I read an article on medicine that said until the advent of antibiotics, plumbers probably saved more lives that Doctors. This of cause was because of the improvements in sanitation and waste disposal. During the middle ages, sewage and garbage disposal in most cities was simple; you threw it out the window into the street. Of cause, this led to all kinds of health problems, which included the plagues that were spread by fleas which lived on the rats that ate the sewage and garbage.
In some parts of the world, sanitation is not much improved over what we had in the middle ages. If you are lucky enough to live in a first world country, like most of us, you are probably spoiled. We take indoor toilets, clean running water and access to soaps and hand cleaner for granted. However, I am old enough to know that this was not always the case even in the United States. When I was very young and living with my grandparents in England right after WW2, toilet paper was not as available as it is today. I can remember my grandmother teaching me how to wash my backside when there was no paper. In the 1950’s I lived in two different houses that had outdoor toilets. This was in a small farm community in Michigan.
My mother told me about the lack of soap in England during the early years of the war and the problems that it caused. Clothes’s washing was a problem; they had to do it by hand and often had no soap.
Most of us pay a lot of attention to food and water storage. Learning how to purify water for drinking is something, we all make a priority. These are very important areas of prepping, but don’t discount the importance of sanitation.
You need to learn how to make and use a bucket toilet for short-term emergencies, Sanitation and the use of Bucket Toilets. For longer term emergencies you need to learn How to Build a Comfortable Outhouse. Along with this you may want to read the The Humanure Handbook by Joseph Jenkins. This will give you some ideas on how to use human manure as a resource. Human manure has been used as fertilizer in many different societies. When we lived in South Africa, we used it on our garden.
Stock up on good soaps and cleaning supplies. You can buy laundry soap in five gallon buckets at some of the big box discount stores. Store plenty of hand soap, it never expires as long as you keep it clean and dry. Learn how to make soap it will be a valuable talent for the long term.
In addition to have the supplies on hand that you need, make sure that you have a plan on for waste disposal and other areas of sanitation. In the future I will write additional articles on several areas of sanitation including toilet paper shortages, dish and laundry washing under primitive conditions, avoiding contaminating your water supply and other problems.