We had a failure with our hot water heater. So today’s post is all about domestic chores, and how I do them without things like hot water heaters. I’m sure this will please certain readers, who often seem worried about my proficiency in the traditional womanly spheres.
If you’ve ever spent any time living without access to running hot water, you’ve probably taken a bucket bath. This is a regular occurrence in places like India, where Hippie In Heels explains how it’s done.
For those of you who have never had the pleasure, here are a few tips:
- Keep your shower bucket clean. Don’t use it for household cleaning or construction projects. You’ll regret it if you do.
- Try to take the chill out of the water. This is as simple as leaving the bucket in the sun for a couple of hours, or heating up a few cups of hot water on a rocket stove. It really does make the whole experience much more pleasant.
- Have a small scoop or cup that can be used to pour water from the bucket. This way you don’t have to pour the entire bucket just to rinse soap off of one arm.
- Rinse off, soap up, rinse off.
Doing Laundry by Hand
I’ve had to do laundry by hand before, so I’m sure I could do it again. Here are some tips for that one, for those of you who have yet to venture beyond the washing machine.
- Some simple tools will make your (laundry) life a lot easier. Work smarter, not harder!
- I highly recommend one of these hand washers. Pictured in blue to the right.
- A 7 or 8 gallon tub is about the size I like to hand wash with. I can make do with anything from 1-10 gallons though.
- Consider changing your wardrobe. Unless you are going to be in brush or thorns or whatnot, think about switching your pants to something made of cotton or linen. That washes a lot easier than heavy jeans or canvas.
- Do more, smaller loads.
If doing laundry by hand is going to become a regular thing for you (think homesteading), it would be wise to invest in something like The Laundry Alternative Wonderwash. It’s a non-electric compact washing machine. Very cool!
This topic has nothing to do with electricity or water heaters, but it might matter to some of you who are looking to be more self-reliant when it comes to cleaning tasks and the related products.
This makes a full gallon of laundry soap, which will last 64 loads. It involves the great Dr. Bronner’s soap. Hippies love and and preppers should, too.
Dr. Bronner’s Homemade Laundry Soap
- 1 cup Dr. Bronner’s pure castile liquid soap
- 1 cup baking soda
- 2 cups water
- 1/3 cup salt
Mix the water with the salt and baking soda. Pour into a one-gallon container. Add the Dr. Bronner’s and fill the remainder of the gallon jar with water. Use 1/4 cup of laundry soap per (washer sized) load.
Rain Water Collection
“How far do you have to go to get clean water?” Well, I personally live in Iowa, where we (usually) get 34 inches of rain a year. Right now I have 55 gallons of rain water on hand. I can easily double that in less than an hour with materials on hand. There is a river that runs through town, it’s not real close though, we’d probably have to drive or bike. I don’t know what people are going to do in other places. You couldn’t pay me enough to move to someplace like the desert SW.
Since my rain water collecting is done outside, I take advantage of solar heating already. If I want to, I have a black shower bag that can heat a few gallons to a toasty temp, if there’s enough sunlight.
I suppose I should mention drying your clothes with the sun if you don’t have electricity or don’t want to pay for it. Surely y’all know that one though. If you’re not already doing it, you’re wasting money. Speaking of, don’t waste your money on those rotary style dryers, the design puts way too much stress on one central pole, and every one I’ve ever seen has eventually bent that central pole, and most fail at that point. Laundry lines are a tried and true. Bonus points if you put the line on a pulley system so it moves instead of you and the basket.
Just some thoughts to get you thinking. Now’s the time to consider your options folks, don’t wait till the grid fails on you.
– Calamity Jane
l’ll take the bonus points l have a pully clothesline 🙂
As for water, l have a 275 gal water container that l got from the bee farm for 20 bucks
l too have 5 campers shower bags for taking “bucket baths” you know you can always put them in the back car window to amplify the suns heat to the bag quicker.
l have seen someone take a 55 gal plastic drum and make a crank washer (or a turnable composter) get some clean river rock pebbles to throw in and just do like a half crank back and forth. As long as you have a drain, you can empty dirty water, throw in fresh for the rinse.
Here’s a question though if you collect rain water, can you put charcoal in say a coffee basket and fit that into your soffet to kind of filter the rain water? Maybe add a little bleach to prevent mold?
Our washer went out last spring so we had to order a new one. The new one didn’t come for 3 weeks, so yes I know how to do wash by hand and it’s a pain.
I used a wash board and tub, then got most of the water out by pressing my cloths thru a device designed to ring out mops.
No wonder people died in their 40’s 100+ years ago, they were worn out!
Doctor Bronner? I can’t see his business model surviving the solar flare, let alone the zombies. I want to hear how to beat soap out of a dead woodchuck! Oh, and I want pictures… not of the woodchuck you’re going to beat to death, or of anything obscene, but I want to see the rain collection device that I can make on my goddamned fire escape. And I want to be able to make it out of 30 cents worth of hardware, and a pound of scrounged-up garbage. Diagrams!
Sorry, I don’t have any diagrams, but I thought your letter was funny, as well as expressing the sense of hopeless outrage so many of us feel. The plunger actually works pretty well. Better than the usual camping set-up. Go to a farm store somewhere within your state and get at least two galvanized squarish tubs offered as colt/calf watering tubs. They are stable, not too expensive, and will become your water storeplace and washtub. As far as your water supply, I’m lost. Assume you’re in the city and will have to rely on rainstorms. Are you in a wet area? If not, I’d think about moving. Unless you own a reservoir, you can never store sufficient water. About all you can do is tap into one or more of the rain gutters that run outside your building, and drain the gutters into your storage barrels and tubs . (I used, successfully, a blue plastic spackle spreader to funnel the water into the tub. Duct-taped it, then wired it , just under the spot where I punctured the gutter with an ice pick. (It was old guttering.) I got a citation for that, but if TSHTF, I think they’ll be too busy for minor code violations. The water will also be polluted, so buy lots of chlorine bleach. This would be a breach of your rental contract, I’m pretty sure, and could be difficult. I realize you can’t quit a job and move, and you may never have to, but I’d be very nervous living where you are. Sorry that I’ve probably depressed and annoyed your further, without being of much help!
Thanks, Vick! Good ideas. I didn’t mean to give the impression that I was outraged or annoyed. I’m just enthusiastic, is all… playin, you know. Don’t mind me.
Yeah, I’m in the city for the time being. I have plenty of family in the country though, and they’re generally happy to see me. Worst case, I’ll be planning the last ditch apocalypse strategy from a spare bedroom… assuming that I can successfully Mad Max it out there.
Where water is concerned, I’m actually in a flood zone. More a matter of decontaminating it than finding it. I’ve had to do that in a flood before, and after a hurricane before that. I’m hydrophilic, you might say. Won’t catch me in the desert.
Oh… and you aren’t really prepping until you’ve gotten a citation for it, in my opinion. Right on.
Not so much about who you are as WHERE you are. Almost all of the homes in north america ,bult in the last 50 or so years ,were bult far, far from water.Or at least drinking water. All of them were built with cars in mind. Not how far you might have to walk, every day, to find clean water ,fuel ,doctors,ECT. Every farm wife I know is used to working 12-16 hrs. a day . But almost none of them think in terms of horse miles.If the oil re-supply stops there are seven days supply of gas in north america. After that we walk. or take to horse and wagon. There is no way I ever want to try and pack water on a bike , I tryed that in the 70s ,NO FUN!!! I spent the whole summer humping 5 gal. jerry cans up and down mountains on a pack frame. Rain water is groovy till it gets full a skeeters. And please don’t say “solar shower” around my wife, she is still pissed at me about that 30+ years later. See long ago before cellphones and computers, they called us survivalists . One of the BIG things I learned in 30+ years Liveing off grid was; You MUST have year round water,that you can drink, WITHIN 100 yards of your house .It must be close so children can carry water while you work. Jane you’r young, smart and have given this a fair bit of thought . If y’all don’t have a deep well on the property I’d shure want a drill rig most ricky tic .P.S 6 years ago ,my wife and I were talking about selling our houe and moving back to the farm. It was time to retire .Then we had a “change” baby ,our first (and only) child .I now have a 5 -1/2 year old. A wife back in grad school and get letters from AARP. You NEVER prep for the one that comes. And pardon my spelling folks ,between my chemo-brain and my CRS I know it awfull.
Sounds crazy but I have a pool. It holds 18,000 gallons every year I cover it. Before covering I shock the heck out of it which is basically bleach and cover with a heavy pool cover. Everyone knows that algea can’t grow without sun. When I remove the cover in spring the water is as clear as the day it was covered. Worse case if something was to happen cover the pool and collect rain water to replenish. The water will still need to be filtered but as a source should last a while. I think of it as an above ground cistern, look around and check and see what can be resourced at home. Also if you take your hot water tank out of the house and stripe the outer shell off of it and replace the valve on the bottem with a higher quality brass valve, one can move it outside and set it up to allow to have a fire under it. All the hot water you can make. Make sure not to plug the top off, and with a little light engineering one can take rain water as its being collected and funnel it right into the tank. The ones that will survive are the ones that think outside the box.
you can use a simpe plunger instead of that tool shown
Good article. My husband bought one of the blue plungers shown as a birthday present for me from Lehman’s. My daughter was just horrified, but I was glad to get it. I use Fels Naptha and washing soda, not baking soda, for my soap base and it works really well. We have a deep well, but are trying hard to figure out how to power it once the grid goes down. My brother suggested solar, but the sun rarely shines in winter in Ohio. Any ideas? The well is 190 feet deep with potable, albeit stinky water.
Chech out flowjack pumps, We live in north east ohio [Ashtabula Oh] We have been of grid 15 years, solar is viable but you should mix a windmill with it, we have a 1600 watt from Missouri wind and solar [General], alo you can take a honda 2hp engine and hook it up to a GM Chevy alternator [self exciting] one wire alt, and use this to charge during an emergency. Hope this helps you. Mike
Set yourself up now with a small solar system, then buy a sureflow water pump [12volt], put the inlet side in the 5 gal water bucket with warm water that you just heated up on your wood burning kitchen stove. You plumb the pump to your shower, put up a pull switch with a long string, hooked up to ceiling or wall. Washing laundry, Maytag wringer washer, eithr a honda 1 1/2 HP gas engine or a 12v electric motor hooked to your solar system. Change now and live the life, becaue when it hits you’ll have a big culture shock!!
A small warning for SHTF situation…. we are not told by out gvmt about radiation that comes down with rain, from events such as Fukushima, depleted Uranium, and nuke testings… If you google Leuren Moret on the subject of Depleted Uranium or Fukushima – we will see that rain water can be very dangerous in certain situations or certain areas… even if it will be considered “safe” as per gvmt standards
Leuren is a scientist who knows precisely how it works, but i believe not enough people are aware of all this yet…It is of prime importance, and in my situation it is a concern that i do not know how to solve yet, unless i have an underground water source option…
Water water everywhere but not a drop to drink, so many way’s to catch, clean and haul water the old way, labor intensive for sure, a proponate of prepping states all should be done in 3’s, having 3 sources of water is a challenging frustration, can one dig a backyard pond in the guise of a coy pond, rainwater off a gutter system can be filtered for sediment/leaves/roof sand, by placing mom’s knee high panty hose dealio’s over the spout, saw a neat thing at the hardware store and tried it, in the guttering section they had an accordian styled downspout that one could pull to different lengths and angle in any direction, clamped mine on with a large hose clamp and waa-laaa, doubled up the panty hose catches alot of leaves and such. Comes down to learning now folk’s, experimenting is costly, dieing is final. Find what work’s now, find like minded friends/family and pool together..clothslines, ugghhhh, here in the south with the sun’s intensity I have yet to find anything that hold’s up a season without degrading, cable is good but it rusts, SS cable is expensive, but…. Thank you all for keeping the ideas flowing, it show’s areas that need attention and expereince working with them. “C”
This reminds me i lived off grid in a cabin . I’ve had campers. I’ve lived on the road as a trucker. I’ve taken baths out side with as little as three bottled waters that had sat in the dash for thirty minutes in either sun or the heater on the truck in defrost. Cabin I used a,small generator and carried on truck. Think about principles campers use. Small generator to power batteries, water pump, microwave . Propane gas in small containers for the stove that can heat a camper sized hot water heater salvage from a wreck. One cool thing I saw was a 3 hp Briggs engine hooked to an alternator to charge batteries but also powered a 12,cup coffee pot for hot water while charging batteries using an inverter. The motor ran one hour a day. He caught the news during that hour planned on dc tv.
I’ll be willing to do without hot water if the price is right and if my privacy is guaranteed. I can heat water on a hot plate if I get really desperate. All I need is no more plumbing than one shower and one toilet and no water heater or any other plumbing. Just electricity and no gas. Also, I can do my own maintenence/repair work. As long as the roof and everything is in good condition, it doesn’t matter how ugly anything looks.