Hello, Frank here.
I need to talk to you about something a little touchy. Okay, you’re
out in the woods, or at your retreat. You left your fiber pills at home, you haven’t gone in days, you’re all backed up, and you had chili with beans for supper. And it’s time. Then you discover that you did not pack any toilet paper. The closest convenience store is 10.8 miles away and it’s 2:00 am. Decision time. Here’s what I would recommend. Get yourself some……….
Okay, Frank has left the building, and the rest of this article has been left to me, Fern. He is a really funny guy isn’t he? We have been married over 30 years and I still laugh every day. I am a blessed woman. Now, back to our topic.
On the last post about reusable panty liners, Kymber, from Framboise Manor, had a very interesting comment asking what our practices or plans are for what she calls “family cloths” if there comes a time that the SHTF and we run out of toilet paper. So, here is a follow up to our conversation.
Back in 1990, Frank and I lived in a remote village on the coast of western Alaska, about 75 miles south of the arctic circle for nine months (the length of a school year, we were teachers) without running water. We had a school provided, very nice three bedroom, two bath mobile home with a dishwasher, washing machine and dryer. Just no water. The school and the washateria were the only sources of water in the village. Frank hauled
our water from the school in two collapsible five gallon containers. We kept our water supply in a 30 gallon Rubbermaid trash can in the kitchen. We used this to drink, cook, clean and wash dishes, and luckily, we were able to shower at the school. The dish water was heated on the stove and used in the regular sinks. The sinks were drained into a five gallon bucket under the sink that had to be emptied outside. Before freeze up we allowed the sink water to drain straight down the drain pipes onto the ground under the house, but once winter set in with 30 degrees below zero for several months, we switched over to the five gallon bucket. We learned very quickly to remember to check how full the bucket was before we drained the sink. That was one of those experiences where we learned the hard way by flooding the floor and cabinet under the sink.
We hauled our laundry over to the washateria in a duffel bag to wash. But since the mobile home had a dryer, we were able to dry them at home. The only time we had to make other arrangements for water was when the temperatures dropped to 60 below and all of the water sources at the washateria and school froze. Luckily there was a natural hot spring a couple of miles up river where we could dip up the water into our trashcans and haul them back with the snow machine and sled. Now that was an adventure.
So, how did we take care of our toileting needs at home with no running water? After some trial and error, we decided to use the bathroom farthest from the main living area for solid waste, while the bathroom in the master bedroom where we slept was used for liquid waste. We lined the toilets with trash bags and used them in the normal fashion. We put a little Pinesol in each one to help with the odor and kept the bathroom doors closed.
Most of the houses in the village did not have bathroom fixtures since there was no running water. Instead, their toilets consisted of a five gallon bucket with a toilet seat on it, like the ones you can get from Emergency Essentials like we have in our storm cellar. This system in the village was called honey buckets. Once your bucket, or in our case trash bag, was full, there were small
|I actually found a picture of one.|
dumpster type containers that were specifically used for this waste, placed all around the village. These containers were gathered up and taken a few miles out of town to the dump and emptied periodically. I guess one of the nice things about having 30 below temperatures is the lack of odor from the honey buckets. We decided early on that we liked the insurance of a double layer of trash bags. One of them was semi permanent and stayed in the toilet, just in case the primary bag leaked. We were always very careful when taking these trash bags out to the honey bucket.
We also found out quickly that women use a lot of toilet paper and the bathroom with the liquid waste tended to fill up with paper more than liquid. This was my first experience with using something other than toilet paper when I urinated. I tried not using anything, but that didn’t work. I developed something similar to diaper rash. Then I started using a dry washcloth. That worked fine. Fortunately, we had plenty of toilet paper, and continued to use it in the solid waste bathroom.
I give you all of these details to let you know there are many different ways to deal with life when their is no toilet paper or running water. We think there will come a time when we have no more toilet paper. Period. In preparation for that time we have stocked up on some thin, simple washcloths. There are even folks that make their own cloths to use in this situation. The difference this time is that we will need to deal with the solid waste issue, which will entail something besides washing the cloths like all the other laundry. Hygiene can either keep you alive, or kill you.
There is a lot of good information out on the web about how to handle cloth baby diapers, which would be very similar to how you would handle toileting cloths. Here are a couple of the sources I found.
Washing Cloth Diapers by Hand
How to Wash Your Cloth Diapers by Hand
A couple of things mentioned in these sources are to use soap, use hot water from the tap, and use your bath tub. Well, if it is an SHTF situation, what soap are you going to use? You won’t have hot water from the tap, so how are you going to heat it? And you probably won’t be using your bathtub, but I guess you could. The important information these articles give us is to pre-soak, or have a specific bucket or container for your soiled toileting cloths. Even if it’s only water, it keeps them from drying out when they are soiled making them harder to clean. It also contains the urine and feces in a safe place, decreasing the likelihood of contamination and illness due to poor hygiene. Diseases like dysentery are caused by poor hygiene and once started can spread to everyone in your family or group with devastating results.
Some of the projects and plans Frank and I have on our list include a covered outside kitchen/clothes washing area. We have not begun to put it together, it is only in the planning stage, so I cannot show you any of our progress, but we have acquired some of the needed items. This area will include a deep basin sink that can be used for dishes, washing produce
from the garden, and probably many other things. We have some galvanized washtubs and a wringer that will become our clothes washing station. We have a variety of buckets with lids that can hold and soak soiled toileting cloths until it is time to wash them. There will be a clothes line installed. We have a means of heating the water on a cast iron wood stove that we got for covered outdoor use. We have large stock pots. We also have a small supply of rubber gloves that will last for a while, but they too, will run out, just like the toilet paper. Soap? Another goal is to be able to make soap from our goat milk, lard from the pigs, and lye made from wood ashes. All of these things are part of one small task. Washing toileting cloths. Sound like a lot of work? I’m sure it will be. And don’t forget the outhouse. It is also waiting in the wings to be built. Seriously. It is on our list of things to do and has been for a while.
Personal hygiene when the SHTF happens will be important. Will it be given the attention and priority it is now, in this day and age? I doubt it. But the mental preparation to deal with something as simple as keeping your body fairly clean and free of toileting contaminants, will increase your health and well being when all else about you has changed. There are
many, many conversations going around the internet covering a variety of things we need to prepare in the event a collapse or disaster occurs. This is one of those things that is seldom discussed or covered. It’s so much cooler to talk about the latest gun, or paracord, or ramming vehicle. But knowledge of and preparation for adequate, not sparkling spic and span clean, but adequate hygiene can save your life and the lives of your family. It’s something to think about and prepare for. So, please share your ideas and plans. Like Frank says, we’re all in this together, and two heads, or many web-wide heads, are better than one. We are grateful for the many experiences we have been blessed with in our lives. There is no doubt that they have come together to prepare us for the unbelievable future that is just around the corner. Are you ready?
Until next time – Fern