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Maybe you’re thinking about picking up some “trade goods” for a post-apocalyptic swap meet, or you just want to make sure your family is well supplied in the event of a natural disaster. Hygiene is another one of the unsung heroes in the realm of survival. Without the necessary items to stay clean, the risk of gastrointestinal bugs, skin infections, urinary tract infections and dental problems would go through the roof. Don’t be shy about grabbing a surplus of these important items on your next trip to the store.
1. Clean water
This is where good hygiene starts (or starts to fall apart). Disinfected water should be the only water you use for drinking, for tooth brushing, and for washing wounds and broken skin. You should store both jugs of water and the supplies to effectively filter, boil or chemically disinfect your water, because you may have to collect it from “raw” or suspect sources (like tap water after an earthquake, when the supply lines may be broken).
2. Hand sanitizer
When you don’t have the time or the means to wash your hands with soap and water, hand sanitizer can do the trick. It can also be used as a handy fire starter, though you don’t want to apply it directly to your kindling and wood: just squirt on the ground under your fire lay. Once the alcohol burns off, you are left with a wet jelly that often extinguishes the wood to which it has been applied.
3. Toilet paper
Let’s face it, we all need it – and the alternatives are none too nice. Sure, corn cobs, phone book pages, and your buddy’s left sock will work, but why not stock up on the real thing?
4. Hand soap
The pioneers made their own soap out of rendered lard and lye collected from wood ashes. The basic soap making process is easy, though it is definitely an art form requiring finesse and experience. And frankly, who would have the time (or the lard and lye) in a crisis? Why not just have bars of soap ready to use? I like Ivory bar soap because it’s cheap, it floats, it’s biodegradable, and I can wash everything with it. Small shavings of bar soap are also a tolerable substitute for laundry detergent.
5. Feminine hygiene items
Tampons and pads may not be hard to replicate from household materials, but nothing will be as clean, effective and welcomed as the real thing. Stocking up on OTC medicines for UTIs and yeast infections wouldn’t be a bad idea either.
This glorious solution of sodium hypochlorite and inert fluids can be used to disinfect your water, sanitize your laundry, and kill germs on many hard surfaces – including your dirty dishes.
7. Dental care items
Tooth brushes, toothpaste and floss can keep your family from getting cavities, or keep cavities from quickly worsening. In a situation where there is no dentist, these items are very important.
8. Dish soap
Some Dawn or a comparable grease-lifting dish detergent can turn dirty dishes into safe clean ones, with a little water, a sponge and some elbow grease.
9. Baby care supplies
Diapers, wipes and diaper rash cream can keep the little people in your group happy, clean and comfortable. Disposable diapers and wipes are a good short-term solution to baby care, while cloth diapers and extra bleach would be needed in a long term crisis.
10. Petroleum jelly
For chapped lips, dry cracked hands and feet, and chafed skin: a little Vaseline can go a long way. It’s also another useful fire starter.
Leave us a comment to tell us what kind of hygiene items you’d want to have on hand before a crisis struck.