How (often) do you shower and do the laundry? Maria Besselink asked us this interesting question.
Our living situation
To answer this question, it is important to make a sketch of our living situation.
We live without electricity and water. We collect rainwater to use as drinking water for us and the animals. This water is very precious and is therefore not used for household purposes.
In addition, our goal is to produce minimal waste, so we try to avoid soap and detergent.
A stream flows 50 metres from the house where we get our water for washing dishes, laundry and hygiene purposes. We carry this water with two ten litre watering cans to our house.
Heating up water in summer.
We use an outdoor fireplace to heat up and boil water. Even when it rains or freezes.
We use brushwood for this purpose because there are too few trees growing on our land to provide ourselves with enough felling wood. Moreover, we do everything with hand tools (so also no chainsaw.) Believe me, after a few weeks of sawing and splitting wood, you will become a lot more economical in use.
Heating up water in winter.
I assume that in winter the stream is frozen. Rainwater is of course not an option either.
We will then turn to melted snow as drinking water and cut ice from the stream for the rest of the water use.
Because the fireplace inside is already burning in winter, we will melt ice and snow on it.
The use of soap
We only use soap to clean our hands before eating, after a number one on the toilet or after working in the stable.
So we don’t use soap to wash our selves or to do the laundry.
To wash dishes, we rarely use organic detergent. For natures sake we are trying to reduce this to zero, because we don’t have a sewer connection and do not want to pollute the groundwater.
We use birch leaf in the summer and want to use ivy in winter time. We are currently growing ivy as a project to see if it survives the winter here in Sweden.
Hygiene in summer.
To wash ourselves, we get water from the stream every morning and let it warm up in the sun. Or we simply take a dip in the icy cold lake a kilometer away when we go out fishing.
We boil drinking water every day on the outdoor fireplace. A 15 liter pan is used to heat water for the dishes and to wash our clothes.
If we have to do a hot wash, we put a steel plate on the fireplace with the washtub on top.
We have few clothes plus a work set, which saves a lot of laundry. We wash bedding every other week and hang it outside to UV air-clean it regularly.
Hygiene in winter
I’m assuming we must use our survival skills as we don’t want to waste firewood and water.
Since water in liquid form is scarce in winter, we will wash our selves less often. Maybe only once to three times a week, depending on the activities.
After freshening up, the washtub with the same water goes back on the fireplace so that we can wash our underwear, undershirts, socks and with the exception a pair of pants.
An ancient way to keep your laundry fresh in winter.
Drying laundry in our wooden cabin in the winter is asking for moisture problems, with all its consequences. So we will have to dry as little laundry as possible indoors.
We wear a lot of wool and cotton in winter. These materials are naturally antibacterial. In case of a strong frost, it is sufficient to hang bed linen and other clothing outside for an hour or so. This will kill most of the bacteria and microbes.
Isn’t it unhygienic to wash yourselves that little and without soap?
We have quite a bit of survival knowledge. My experience is that the body adapted quickly… and so does your nose 😉
It takes a while, but if you don’t wash yourself with soap for a few weeks, you will notice that the biological balance on your skin will come back again. Your sweat no longer smells so quickly or smells almost imperceptibly. Your hair is not dry, which is good for the winter, but also does not become visibly greasy.
Soaps destroys all bacteria, including the good ones that kills the bad stinky bacteria. My experience is that if I can’t resist the temptation to wash with soap, within hours the bacteria under my armpits and feet secrete an unbearable perfume for days.
Proven healthier and also better for the environment.
Scientist even did research on this topic. They have discovered that showering without soap once a week is generally more than sufficient as long you wash your hands regularly. And of Course depending on the activities you have done.
An additional advantage is that we reduce the use of water and soap, which is obviously much better for the environment.
What about odors?
Living in one room where we cook, wash and sleep will probably not be odourless. Certainly not if the temperatures drop below 12 degrees. Because then the door will only open for ten minutes to air.
We don’t worry to much about it. The nose adapts quickly. If it is a problem to you, just avoid us this winter, problem solved.
I love winter but probably can’t wait for big spring cleaning.
You now know that resources are scarce and that every action such as washing takes a lot of time and investment. Especially in winter.
Some times it is really hard, but getting used to the daily rhythm makes it a little bit easier every new day. This way of living fits our vision and answers our thirst for adventure.
Are we going to make it this way? That’s what the 5 months winter prep-challenge is for, to find out if we do.
Time will tell…