How to Keep Up Your Hygiene During a SHTF Situation

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I am Selco and I am from the Balkan region, and as some of you may know it was hell here from 92-95, anyway, for 1 whole year I lived and survived in a city WITHOUT: electricity, fuel, running water, food distribution, without any kind of organized law or government. The city was surrounded for 1 year and it actually was a real SHTF situation. Our allies were our enemies from one day to the next. Today I’m prepared and share my experience on this blog.

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In a post-SHTF scenario, when essential services are disrupted and resources are scarce, maintaining proper hygiene becomes even more critical. With compromised water supply, clogged sewage systems, and vermin spreading diseases, personal hygiene is key to staying healthy and minimizing the risk of infections. While it may seem challenging to uphold hygiene standards in an emergency situation, with proper preparation and adjustment, you can keep yourself clean and protected from viruses and bacteria.

When access to clean water and sanitation facilities is limited, it is important to adapt and find alternative solutions to meet your hygiene needs. By incorporating simple practices and making the most of available resources, you can maintain a good level of cleanliness and safeguard your health.

Key Takeaways:

  • Good hygiene is crucial for survival in a post-SHTF scenario.
  • Prepare and adjust your hygiene practices to fit the emergency situation.
  • Hand hygiene is essential for preventing the spread of diseases.
  • Regular bathing, even if less frequent, helps maintain cleanliness.
  • Finding alternative methods for washing clothes is necessary.

Selco on Hygiene:

There are some topics that people maybe sometimes do not want to read or hear about, or other folks just thinking that is not too important when SHTF. Hygiene is something that we all agree is important, but how dirty is gonna be is other thing.

If you look for example to definition of Cholera you can see this:
„Cholera is an acute enteric infection caused by the ingestion of bacterium Vibrio cholerae present in faecally contaminated water or food. Primarily linked to insufficient access to safe water and proper sanitation, its impact can be even more dramatic in areas where basic environmental infrastructures are disrupted or have been destroyed.„

I already mentioned that I suffered (together with lot of folks from that time) few serious cases of diarrhea, I mean cases when you can not lift your head up for days, i was so exhausted.

Did I have Cholera? I do not have clue, no hospitals, no labs, no doctors. Probably yes. All what I could do is to take fluids, menthol tea, chamomile tea and „Rosa Canina“ tea.

In normal grown up healthy people, it can be solved with oral re-hydration, and cases of death are not so common. In very young and very old it is harder. When you have some underlying medical condition it is complicated again.

It is hard anyway if SHTF and you get heavy case of diarrhea, and you are not prepared for it, and you do not know too much about it.

When SHTF small problems lead to bigger problems, later you have lot of small problems pieced together, and actually you have one big problem.

If you have access to medical facility when you dehydrated and exhausted because diarrhea then in most of the cases all can be solved with IV re-hydration, Ringers Lactate etc.

If you have knowledge and equipment you can try to solve it by yourself.
Worst case scenario would be to not have neither available medical help, no knowledge and no equipment.

Of course having no disease is better than treating one.

Try to not get yourself in situation where you need medical help, because medical help can be not available. Also, you can learn some basics about treatment, and store some stuff for it. I am not saying that you need to go to nursing school right now. But knowledge is key, learn how dehydration work, and how you can re-hydrate man.

Having knowledge how to re-hydrate patient who is suffering from diarrhea not going to do you too much good if you did not solve question of proper waste disposal.

Because at the end you gonna find yourself „running in circles“ and getting sick again and again.

So again pay extra attention to proper waste management, your water and your food.
Consider the fact that you can control maybe conditions in your home if you plan and prepare everything, but you gonna need to go out for many reasons, and outside world is going to be probably very bad and dirty place.

Protect yourself when you are out, and be sure what you are bringing home with you.

Today when it comes to urban survival I think simple surgical masks and gloves should be part of your preparation.

They are not only meant to be used in operation rooms. I would use it whenever I am out on some „suspicious dirty“ place and these places are all around after normal services do not work anymore. Shoe covers are good idea too…

You can not achieve sterile environment in your home, and that is not point here. But whenever coming home from your trip out (when SHTF) consider yourself dirty, and clean yourself, cloth and equipment on best way that is available for you.

Just use common sense, but much more common sense then in normal time. What makes you sick in such survival situations is usually not visible.

Your first line of defense gonna be your personal hygiene, way how to manage your waste, and way how you keep your self clean. So simple procedures like washing your hands carefully after you done with dirty job get some new meaning. It can be life saving.

Boil your clothing, add some bleach and let it dry in direct sunlight. These little things are all things that increase your chance for survival. You can not shoot these little bacteria and they killed as many people as bullets (or even more) during my time in war.

Store disposable trash bags, as many as you can, for many different reasons, including for human waste disposal. Also many ways to clean yourself, and again use common sense, store it in „small“ containers, so you can carry it with you anywhere and always.

To have pair of disposable medical gloves and small hand sanitizer with you in your pocket make much more sense when SHTF then in normal situation today.

Do you already have masks, surgical gowns (or other throw away clothing for dirty work), shoe covers, hand sanitizers, rubbing alcohol, gloves, disposable cups and plates? What are your most important preparations when it comes to hygiene?

The Importance of Good Hand Hygiene

When it comes to maintaining hygiene, one of the most crucial habits to prioritize is washing hands. Hand hygiene is essential for preventing the spread of germs, viruses, and bacteria that can cause illnesses. Proper handwashing with soap and water is considered the most effective method to keep hands clean and free from harmful microorganisms.

However, in certain situations where soap and water are not readily available, alternative hygiene measures can be used. These can include items such as hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, vinegar, or a diluted bleach solution. While these alternatives may not be as effective as washing hands with soap and water, they can still provide temporary cleanliness and minimize the risk of contamination.

The CDC’s Guidelines for Handwashing

“Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others.” – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

The CDC recommends washing hands in the following key situations:

  1. Before touching the face
  2. Before preparing or consuming food
  3. Before and after treating a wound
  4. After using the toilet
  5. After coughing or sneezing

By following these guidelines and implementing good hand hygiene practices, individuals can significantly reduce the risk of infections and promote overall health and well-being.

Implementing good hand hygiene is essential in any setting, whether it’s during a SHTF situation or in everyday life. By making handwashing a priority and using alternative hygiene methods when necessary, individuals can protect themselves and others from harmful pathogens.

Maintaining Cleanliness Through Regular Bathing

During a SHTF situation, personal hygiene becomes even more crucial for our health and well-being. While daily bathing may not be feasible due to limited water supply, finding a balance between conserving water and maintaining cleanliness is essential. When possible, it is recommended to bathe at least once a week to keep our bodies clean and healthy.

Regular bathing offers numerous benefits for our overall hygiene. It helps kill viruses and bacteria that may be present on our skin, reducing the risk of infections. Additionally, bathing boosts our immune system, allowing us to better fight off illnesses. The act of bathing also promotes relaxation, reducing stress levels and contributing to our mental well-being.

Bathing improves blood circulation, which is essential for delivering oxygen and nutrients to our cells and organs. It can also help remove dead skin cells, keeping our skin fresh and rejuvenated. Furthermore, regular bathing can improve body odor, leaving us feeling more confident and comfortable in social interactions.

However, it’s important to be mindful of water usage during a SHTF situation. We must prioritize water for drinking, cooking, and cleaning utensils. While bathing, consider filling a container with water to limit consumption. Use this water efficiently while still ensuring thorough cleaning of the body.

Bathing FrequencyBenefits
At least once a week
  • Kills viruses and bacteria
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Reduces stress
  • Improves blood circulation
  • Removes dead skin cells
  • Reduces body odor

To make the most of bathing during a SHTF situation, it’s essential to have personal hygiene products readily available. In your hygiene kit, include soap or body wash, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and towels. These items will ensure you can maintain cleanliness and feel refreshed even in challenging circumstances.

Remember, while bathing frequency may be reduced, the importance of maintaining personal hygiene should never be overlooked. By adapting and finding a balance between conserving water and staying clean, we can prioritize our health and well-being even in the most challenging situations.

Finding Alternatives for Washing Clothes

When facing a SHTF situation, maintaining clean clothes is essential for personal hygiene and overall well-being. Without access to traditional washing machines due to a lack of electricity, it becomes necessary to find alternative methods for laundry. Thankfully, there are several creative ways to wash clothes effectively, even without modern conveniences.

Handwashing: One of the simplest and most accessible methods is handwashing. Fill a bathtub or sink with water, add detergent, and agitate the clothes by hand. Gently scrub the fabric to remove dirt and stains, and then rinse thoroughly. This method requires physical effort but can be highly effective in cleaning clothes.

Washboard and Bucket: Another option is to use a washboard and bucket. This traditional method involves rubbing clothes against the washboard to loosen dirt and grime. Fill a bucket with water and detergent, place the washboard inside, and work the clothes against the washboard’s ridges. Rinse the clothes thoroughly in clean water once they are clean.

For those without access to a washboard, beating clothes on rocks near a water source can be an effective substitute. The rough surface of the rocks allows for friction, aiding in the removal of dirt and stains. As with other methods, proper rinsing is crucial to ensure all detergent is removed.

Resourcefulness and adaptation are key when it comes to maintaining cleanliness during a SHTF situation. While these alternative laundry methods may require more effort and time compared to modern washing machines, they can still provide satisfactory results. Be creative and utilize the available resources to keep your clothes clean and hygienic.

It’s important to remember that clean clothing contributes to our overall well-being, helping us feel fresh and comfortable even in challenging circumstances. Keeping up with laundry during a SHTF situation is an essential aspect of personal hygiene and should not be overlooked.

Proper Oral Hygiene Practices

Maintaining oral hygiene is crucial even during a SHTF situation. Good dental care helps prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral health problems. While brushing teeth with toothpaste is recommended, it may not always be available in an emergency. In such cases, there are alternative methods to keep your teeth clean and healthy.

1. Toothpaste Alternatives: If you run out of toothpaste, don’t worry. Baking soda can be used as a toothpaste substitute. It helps remove plaque and neutralize odors. Simply wet your toothbrush, dip it into baking soda, and brush your teeth gently. Rinse thoroughly with clean water after brushing.

2. Rinsing Mouth with Water: After brushing your teeth, make sure to rinse your mouth with clean water. This helps remove any residual plaque and debris, maintaining a fresh and clean feeling.

3. Proper Toothbrush and Toothpaste: It’s essential to include toothbrushes and toothpaste in your emergency hygiene kit. Stock up on these items so you can maintain good oral hygiene even during a SHTF situation.

Remember, taking care of your teeth during an emergency is important for your overall health. Clean teeth and a healthy mouth can help prevent infections and other oral health issues.

Tips for Keeping Hair Clean

In a survival scenario, maintaining hair hygiene can be a challenge. When resources are limited, it may not be possible to wash your hair every day. However, there are alternative methods and grooming practices that can help keep your hair clean and healthy.

Reducing the frequency of hair washing can save precious water and resources. Instead of washing your hair daily, consider washing it every two to three days, or even once a week if necessary. This will help conserve water and make your resources last longer.

Alternative cleaning agents: When traditional shampoo is not available, there are alternatives that can effectively clean your hair. Baking soda and apple cider vinegar can be used as a substitute for shampoo.

Using baking soda: Mix a tablespoon of baking soda with a cup of water to create a paste. Massage the paste into your scalp and hair, then rinse thoroughly. Baking soda helps absorb excess oils and remove dirt and buildup from your hair.

Using apple cider vinegar: Dilute one part apple cider vinegar with three parts water. After shampooing your hair with baking soda, rinse it with the diluted apple cider vinegar mixture. This helps restore the pH balance of your hair and scalp, leaving it clean and shiny.

Grooming tips:

  • Regularly comb your hair: Combing your hair helps distribute natural oils, stimulate the scalp, and remove any dirt or debris.
  • Trim your hair: Keeping your hair trimmed can help prevent split ends and reduce the amount of shampoo and water needed for washing.
  • Trimming nails: Maintaining short and clean nails can prevent the accumulation of dirt and reduce the risk of parasites.

Remember, while water may be scarce during a survival situation, practicing good hair hygiene is still important. By reducing the frequency of hair washing and using alternative cleaning methods, you can keep your hair clean and healthy while conserving valuable resources.

Benefits of reduced hair washingAlternative cleaning agents
  • Conserves water
  • Conserves resources
  • Reduces the risk of dry scalp
  • Baking soda
  • Apple cider vinegar

Proper Wound Care

In a survival situation, taking care of wounds is crucial for preventing infections and ensuring proper healing. Here are some essential steps to follow when treating wounds during a SHTF scenario:

  1. Clean the wound: To start, ensure that you have clean water and soap or other disinfectants available. Gently wash the wound to remove any dirt, debris, or bacteria. This step is crucial in preventing infections.
  2. Sanitize the wound: After cleaning the wound, consider using a disinfectant to further sanitize it. Disinfectants such as hydrogen peroxide or iodine can help kill any remaining bacteria and reduce the risk of infection. However, be mindful not to overuse these substances as they can delay wound healing.
  3. Apply ointment: Once the wound is clean and sanitized, apply a suitable ointment or antiseptic cream to promote healing and prevent infection. Common options include antibiotic ointments, such as Neosporin, or natural alternatives like tea tree oil.
  4. Cover the wound: After applying the ointment, cover the wound with a sterile bandage or dressing. This will protect the wound from further contamination and promote a conducive environment for healing. If possible, choose a bandage that is breathable to allow proper airflow.

It’s important to note that wounds should be monitored regularly for any signs of infection, such as increased redness, swelling, or pus. In such cases, seek medical assistance if available.

Tools for Wound Care

Having the right tools in your hygiene kit is crucial for proper wound care during a SHTF situation. Here are some essential items to include:

  • Scissors
  • Razors
  • Nail clippers

These tools will come in handy for cleaning and preparing the wound, as well as trimming any surrounding hair to prevent contamination.

Treating wounds during SHTF

“Proper wound care is essential for preventing infections and promoting healing. By following simple steps like cleaning the wound, sanitizing it, applying ointment, and covering it with a bandage, you can significantly reduce the risk of complications.”

Remember, in a survival situation, proper wound care can make a significant difference in your overall well-being and recovery. Prioritize cleanliness, sanitation, and the use of appropriate tools to ensure the best possible outcome for any injuries you may encounter during a SHTF scenario.

Foot Care for Survival

Taking care of your feet is crucial in a survival situation. When facing the challenges of a SHTF scenario, it becomes even more important to prioritize foot care to prevent issues like foot fungus, sores, blisters, and trench foot.

To maintain healthy feet, it is essential to keep them dry and clean, especially by avoiding wet socks. Moisture can provide an optimal environment for bacterial and fungal growth, leading to infections and discomfort.

Additionally, treating fungal infections promptly is vital. A simple and effective remedy for fungal infections is a mixture of water and baking soda. Apply the mixture to the affected areas to help alleviate symptoms and promote healing.

Remember, prevention is the key. Here are some tips to keep your feet in top condition during a SHTF situation:

  • Change your socks frequently to keep your feet dry.
  • Avoid wearing wet socks or shoes for extended periods.
  • Wash your feet daily with mild soap and water.
  • Keep your toenails trimmed to prevent ingrown nails and infections.
  • Avoid walking barefoot in hazardous environments to minimize the risk of cuts and injuries.
  • Regularly inspect your feet for any signs of redness, swelling, or cuts.


“Proper foot care is essential for preventing discomfort and complications in a survival scenario. By keeping your feet dry, clean, and infection-free, you are ensuring your mobility and overall well-being.” – John Anderson, Wilderness Survival Expert

By following these foot care practices, you can minimize the risk of foot-related issues that could hinder your ability to navigate through challenging situations. Remember, a small investment in foot care can go a long way in ensuring your comfort, mobility, and survival.

Foot Care Tips for SurvivalBenefits
Keep feet dry and cleanPrevent bacterial and fungal infections
Avoid wet socksReduce the risk of foot-related issues
Treat fungal infections with baking sodaAlleviate symptoms and promote healing

Proper foot care is not just a luxury but a necessity during survival situations. By taking care of your feet and being proactive in preventing issues, you are safeguarding your ability to travel, explore, and endure the challenges that lie ahead.

Essential Items for an Emergency Hygiene Kit

A well-stocked hygiene kit is crucial for maintaining cleanliness during a SHTF situation. It is important to have the necessary personal hygiene products to keep yourself clean and healthy. Here are some essential items to include in your emergency hygiene kit:

  • Soap: Soap is essential for washing hands, body, and clothes. Choose antibacterial soap for added protection against germs.
  • Baking Soda: Baking soda is a versatile item that can be used to make various hygiene products, such as toothpaste, deodorant, and shampoo.
  • Toothbrush: Maintaining oral hygiene is crucial for overall health. Include a toothbrush in your hygiene kit along with toothpaste or baking soda to keep your teeth clean.
  • Sunscreen: Protect your skin from harmful UV rays by including sunscreen in your hygiene kit. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF.
  • Toilet Paper: Toilet paper is a must-have item for maintaining proper hygiene. Include an adequate supply of toilet paper in your emergency kit.

In addition to these essential items, consider including the following personal hygiene products in your kit:

  • Hand Sanitizer: Hand sanitizer is useful when soap and water are not readily available. Choose a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content.
  • Dental Floss: Dental floss helps maintain oral hygiene by removing food particles and plaque from between teeth.
  • Shampoo and Conditioner: Include travel-sized bottles of shampoo and conditioner to keep your hair clean and fresh.
  • Comb: A comb is essential for grooming and keeping your hair tangle-free.
  • Deodorant: Stay fresh and odor-free by including deodorant in your hygiene kit.
  • Laundry Detergent: If you have access to water and need to wash clothes, include a small amount of laundry detergent.
  • Razors: Razors are useful for maintaining personal grooming and hygiene.
  • Scissors and Nail Clippers: Include scissors and nail clippers for personal grooming and wound care.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: Apple cider vinegar can be used as a natural alternative for various hygiene purposes, such as hair care, skin care, and wound cleansing.
  • Baby Wipes: Baby wipes are convenient for personal hygiene when bathing is not possible. They can also be used for cleaning surfaces.
  • Disposable Gloves: Disposable gloves provide protection when handling potentially contaminated items.
  • Diapers (if applicable): If you have infants or young children, include an adequate supply of diapers in your hygiene kit.
  • Feminine Hygiene Items (if applicable): For women, it is important to include sanitary pads or tampons in the hygiene kit.

Having these essential personal hygiene products in your emergency kit will help you maintain cleanliness and prevent the spread of germs and diseases during a SHTF situation.

Sample Table: Recommended Personal Hygiene Products for an Emergency Kit

SoapCleansing hands, body, and clothes
Baking SodaCreating various hygiene products
ToothbrushMaintaining oral hygiene
SunscreenProtecting skin from UV rays
Toilet PaperPersonal hygiene
Hand SanitizerCleaning hands when soap and water are not available
Dental FlossMaintaining oral hygiene
Shampoo and ConditionerKeeping hair clean and fresh
CombGrooming and detangling hair
DeodorantPreventing odor
Laundry DetergentWashing clothes
RazorsPersonal grooming
Scissors and Nail ClippersPersonal grooming and wound care
Apple Cider VinegarVarious hygiene purposes
Baby WipesPersonal hygiene and surface cleaning
Disposable GlovesProtection when handling contaminated items
Diapers (if applicable)Infant hygiene
Feminine Hygiene Items (if applicable)Women’s hygiene

Waste Disposal and Sanitation

Proper waste management is crucial for preventing the spread of diseases in a survival scenario. When facing a SHTF situation, it becomes even more essential to ensure the proper disposal of waste to maintain hygienic conditions. Here are some key practices to follow:

Sorting Waste and Avoiding Cross-Contamination

When it comes to waste disposal, sorting waste into different bins is vital to prevent cross-contamination. By separating different types of waste, we minimize the risk of spreading harmful bacteria and viruses. Here’s a breakdown of waste categories:

  • General Waste: Items that cannot be recycled or composted.
  • Recyclables: Plastics, glass, paper, and metal that can be recycled.
  • Organic Waste: Food scraps and yard waste suitable for composting.
  • Hazardous Waste: Chemicals, batteries, and other potentially dangerous materials. These require special handling and disposal.

Sorting waste ensures that each type is disposed of properly, reducing environmental impact and health risks.

Composting for Food Waste

Composting is an effective way to manage food waste during a survival situation. It helps reduce the amount of waste that goes into landfills while providing valuable nutrients for soil. Here are some items suitable for composting:

  • Fruit and vegetable scraps
  • Coffee grounds and tea bags
  • Eggshells
  • Grass clippings and leaves

However, it is important to note that certain items, such as meat, dairy, and treated wood, should not be composted. These can attract pests and pose health risks.

Burning Waste as a Last Resort

Burning waste should only be considered as a last resort option and used with caution. While it can help eliminate some types of waste, it can also attract attention from others and may not be safe in all situations.

Types of WasteDisposal Method
General WasteDispose in designated waste bins
RecyclablesPlace in recycling bins or take to recycling centers
Organic WasteCompost in designated composting area
Hazardous WasteFollow local regulations for proper disposal
Items not suitable for compostingDispose of separately in waste bins
Burnable Waste (as a last resort)Ensure safety and prevent attracting attention

By implementing these waste management practices, you can help maintain a clean and hygienic environment, reducing the risk of diseases and contributing to a healthier and safer survival situation.

Preparing for Proper Hygiene in Survival

Practicing good hygiene is crucial not just during a SHTF situation, but also in our everyday lives. However, when preparing for survival, it becomes even more important to prioritize hygiene to protect our health and well-being. To ensure preparedness, stockpiling necessary hygiene items is essential. This includes items such as soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and feminine hygiene products for those in need.

In addition to stockpiling hygiene items, maintaining discipline in hygiene practices is crucial. It’s not enough to have the necessary items; we must also make a conscious effort to use them regularly. By establishing a routine and sticking to it, we can ensure that our hygiene needs are met even in challenging situations.

Education plays a vital role in our ability to practice proper hygiene. Understanding the importance of cleanliness and how diseases can spread when hygiene is neglected is crucial. By educating ourselves and others on hygiene practices, we can create a culture of hygiene preparedness that extends beyond ourselves.

Furthermore, teaching children good hygiene habits is essential. By instilling these habits early on, we equip them with the knowledge and skills to maintain their health and well-being during an emergency situation. It is our responsibility to educate them on the importance of washing hands, brushing teeth, and taking care of their personal hygiene.

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