Maintaining Cleanliness and Hygiene in a Survival Situation

Oct 17, 2016

Maintaining Cleanliness and Hygiene in a Survival Situation

What it means to “keep clean” is often misunderstood in our current culture.

We certainly need to avoid toxic germs to stay healthy, but going overboard trying to avoid every germ and bacteria is unhealthy as well...

As a society, we have embraced an ideology that is so sterile, it’s almost like we’re performing heart surgery in a medical environment!

And because of this, we are often too clean, we actually become more susceptible to harmful diseases!

To build a healthy body capable of withstanding a sub-standard environment in survival situations, we need to develop our immune systems and build up immunities to the outside world – this is what acts as your first line of defense to disease.

That’s where this post comes in.

Pay close attention as I will cover the do's and don’ts in your everyday life to develop a resilient immune system, as well as share several of my favorite methods for how you can stay clean and maintain safe hygiene if you find yourself in a survival situation.

As someone who lives off the land, these are methods my family and I have used for years and are thoroughly tested and researched for effectiveness.

Let’s jump in.


The Overlooked Threat

When camping, hiking, hunting or survival travel you could easily lose your pack, direction, or get into a situation where the curveball that life has thrown you isn't in the plan…

Learning skills to keep yourself healthy are just as important as what you have in your pack or bug out bag because let’s face it, poor hygiene has killed more people than anything in human history.

And during a survival situation particularly if it’s prolonged, poor hygiene will become the thing that quickly becomes the number one killer again.

Now, what will you do to keep yourself, your family and others hygienic during a crisis?

These next steps could be lifesaving, especially when dealing with communicable diseases that may be in an area. Remember there is always an incubation period that will not allow the disease to manifest itself.

You should be practicing the following ideas whether you see active diseases or not.


1: Don't wash your hands or body too much

Like it or not, when your body gets that grimy feel, you are actually building up a coating of natural anti-bacterial oils that will help to keep out germs.

If you are cleaning meat, touching dead animals, surrounded by sick people, then by all means DO wash your hands often.  Otherwise, try not to wash up too much so your body can develop resistance mechanisms to various bacteria and germs.

The body also uses the dirt you have on your body to absorb vitamins and minerals. Your skin can absorb up to 70% of whatever you come into contact with and dirt is filled with vitamins and minerals that are valuable in your everyday life and even more so in a survival situation when you’re not getting everything you need in the form of food or supplements.

Your immune system gets a boost when allowed to work naturally, and washing too often prevents this from happening.

2: Carry Essential Oils

When it comes to cleaning and disinfecting in a natural way, nothing is better than essential oils.

It takes approximately 100lbs of plant material to get 1oz of essential oil, meaning, an essential oil is much more powerful than the plant itself.

Luckly, he three best options are also very affordable: Clove, Litsea Cubeba, and Cedarwood (Atlas).

These are all known for being highly antiseptic, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial.

In fact, Clove essential oil is the base of all the highly anti-septic "caines" such as Benzocaine, Novacaine, and Lidocaine. It has the highest ORAC known to man and is the best germ fighter on earth. This is a pharmaceutical secret bullet you should know about.

Similarly, Litsea is the number one anti-viral in the Asian world. They use it to treat things like TB, pneumonia, COPD, and lung virus. I personally use this for asthma and to heal chicks with Bird Flu.

Most pandemics are viral in nature so you should NOT be without an antiviral essential oil like Litsea Cubeba, also called May Chang.

Lastly, Cedarwood (Atlas) is a superhero and can be used to mask scent while hunting as well as cleaning out a wound in a survival situation without the burn or sting of other oils.

If you can, diluting it is best.  If you’re not able to dilute, the sting would be minimal. I have used it straight on wounds, cuts, scrapes and as a hand sanitizer. It is highly antiseptic and great for cleansing naturally.

These three essential oils can also be ingested while in a disease-ridden area or if you feel a bug coming on. They can all be applied to hands as a natural hand sanitizer.

I have packed these into our Essential Oil Survival Kit with a few others found to be worth their weight in gold.

I also have a ready-made essential oil blend known as Be Clean for everyday use that combines highly antiseptic oils. It’s great for work or school, using on lymph nodes, using as a hand sanitizer or ingesting with honey so you can keep germs at bay.

3: Know your wild plants, trees and herbs

Evergreens are gold and fortunately are very common across the country! In a survival situation, be on the lookout for evergreens such as Cedar, Juniper, Pine, and Fir.  They are generally easy to find and easy to use for cleanliness.

Evergreens are a life line of antibacterial goodness in a survival situation. Winter is especially their season to shine.

I thoroughly embrace the doctrine of signatures and this is one of the biggest reasons I came to embrace this thought. They are green all year for your benefit. You CAN make an anti-viral, anti-septic and anti-bacterial tea from the leaves/needles of any of these.

Not too much or the tannins will have a toxic effect, but used in small doses they are natural sources of germ fighters and can be used for cleanliness inside and out. If you have access to water and heat, simply make a tea with the needles and wash hands, face or body with it.

To make a tea using evergreen needles, use about 1/2 cup of fresh herb or 1/4 of dried to 16oz of water. Bring to a boil for 10 minutes, then let cool. You can ingest the tea for an immune booster, use it to wash hands, body and hair, use as a mouth wash or use it to clean clothes. 

If you don’t have the ability to make a tea, you’re not out of luck.  You can rub the less prickly needles from evergreens like pine all over.  While crushing them against your skin, the needles release natural antibacterial components and clean your skin.

Don't expect any suds as they aren't high in natural forms of saponin, but they are high in the principal constituents of limonene, cedrol, cineol, and pinene - all superior germ fighters.


4: Yucca is your best friend!

Another plant we use around our homestead is yucca for its natural soap and germ fighting ability.

Whether you get it domesticated or wild, it will work for cleaning. This can be used by simply digging up the roots, crushing or slicing them and rubbing into the skin.

If you have access to water you can add the water while you are rubbing and watch the suds appear.

Yucca also works great when you need to clean a lot of things or people. Just use root to make an herbal soap tea.

Cut the root into pieces and pour water over it, bring to a boil for 10 minutes and let sit until cooled.

Use this tea as a clothes or laundry soap, for shampoo, or to disperse among a group of people.

This recipe is also one of my many treatments for eczema. I have used it on two children after doctors could not completely heal the eczema and with only one or two applications, the Yucca tea did the trick!

So you see this can be very beneficial to plant or locate in your area. I purposely have it planted on our homestead for its many uses and it has paid off.

Below, you can see my newest YouTube video detailing cleanliness in a survival situation to see how to use these ideas.


5: Natural Soap

I carry a small bar of soap and clean washcloth in my packs wherever I go.

Instead of buying disposable (not earth or skin friendly) clothes or skin wipes that leave a trail behind, I carry a bar of handmade soap and a few washcloth that can be reused in a time of need.

If you had only 100 wipes in a small container, they will run out. I have been stuck needing to change diapers while fixing a flat, or needing to wash my hands and wipes are gone. I found out the hard way that when I needed them most, those wipes DO run out.

If you are in a survival situation, a bar of handmade soap will not run out for a LONG time. Not to mention it can be used for shampoo, body cleansing, to clean clothes and children if needed.

Place a few plastic sealable bags in your car first aid kit or bug out bag so if you must dispose of dirty clothes or diapers, they won't stink up the area. You can most often wash out the washcloth with your soap and use it again.

If you want to learn how to make your own soap in a survival situation, check out my video on making soap off grid:

The basic recipe is 3lbs 6oz Lard, 24oz Water and 9.5oz Lye. You must weigh all ingredients. Only use stainless steel or heavy grade plastic for making soap.

For newbies that would want a place to get started making soap by hand, I do sell a kit on our website here.


These are all real life ways we have been able to fight germs and stay clean on our homestead and would be very effective for you if you find yourself in a less than optimal survival situation where maintaining good hygiene could be the difference between life and death.

That’s why I’ve shown you these tips, tricks, and techniques to improve your immune system and be more effective in an emergency.

Try one or two of these techniques to see what works best for you.

At first they might seem counterintuitive, but you’ll quickly learn how effective they are.

If you have any questions about these techniques, just leave me a comment below.  Also, if you have any field expedient or natural techniques to maintain hygiene in a survival situation, share it with everyone.

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