The Prepper Bath

Proper hygiene is a key component of maintaining both individual and group health.  As such, Preppers should have the ability to shower using safe water no less often than once a week and daily if possible.  Showers don’t just help protect against infections and parasitic infestations they also help reduce chafing and generally improve someone’s whole outlook.  A good shower is just civilized and there’s nothing more a Prepper needs when civilization is struggling than a little touch of civility.  Between opportunities to shower hygiene can be maintained using the Prepper Bath.

Providing showers at your homestead or retreat after a natural disaster or TEOTWAWKI event should be one of your highest priority health tasks and tackled soon after providing for proper disposal of waste and setting up a first aid station.  If operational or logistical constraints preclude developing a mechanism to shower and a shower rotation program than alternative bathing options must be provided using safe, preferably potable water.  Baths are certainly an option albeit one that utilizes a tremendous amount of water so the most likely option is what Papa Jackson unceremoniously called a ‘whore’s bath’ or a ‘spit bath’ but we’ll call by a less pejorative name…how about ‘Prepper’s Bath.’

Earlier this week we discussed integral passive solar water heaters and the simplest example of these, the  Solar Camp Shower makes a pretty good Prepper field shower but sometimes a shower just isn’t possible.

(IPSWHThis simple system is nothing more than a cheap solar collector hung in the sun to heat the water inside which is gravity fed through the shower head. This type of unit provides the best BTU/ dollar heating but is best used at campsites, RVs, and summer homes that are not used full-time.  One example of this type of system is the Solar Camp Shower.

The Prepper’s Bath

A Prepper’s Bath requires just a few elements to pull off.  Namely a pot or two of safe, preferably potable water, soap if available and a washcloth (preferably microfiber in a color natural to your setting).

Each Prepper should have their own microfiber washcloth and these should not be shared.

To accomplish the Prepper’s Bath:

  1. Wet your washrag, soaping it up if possible (and you have enough water available to properly rinse the washrag and your body).
  2. Vigorously scrub your body with the washcloth paying particular attention to areas that become moist or rub together like armpits, feet, inner thighs, genitals and under breasts or body folds.
  3. If soap is used, thoroughly rinse out the washrag and remove the soap…continuing to rinse the washrag out periodically
  4. Thoroughly wash and rinse out your washrag before hanging it up (or off the back of your backpack if moving) to dry.

Only unscented soaps should be used to keep from attracting insects and maintain operational security (OPSEC) in dangerous environments.
If you can warm the water up the experience transforms from unpleasant necessity (especially in cold weather) to quite pleasant but no matter how cold and miserable the Prepper’s Bath is you should take one on any day that you can’t accomplish a proper shower.

While a Preppers Bath isn’t as effective or civilized as a proper shower it will go a long way to keeping you happy and healthy and can be accomplished with as little as a quart of water per person.  Warm the water up to make the experience more pleasant.

Whether you make provisions for proper or primitive showers or just for Prepper Baths there should be a designated area that provides good drainage, good security and preferably some privacy.  If you have access to a home and the plumbing drains still work that’s great…use the bathroom but if you’re in the field make sure to keep your Preppers out of the mud.  A primitive shower platform can be built cheaply and easily using scrap wood or even pallets.

One last idea from when I regularly spent weeks in the field at a time…if you carry two canteens, keep two canteen cup.  Canteen cups don’t take up any space so I’d keep one on my right side for food & drink and one on the left side for hygiene.  Make sure not to mix them up and mark them well so that you can tell them apart.  When the mission allowed I was even able to heat up the water to make shaving or my whore’s bath more pleasant.

Hand Washing For The Prepared Prepper

A Prepper must know how to take care of others, but even more important that taking care of others is taking care of one’s self…so that you can continue to take care of others.  Prevention and self care are important to maintaining health but never more so than during times of great stress, after a disaster and while living in an austere environment.  You will likely experience one or more of those events in your life and if you’ve studied and practiced the requirements for post apocalyptic self-care…you can easily apply those lessons to such lesser disasters and hopefully keep yourself and your community healthy enough to deal with the challenges you face.  Frequent and proper hand washing is one of the most effective actions that the prepared prepper can perform to protect themselves and reduce the likelihood of contracting disease.

Why Wash Your Hands

By making frequent and proper hand washing a habit you will reduce the likelihood that viruses and disease causing bacteria will spread contagion to you and others.  In addition to protecting yourself and others from disease, frequent hand washing will help protect you from ingesting or absorbing the toxins and pollutants you will encounter in a rugged and austere post-collapse environment.  One of the reasons that the common cold is so contagious is that you can catch it merely by rubbing your nose or eyes with virus contaminated hands.  This hand washing habit is especially important to develop now in order to preserve your health and develop the healthy habit…and to reduce the likelihood that you’ll catch Ebola. In addition to infecting yourself with unwashed hands you can also spread infection or toxins onto surfaces or directly to others through your touch.  For this reason you should not only make a habit of frequently and properly washing your hands but you should also enforce the habit with those under your influence or command.  Remind yourself that clean hands save lives whenever you find yourself getting to busy, distracted or complacent about your hand hygiene.

When To Wash Your Hands

You should wash your hands periodically throughout the day and especially:

  • Before preparing, eating or handling food
  • Before touching your eyes, nose or mouth
  • Before and after touching a cut, sore or wound
  • Before and after treating or caring for the sick
  • After using the bathroom
  • After contact with plants or animals including uncooked food
  • After contact with toxins or pollutants
  • After contact with people, especially those that are or might be ill
  • After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  • After handling anything that has been touched by flood waters, animal waste, trash or anything that could harbor & transfer germs or toxins

How To Wash Your Hands

Hands can be washed with either soap and potable water or an alcohol based sanitizer.


  • Remember that after a natural disaster, tap water may not be safe to drink or use for washing.  Listen to local officials to find out if your water is safe or purify it anyway just in case.
  • Avoid smoking and fire during and immediately after using alcohol based hand sanitizer as it is highly flamable and can result in serious burns

Washing With Soap & Water

It is best to wash your hands with soap and potable running water for at least 20 seconds.

  1. Wet your hands with clean, potable water.  Doesn’t matter if it’s hot or cold.
  2. Apply soap to your hands.
  3. Lather your hands by rubbing them together.  Make sure to apply soap lather the back of each hands, between all fingers, and under and around your fingernails.
  4. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.  The Centers For Disease Control (CDC) suggests humming the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice to guarantee that you’ve scrubbed for 20 seconds but I prefer singing the first two verses of the Ballad of the Green Berets.
  5. Rinse your hands well under potable, running water.
  6. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

If soap and clean water are not available you may also use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to clean your hands.

Washing With Alcohol Based Hand Sanitizer

Alcohol based hand sanitizers are effective and significantly reduce the number of germs on skin and are fast acting but will have limited utility when trying to wash off toxins or pollutants. In order to properly wash with an alcohol based hand sanitizer:

  1. Apply enough sanitizer to the palm of one hand to thoroughly coat both hands
  2. Rub hands together applying sanitizer to all surfaces of your hand including between fingers and under/around fingernails and nail beds
  3. Continue to rub the sanitizer over all surfaces of your hands and fingers until the sanitizer evaporates and your hands are dry.

Beyond Hand Washing

Hand washing is an important step in winning the fight against bacteria, viruses, toxins and pollutants and keeping yourself and your community healthy but now it’s time to switch to offensive tactics:

  • Wipe down furnishings and utensils that food will touch with a bleach solution made by mixing 1 teaspoon of unscented liquid household bleach in 1 gallon of water and let air dry.  Also wipe down the outside of food cans that may have come in contact with insects or animals before opening them.
  • Wear rubber boots, rubber gloves, and goggles when you expect to encounter infectious agents, toxins or pollutants.
  • If necessary throw out infected items that you are unable to clean satisfactorily.
  • Throw out any food containers that have come into contact with flood waters or containers that are bulging, dented or exhibit a foul smell when opened.
  • Dispose of any wooden utensils, dishes or cutting boards that come into contact with toxins, pollutants, flood waters or infectious agents.


• Never mix bleach with ammonia or other cleaners. • Open windows and doors to get fresh air when you use bleach.

Post Apocalyptic Hygiene Supplies

As we discussed in our recent article, Post Apocalyptic Self Care hygiene is important to health and never more important than during times of great stress, after a disaster or while living in an austere environment.  If you don’t take actions now to stockpile necessary post apocalyptic hygiene supplies you might not have the necessary supplies even after a minor disaster.

Today’s article and list is based on hand has been expanded from the list suggested by Army Techniques Publication No. 4-25-12 (ATP 4-25-12) Unit Field Sanitation Teams, April 2014 edition.  ATP 4-25-12 has been ‘Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.’  Links are provided for additional reading on selected item categories or links to facilitate improving your own post apocalyptic hygiene supplies but I suggest that you stock what you use.

Personal Post Apocalyptic Hygiene & Sanitation

Today it’s easy to practice good hygiene and sanitation, in fact it’s socially unacceptable to make any other choice but after a disaster when there aren’t any store shelves stocked with soaps, shampoos, toothpaste and cleansers.  You now have cheap and reliable energy to heat your bathwater, run your vacuum and even run a toothbrush with rotating bristles.  You likely even have potable water running under pressure to multiple rooms in your home.  Potable water is so cheap that you also probably use it to flush away your bodily waste.  There’s probably even a truck that shows up once a week to haul off your trash.

The question is…would you have the supplies and discipline to maintain a commensurate level of hygiene and sanitation without all these modern conveniences?  Each Prepper should understand the risks he or she runs for him or herself and their community if they fail to maintain high standards of personal hygiene and sanitation.  It’s no coincidence that diseases like cholera break out following battles as well as natural and humanitarian disasters.

Note:  Leadership plays a key role in as well.  Community and Prepper Leaders must educate group and community members in proper techniques and enforce codes and/or standards like standoff distances between latrines and water sources.

Personal Post Apocalyptic Hygiene Supplies

Post Apocalyptic Hygiene SuppliesPreparedness requires health and hygiene supplies.  As an alternative you may develop the ability to make, find or trade for health and hygiene supplies…just don’t expect Walmart to be an option.  Such health and hygiene supplies may include items any number of items including some from the list below:

Note:   Make sure to stockpile unscented toiletries to the extent possible to avoid attracting insects or letting your perfume announce your presence before you’re ready in a tactical situation.  Additionally, make sure to avoid antibacterial soaps and cleansers if you intend to use a septic tank for waste disposal.

Warning:  The sharing of most health and hygiene Items may spread disease or infections 

Post Apocalyptic Self Care

A Prepper must know how to take care of others, but even more important that taking care of others is taking care of one’s self…so that you can continue to take care of others.  Prevention and self care are important to maintaining health but never more so than during times of great stress, after a disaster and while living in an austere environment.  You will likely experience one or more of those events in your life and if you’ve studied and practiced the requirements for post apocalyptic self-care…you can easily apply those lessons to such lesser disasters and hopefully keep yourself and your community healthy enough to deal with the challenges you face.

A Prepper Should Understand Post Apocalyptic Self Care For:

  • Heat Injuries:  Through the choices you make about clothing, headgear, water consumption, sunscreen use, rest/work intervals and times of the day worked you can greatly reduce or eliminate the likelihood that you will suffer a heat injury.
  • Cold Injuries:  Through the choices you make about clothes, clothes layering, modulating your work efforts, hydration, keeping your skin dry, and avoiding potentially dangerous situations like skin against bare metal you can eliminate or reduce the likelihood that you will suffer a cold injury.
  • Vector Injuries or Diseases:  Proper wear of clothing as well as use of insect repellents, insecticides, careful observation/avoidance and prophylactic medicines will help protect you from suffering from an animal, insect or arthropod carried disease or injury.
  • Food and Water Borne Diseases:  Through the understanding of proper food preparation techniques as well as water purification and hygiene/sanitation proceedures you will reduce the likelihood of suffering from a food or water borne disease.
  • Skin Diseases & Sun Injuries:  Proper hygiene and protecting your skin from the sun and the elements will reduce the likelihood of suffering from many skin diseases or sun injuries like snow blindness.
  • Diseases of the Mouth & Gums:  Proper hygiene centered around brushing and flossing as well as avoiding tobacco use will help protect you from most diseases of the mouth and gums.

If you learn how to and practice taking care of yourself in the most extreme circumstances, “Post Apocalyptic Self Care,” than you’ll be able to keep yourself healthier today and everyday…and be in better shape to help others after even minor disasters.

Health Threats In Austere Environments

Like soldiers in the field, Preppers living in austere environments are vulnerable a myriad of health risks.  This introduction discusses the health threats in austere environments and introduces the concept of preventive health measures.  We will periodically add to this introduction with additional articles that go more in depth.  Make sure to use the subscribe tool on the top right of this page so you don’t miss any of our articles.

Health Threats in Austere Environments

While military servicemen and women can expect significant financial backing, a robust support system, an international resupply network and the chance to return to civilization periodically to rest and recover, the Prepper potentially faces the risks but without the logistical support…be careful. We know from historical accounts of wars, natural and man-made disasters that the majority of casualties within the war or disaster zone are not the results of combat or the precipitating event, but rather the result of diseases and environmental injuries. The physical, mental and environmental stresses of post disaster and survival situations present significant challenges to the Prepper both in the planning and in the execution phase.  The Prepper and Prepper Group must plan for and maintain basic hygiene in order to remain healthy and survive to a ripe old age. Prepper Health Threats Include

  • Endemic diseases
  • Food and waterborne pathogens
  • Hazardous plants and animals
  • Entomological hazards
  • Toxins and industrial waste
  • Mental stress
  • Hazardous and damaging noise
  • Climatic or environmental hazards

Preventive Health Measures

OuthousePreventive health measures are simple, common sense actions that every Prepper can perform in order to keep him or herself and his or her companions and community healthy. Maintaining personal hygiene as well as a hygienic homestead, bug out location or bivouac site using preventive health measures will significantly reduce the likelihood of and/or spread of disease or the occurrence of environmental injuries.  If you are operating as part of a Prepper Group or Prepper Family make sure that the imposition of hygiene discipline is understood by and enforced on all. The principles of preventive health measures applicable to Prepper Groups and Families are—

  • Preppers utilize individual preventivehealth measures in their day to day activities
  • The Prepper Group member responsible for group health trains individual members in preventive health measures and advises group leader on health risks as well as preventive health requirements and compliance
  • Prepper leaders and plan for and enforces preventive health measures.

Below are a few examples of preventive health measures that should be considered by every Prepper and Prepper Group: Individual Preventive Health Measures

  • Only drink from water made potable through treatment or filtration
  • Follow proper hand washing techniques after using bathroom/latrine/outhouse/cat-hole, before preparing food, before eating and frequently in between
  • Brush teeth at least twice daily.  Floss regularly.
  • Relieve yourself only in designated areas…bathroom/latrine/outhouse, etc.
  • If on the move:  Utilize cat-holes for solid waste and don’t relieve yourself within 100 feet of water sources or bivouac area
  • Shower or bathe at least weekly and more often if possible.

Group Preventive Health Measures

  • Make arrangements for the procurement and purification of water
  • Stock soap, shampoo, toothpaste and floss.  Have recipes or knowledge to manufacture once supplies run out.
  • Arrange for hand washing stations at bathroom/latrine/outhouse sites, outside dining areas and in food preparation areas.
  • Place properly constructed outhouses at least 100 feet from water sources or areas housing people.
  • Establish bathing and/or shower points

Today’s article on Health Threats In Austere Environments was based largely on Army Techniques Publication No. 4-25-12 (ATP 4-25-12) Unit Field Sanitation Teams, April 2014 edition which has been ‘Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.’

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