Health and Hygiene Tips for the Homestead- Part 2, by J.M.

On our homesteads when dealing with health and hygiene, we try to prepare for gunshot wounds or severe lacerations/cuts. But in so doing, let us not overlook the more mundane killers of mankind while specializing on medical conditions that would prove very difficult to deal with in a grid down situation without medical professionals. I am talking through what is necessary, particularly as we face some of the challenges that confront third world countries now. Let’s move forward.


Yes, Grandma was mostly right in her words about hygiene– “cleanliness is next to Godliness”. Keeping one’s body and home clean and pest free preserves health! Do you remember the big porcelain pitchers and bowls found in the bedrooms of old farm houses? A daily “sponge bath” is much more practical in a grid down situation then lugging heated buckets of water to pour in a tub for bathing. If warm washing is required consider the following.

Solar Shower

Very little can compare to getting a hot shower after a hard, sweaty day at work. It is really refreshing and humanizing, too. Solar shower bags or stout canvas GI shower bags filled with warm water are great items to have on hand. Don’t forget to stock up on deodorant and “foo-foo juice”. It’s great not only to be clean but to smell clean as well. (This is really important to the wives.)


Plenty of soap, both personal and laundry type, is needed. I have chosen to store up bar soap rather than make it. Although we have the supplies to prepare it, it is just is so much easier and less expensive to obtain it now.

In order to maximize the useful life of our personal bar soap, we dip the bars in paraffin (or melted crayons) after letting them dry out for a week or so. Drying the bars extends the useful life. Notice how the manufacturers package them in waterproof wrapping to stay moist and soft so they melt faster when they are used. More of the soap is lost from melting rather than actual use in bathing. Trim the wax coating off the bar to expose the smallest side of the soap surface. Use this side to rub on body or washcloth meanwhile protecting the rest of the bar from melting. This way each bar will last for months and months of daily use. I personally would recommend antibacterial soap for grid down times, as standing rainwater or pond water will have biological contamination in it.


We all know that dry powdered items store much longer than their liquid counterparts. As a kid, we had Dr. Lyon’s toothpowder in the medicine cabinet. It was an old metal tin then, but it still worked great. Dr. Lyon’s has long gone, but Colgate still makes a toothpowder for overseas markets, and it is available on amazon. Sure you can always use salt/soda, but isn’t it nice to use a familiar brand that tastes great and has a long shelf life! Also stock up on toothbrushes. A case of 144 inexpensive ones on amazon runs $11.56! Get some floss, too.

Hair Care

My wife is my barber! We have the scissors, apron, combs, et cetera for her to do our family’s hair care. It would be advantageous to get a manual (non-electric) hair clipper if you desire that type of trim like the WW2 army barbers had. They are available on ebay. My wife does the cutting with just scissors from the beauty supply house, and she does a wonderful job. You may want to stock up on VO5, Brylcreem, or even Vaseline for the gents. Since we may not have hot water for daily bathing, the grease/oil in the hair emollients helps control insect pests as it helps suffocate them and make it harder for lice to attach the eggs to hair shafts.

The sailors of old used to shave their heads or coat them with coal tar or pine turpentine/tar, hence the term “tarheads”, as it kills the lice. Coal tar and pine tar soaps/shampoos are available for head lice control. Use of olive oil or vegetable oil in 15 min soakings have also proven effective and much safer to use in children. Use for two days in a row and use nit comb.

Vitamin C

Speaking of sailors or “limeys”, as the British sailors were called due to their onboard store of limes to prevent scurvy, I wanted to make sure we had an adequate supply of vitamin C. Sure, we have the vitamin pills stored, but I wanted an unlimited, renewable supply of vitamin C. I tried to grow pineapples, oranges, lemons, limes, and even Calamondin and Moringa with only limited success. I couldn’t get a year’s supply of Vitamin C from five large lemons grown in a container. I finally realized that I was surrounded with a limitless source of natural Vitamin C growing wild on my land in the form of pine needle tea. Everyone should purchase an edible plant book covering their specific locale. Sometimes we can’t see the trees through the forest!

Toilet Paper

We are blessed to be on an old fashioned septic system on the ranch, but everyone still needs to clean up after business. I stockpiled cases of large coreless Scott 07006 2-ply TP rolls purchased off craigslist at over half off and a couple of dispensers for them. Each of these large coreless rolls lasts about 45 days. So just one case will last about a year and a half for one person. In addition, we have a case of peri bottles that act as mini bidets. You spritz yourself clean and use minimal paper product to dry. I don’t relish using phonebooks, leaves, or corncobs if I don’t have to.


Yes, I plan to purchase a safety razor with replaceable blades like Dad used for shaving. For now, my primary razor after the disposables run out is the last-a-lifetime Rolls Razor that Grandpa had. This cool little gizmo hones and strops the blade in its own holder and then slips on the handle for shaving use. The blade is thick but sharpens to an unbelievable edge. These razors are intimidating and are akin to using a small controlled straight-edged razor. I could always get a straight razor and long strops or use a K-bar, but those would probably be more dangerous in my hands than the Rolls. Check out the YouTube videos on the fascinating Rolls Razor.

Hands and Feet

Be sure to have plenty of good quality socks, foot ware, and gloves to care for your hands and feet. Wool socks are wonderful. Just get plenty of good quality boots, socks, underwear, and gloves. Most of us have lived the soft life and our hands and feet are not toughened up enough like our forefathers or in the third world. Be sure and have nail trimmers for fingers and toes. Do not bite your nails and pull into the quick! You can’t afford to have infected, ingrown toenails or open sores on your fingers working in the dirt. Personal hygiene is essential for health.

Floor Cleaning

The little robot vacuums may be the rage today, but how many of us purchased a non-electric Hokey sweeper to clean up the carpets or floors from dirt and debris? While not nearly as efficient as your $400 electric Dyson vacuum, thousands of restaurants are quickly and quietly cleaned with these little devices daily. Also, for floor care cleaning please purchase spare mop heads and brooms too.

Insect Vector Control

For insect vector control, make sure you have screens placed on your windows, as you will have to use them. With modern air conditioning, fewer and fewer families open the windows and air out their homes, especially in the South. Surely no one wants flies in the food or mosquitoes buzzing at them all night long. Likewise, some flea spray, pesticide, bug killer, and rodent baits/traps are essential preps to protect food, grain storage, and family. Stocking Sevin Dust and also stocking some fertilizer for gardens is practical to maximize garden yields.


Growing up, my parents stressed living a life of learning. Reading a book or attending a seminar was profitable, as long as you gained at least one pearl of knowledge from it. Truly my mom spent her life stringing pearls of wisdom to adorn her. It is my hope that you found a few “gems” in this article.

Even though health and hygiene is not an action-packed survival topic, consider this. How many of us have ever been shot? How many of us have been through nuclear war? Well, not yet. Then think how many of you or your family have had a case of food poisoning with severe vomiting and diarrhea? How about those who have had a chest cold or an infected lesion. Almost all of us have had those experiences! So prepare for the exotic events, but not at the expense of that which is most likely to come your way. Be prepared!


I know you all know this but in this day of litigation please realize that all medical information given is for informational purposes only. Nothing in this article constitutes medical advice. For actual use and dosing please consult the Physician’s Desk Reference or online medical sources. Never take any medication that was not prescribed specifically for you by your medical provider. All fish or veterinary medications are not fit for human consumption (even though they may be identical). Do your own research as your mileage may vary.

See Also:

SurvivalBlog Writing Contest

This has been another entry for Round 75 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
  2. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
  3. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  4. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
  7. Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value), and
  8. American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.

Second Prize:

  1. A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
  2. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  3. A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
  4. A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
  5. A Trekker IV™ Four-Person Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $250 value),
  6. A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by,
  7. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  3. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
  5. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
  6. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from (a $240 value).

Round 75 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.


  1. Thanks for all that practical information. As always, the prepping never ends!

    In the Survival Blog archives is an article about how to treat appendicitis in a grid down situation.

    Also, food-grade diatomaceous earth is a handy thing to stockpile. It kills insects, which would include lice, cockroaches, and fleas, by its microscopic structure. It can be taken internally to kill parasites and is safe for all mammals. Non-toxic and can be used in the garden against pests, too.

    I’m also a big proponent of colloidal silver, which kills ALL types of bacteria and viruses including ebola and flu virus. A solar CS generator can be purchased to make your own colloidal silver in a grid down situation.

    I also keep aloe vera gel stored as a burn remedy. And I have aloe vera seeds for later down the road.

  2. I use straight razors, old school and the modern one with a replacement blade. Since strops can be a pain, I mostly use the straight razor with a disposable blade. These are similar to those used in hospital pre-op.

    I must warn you though: if you ever choose to try a straight razor, stock up in small bandaids because there is one heck of a learning curve.

    1. Oh and no razor works better for cutting an edge around a beard than a straight razor. Plus you can get adapters for them that will let you trim the length of a beard.

  3. Don’t forget items for muscle pain and aches like Absorbine junior, icy hot, or capsasin creams, or oil of wintergreen. Manual labor work requirements in emergency scenario will be much greater. I have even thought about horse linaments for such purpose. My teenage daughter also swore by mane and tail shampoo for a few years!

  4. I have several pairs of scissors, they will be fine in trimming my beard. I somehow can’t see that shaving beards or womens legs will be a priority up there with feeding my family or protecting my loved ones.

  5. Sally Beauty Supply is a nationwide chain, I believe. The stores usually have a sign that says simply, “Sally” and they usually appear in strip malls.

    For salons that use so much shampoo during a week, it sells a concentrated shampoo in a gallon jug for $10-$11.00. Various scents are offered.

    Instructions say that eight parts water should be added to the concentrate.

    Nine gallons of shampoo for $11.00, about $1.25 a gallon, is a “whole lotta” shampoo.

    Just think of the positive effect on morale from having this inexpensive commodity available to provide clean hair and a clean body after a societal meltdown.

    1. I’ve tried the concentrated shampoo at the dilution recommended. Any water added kills the gel and you get thin runny liquid. At full dilution, it doesn’t work very well. Use it straight only, and be glad you got it by the gallon for the price. I stock better shampoo, and stock this stuff for barter.

  6. I could survive with a beard, in the meantime I will pass on that. I use 4 blade disposables and would typically get 3 shaves then it was dull, I read it was not the shaving but the oxidizing from getting wet that was making it dull and wow- pat dry after every shave and they seem to last forever.

    1. Yes, indeed. It is composed of fossilized diatoms which have sharp edges, and ‘scratches’ the shell of an insect, including lice, and they desiccate and die. Doesn’t harm mammals as it is too microscopic to affect us. Be careful to purchase only “food grade” and don’t inhale…it is light and fluffy. Safe and easy to use on kids and animals, too. You can order online or buy 30 lb. bag at feed store. People use it to de-worm livestock, too.

  7. Please consider getting plenty of leather gloves that fit you. Trying to work with too big gloves makes the job harder an can cause blisters. Most people don’t have callused hands and will experience cuts and blisters if they don’t wear gloves while doing outside work.

  8. One of the reasons the Army requires short hair and prohibits beards is the longer the hair, the more likely lice and other pests will take up residence. Sure, the Civil War soldiers all had beards, but half of the deaths during the war were from disease rather than battle. So the Lumbersexual look is out in the event of SHTF.

  9. When I was building my cabin in summer I found that a 5 gallon plastic jug of water got heated just fine by the sun after a few hours. I just set it on the tailgate, poured a gallon over me, soaped up and used the rest to rinse. Got clean and felt great afterwards.
    For those worried about long term SHTF; In the Middle East they install a hand sprayer next to the toilet instead of using TP. Works a whole lot better than TP too. As long as you have water, you can get clean. After all when you change a kid’s diaper you wash your hands not just wipe them on a towel. Easy enough to install off of the toilet supply line.

  10. Years ago I had scabies for over two years. I was successfully cured by a dermatologist. But out of total fear of getting this again I sought a preventative. Scabies is a form of itching torture. So I looked for information before I had the Internet. I have not seen this mentioned before but there is a Insect Repellent over in the camping or hunting section of Wally World that is Oderless PERMETHRIN. It is in a 12 fl.oz. hand pump Yellow Spray bottle. I also have dog shampoo with Rida Flea and Tick Formula, I use this to wash my hands and dogs. Scabies can be caught off of ancient book papers because they are made from wood. My doctor said sacbies can be caught in old rotting wood too. Anyway lice overthecounter treatments have permethrim with directions for treatment. I have sprayed a small spray of the insect repellent permethrim on my husbands clothes when in the washing machine to eleminate unwanted pests after he finished cutting wood for the stove. Any suggestions or discussion is welcome..We always have dog shampoo and Prethrin Spray on hand. This is not advice for you but just a story about how I keep my dogs and clothes free from stupid itchy things that this girl can live without. God Bless You.

  11. I’ve purchased a Chapin Pro series sprayer and its only for water and soap to clean up a muddy dog or a muddy kid. Simple to use and since you’ve labeled it for that one purpose it should always be ready to go. Great at a campsite. They have different sizes.

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