Survival Hygiene: How Do You Stay Clean In Survival Mode?

Preppers focus on mastering basic survival skills and food storage. However, there is one factor that many preppers neglect — that’s survival hygiene.

Survival hygiene is as equally important as eating well and having clean drinking water. Failing to account for sanitary conditions may result in your body becoming more vulnerable to hygiene-related diseases.

Never neglect your hygiene especially when out in the wilderness. In this post, you’ll learn the supplies needed for survival hygiene kits and alternatives in case you run out of supplies.

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What Happens If You Have Poor Hygiene While in Survival Mode?


What will happen if you neglect your hygiene while out in the wilderness? Three words — scruffy, dirty, and smelly. But that’s just on the surface. If you neglect your hygiene, here’s what you have to deal with: 

Dental Problems

Not brushing your teeth for a day already feels uncomfortable. What more if it reaches a week or longer? Not brushing or flossing the teeth may lead to plaque build-up which breaks the teeth enamel. 

This may lead to bad breath, toothache, tooth decay, and gum disease. We all know how uncomfortable that would be and you don’t want to bother yourself as you’re trying to go about with your day. 

Pinworms or Ringworms

Not cutting your nails may lead to dirt accumulating underneath. You wouldn’t want that to come in contact with your food, right?

All of these are causes of developing pinworms or ringworms. Pinworm infections may cause abdominal pain, restlessness, discomfort, and difficulty sleeping.

The last thing you want in a survival situation is to have pinworms causing bacterial infection in your body which may cause you to lose weight. You don’t want to deal with that when you’re trying to brave the outdoors. That’s why nail care and frequent handwashing are important personal hygiene practices.

Pinworms or Ringworms
Srisa Korn

Lice Infestation

You become prone to body lice infestation if you often wear dirty clothes.

Body lice live and multiply by laying eggs on the body and feeding on the human skin. An infestation can cause itchiness and even skin infection.

Other than body lice, there’s also the hair lice infestation. Any part of your body with hair may be infested with lice if good personal hygiene is not practiced. That’s why trimming and washing your hair, including your pubic area, is of utmost importance. 

Poor Immune System

According to Harvard Health Publishing, one of the ways to improve your immune system is by maintaining good hygiene. If you do otherwise, bad hygiene may lead to a poor immune system, making you susceptible to hygiene-related illnesses. 

As much as possible, stick to your hygienic routine like you’re at home. During times of survival, you need to be in top shape and of course in good appearance.

As a prepper, your goal is to survive and that leads us to the next part – the hygiene items you need to gather on your prepper’s supplies. 

Basic Personal Hygiene Habits to Practice Daily

Even when you’re living outdoors and trying to survive as a prepper, you should learn the survival basics. That includes basic personal hygiene habits like:

Washing the face with clean water
Tadeusz Lakota
  • Shower regularly: Do not wait until you’re all sweaty before taking a shower. Even when in survival mode, make it a routine to shower and wash your hair regularly. Make sure to rinse thoroughly and don’t miss out on washing your underarms and genitals.
  • Frequent handwashing: You use your hands to do almost anything, and it’s most likely you’ll get your hands dirty. So make it a habit to wash your hands frequently with soap and water. Or at least use alcohol or hand sanitizer. 
  • Practice oral hygiene: Take care of your gums and teeth to avoid tooth or gum disease. You know how uncomfortable it is to have a toothache. Plus, you don’t want to deal with bad breath. Always keep your mouth clean by brushing and flossing. 
  • Trim your nails: Nails store dirt and grease and that’s a bad combination when you’re preparing food. Make sure to trim your nails to avoid dirt build-up.
  • Clean your ears: Prevent ear infections by maintaining proper ear hygiene. Excessive earwax may cause blockage and may lead to hearing problems.
  • Wear clean clothes: Your clothes may accumulate germs and microbes if used several times and not washed properly. So make sure to wear fresh and clean clothes. 

Must-Have Personal Hygiene Supplies in Survival Situations

Zed Outdoor

When gathering personal hygiene supplies for prepping, always ask yourself, “What will I be needing to maintain good hygiene and survive?”. Of course, you want your supplies not to be bulky.

Also, you have to consider that you may run out of supplies while out in the wilderness. With that, consider alternatives you can create on your own or harvest from nature. 

A major tip when it comes to preparing your survival hygiene kit is to think long-term. This means you should aim for reusable products. Along with the must-have personal hygiene items, you’ll also learn a prepper’s tip on alternative ways or products you can do. 

Wet Wipes or Toilet Paper

You are human, and you have to poop. Therefore, you have to make sure you have something to clean up yourself.

Always have wet wipes or toilet paper, but do not pack rolled tissue as this may be bulky. If you want, you can remove the inner cardboard roll and flatten the tissue before packing it. 

It’s okay to store the bulk of tissue in your bunker. However, if you have to go mobile, make sure it won’t take up much space in your bag. As alternatives, you can go for wet wipes or pull-up tissues since they don’t take up much space in your bag. Pack at least a two-week supply of tissue if you can.

Done pooping
Rob Greenfield

Alternatives: You can always use reusable cloth, towel, old clothing, or better yet use soap and water. If worse comes to worst, a big leaf you can find. However, be careful because the leaf may crumble and may cause friction when wiping. Plus the leaf’s surface is too smooth to remove all the grime.

Collapsible Potty or Poop Bucket

To dispose of human waste, consider having a collapsible potty or poop bucket. This way, you won’t end up always digging. Another option is to set up your outdoor bathroom with them. These products usually come in a five-gallon bucket that’s portable and collapsible. 

Make sure to carry plastic bags with you, preferably biodegradable for easier disposal of your waste. Also, try to bring some cleaning materials to ensure you can keep the bucket clean. If you want to be more comfortable when doing your number 2, you can also invest in a privacy tent.

Soap or Body Wash

You need to wash your body at least once a day so as not to attract lice or insects. Typically, if you shower daily, a bar of soap will last for 3 to 4 weeks. A technique to save on soap is to cut it in half, then use the other half later on. To make sure you have enough, it is best to bring at least two bars of soap, preferably biodegradable ones.

Body soap

Alternatives: As a prepper, you also must learn the skill of making homemade soaps. So in case you run out of soap, you can make your own soap anytime. To make handmade soaps, usually, you’ll be needing essential oils like avocado, castor, palm, or a combination of other oils. 

Also, olive oil, lye, coconut oil, and olive oil are used. You can watch YouTube videos on how to make homemade soaps. This skill will surely come in handy.

What if the water supply is short? You can always bathe in rivers, lakes, or waterfalls. But if there’s no body of water seen around, use a washcloth or wet wipes.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Soak the washcloth wet and wipe your whole body.
  • Apply soap to the washcloth and wash your body. Continue to do so until your whole body is applied with soap. 
  • Soak the washcloth in the water, then rinse away the soap.
  • This outdoor showering tip is an effective way of body washing and you’ll feel refreshed after. 

Hair care products

Your survival kit should have hair care products consisting of shampoo, conditioner, and comb. Washing your hair every day is not necessary. In fact, it’s not recommended to shampoo your hair every day. You can wash your hair at least two to three times a week to remove excess sebum.

Don’t forget to bring a conditioner too. Even men are advised to condition their hair so it’ll be smoother, softer, and easier to manage. One shampoo bottle and one tube of conditioner are enough. Bringing more may be too heavy for you. 

Alea Image

Alternatives: You can use baking soda, apple cider vinegar, aloe vera, or egg yolk to shampoo your hair. Or if you’ve got nothing at all, just wash your hair with water and you’re good to go.

Toothbrush and Toothpaste

Another must-have for a survival hygiene kit is a toothbrush and toothpaste. Throw in some dental floss and mouthwash as well. Brushing your teeth regularly helps remove food and plaque buildup. 

Flossing is equally important to remove plaque below the gum line and reduce the risk of developing tartar. One tube of toothpaste will last around 40 days or 80 brushes if used by one person. With that, one tube of toothpaste should last for two months.

Alternative: You can go ahead and brush your teeth even with just water. Your goal is to remove plaques and not brushing at all is not an option. 

However, if you’re wondering about an alternative for toothpaste, you can make a DIY toothpaste using baking soda or salt. Simply dip your toothbrush in the baking soda or sea salt, and brush as usual. You can also dissolve the salt or baking soda (making a baking soda paste) in water so it won’t be too abrasive on your gums.

Nail Care Supplies

Always keep your nails trimmed to avoid dirt and bacteria accumulating underneath the nail beds. For this, a nail cutter and nipper are enough.

Nail Care Supplies
New Africa Studio

Alternatives: If in case you forgot nail clippers, scissors will do the trick. The aim is to cut your nails short. However, if you’re prone to developing ingrown toenails, you can’t pretty much have an alternative for that. 

Have a nipper readily available on your survival hygiene kit to avoid uncomfortable struggles, especially when wearing closed shoes. 

Feminine Hygiene Products

Women need to go the extra mile when it comes to proper hygiene. For female preppers, you need to have feminine hygiene products in your hygiene kit including feminine wash, menstrual pads, and tampons. 

Alternatives: You can always opt for reusable menstrual pads or menstrual cups. If you use these products, you won’t have to worry about running out of feminine supplies. What about feminine wash? You can use mild soap as an alternative.


You need washcloths for different reasons – when taking a bath, washing your face, and cleaning. Make sure to have at least three washable washcloths in your emergency hygiene kits. You can use a towel or a microfiber cloth.

Alternatives: If you don’t have a washcloth, then you can use clean clothes in the meantime. A wet wipe will also do the trick, however, that will be such a waste. 

Ear Cleaner

If the earwax accumulates in your ears, it may block your ear canal. This may cause infections or may affect your hearing so you need to clean your ear regularly. Make sure to have Q-tips on your hygiene kit. 

Ear cleaner

Alternatives: Go for reusable Q-tips or a reusable ear cleaner. When talking about survival supplies, reusable products always have the advantage. This also means less trash and no worrying about running out of supplies. 

Laundry Detergent

Laundry soap is preferred because it’s compact. You can also use laundry detergent as a substitute to your dishwashing liquid. Or you can use it to wash portable poopy buckets too. 

Alternatives: Learn how to create a homemade laundry detergent or handmade soap. You can use laundry borax or baking soda. You’ll be amazed at this trick and how effective it can be in cleaning your clothes. 


If you’re a prepper trying to survive outdoors, then you definitely must have an insect repellant. You need protection from mosquito bites that may cause life-threatening diseases like dengue or Yellow fever.

Alternatives: In case you don’t have an insect-repellant, make use of the available natural resources. You can use essential oils like citronella, rosemary, lavender, and lemon thyme. There are also plants that are natural insect-repellants like citronella.

Skincare Products

With constant exposure to UV and the elements of nature, you’re exposing your skin to harsh environmental irritants. A good hygiene kit should also include skincare products. Good skin care for your face and body are equally important to avoid breakouts, infections, allergy or rashes. 

Skincare Products
PEAK Stock

Here are the skincare products you should include in your hygiene kit: 

  • Lotion
  • Moisturizer
  • Sunscreen 
  • Lip Balm or Vaseline
  • Deodorant 
  • Essential oil

In Conclusion

As a prepper, you should always be prepared, and you should think proactively. The goal is long-term survival. So aside from prepping your survival hygiene products, you should acquire the skills of creating your own products in case you run out or forget one.

Self-sufficiency is an essential trait every prepper must have. Learn how to make your own hygiene products like soap and toothpaste. That way, whenever you run out of supplies, you won’t have to worry about going for a grocery run.

1 thought on “Survival Hygiene: How Do You Stay Clean In Survival Mode?”

  1. Realizing that covering all bases is difficult, if not impossible in a SHTF situation, especially if you’re living out of a pack, a person needs to select dual-use items insofar as possible. One soap instead of three or four, such as dish soap can be used for pretty much every cleaning job: Body, hair, laundry, and disinfectant. And it can be liquid or powder. The mentioned cream rinse and body lotions can make up for the harshness if any. Two things not specifically mentioned are foot and body powders. Under the best of conditions, people are going to get crotch rot, swamp a$$, or red a$$, and while uncomfortable at best they can be disabling. Movement is difficult, and walking becomes impossible! Time and cleanliness are the cure, but the temporary solution is body powder, baby powder, or cornstarch liberally applied to the affected areas preferably after washing, but any time in a pinch. Same for foot powder. GI’s in Viet Nam quickly learned that underwear/tighty whities belonged in the trash or the foot locker, as impeding airflow led to the aforementioned problems.

    A couple of other items not really specific to hygiene, but specific to myself in a SHTF situation are spare eyeglasses, (ever try to trim your nails when you have trouble seeing them?), and denture adhesive, paste, or powder. I have been using adhesive for years and while I can eat without it, it is not a pleasant experience. I also keep my old dentures as backups in the event of breaking my primary ones.

    A pack of disposable razors and a bar of shaving soap take up little space and might be very handy, for both men and women.

    Lice? Prevention is best but if they happen, an over-the-counter lice med, preferably one that kills nits and eggs, will be invaluable, and learn how to treat clothing and bedding to get rid of the things! Killing the lice does no good if your clothes and gear are infested!

    While the chances of me grabbing a pack and hitting the woods are slim and none, and while we have a great supply of personal hygiene supplies available at home for regular use, I maintain a great selection of hotel-size lotions, creams, shampoos, and other personal hygiene items that are stored away for use in the event of a disaster. Truly cleanliness is next to godliness, as it affects both physical and mental well-being!


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