Off-The-Grid Hygiene Guide

Living life off the grid comes with all kinds of challenges, some you may be ready for and others that never occurred to you until they arise. For many, hygiene falls into the latter category. Having easy access to soaps, shampoos, toothpaste, and other modern hygiene conveniences is something that most of us take for granted.

While hygiene may seem like a delicate subject, or one to giggle about, it is serious business. If you are living off the grid keeping yourself and your family clean is a matter of health. Without good hygiene, you can easily pass illnesses around and put yourselves at risk of contracting serious diseases.

This Device Easily Turns Air Into Water!

There are ways, though, that you can maintain good hygiene and good health whether you are off the grid, prepping, or getting into prepping mode.

Plan Your Stockpiles

Every prepper and off the grid homesteader knows the importance of good planning and preparation. Before disaster strikes, be sure you have included hygiene on your prepping list. Start your planning for hygiene and health care with the stocking of supplies.

Make a list of what you use to maintain good hygiene and start collecting. This may include soap, shampoo, deodorant, hand sanitizer, wet wipes, tampons, and any number of other supplies you use on a regular basis and find you can’t live without.

If you need to scale back because your storage space is limited, leave out those items that are not necessary for health and safety. For instance, you can live with a dual soap/shampoo and without conditioner and deodorant. Do not leave out things like soap, sanitizer, and first aid supplies, however.

Ensure Clean Water

Having a steady supply of clean water is perhaps the most important aspect of off the grid living, and an essential factor in maintaining good hygiene. Before you finalize any plans for going off grid, be sure you have water sorted, and plan for more than one source. Start by having a plan to store clean water for immediate needs during a crisis. This could mean stocking up on bottled water and collecting water in your bathtub.

For the long-term, a well is ideal. If you are making a move, find a location in which you can dig a well for your own personal use. Living near a stream is a good back up, but a well is better. Even if you have a well or other water supply, use rain barrels too. The more water you have, the better you will be able to keep things clean. If you have to be stingy with your water supply because you don’t have enough, hygiene, and as a result your health, will suffer.

The Bathroom

Doing your business off the grid can be messy and dangerous. If you have working plumbing and your own septic system, lucky you! If not, you have a few options. The key to going number two without indoor plumbing is to keep it sanitary.

If you dig a pit toilet, keep sawdust on hand so that everyone can cover up after their turn at the pit. Lime can also be sprinkled in the pit to keep it sanitary. If you have toilets, but no running water, you can still use them as long as your water supply is plentiful. Just dump enough water in the bowl to flush the waste down.

As for toilet paper, you can stock up ahead of time, but eventually you may run out. Any kind of paper will work, but so will leaves. Just be sure to avoid poison ivy. Make sure everyone in the household understands the importance of hand washing after every single bathroom use. If you have no running water, sanitary wipes or alcohol-based sanitizer are good alternatives.

Getting Clean

man and baby sponge bathAs long as you have enough water, keeping clean will be possible for you. It may not be as easy as taking a shower or running the dishwasher, but it will be doable. If you have a pond or river nearby, you can bathe there with natural, biodegradable soaps.

If not, you can use a camp shower to get clean. Also known as solar showers, you simply fill the bladder with water, hang it from a tree branch and let the sun warm it. Open the nozzle and you have a warm, outdoor shower.

Cleaning dishes and eating utensils is serious business when you’re living off grid. Dishwashers are great at sanitizing and we take that for granted. When washing your dishes, heat up water, use soap, and rinse in a light bleach solution if possible. The latter is particularly important if you are living with a large group of people.


There are many other things to consider when maintaining good hygiene off the grid. For instance, don’t get lazy about your teeth. Getting dental care may not be possible, so prevent any problems by brushing and flossing every day. If you run out of toothpaste, use baking soda, or even salt to scrub and then rinse. Long before toothpaste, people chewed sticks and it works.

Use something fragrant to freshen your breath and clean out bits of food at the same time.

For menstrual cycles, stock up on tampons and sanitary napkins. These will not last forever, though, so for a long-term solution, look into reusable rubber cups. These can be inserted to catch the blood and used again and again for years. Wash thoroughly after each use and when not needed, store it in a dry, sealed container to keep it clean. Keep a small supply on hand, just in case.

Finally, as you plan and prepare for a disaster or for going off grid, stock up on wet wipes, both anti-bacterial and regular. These are invaluable items when it comes to convenient hygiene. If you have the storage space, keep plenty on hand for hand washing, face washing, a refresher between bathing, and for disinfecting. With good planning and preparation, and an eye for hygiene, you can maintain a sense of cleanliness and good health even when disaster strikes.

This article has been written by Sarah Ratliff for Survivopedia.

Latest comments
  • We all think that the GOP should stop the funding of Obamacare and put all those funds back into Medicare. They should make term limits on all politicians and get themselves into medicare and place all the funds spent on their special medical program into Medicare.

    Then take each part of Medicare that needs to be fixed and FIX IT. Without all the other add ons the put into a bill. Only fix the pkroblem and no and up and extras. No special pork for getting someone to vote for the changes. No Pork Bills.

    Puil all the government employees on Social Security as we are and turn all their funds into social security to replace all the money stolen from that fund.

    Social Security and Medicare are NOT ENTITLEMENT PROGRAMS. We all paid for these programs and funded them for years and years. Lets just get them fixed.

    • why praytell, do we need social security and medicare and medicaid anyway? why can’t everyone just be wise and take care of their own medical needs and retirement? what happened to good old responsibility and accountability. My suggestion is to send everyone a check for the exact amount they have put into these programs, less anything they have already received and STOP THESE WELFARE/UNCONSTITUTIONAL/GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS!!! I can take care of myself. I don’t need anybody paying for my medical problems and I certainly don’t want to pay for anybody elses. And, if, which I can’t, afford to go to the doctor, I DON’T! And, when I have absolutely had to, the hospital was very nice and gracious about putting my bill on payments that I can afford and I pay them every month! I just don’t understand what has happened to the idiots in my beloved country.

      • We do not always have a choice!!!!!!!!!!

      • Not sure how this is valid post relating to the article? But, I have had medical coverage from my private employer for many years, almost 20 now. I also have a pension and invest in other ways to fund retirement. Others may not be so savvy or have the means or ability to do the same. The smallest medical emergency is bankrupting people and these “investors” are making themselves rich by holding your money for retirement with little return for you if they don’t out right steal it. We need safeguards in place to look out for everyone. If I plan all my life and in my old age get a touch of dementia, opening the door to a thief that steals all I saved or a medical system that takes it all do I just end up on the street at 80 years old? Shame on me, I should have known better?

      • TO CAA —
        Bravo that you take can care of yourself. Good job. And we should all be so very lucky to be able to do that.

        Unfortunately, many people do not have that kind of money to do so or have bought into the big lie of “save for retirement” when there are NO controls on oversight of these monies. And the corrupt whether they are Repubs or Dems (no difference) are going to very soon steal it all anyway.

        Social Security is NOT a handout. Nor is it an entitlement, EBT, welfare or any other form of government “freebie”. The people who are collecting Social Security now are the people who HAVE WORKED FOR IT. These are the many people who are living WELL BELOW the poverty level and trying to make do with their Social Security checks to pay for food, rent, many on medications that the doctors and hospitals receive big bucks from the drug companies to sell to the vast uninformed.

        There are many people who could not “SAVE FOR RETIREMENT” due to family conditions or who have received very low wages when working. Or have had spouses pass away. The people who are collecting Social Security ARE PEOPLE WHO HAVE ALREADY PAID INTO IT!!!

        • I have worked retail for 20yrs and I have cashed social security checks for entire families, 1 of them just turning 18. In case you have never seen a social security check, it says Social Security right on it. I doubt very seriously he had ever even had a job. That is $550 that a teenager was getting, where as several of my elderly customers were getting $175. I tried to get someone to please explain this to me and I was told to mind my own business. So if you can clear this up, please do.

          • I realize this is a belated reply, but I do have one comment on the teenager receiving SSI…survivor benefits. My sister lost her father at the age of 16 and my nephew’s mother died when he was 12. The amount a child receives is approximate to what their deceased parent would have been able to provide for their raising on a monthly basis. My nephew receives $450/month, because that was the estimate the Social Security Administration said he lost when his mom died. My brother receives no survivor benefits, so even though the check is made out to my nephew, it has to be used for bills/food/school/clothes. The benefits only last until he turns 18. Maybe longer if he goes on to continue his education.

      • Find and dandy but I lost both lower limbs in Iraq. With your attitude I should be able to take care of myself. Hell, no one will hire a disabled vet. Do you think I like getting benefits? No, I do not! So, what would you like me to do? Crawl away and die in some wooded area. I’m so sorry for taking your puny little amount of taxes in order to survive. Just remember, perhaps we should base U.S. citizen in whether or not your defended this country. Why don’t you think before placing your left-wing Republican ideas on a blog. You just show your ignorance.

    • I think President should run on 2 yr intervals. And no more than 6 yr total. And NO LAWYERS!!!!! We need business and military people running things.

    • Why does everything have to come down to politics?!?!?!

  • Hello Thank you for good information. It’s mostly for people in warmer areas. Do you have any good information for us that live in Alaska? We have 9 months of winter. Three months to prepare for winters.
    Keep up the good work.

  • Birth control should be covered/reminded here too.
    When other forms of recreation cease to be, the old fashion entertainment makes a come back (and a sense of need for closeness/bonding increases during a disaster) as examplified by the maturnity ward 9 months after 9/11.

    • This is one of the reasons God will send this tribulation. Be fruitful and multiply does not include birth control. If you really plan to survive this, get right with God and His will.

      • You are absolutely right Mike. Thanks, for posting. We can prep all we want and hope and pray for the best. But, we need to get right with God first and foremost.

  • Be careful about all those sanitizers and disinfectants. It was shown many years ago that these can destroy those beneficial micro-organisms on the skin which actually help protect us – leading to more infections.

  • Goes to show we cannot trust elected officials. They should be on the same level as the rest of us.

    • Elected “Officials” are not on the public’s side…you know, the public…the ones who pay these clowns their salaries for partying, paying for hookers and booze and expensive hotels and jaunts around the world to have photo ops making us think they are really doing the work of the people – all on taxpayers $$$ – at least those taxpayers who may still have jobs.

      Elected officials at any and all levels have never earned our trust. They take an Oath on the Holy Bible then go on about their business of back-slapping,
      with any one who will give them money for any favor. Very few are honorable. Follow the money!!!

      • Paul Wellstone was an exception to the self-serving Politian rule: he really worked for the people.

  • As long as you have a good source of water, a squeeze bottle with bent tip will do instead of toilet paper. Think manual bidet. The natural heat you produce will dry you.

    • Or you can use one of those sprayers commonly used for pesticides in yards. You’d be surprised at how clean you can w/o tp. 😉 They are great for camping too. lol

  • I read a series of novels by Anne Auld I believe. The series started with “Clan of the Cave Bear”. The books are definatly better than the movie.
    In one of the novels it was suggested one of the ways hygiene was achieved was by use of a re useable chamois cloth that was kept clean and available. They were used as both wipes and menstrual pad. Has anyone else heard of this or considered it.

    • I have, Art. I’m making 3 layer family cloths. I’m doing different sizes according to family members as well as color coding (for those who don’t want to reuse something someone else has used). I don’t have room to store a huge amount of TP, nor other modern conveniences. I did cloth diapers for the children, so this just took some rethinking. Besides, during this cold weather, the hot water pipes burst and …… got it! The TP got wet. Too much and it was tossed. Now I am making these from flannel on the outside and terry on the inside. I’ll also be making some for women’s menses and some baby and adult diapers. These will be put into resealable plastic bags. When things go bad, if we don’t adapt, we won’t be alive. I know how and which leaves to use from trees but I AM accustomed to some comfort. 😉 I will also have a small trash can with a step opener to keep these in. Also, chlorine is toxic to the environment, so I will use what I use now, vinegar as an anti germicidal. I store vinegar and now have a mother vinegar so I can make more…what happens when you run out of chlorine?

  • Well, here is a suggestion for you, one that I have used for 3 years now, in preparation for an economic collapse but also for the environment’s sake. I cut up terry washcloths in quarters and used them to wipe after using the toilet. They went in a little garbage container filled with borax water and some thyme oil. Once every few weeks I wash them in a separate load. They work really well. Some expressed disgust, but I say, why is that? Cloth diapers collect the whole business and yet we wash them and re-use them. I also use hemp pads and menstrual cups for my monthly cycle. They work great. I disagree with stashing lots of throwaway one-use things, as they fail to provide for a long-term scenario. As far as germs, I will stash vitamin D3 and lots of Wild Oil of Oregano for keeping the immune system effective even against bio attacks, and for any stomach related issues such as food-poisoning or viruses. I use them already. I have stockpiled liquid soap which can be used for any and all household and personal needs (just add essential oils), but remember, you can also just bathe in plain water if needed. It gets you remarkably clean, if done often enough.

    • Mia- where do you find these menstrual cups? I ‘ve now seen a couple of references to, and are they really manageable (rubber) or awkward?

      • The most common brands of menstrual cups are the Diva Cup or the Moon Cup. They are actually not rubber, they are made of medical grade silicone. You can find them online, on amazon or in most local health food stores. They are very manageable. I have been using one for years and I find it much more comfortable than a tampon.

    • Mia, what does the borax do? I am familiar with thyme

  • Also, there are things all over in the forest and anywhere greens grow that can be used for disinfectant, cleaning, treating wounds, etc etc. Hone up your knowledge on these – it very well could come down to using them if things got drawn out. When I was a kid and we had no access to antibiotics and even medical care at times, I treated a badly infected finger simply by soaking it in super hot salt water. The end of my finger sloughed off after the infection left but the tissue regrew. this treatment is particularly effective for punctures in feet and hands or even limbs. I also killed head lice once by immersing my scalp in almost scalding water for 5 minutes. I had no access to lice shampoo or anything else.

  • When I was in the Marines we were told not to use ” Leaves that comes in threes!” Posen Ivy is the worse thing to get . In Viet Nam we had a lot of that ,so we used the creek below us to bath and shave each day , during the rainy season, if not we used our helmets .. We kept clean to the best we could ..

  • Puchase a cheat english version of the Koran at Books A Million for under 5 bucks…..the 300 plus pages make good butt wiping paper.

  • Oh man, I really dread running out of toilet paper in a survival situation. I swear I’m going to create an entire underground storage unit just for it ;).

  • A lot of good advice. I have used leaves myself when in the woods without toilet paper. It does work but be sure to use green leaves, it’s tough on the bottom if they are dried. Also if there is a willow tree handy, you can break a piece of stem off, clear it of all it’s leaves and chew on it, it has an aspirin like substance that helps with pain…love this site. thanks and keep up the good work.

  • Does anyone know where I can find information about growing gardens that will produce plants that I can save the seeds and use later. I have some seeds but I have no idea how to collect the seeds from the plants and store them for future use. I would appreciate any information. thank you in advance

    • Dear kunquoda
      Yes there are lots of books on that will help you learn the individual plants and how and when to harvest them. We took some classes locally and were surprized at how much there was to learn. Here are some books they recomended:”Seed to Seed” by Suzanne Ashworth, “Seed Sowing and Saving” by Carole B. Turner. Another I found was “The complete guide to Saving Seed” by Robert Gough and Cheryl Moore-Gough. There are lots more. You have to learn about pollination, the species that will or will not cross pollinate, how to and when to harvest and how to preserve the seeds etc. It is not something you learn overnight but need to practice. During WW11 the people of Russia survived because everyone had a garden and shared seed. If you can find one take a gardening class and ask friends.

    • Do a search for ‘heirloom’ seeds and seed saving groups. Just like preppers, there are groups who save seeds so they can be sure of growing what they’ve grown before.

    • You want to buy Heirloom seeds. These are the only kind to clean, save and store properly. Mark the kind of tomato, lettuce, or ?? on an envelope. Cut letter sized envelopes in 1/2 and tape up the ends for more use for many kinds of seeds. Label and put the date.

      You’ll fine Heirloom seeds at http://www.botanical (a family owned company in Colorado);;;

      Only Heirloom seeds grow true to what they are, are NOT GMO, and these are the only ones you want to ever save. They can be passed along from generation to generation as long as they are saved and stored properly.

      The Amish grow their foods as much for the seed as for the food. Seeds, like soil are a precious commodity to be tended to and cared for. Only garden organically
      using compost – you can make you own; natural fertilizers and never use toxic commercial fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, etc. They are carried into the home on shoes and not so good when we hug our kids! Toxic means toxic.

      Gardening organically – means gardening with the elements nature provides like using newspapers (ink is no longer lead based but soy based – grass clippings, hay, barnyard manure that has been dried not fresh as it can burn young plants, leaves for mulch which breaks down into the soil to feed the beneficial soil insects and builds good soil. Kitchen wastes makes excellent compost – apple cores, egg shells, coffee grounds, used tea bags, anything but bones or grease that can turn rancid or be eaten by pets and become sick.

      When you can put a shovel into your soil and bring up soil with plenty of earthworms, then you know you have good soil. Now is the time to start preparing (February 2014) the soil for spring and summer planting. The soil needs to be fed continually, not just once and think it’d done. The earthworms and beneficial soil insects need food added to the soil or they go elsewhere, like to your neighbors who garden organically.

      Toxic chemical fertilizers will become very expensive and that’s not what you want to spend your money on as it kills the soil insects. Contaminates the soil.

      I am a Master Gardener so this is my contribution with wishing you the very best in your growing. Learn your USDA Plant Hardiness zone for where you live so yo don’t waste money on plants that do not grow in your area. Be sure you plant in an area that has good drainage. Plant flowers to bring in bees that pollinate the flowering, fruiting trees and plants; plant herbs and learn their great value in healing all diseases and illnesses; plant what you eat and eat what you grow.

      Don’t get discouraged. I live in a very extremely harsh weather and critter conditions and if I can grow asparagus, rhubarb, lettuces, broccoli, peas, carrots…so can you.

      Be sure to look up the warm weather vegetables and the cold weather vegetables. You cannot start growing tomatoes in September. They are a warm season crop. So they must be started indoors now and the seedlings put out when the soil and weather temps are about 60 degrees. And well after you last frost date.

      Cold weather plants are carrots, lettuces, root crops. Start a garden journal and write everything you do, even the temperatures. Write what you plant and where. Learn about companion planting. Learn how to use the insects – the good ones 97% to kill off the bad insects – 3%. That’s why you never want to use and chemical insecticides on foods you will eat. When you use chemical insecticides you are also killing off 97% of the good insects that kill off the mere 3%. Not good.

      Good growing to you. Starting is 1/2 way there!!

      • Jane, I am surprised you claim to be a “master gardener” yet you completely overlook the use of green houses. There are plans galore on the net by simply searching. Lastly, I would like everyone who happens upon this comment to do as much research on the “Moringa Tree” as possible. It’s God’s gift to man as it supplies all the nutritional needs of us human folk. It has staved starvation in Africa, India, and throughout much of Asia for thousands of years. Just Google “Moringa Oleifera” which is the easiest variety to grow. Contrary to popular myth, all varieties share the same benefits. The trick is to top it to dwarf it and the leaves are more abundant and accessible.

  • About the hygiene.
    Bathroom /toilet.
    Leaves and the like do not work.
    It makes a mess. Plus they do not absorb urine at all.
    Newspaper or other papers do not absorb fast enough.
    For 18 years I use small 10 ounce water bottles to wash my bottom after use of the toilet. Middle Eastern style (I learned it there on a vacation). Just using hands and water. Dry with washcloths used for this only.
    First I thought this was very unhygienic, but washing hands well afterwards is doing the job more sanitary then the toilet paper deal, which actually does not leave you clean. For # 1 I use washcloths .
    This is most cost effective and excellent in times of hardship.

  • Nah, I’d stick with the Koran or Bible or copy of Dianetics for my asswipe – the older and rarer the better.
    Why waste the fresh water?

  • One easy, cheap water collection device which is likely to not attract much attention is children’s wading pools. If you have kids or pets all you have to say is that the wading pools are for them. And can be used to catch rainfall, and then put into other storage containers. Might not be drinkable but will water your garden, flush the toilet, or other cleaning needs. Costs $10-15 at most dollar stores or Wally world. buy a couple extra for breakage and/or bartering use.

  • I do keep one use wipes for the bathroom trips in public places, hand washing etc.. but I do not count on them for long term. I have opened fairly new packs and found them dried out.
    One lost point in the article is washing clothes, I have tried the plunger in the bucket trick and hope to see other methods.
    This hygiene issue like others in a time of crisis, is important and is a skill/need that needs to be practiced, needs a primary plan and back up plan if not more and prepared ahead for. i.e. stock piling items or preparing tools and material.

    • You can still find old-timey washboards … and search out the design for the original washing machines … they can be powered manually.

      I was going to suggest the wet wash cloths for butt wiping, but I see that a couple others have beat me to it … but why wait for SHTF? Surely you can find a better use for your money than wiping your butt with it. That’s what you are doing every time you give the roll a yank.

      Buy ammo … take the Missus out … get a good bottle of hooch once a year and get roaring drunk on your anniversary, birthdays or the third Thursday after a new moon.

      Really, when you flush, wave bye-bye to your money.

    • You can still find old-timey washboards … and search out the design for the original washing machines … they can be powered manually.

      Anybody who is mechanically adept and so-inclined can adapt a bicycle to generate power or to drive the transmission of an old washing machine.

      I was going to suggest the wet wash cloths for butt wiping, but I see that a couple others have beat me to it … but why wait for SHTF? Surely you can find a better use for your money than wiping your butt with it. That’s what you are doing every time you give the roll a yank.

      Buy ammo … take the Missus out … get a good bottle of hooch once a year and get roaring drunk on your anniversary, birthdays or the third Thursday after a new moon … whatever floats your boat.

      Really, when you flush, wave bye-bye to your money.

  • Before Kimberly Clark, women used re-useable pads– not silicone cups — rinsing them out and washing / boiling* them along with the family laundry. You can find them for sale in homesteader magazines … but they are simple and inexpensive to make yourself.

    Just ask yourself what you would do if your menstrual cup got lost or damaged. or accidentally dropped into the outhouse pit. Buy a new one? Not if the reason you were using it was because the S had already HTF. No, you would start with some wadded up rags, realize the drawbacks of that arrangement, and then get busy with needle and thread to contrive something better. Why not skip the fiasco with the rags and go straight to what generations of women knew to work?

    Lots of women in the past 40 years have grown up without knowing how to sew well. This seems to have been an offshoot of the feminist movement. Without entering into a debate over those politics, allow me to point out that men have sewn for at least as long as women (sails, clothing, tents … the Apostle Paul took up tentmaking to support his ministry) so it is hardly a demeaning thing to expect a woman to be able to sew moderately well.

    Moreover, politics aside, it is an essential survival skill.

    Sanitary pads being a necessity, but hidden from the eyes of critics, might make a good first project for someone new to the skill.

    * Lye soap would not, I’m guessing, be welcome among the vaginal folds.

    (This counsel is coming from a man who has sewn most of his life.)

  • I have included a small spray bottle in my bag. It takes less water to rinse off soap with a spray than with running water. Use a low lather soap then spray it off. You will be surprised at how little water it takes to rinse using sprayed water. I suggest doing this from the beginning instead of waiting until water runs low. You will be able to wash your face and vital parts more frequently. And for those of us with long hair a major hair cut will be in order. Ugh! Not looking forward to shedding my long locks. It will also work well when doing number 2.

  • I read this guide, its good point you have collected, thanks a lot