Waterless Hygiene and How to Keep Yourself Clean

Now, there are numerous situations in which disaster could leave us short of water. They could be just for a couple of hours or situations that lasted for months or even years. Besides the lack of drinking water, how would you stay clean in a world short on water?

A clean body with no need for water.

This brings us to the topic of waterless hygiene, and believe it or not, there are actually products on the market that provide you with quite a good cleansing using no water at all. A bottle or two in every bug out bag would be a wise investment.

I am assuming that you currently have access to a limited amount of water like most people, and that you are reliant on city water. Drinking and cooking will be your biggest priority, of course, but at the same time, you need to keep yourself clean.

Maintaining good hygiene helps to prevent disease and maintain good moral.  Today we are very spoiled; we take a shower just about every day and use many gallons of water for other hygiene purposes during the day. This has changed over the years, though. Even when I was a child, you mostly had one bath a week and washed up in the sink the remainder of the time.

Now, when we talk about waterless hygiene, most people immediately think of wet wipes and hand sanitizer. If you have these on hand, by all means use them, but you can’t count on them for long term. You can only store so many packages and eventually, you’ll use them up.

Now, many people in the past who lived without indoor plumbing, simply washed up morning and evening with a basin of water, soap, and a washcloth. You can keep yourself clean like this if you are careful. You can brush your teeth with two mouthfuls of water, one to rinse your mouth and one to rinse off the brush.

See also  What do You do When There is No Dentist?
waterless hygiene
Many soldiers shaved and took baths in their helmets

Washing your hair can be done with 16 ounces of water. Put a bowl on the ground to catch the water you use to get the hair wet and use it again to rinse with. If you don’t have water but you have cornmeal or baby powder, running it though your hair will help remove the oils and make your hair feel cleaner.

What about shaving?  Dry shaving is not fun, but if you have a tube of generic sex lube it will help. A little dab and a disposable razor and you can get a nice shave. Rub a spoonful or two of water over your face and wipe off to finish. Rinse your razor if at all possible and it will last longer.

If you have access to vinegar, a small amount mixed with water can be used to wipe critical areas of your body and it will kill bacteria and help prevent rashes and other problems.

The one big concern that many people have is lack of toilet paper. Here is a link to a post on No Toilet Paper Now What?.

waterless hygiene
Sun drying clothes

What about your clothes? Even without running water, you’ll eventually need to do laundry. If you have no water at all, lay them out in the sun and “sun wash” them.  Shake them to get rid of loose dirt and lay them over some bushes. Let the sun hit them for an hour or more and you will be surprised at how much fresher they are.

Most of these ideas are nothing but common sense, but after a disaster, waterless hygiene may become a serious problem.  Remember, lack of hygiene can kill.


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7 thoughts on “Waterless Hygiene and How to Keep Yourself Clean”

  1. Veterean Who Is Preparing

    A weird thing I read years ago in an Army Correspondence Course was when water was in short supply sleep in the nude. The air (even through a thin blanket) helps kill bacteria that causes you to stink. I thought it was strange when I read it but I could see how it helps by airing off your body. But the thought of doing that in a combat situation seemed a little too much. The clothes you wore were supposed to be hung up to air out also.

  2. Interesting that you would have baby powder, corn meal, and sex lube just lying around to use in place of shampoo and shaving cream!

  3. In the hot time of year in the S.E. you have to shower daily. People would have to go to a lake or stream daily to wash or bath. You can wash and clean your hair with plain water. Clothing can soak in water from these same water sources then hang dry.

  4. Vinegar is your friend! Old School field sanitation. Dilute with equal volume of water, if available. Heat over the cook fire or exhaust manifold of your vehicle to a steamy, comfortable washing temperature. First brush first your teeth, then wash and rinse your mess gear and hang them up to dry. Pour the remaining hot vinegar water into an ammunition can or bucket and use it to wash your face, shave, sponge bath feet, armpits and crotch, then wash and wring out yesterday’s socks and underwear. Dry yourself, change into clean socks, underwear and finish dressing, rolling the rinsed and wrung out socks and underwear in your towel, to stash in your pack if resuming the march. Shake out and hang in the sun during halts. Finish drying near the fire while prepping the evening mess.


  5. Personal lubricant. Used for a good deal more than sex. Less stressful for the bashful to purchase. Most pharmacies carry it. I have no idea what the shelf life is.

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