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Staying healthy after SHTF: Best hygiene practices

Even if you know how to build a fire or hunt for game in a survival scenario, it won’t mean anything if you don’t know how to stay clean. Excellent hygiene is imperative to good health. After all, in this sort of situation, you can’t just go down to the dentist for a root canal or the pharmacy to purchase lice shampoo. All you have is yourself and your personal hygiene, which you can maintain even when everything is FUBAR (F-ed up beyond all repair). (h/t to

  • Care for your hair — This one almost seems like a no-brainer, but the fact is that your crowning glory can become problematic if you don’t care for it. Filthy and unkempt hair is the perfect home for bacteria and parasites, though you can keep them at bay through regular combing and cleaning. If you’re out of shampoo, then you can substitute it with baking soda or cornstarch. Simply sprinkle them onto your hair to absorb the oils and comb them out. You can maintain the shininess of your locks with a vinegar rinse.
    • Don’t forget the rest of your hair  Just because society has collapsed in on itself doesn’t mean you’re free to grow your beard or armpit hair to obscene lengths. Microbes are more than happy to call your pits and beard home if they’re long enough. Prevent this from happening by trimming the hair you don’t need.
  • Always wipe — The thought of eliminating waste in any place that isn’t the bathroom isn’t the most appealing of thoughts, but it is a high probability in a survival situation. But just like there’s no guarantee you’ll always have a cozy toilet to sit on, you never know when you will or won’t have toilet paper. Cloth makes for an excellent toilet paper alternative since it can remove more waste than actual toilet paper. In lieu of cloth, you can also use:
    • Smooth, flat rocks
    • Corn husks
    • Maple leaves
    • Mullein leaves
    • Bigleaf aster
    • Cottonwood leaves
    • Bolted lettuce
  • Dispose of waste properly — Whichever nook, cranny, or neck of the woods you decide to make your home base in, one area should be designated solely for waste disposal, which should cover food waste, trash, and your excrement. For this, you should dig catholes as far as possible from any water sources and food-bearing plants to avoid contamination. Tossing in lime will speed up the decomposition process.
  • Remember to wash your hands — You’ll be using your hands to do almost everything, which means that you risk them carrying harmful pathogens. Hand washing will minimize the spread of germs during crucial moments, such as after you use the toilet, before and after tending to a wound, and before and after preparing food. Don’t bother with a hand sanitizer since it’s rather ineffective at getting rid of germs. Your best bet is still is good ol’ soap and water. In line with this, you shouldn’t neglect to cut your nails either since long nails can harbor germs.
  • Brush your teeth  Once a a day will suffice, but brushing your teeth twice everyday is the ideal. If you find yourself without a toothbrush, just create a makeshift one by chewing on a small and clean willow stick until the fibers have separated. If it’s toothpaste you’re missing, then you can use baking soda, sand, or salt as replacements. (Related: Don’t forget your toothbrush when SHTF: Off-grid oral hygiene.)
  • Keep your clothes and bedding clean — Moving about in dirty clothes and sleeping in filthy sheets put you at higher risk of skin infections and lice. So make it a point to wash and dry your clothes as often as possible. Even if you don’t have any water at hand, you should still lay out your clothes and bedding to dry under the sun for a few good hours. The heat will kill any germs and parasites.
  • Have natural antivirals and antiseptics at hand — Certain foods and essential oils are perfect for personal hygiene. For instance, tea tree oil has potent antibacterial and antiviral properties that make it suitable for hand soaps, shower sprays, and even lice deterrents. Fresh, raw garlic is known to possess powerful antibacterial and antiviral qualities as well, and can even be eaten to keep you healthy from the inside out. Lime, onions, and peppermint are other good options for you to consider.

Ensure that you’re ready to stay fit and healthy during a collapse by visiting

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