Beans, bullets, band aids and Hygiene?

Everyone knows the rules, stock up on as much beans, bullets and band aids as you can afford. As important as the big 3 are I feel that Hygiene is more important than some. Over the last few months I have been monitoring my family’s use of shampoo, soap, laundry detergent, deodorant, toothpaste and bathroom amenities. I can firmly tell you I am not prepared for this area.
How often do we just jump in the shower, grab the shampoo and squeeze a glob onto our hands before washing our hair for 20 seconds and washing it all away?  My family likes using body wash and this is done the same way. Grab the squishy ball, squirt some on then wash away the grim. This is fine when we have a Wal-Mart, dollar store or other resource to buy more soap next week but how long will it last and do you have enough saved up?  I recently completed a survey of my family on how much we use. I am going to make some suggestion on how to make yours stretch longer.

My son and I use the most soap. Maybe we are wasteful or maybe we just get dirtier I’m not sure. I do know that I used a bottle of Dove body wash in 3 weeks. That’s 13.5 ounces in 21 days, about .64oz per washing. My son used slightly more and my wife slightly less though she consumed allot more shampoo (I’ll attribute that to my thinning hair and her long luscious hair). I then tried an experiment where I reused some soap squirt bottles.  I was able to get allot more soap/per washing with this approach. I was able to stretch my 13.5 oz to almost 2 months. It did not feel like I was using that much less soap and the squishy ball still made allot of suds but the total really added up. A few times I would need to double pump when I had been working under a car or in the ditch but for 90% of my washes this worked fine.

Toothpaste is another big spender for us. We grab the tube and squeeze out as much as we want. I’ve made myself and my son a ¼” rule. We now put on ¼” of toothpaste and brush away. I see no difference when I am done except we don’t have the toothpaste boogers that always end up in the sink after washing because we use all the toothpaste we put on our brushes. A side note from a friend, by brushing 1-2 times a week with your opposite hand you stimulate the other side of your brain which helps make you more ambidextrous (this could be useful in a firefight).

I always get a kick out of someone stocking 1000 billion rolls of toilet paper. I see this is impractical and a wasteful use of resources. I am going to stock some but more for a barter item for people that think they need it. In the last several years I have traveled to several countries and while they have toilet paper a majority of the people I have stayed with do not use it. How do they clean themselves? They way everyone did 200 years ago. WATER, simply use some water to clean your butt and wash your hands good with antibacterial soap. You can store hundred of gallons of soap in less area than it would take to store 200 rolls of toilet paper and it would last you so much longer. Also using toilet paper your septic system will fill up rather quickly. If you do not having running water and a septic system that is working correctly I would suggest digging a cesspool.  I have seen these made by simply digging a 6’-8’ deep pit 8’-10’ diameter and laying cement blocks on edge. This is a pooling place and leach field in one. It’s not currently looked upon favorably but would work fine after TEOTWAWKI. I feel this is a much better approach to the dig and bury method suggested by some.

We often shop dollar stores for cheap antibacterial soap. Generally we can get a 1gal jug for under five bucks. Don’t be afraid to check the clearance racks at holidays for the unique seasonal scents like burn turkey, eggnog, holiday mint and pine tree up your nose. These go on sale dirt cheap and after TEOTWAWKI no one is going to care what they smell like as long as they don’t smell like a wet dog and are clean. I also get LAVA brand soap from Wal-Mart. I get the 2pack in the automotive department for under $4, if you shop the beauty section it’s more. I don’t know why but I’ll walk the extra 100 feet to automotive to save the money.

How will you do laundry after TEOTWAWKI? I certainly don’t want to use my fuel to run the clothes washer. Maybe you have an alternative like this wonder washer ? I do not have one yet but this is high on my list. You can watch reviews of it on YouTube. Until then I have installed a double bowl utility tub in our washroom. The grey water I routed outside via PVCP piping into a raised garden to utilize the spent water best. My wife washes several things by hand now and while it may not be fun she can do laundry in this if need be.

My house is fed water with an underground spring that has a shallow well pump connected to it. However there is enough drop from the spring location to my house to supply me with fresh water. I simply need a way to move it though the house and heat it for showers. I am in the midst of working on either a solar powered setup with 12v RV pumps or by a water wheel using an AC generator head. The Solar may be my best option for now, however after TEOTWAWKI I doubt the EPA would bother me much if I installed my waterwheel. To heat my water I am going to rely on an old fashioned wood stove. I do not have the particulars worked out yet but will do a detailed report when I do.

I feel that being clean will be one of the best luxuries when TEOTWAWKI happens. I also feel that if you are not clean you will be more apt to get sick. It’s something we take for granted now but by making some small changes you can find out how much soap, shampoo and toothpaste you will need to stay healthy and clean.

A contest entry by jason



10 thoughts on “Beans, bullets, band aids and Hygiene?”

  1. I have also been tracking my “bathroom” and hygiene supplies use. I keep a Sharpie marker in the bathroom drawer and every time something new is opened, the date is written on it. Then when it’s empty, the math is easy! I keep a running spreadsheet of our usage and update it whenever there’s a new “empty bottle” so I can average out the usage and not just have a snapshot in one moment.

    If you’re willing to do the leg work, you can get some bargain basement prices on bathroom items — especially at the local drug stores. I won’t go into detail here, but suffice it to say I don’t pay more than $0.25 for razors or shaving cream, $0.50 for toothpaste or shampoo, and toothbrushes better be free or I’m not interested. Using this method (and being patient, doing a little here and a little there), I’ve built up a decent supply of basic hygiene products. I’m still a bit short on shampoo and toothpaste, but otherwise I’ve got the basics covered — at very little out of pocket cost.

    City Roots, Country Life

  2. Rather than $60 on a Wonder Washer, that does about 4 shirts a load, spend a few dollars on an old fashioned plumbers’ helper. Use it ONLY for washing. You can use one bowl of your double sink for washing and the other side for rinsing. Start by washing the least dirty clothes first, usually underwear, then progressively wash the dirty clothes till you get to the really grimy stuff. You use the plumbers’ helper to swoosh the soapy water thru the clothes, then to swoosh the rinse water. I’ve used this method, when living in Sicily and the power went out, and it works.

    Also, I believe most Americans wash their clothes too often. Most pants can be worn 3,4 or even 5 times; tops 3 or ; underwear and socks only once. Hang the clothes on hangers and let them air out, don’t stuff them back in the closet. Unless they are spotted they will be fine to wear again.

    Shampoo – a dime sized blob is enough for all but long hair, then a nickel to quarter size is fine. Unless your hair is coated with lots of hair spray, mousse, etc only one washing is necessary.

    I have a bottle of Dove Body Wash, shower every morning, and have only used 1/2 bottle in the past 6 weeks. A nifty hint I learned from an older neighbor – keep a bar of soap in a net bag, like from onions, tie into the bottom corner – leave in a protected spot near the outside hose – wet hands, scrub with the netted soap, quick rinse, most of the dirt will stay outside – finish the job inside. Waterless hand wash, also found in the automotive section, is also a good alternative to Lava for removing greasy, grimy dirt.

    It’s always good to check on usage of health & beauty aids, or anything we use on a daily basis. I keep a 3 month supply on hand of these items. As you’ve found with the toothpaste, and an old ad stated, for a lot of these items “a little dab ‘ll do ya”.

  3. Whoa! Stop! A cess pool? That was a very scary sentence. You need to read The Humanure Handbook. A cess pool is a breeding ground for problems. You can compost your outflow in a safe clean manner that will not create more issues than it solves. A cess pool will have issues in the winter, after heavy rains and other times as well. Don’t go that route it is trouble looking for a place to happen.

    Winter is coming.

    1. My house was built in the last 1800’s. It has been renovated many times and an indoor bathroom was finally put in in the 50’s. The cess pool system that was put into operation then is still in operation today. It’s 2′ to the top of the cover (a heavy steal plate w/ lid). The pool has 3 hole cement blocks laid on edge. I recently tied a camper dump pipe into it and had the pool pumper. The man who pumped it said it looked in great condition and asked when the last time it was pumped. As close as we can figure from writing on the wall (my great grandfathers note system) it had been pumped shortly before he died in 1987. I live in the Norther part of PA were we frequently get below 0 weather in the winter and we have never had an issue with freezing. We also have no issue with flooding in the tank despite being 200′ from a stream. I’m not saying this system is for everyone. It’s simply a tank/leach bed in one. Don’t swallow the big gooberment line that they are unsafe,that’s just another way to get your money and keep you broke. OBTW my father build his house in 1988 and has had his tank pumped 5 times.


      1. Jason, from your very brief description the working system that you have would be very different from an improvised post-tshtf cess pool. Open to the surface cess pools are a disease breeding nightmare. Reading descriptions of 1800’s cities where cess pools were common and outbreaks of infectious disease constant, will cure any desire to bring back the bad old days. One malfunctioning cess pool will create problems for everyone within a 50 mile radius . There are better systems now for post-teotwawki events.
        The Humanure Handbook is a really good source for information on this topic. It is not very expensive and it easy to read.

        Winter is coming.

  4. Matt in Oklahoma

    Good Article
    Look no further than Napoleans failure at hygienge to show the need. Any latrines need to be downhill and a good 100 yds away from any fresh water source. A handwash station there is a must. It can be a simple jug and soap. Haiti and the cholera problem is a good example of bad habits. It also demonstrates the need to get away from others if possible or if you cant make sure you are all on the same sheet of music so your neighbor isnt doing things like laundry or worse upstream from your freshwater supply.
    Razors and haircut supplies are all critical to hygiene as well. We never deployed without stuff to do hair. The power draw is small and a small invertor and battery can be rigged with a solar charger if needed.

    1. I recently read on some site a great way to keep soap handy near a wash station. Use and old onion bag with a bar of soap inside. Simply hang at any hydrant or water source and you will have a great way to not old store you soap but to really scrub your skin. I now keep one outside at my frost free hydrant for a quick cleanup before coming in the house. My wife things it’s a great idea.


  5. making your own soap is really easy..and cheap. and a basic soap recipe makes alot of soap. make your own liquid laundry detergent too…very cheeap and very easy to do. use a toilet plunger (a new one not used for anything else) to wash your laundry…rinse well, hang on clothesline. simple and easy. use baking soda for brushing the teeeth and gargling..good for false teeth too and it is cheap and simmple. the same soap you can make for your laundry is good for washing dishes-rinse well with hot water.

  6. It takes a little practice, but you can go to the dollar store and buy the cheapest kitchen size trash bags and line your toilet with them versus wasting water if you must conserve your supply for drinking. Another item to stock up on is baby wipes, they can be used to keep clean and save water. If you do.t keep clean you will be more prone to bacterial infections. Also don’t forget about cloth diapers if there are little ones as well as feminine products. Even if its just guys, they are sterile ans perfect for wound dressings. There are so many things to list but these are just a few ideas I have shared with friends. Also don’t forget things like antibiotics creams,alcohol, extra medicines- esp for asthma, heart and diabetes. Make sure to keep all your old glasses, outdated RX sure beats not being able ro see! God help us all.

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