During a disaster situation, we are not going to worry about whether our clothes match or the towels are stained. However, a certain level of cleanliness is necessary for health. Cooking surfaces and sinks should be kept as clean as possible using drinkable water. Use disposables such as paper towels. If you don't have paper towels, use a clean cloth every time you clean. Have a supply of all purpose spray cleaners or glass cleaners. These are easy to use and don't require water. Have some alcohol hand disinfectant to keep near the toilet facilities. Don't waste resources on mopping the floor or polishing the furniture. Keep the important things clean and don't worry about the rest.

Washing Dishes

Cooking pots, dishes and food containers should be washed with soap and water after each use. Rinsing them off or wiping them till you can't see any food is not enough to keep harmful bacteria from growing on them. The water should be treated so it is safe to drink before it is used to wash dishes.

Have two clean buckets or pots large enough to put the largest plate in. Put soapy water in one and clean water in the other. Wipe the food off the dishes before putting them in the dishwater to keep the dishwater as clean as possible. Start with glasses and cups, do flatware next, and then wash the plates and bowls. This means that the things that go in your mouth are the cleanest. Wash in the dishwater, rinse in the clean water, and let the dishes air-dry if you can. Air-drying is actually much cleaner than using a towel. Pots can be washed separately using a dishrag. Pots do not have to be immersed in water to get them clean. After you have finished a group of dishes, discard the dishwater. If you are having to treat water, you may want to save the rinse water to use next time as the dishwater.

You need drinking quality water
to wash dishes and faces


You aren't going to be showering regularly if there is no clean water coming from the tap. However, you do want to maintain a certain level of personal cleanliness. Wash your hands carefully before eating, handling food, or cooking and after every trip to the bathroom. Wash your face and brush your teeth at least once a day. You also may want to wash your private parts and your feet daily. Most of the rest of you will do just fine without seeing soap for a week.

Remember that hands and faces should be washed in water that is safe to drink. Never put a baby or a small child in a bath that is not treated water. Bathing a baby in contaminated water is a good way to make the baby sick.

Children actually require less washing than adults. Scrape the mud off and concentrate on their face and hands. Babies need the least bathing of all. Concentrate on keeping their diaper area clean and dry. Don't bother bathing the whole baby. Even when there isn't a disaster, we should bathe children less often than we do. My rule is give a baby a bath once a week, preschoolers twice a week, and school aged children bathe every other day. They donít need a daily bath until they reach puberty and begin to smell like an adult. This is a healthy bathing schedule that is better for their skin than daily baths.

If the public water is not safe to drink but it is coming out of the tap fairly clean, you can use it to bathe without treating it. Take a bath, not a shower. This keeps the contaminated water out of your face. Once you have bathed the rest of your body in the city water, then wash your hands and face in water that would be fit to drink.

Swimming pool water is also good for bathing. You cannot make it safe to drink because of the chemicals used to treat it. But these are obviously safe for your skin. Use this the same way you do city water that is not safe to drink. Take your bath, and then wash your face and hands with treated water. Wash your hair the same way as the rest of your body. Tip your head back in the bath and keep your face out of the water.

Washing Clothes

Clothes should be changed when they get contaminated or are so dirty you can't stand the idea of putting them back on. If possible, hang them out to dry before storing them away to be washed. If you bag up damp clothes, they will stink and probably be mildewed by the time you are able to wash them.

If you have power and water, then it isn't a problem to do the wash. If you lack either, think real hard about what really needs to be washed. Do not try to wash clothes if you don't have a way to dry them. You will be worse off than when you started. If you can hang them out to dry, do this first with muddy clothes. Once they are dry, brush off as much of the dirt as you can before putting the clothes in the washtub.

Use a very small amount of laundry detergent when hand washing, no more than a quarter of a cup in a large tub. You don't need much and it is very hard to rinse clothes by hand. Wring the wash water out of each piece of clothing very thoroughly before putting it in the rinse water or you will never get the soap out. The easiest and most effective way to wring clothes by hand is with two people. Each person takes one end of the clothing and they turn in opposite directions till it is as tight as possible.

Once the clothes are rinsed, hang them out and let them get thoroughly dry. Remember that you do not need to use treated water to wash clothes. Just make sure the water is cleaner than the clothes and you will do fine.