Survival Bathing Without Water: 8 Ways to Get Clean

One of the things you will discover you miss the most when you are forced to live without running water is a hot shower. It is something we take for granted every day. In fact, we take the whole idea of being clean and smelling good for granted.

After a long day at work, we hit the shower and wash away all the dirt and grime and walk out feeling a hundred percent better. For some, a nice long soak in a tub of hot water is just what they need to feel human again after a long day in the fields or tending to things around the house.

When you are clean, you feel better about yourself. It gives you that extra energy you need to tackle a new project. Soldiers who have had to spend days and weeks in the field will tell you one of the things they miss most is being clean. It is human instinct to want to be clean.

It is also necessary in order to stay healthy. Cleanliness is going to be a necessity when you don’t have running water and access to sanitation. Bit of a contradiction, but it is the case. When you are dirty, you are carrying around more germs and putting yourself at an increased risk of coming down with a cold or some other nasty virus.

These are 8 ways you can get clean without using the shower or bathtub at home


1-Alcohol wipes are one way to wipe down a few spots. You can use the wipes to clean your hands, which you should do after you use the restroom and before you eat. You can also use the wipes to give your armpits a nice wipe down as well as your feet. It isn’t much, but you will feel a little cleaner and less stinky. Alcohol will dry out your skin so you don’t want to use it too much especially in the same spot on your body.

2-A dry bath product is a good option, but it isn’t a permanent solution. Rub the gel all over your body and it cleans away the dirt and grime. You can use a cloth to wipe away the gel or leave it on. Unlike the alcohol wipes, it isn’t going to dry out your skin and strip away the oils in your skin that you actually need. There are a variety of brands, but they all do the same thing.

3-If you are feeling particularly greasy due to not washing your hair, you can sprinkle a little baking soda in it and comb it through. This absorbs the natural oils in your hair and deodorizes your hair at the same time. If you have some cornmeal and flour, mix all three together for a dry shampoo. The grainy cornmeal gives your scalp a good scrubbing and the flour also absorbs more oil. The white flour does tend to leave your hair a little pale. You can add a sprinkle of cocoa powder if you want to make it blend in a bit better with dark hair.


4-Baking soda is also an excellent toothpaste. You can use it dry or make it into a paste with a drop of water. Baking soda leaves your mouth feeling fresh and actually whitens teeth at the same time. You must have good oral hygiene to avoid toothaches and the risk of developing an abscessed tooth. Don’t forget to floss as well.

5-Baby powder is a nice solution for areas under your arms, your groin area and your feet. Sprinkle some baby powder on to absorb the sweat and leave you feeling fresh. You can also comb some baby powder into your hair to keep the oils down and keep it feeling and smelling fresh. This is a trick many women use in today’s world and they love it.

6-If you have a cup of water to spare, you can give yourself a nice spongebath. Taking care of the areas that are more prone to sweating like your feet, bottom and crotch area and under your pits will go a long way to leaving you feeling fresh. You only need to dampen a cloth and run it over your body. If  you are especially dirty, use the dry cloth to remove most of the dirt and save the wet cloth to wipe down with.

7-A Navy shower is another option if you can spare about a gallon of water. Basically, you either stand in the tub or stand in a basin. Get a sponge or towel wet and start at the top. Rub shampoo into your hair and work your way down. Pour the gallon of water over your head and you are done. You may be able to get away with less water if you have short hair and can towel off any remaining soap.


8-Lakes, streams and rivers are giant bathtubs. Yes, they may be a bit chilly, but nothing beats the feeling of dipping your whole body in water. It leaves you feeling clean and energized. The weightless sensation can help wash away your worries along with the dirt.

Technically, if you are going to jump into a river to bathe, you should only use a biodegradable soap. However, in a survival situation, you can jump in the river, get soaked, get out, lather up and scoop water from the river to rinse off the soap on land, before jumping back in. You do what you need to.

Staying clean is going to be tough when you are living outside or living without running water and typical sanitation. It is tough, but it is a priority. You can’t afford to get sick with some nasty virus that will run rampant in an area with poor hygiene practices and limited sanitation. Figure out how to stay clean with very limited water and you will be better for it.

Dave Steen

About The Author: Dave is a 58 year old survivalist; father of three; with over 40 years of survival experience. He started young, learning survival the hard way, in the school of hard knocks. Now, after years of study, he's gray-haired and slightly overweight. That hasn't dimmed his interest in survival though. If anything, Dave has a greater commitment to survival than ever, so that he can protect his family. Click Here To Read More About Dave

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