than other powdered clays. It means you need less of it to get a bucket full or pool full.
So for a 10 litre bucket you’ll need 2kg bentonite powder and 10 litres of water. I recommend doing this in a larger bucket though, so that you have room to mix vigorously without spilling. Get a 14 litre bucket, and measure your water with measuring jugs.
Put the bentonite powder into the bucket, and grab a large spoon. Make a well in the centre of the powder, and pour in your first litre of water, mixing steadily.
Add the rest of the water one litre at a time, switching to an electric mixer if your hand gets tired or if you get lumps. Keep mixing until you get the thickness you want.
To increase the messiness, coverage and opacity of the bentonite, add poster paint in black or brown.
For Deep Indoor Mud
You’ll need a deep pool. The best ones for solo play or messy fun with one other person are the inflatable baths available on amazon. Just search inflatable bath. My fave one is advertised as ‘Inflatable Portable Bathtub, White Durable Soaking Bath Tub with Large Backrest, standing Inflatable Pool Bathroom Home Spa’ And there is a slightly cheaper Amazon brand one too but it's currently out of stock.
Look for one that holds about 300 to 500 litres. You want the dimensions to be roughly a minimum of: Length 152.4cm x Width 86.4cm x Height 68.6cm
For my specific inflatable bath mentioned, it holds about 300 litres so the bentonite needed for that would be 50kg
Other examples include that a typical household bath usually holds about 80 to 100 litres, so would need 20kg bentonite or less
A big 1000 litre pool would need 200kg Bentonite powder. The picture below was a hot tub liner - bit cheaper than the full hot tub. The mud pictured was only pottery clay powder with no bentonite so it was a bit thin. I highly recommend bentonite for bulking it out.
Pro tip: Use some good ear plugs or cotton wool for your ears if you will be submerging. Mud is really difficult to fully remove from the inside of your ears
Now to mixing deep mud.
First, double check your pool capacity. Inflate and fill the pool to your desired level with cold water and mark the level with a line in pen. Then use a bucket to empty it all out again, counting how many times it took to get it empty. For example, if you did that using a ten litre bucket and it took 20 times to empty it, your capacity is 200 litres. You do the mathematics on your own pool. This is helpful so that you can clearly see how much powder you need.
By measuring and putting the water in first you can be certain how much water the pool is holding (sometimes measurements online are inaccurate)
Make sure your pool is on solid ground on a first floor, not on floorboards upstairs unless it’s a pretty small pool (certainly no bigger than 300 litres capacity)
Add warm water to the pool to your desired fill level
Ventilate the room and wear a safety mask, then add the bentonite powder. The fine particles really hang in the air a lot and you don’t want to be breathing that in.
It’s hard work. You’ll get some lumps and it will be hard work to mix whichever way you do it.
Don’t expect to be able to jump in purely for enjoyment the same day, though sometimes climbing in to help mix, stir and squish lumps with your hands and body can be a great fun option.
I use a heavy duty mixer for deep mud. I own and use the ‘Nordstrand 1800W Pro Portable Hand-Held Mixer Stirring Tool for Cement Plaster Grout Paint Thinset Mortar - 6 Speed - 120mm Mixing Paddle’ which I purchased from amazon for about £80 - it seems unavailable at the moment so I found this one which looks pretty much the same.
Use your mixer, your body and/or your hands to stir and squash any lumps. If it seems too dry, spray warm water all over it, ideally with a shower hose attachment and allow the mud time to hydrate before attempting to mix and stir again. It will keep getting better for a few days, but will turn stagnant and smell after about 4 days, so be prepared for that.
For better coverage and opacity, add one or two 5 litre bottles of brown poster paint and mix that in too. I get poster paint in 5 litre bottles from an online shop called rapid electronics.
Other powdered pottery clays are messier and give better coverage but they tend to only absorb 1 to 2x their weight in water, so you’ll need a lot more of them and it gets very expensive. Therefore I only recommend bentonite, and making it more opaque with poster paint if required.
Sploshing In Outdoor Mud
For outdoor mud, the best stuff is usually at sand and gravel quarries when they are closed during evenings, weekends and bank holidays. Beware of trespassing rules, be careful and go prepared. The UMD has a lot of experienced mudders you can ask for advice about locations.
Never go alone, and never go too far out into deep mud. It can be really difficult to get back, as the mud can be too thick to move effectively in but also too thin to grab to pull yourself along.
I don’t recommend river or pond mud, as it tends to be smelly and full of critters, but if that's your thing then go for it, just be careful of potential tides etc.
For each person going on the mud adventure, take a first aid kit, a rope, 2 towels, spare clothes, some water to drink, a snack bar, sun cream if it’s daytime, a warm blanket or Mylar foil blankets, a flashlight and a 2 litre bottle of hot water (separate from your drinking water) oh and also take some shampoo or shower gel - you'll see why shortly.
Pack it all in a backpack, wrapping the towels around your hot water. This keeps the water warm and warms the towels too for a bit more luxury.
Pro tip: Use some good ear plugs or cotton wool for your ears if you will be submerging. Mud is really difficult to fully remove from the inside of your ears
Stay away from tidal mud. If you’re not sure, abandon the area and find something else.
Never go alone, and never go too far out into deep mud. It can be really difficult to get back, as the mud can be too thick to move in effectively, but also too thin to grab to pull yourself along.
Do not attempt outdoor mudding unless the air temperature is at least 15c with no wind chill.
Sticky Mud & Quicksand
It’s a myth that quicksand sucks you under, but if you wriggle too much you will sink and make it harder for yourself. It’s extremely rare to sink below chest level due to the buoyancy our lungs provide. If you get your feet or legs stuck in troublesome mud or quicksand, don’t panic.
If it’s clear behind you, flop onto your back to spread out your weight and release the stickiness around your feet. If anything is in the way behind you like branches etc, gradually lean forward instead until all your weight is on your belly.
Shuffle and wriggle away from the problematic area without putting any weight on any limbs, and do not put any weight on your hands until more solid terrain is found.
If you’re wearing wellies and get stuck, pull your foot out of the welly, lay on your front or back to spread out your weight while you retrieve your boot!
Cleaning Off Outdoors
Cover yourselves in shampoo or shower gel and rub it in before adding any water, and then help each other (never go alone, remember?) rinse off the shampoo with the water you brought, which will likely still be warm and pleasant. Much nicer and safer than trying to find a pond or pool of clean-ish water on site.
It’s honestly amazing how clean this method can get you. You’ll still need to have a proper shower at home, but this will make you look more than passable on the journey home.
Cleaning Up Indoors & Indoor Mud
Body, Skin & Hair
I prefer to get fully cleaned off back at home or in a hotel. If you followed the advice above, it will pretty much be like just having a normal shower, there won't be much left to remove. If not though or if you enjoyed some indoor mudding, removing mud from your skin is very easy.
I always recommend those plastic loofahs or bath puffs, made of scrunched up plastic mesh for removing any mess from skin, or a soft bristled body brush. Add lots of warm water and shower gel or soap and just shower as normal.
I also recommend having a mirror within your line of sight in the bathroom so you can visually check for any missed areas. Common areas I used to miss were backs of arms, flanks, backs of legs and ankles. Always check every single crevice of your ears too!
For short haired people, just use lots of lemon or tea tree shampoo, maybe wash twice if you want to be sure with plenty of shampoo, adding a third wash or leaving the shampoo on for a while if the mud was smelly.
For longer hair
It’s easy to get mud out of longer hair too. First of all, stand under the water and let the water rinse the worst off. Use your hands to run over your head and down the length of your hair to feel where the worst is and encourage it along by gently squeezing it out. Once the worst is gone, shampoo twice, leaving the shampoo on for a little while if possible. Do this gently though, be careful not to rub it into your hair, rather just keep smoothing down and gently work it in with fingertips.
Cleaning Muddy Items & Objects
Buckets & Tools
To clean off buckets you ideally need a hose or tap with good water pressure to blast the clinging areas off, and/or a good stiff washing up brush. Don’t try to do it with your hand or a flannel, you’ll be there all day! Microfibre cloths are good to get any last bits and help dry them off, but not for the initial washing. Don’t forget the outside of the buckets, bottoms of buckets and under the rims.
If it’s carpet then using a microfibre cloth and a little spray of water or clear antibacterial spray is your best bet. Make sure you don’t use anything with bleach unless you know the carpet is certified for safe bleach use.
For laminate flooring, tile or stone, yet again microfibre cloths are your friend. Same for any splashes that have got onto a wall or door, or door handles etc. If any splashes have dried, soak a microfibre cloth or a few sheets of kitchen roll with your cleaning spray and leave it on top of the dried mess for about 30 minutes. When you return it will just wipe away.
If anything is still stuck, soak it again and use your stiff brush. On most ‘washing up’ brushes, there is a flat side on the bristly head that can be used to scrape without scratching. Dry the area afterwards with kitchen paper.
Cleaning Muddy Inflatable Pools
If you want to clean and save the pool
Scoop leftovers up into buckets, watering it down an awful lot and mixing very thoroughly to thin it if need be. Then as long as you are on a mains water system, tip it down the drain or flush it down the loo. Seeing as it's mud though, that may not be needed. More advice on that further below.
Then tip a bucket of warm soapy water into your pool, and give it a good scrub around with a brush. Now scoop all that out and tip it away or flush the water. Keep the pool inflated the whole time, and clean the sides of the pool with a few microfibre cloths, a soft brush and a cleaning spray. With it still inflated, stand it up against a wall and use the cleaning spray and cloths all over it.
Dry the pool thoroughly with towels and kitchen roll and then allow to thoroughly air dry, still inflated, before trying to pack it away. If any moisture remains when you deflate and fold it to store it, it will go mouldy. Not fun!
I recently wrote an even more in depth guide to pool cleaning with step by step instructions from prep to finish, and my thoughts on wet/dry vacuums and lining the pool with plastic. To read that, go here
Recommended tools include a squeegee and dustpan, a scrub daddy or scrubbing brush, microfibre cloths and kitchen paper. You can find a few of those here
If you want to throw away the pool
If you used a small pool and a bucket or less of mess in total, you may be able to pop it and put it into a bin bag. If you do this, secure the first bin bag and then add another to be sure of no leaking. I often use three bin bags with this method, and with any other messy things that have to be thrown away.
If you used a large inflatable pool and a large amount of mess, you'll need to scoop out and flush everything before trying to bag it, or it will be too heavy. 10 litres is one bucket, and is the equivalent of 10kg. Even if you are strong enough to lift it easily, you risk the bin bag tearing if the contents are too heavy.
Flushing The Leftovers
With mud, that might not be necessary. I've tipped it out into my garden before, both as lumpy clay and as as a watered down version, so consider that option before flushing.
If you are connected to a normal waste water system You can flush pretty much everything except oil. If you have a septic tank, please see the separate advice.
You must thin down bentonite a lot before flushing though. You may even need to use the mixer again and quite a lot more water.
I have never happened upon a loo that can’t handle mess being flushed down it. If any appears to be blocking the loo, use a sink or bath tap to fill a bucket with water and pour the water from a height on top of the blockage… wiggle around a loo brush too, or even your hand if it comes to it. Flush after each bucket, and make sure you give time for the loo tank to refill before expecting it to flush again.
Repeat this as necessary and then check after an hour or two that nothing remains in the bottom of the loo. If you are disposing of very thick gunge, it may be better to only half fill your buckets, and mix water into each one so that it becomes runnier and flushes easier.
Disposal & Septic Tanks
If you have a septic tank, you won’t be able to flush leftovers down the loo. As mentioned in the flushing advice though, you can probably just slop it into your garden beds.
If you really can't do that then Instead you will need a series of bags, and absorbent puppy pads, or wood pellet cat litter, as much as it takes to absorb all your leftovers.
Leave the mud thick and don't water it down in this case. You might need a shovel and a helping hand if there's a lot of mud, it's very heavy!
Triple bag it all with very strong bin bags, securing each layer, and take it all to your local tip, to the general waste area.
Cleaning Muddy Clothes
Ideally take them or wear them into the shower with you to rinse them off a little and squeeze them out. Be careful with water temperature if any items are dark in colour in case the colour runs. Then wrap them up in a large clean towel or two, or drop them into a clean bucket so they don’t drip on the way to your washing machine.
Be mindful of the weight, wet or sploshed clothes are often heavy, so don't overload your machine. Give them one washing cycle with no laundry liquid, and then another washing cycle or two with the usual amount of laundry liquid and fabric conditioner.
You will need biological detergent if the mud was smelly
Dealing With Muddy Underwear, Lingerie, Tights & Stockings
Put tights and lingerie items in zip up mesh laundry bags, separate from each other. It's especially important to keep them separate from bras or anything with clasps or fastenings, as they will get snagged and rip and be difficult to untangle.
You could also keep them separate to hand wash on their own. Bras, teddies, babydoll nighties, basques etc all need their own zip up mesh laundry bags, or like with tights and stockings, keep them separate for thorough hand washing individually.
Cleaning Muddy Shoes
You can wash most shoes in the sink with warm soapy water as though you were washing dishes. Some shoes like trainers and flat ballet pumps can instead be put into a zip up mesh laundry bag and washed in the washing machine. To dry shoes, stuff them with newspaper or kitchen paper and leave them somewhere warm, but away from direct heat
For wigs, hand washing is best. Be very gentle and use shampoo twice, rinsing each time. Then liberally soak it with hair conditioner and leave it for at least 30 minutes. Brush it out gently with a wet brush
Rinse thoroughly and wrap it in a towel, then apply pressure to dry it a little, do not rub it. Then keep away from direct heat to dry it, preferably hanging on something rounded to help it keep its shape, like a mannequin head.
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