The simple act of hand washing is essential for preventing the spread of diseases and infections, especially during a large-scale natural disaster that may cut off your access to water.
Germs can also get transferred to your hands after you use the toilet or after handling raw meats, which have invisible amounts of animal feces on them. When these germs get onto your hands, they can be passed from person to person and spread illness.
When SHTF, you'll need clean drinking water. You'll also need water for various tasks, like food prep, bathing, and flushing the toilet. Conserve your water supply by using these five hand washing methods that don't require water or at least use less water than regular hand washing.
If you don't have access to running water, use a hand sanitizer to keep your hands clean. A hand sanitizer can kill bacteria, viruses, and other germs on your hands.
Take note that a hand sanitizer is best used as a temporary alternative to hand washing, and you need to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least a 60 percent concentration of alcohol to effectively kill germs. A hand sanitizer can't remove chemicals, heavy metals, or other dangerous substances from your hands. (Related: Staying healthy after SHTF: Best hygiene practices.)
This method is ideal for outdoor settings, but it is best used with two people.
Take a normal plastic water bottle then slightly unscrew the cap to let a small trickle of water pour out when the bottle is turned upside down. The other person has to hold the bottle while you wash your hands underneath the flowing water.
If you're alone, attach the bottle to a pole so you can wash your hands.
A tippy tap is similar to the plastic bottle method, but the former is designed to be operated by one person. You can also control the water flow of a tippy tap.
This method is best for a larger group of people.
A two-bucket sink is made from two buckets and a valve that releases the water. The top bucket contains clean water for hand washing and the lower bucket collects the gray water.
A full five-gallon bucket will weigh at least 45 pounds (lbs). Hang it on something that will fully support its weight. Place the other bucket below the first bucket to catch the gray water.
Different models of portable camping sinks operate based on similar principles.
Portable camping sinks are easy to use, but you can't control the water flow. Most models pour about half-a-cup to one cup of water with a single pump. The sinks have faucet handles, but they only work if you connect the sink to a garden hose. If you don't have a huge supply of clean water, use the other methods detailed here instead of a portable camping sink.
Before SHTF, acquire the tools for a hand washing method that suits your needs to conserve your water supply.