Hand Washing For The Prepared Prepper

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.

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