Without clean running water like we are accustomed to, cleanliness in the wilderness can be challenging. One might think that in such a setting cleanliness is a lost cause. But the contrary is true. Without doctor or medical supplies, sanitation is even more important. Preventing sickness and infection is vital. Chances of surviving are greatly enhanced if preparation can be made for cleanliness.
Cleanliness also greatly impacts our emotions. A big enemy in a survival situation is depression or hopelessness. Enduring hardship requires a positive mental attitude. Dirt can have a negative impact on our emotions, whereas cleanliness gives us an emotional boost and strengthens our resolve to press on.
I am very protective of the water used to wash my kiddos’ hands or a dirty dish when it had to be hauled from a nearby stream, strained through a cloth, boiled over the fire, and then cooled to a usable temperature. Waste is not tolerated because the amount of time and work to get a gallon ready is too great.
It takes skill to practice cleanliness with little water. The best way to learn is to practice! First of all, NEVER place a dirty hand or utensil or soap into the storage container of clean water. Always dip or slowly pour the clean water over the dirty object, catching the waste in a different container. This waste water can rinse off soil or other grime from dirty hands or utensils before doing the final wash. Using this method gives you maximum use of clean water.
Keeping our entire body as clean as normal may be impossible in a survival setting, but washing hands, faces, utensils, and injuries regularly and brushing teeth has worthwhile benefits. This week turn the water valve off for an afternoon, preparing ahead with one quart per person in buckets, and practice using very small amounts of water to wash with. Then let me know how it goes. 🙂