Living off the grid doesn’t mean you have to live like a dirty recluse. Electricity isn’t necessary though it can take a little adjustment to your daily routines to stay clean without all the usual conveniences like hot running water or electric power. Whether you are permanently living off-grid, or just trying to get through a power outage, you can still be clean.
A Solar Shower
You don’t even have to give up your hot shower when you’re off the grid. The sun can do a wonderful job heating up water as long as you know how to harness it. A “camp shower” can be purchased at any outdoor store and it would be a good option to get the hang of outdoor showering. The usual unit has a heavy black bag that you hang in a tree. It has a hose and nozzle built in. After filling with water and setting it out in the sun, the black plastic absorbs the sun’s heat and can bring the water up to a pretty comfortable temperature. Hang it up and a warm (possibly even hot) shower awaits with no power or running water necessary.
For more water volume, you can get creative with a little DIY work. A common approach is a length of heavy black flex tubing filled with water and curled up in the sun. Having this sitting on a roof or a little platform, and you can have a lot of hot water even in chilly weather.
Of course you can always keep your body clean with just a small tub of warm water if you had too. The shower makes it a little easier, especially to keep your hair clean. In a pinch, cold water will wash you well enough. It’s just not as comfortable.
This isn’t the perfect hygiene solution but it’s a good product to have on hand. When water is in short supply, you can get your hands cleaned up with minimal effort or fuss. It doesn’t help much with stains or actual dirt though. It’s mainly a germ-killer, not a cleaner.
Don’t Forget the Clothes
It’s not just your body you need to keep clean, your clothes will need some washing too. You should let go of that modern mindset that all clothes must be washed even after just one wearing. Other than socks and underwear, most things can be worn a few times before they are really in need of a wash.
A large tub, soap, and a method for heating up the water is all you need. Water can be heated by a black bag arrangement like the solar shower we already talked about, or you can just heat a few pots over a fire. Fill up the tub with water, a little soap and get scrubbing. An old-fashioned wash board can be a handy tool if you can find one. Just grip each item and rub it up and down the rippled surface. You can even get a load done using a rubber toilet plunger. Dunking the plunger up and down in the tub agitates your clothes just like a machine does, and it can save some wear on your hands.
After a vigorous wash and rinse, wring everything out as best you can, and hang out in the sun or near a woodstove indoors. Without the machine spin cycle, your clothes will be quite a bit wetter so expect a longer dry time.
Staying clean isn’t just important for morale, its better for your health. Letting your body get too dirty can lead to skin irritations, rashes and infections. Don’t let a lack of power or hot water stand in your way.