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Keeping up your standards, or not

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When the grid goes down, and doesn't come back, how are you going to keep up your standards? Will you still change the sheets every week and get a fresh towel and clean clothes everyday when you have to haul the water and wash everything by hand? Will everybody get a bath everyday when the water has to be hauled in and heated on the stove? How about when the bathroom is cold? Will each member of the family get fresh water? I remember bathing in the wash tub of now lukewarm water after my sister finished. She always used too much soap and I hated that. When I was done my brothers got to follow me in the same water. I remember mom boiling clothes in a cast iron pot on a fire outside and scrubbing them with a washboard. We had an outhouse too. Water was hauled up the hill in a bucket. We didn't have pjs, we slept in our underwear. We certainly did not get fresh clothes everyday.


Will you still keep the house spotless when you have to grow a really large garden and raise animals so your family can eat? When you are canning, drying and storing stuff in a root cellar, butchering and curing your meat will you have the energy to make any kind of meal other than a pot of stew? Have you ever staggered in from hard outside work to have someone crying "hungry" and nothing fixed to eat?


Will you be able to teach your children reading, writing and arithmetic by a single guttering candle because you worked outside all day in the field and the stock of candles is getting too low to spare more than one? How about when that stock is so low that you are trying to read by fire light? Can't even do that if you have a woodstove and the door is shut. It was easier with fire places.


I don't mean to be all gloomy but I think it is going to be a shock to many people and they won't know how to adjust after TSHTF. Maybe if we stop and think about it we can make up our minds to cope with it and not get all depressed when things are no longer the normal we are used to.

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I have thought about this so many times CGA. Nope, I'm sure when washing by hand there will not be clean sheets every week. I also think people will learn to hang a towel and washcloth after a bath and use it more than once like we did when I was a child. I can't imagine going back to washing my hair once a week but I'm pretty sure that too will happen.


When my kids were home I was guilty of letting them wear their jeans once, change shirts a couple of times a day, etc. My son was a bed wetter until he was 8 or 9 so he showered every morning. As he got older he'd still take a shower every morning and often again in the evening before going out. Probably using a clean towel and washcloth each time. Having a washer and dryer right in the one bathroom laundry wasn't a problem and both ran most of the day. I would scoop their clothes off the floor daily and simply wash and dry.


Now with DH and I and living on the farm we have chore clothes and clothes to go to town. The to town clothes are hung up when we come up and worn again. Maybe not the next time but 2 or 3 times they're worn before going in the washer. Our chore jeans, unless really badly soiled, will be worn 3 or 4 days. Usually a shirt will last a couple of days but, of course, clean underwear daily.


If the grid had gone down back then we'd have been in BAD shape. We didn't know how to live any differently than I've said above with our clothes, showering, hair washing, etc. I didn't do any kind of prepping. I might have had a can of tuna in the cupboard where today I have 10 or more. Maybe 2 or 3 cans of different soups. I might be out of detergent and then having to run to the store to get some instead of having some in my preps, etc.


The difference between then and now??? Then I was young and could have worked hard to figure out what to do. Now, I'm old and prepped but can't do the work that will be needed.


It's going to be hard no matter what when/if the grid goes down.

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I don't keep a clean or tidy house now. If the kitchen's gleaming clean, I'm thrilled. I don't get completely thrilled every week.


I'd go back to the laundromat rules: Dress clothes that aren't sweated through will be worn at least three times between washes. My church dress sometimes got hemmed with cellophane tape, which couldn't take much washing anyway. I normally had either two or three school uniform blouses, and one skirt. Sometimes I had only one un-torn blouse. And no, they did not get washed more than once a week. When I went to a school where the skirt was wool with pleats ironed in, it got washed when it needed it--every few weeks. The next uniform had a polyester and cotton jumper, which got washed weekly. Gym clothes were washed weekly. After school, we changed into "play clothes" that got worn rather more often than they were washed. The only clean clothes I got fresh every day was my underpants.


Dress clothes can go a long time between washings if spot-cleaned and then hung inside-out in a shady, breezy place for at least two days.


And if you drop your towel in a heap so it smells funky, that's your own problem. You know how to wash it, and you know how to dry it.

Edited by Ambergris
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There would definitely be a lot of changes in our household and the fresh towels and bed linens would be the least traumatic of them! Everyone in our house is an adult so we wouldn't worry too much about schoolwork (college). Everybody would have to do a lot more chores. Between expanding the gardens and building up the poultry flock, we'd probably be too tired to stay up after dark. The kitchen would be pretty clean, I'd think. However, our house doesn't have a true mudroom so we'd probably have to mop every day as the farming dirt would be tracked across the kitchen floor.


Laundry would have to be washed in the bathtub, so we'd probably do two loads per week. Luckily, we have a lot of clothing so we wouldn't really run out of clean stuff to wear. There just wouldn't be much point in wearing clean stuff if we're just going to go back outside and dirty it up. The exception would be if we were in the house working on kitchen tasks like cooking and canning. I wouldn't want to handle food if I felt that I was dirty. Hubby is the only one in the house who watches a lot of tv. The rest of us wouldn't miss it and would read books if there was time.


I'm pretty good at churning out meals quickly... Since we have chickens & quail, I would assume that in a pinch, we'd eat "breakfast" food. However, if we're really too tired, it might just be toast and jelly!


It would definitely put a crimp in our sense of comfort and we wouldn't want to adjust, but we'd have no choice...

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Most of 2009 and 2010 I lived this way. No electricity, no mod cons, washing by hand with water that was hauled bucket by bucket to the barn. Handpumped and hoisted, tiresome work with arthritis.

Luckily we found (I say we, I mean Wilfried the handyman) an inset for the 120 liter washkettle. It's big enough to scald a pig, heat wash water or laundry water.

First year I lived in the small road worker's trailer so space was at a premium. Second year in the house but still like a squatter's house.

Usually I took a bath twice a week and washed my hair just once when it was cold. Re-discovered that charming 50s style of a scarf around the head to hide greasy hair.

A washcloth every day is easy. It's the washing of them that was hard work.

Imagine my very sizeable rear in this small tub and you will understand bathing is not for the fainthearted :grinning-smiley-044:




Between trying to fix as much house and barn as possible, keeping a veggie garden, there would not have been time nor energy to educate children. Perhaps with a larger group it'd have been possible.

And while being clean is utmost important (think scrapes and cuts that'd infect easier) it suffered under the off grid living.

After a year and a half I discovered a laundromatte at 20km. And yes, I made that trip every two weeks to save my sorry but from hoisting water, heating it with wood and scrubbing by hand.


The teaching of children is more important to me. Without knowledge, we soon become fearing superstitious peasants who shudder in the dark. Knowing the basics of chemistry, physics, biology and maths, keeps us out of the realms of ghouls, ghosts and thinking we are surrounded by powers we must serve to keep them satisfied. A most dangerous leap back to the medieval way of living me thinks.


For cooking I used a huge apron. And this year I'll make faux sleeves Victorian style to keep my arms free from flour or other stuff in the kitchen. Can't afford to wash clothes just cos of a simple stain.

Post-fall it'd be way more austere.



I won't lie in saying electricity has changed the way I live there. We/I could manage but it'd be very hard.

If I could afford it, I'd have battery banks, windmills and just about anything that'd keep a few things running.

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Great Photo!

I could do that.


Now as for here at the Homestead..................

You mean it didn't yet?

We are fine, while we do still have electric and indoor plumbing we do without some days just to be 'pioneers'.

We have backups for everything we would not be able to use as well as a water source off site if it is needed . We have containers to haul it in and we water the gardens with it so we know we can get all we want.


IF you start now cutting back the shock will not be as bad as IF you HAD TOO !

Can you go without:

a hair dryer?

No TV?

Clothes dryer?


Vacuum cleaner?




IF NOT you better learn how before you HAVE TOO go without them.

This will also help now as it will cut down on your electric bill.



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Just the vacuum cleaner is an inconvenience to be without. The rest is easy peasy.

We have a dryer but use it perhaps 4 times a year. Hair dryer, don't even own one.

Seriously, those things can be overcome since they are convenience equipment. Just the vacuumcleaner cos of dirt and of fleas from pets is a pain to be without.

Trust me, sweeping with damp tealeaves is no fun.

And oh, a washingmachine, sheer joy and pleasure.

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I already wear jeans several times over, just because I don't see the point in washing something that is not visibly dirty. Mom taught us to hang up Sunday clothes after we got home. I still rewear my good clothes. I don't wear them much anyway, I just wear jeans and a t-shirt to work. Outside chore clothes get worn till a few times too. I only do laundry once a week, sometimes every two weeks.


The house being spotless? LOL It hasn't been spotless since we moved in a year ago! I think it would be tough, but with 6 adults and 2 kids on the homestead I think we could handle the schooling, especially since we were all homeschooled. One person would handle the schoolwork, while the rest are out working.


The hardest thing for me to get used to would be washing my hair. Shower and wash my hair daily right now. If I don't go anywhere I will go w/out a shower no more than 2-3 days. (rarely happens) The only reason I ever use a hairdryer is to dry my hair before work, or if it's cold outside.


Now, my mom would be another story. I think she would have a really hard time coping with any of it!


What I worry about it hay for the animals. In a complete collapse, we have no way of getting hay for our cattle and horses. We need to reduce the number of horses, and maybe then we could cut our own off the fields. I doubt it though. We really need to replant the fields. Hopefully that is going to happen this fall. *crossing fingers*


Also water would be a major problem. We have city water. A creek goes through our fields that we are wanting to build a pond in, but I don't see that happening for a few years.


This is a really good topic!

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Crab! Great post. I have practiced washing laundry by hand. I have gotten in to the habit of baths not showers to conserve water. Even rinsing off in the same water. 5 inch bath! I have even done a spitshine bath on occassion. All to be mentally prepared.

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Quite a decent shower can be taken with no more than a gallon of water. Use a bucket or bowl of warm water and a cup to pour it over you. You will want a fairly warm room for it since you won't have enough hot water pouring over you to stay warm. I've bathed daughter in a large plastic rubbermaid tote in front of the woodstove when we were off grid in CO. In summer, put your water in a dark container in the sun and it will heat up nicely.

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I grew up coming home from school to hang up my clothes and change in to play/work clothes. Dress clothes were worn several times before being laundered/cleaned. My ex had the washer dryer going daily, never hung anything up, just grabbed out of the clean pile and kept ironing board up and ready to go.I pretty much live now as when I was growing up. I wear the same pants and shirts several times to town before washing them. I have my home clothes, that get washed when they need it. Towels are hung to dry after use, wash cloths and underwear go on clean daily. No one here but me and the dog, so house cleaning isn't really a priority, I usually invite company over to make myself clean the whole house. I bathe at night, so sheets go longer than a week between washing. How long is for me to know.


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I have been there, done that! This post brings up alot of memories, some from way way back.


I remember washing clothes by hand and using a clothes line, even when we had a washer and drier. We wouldnt use them till there was a full load, and some things I had to wash more than twice a week. :clothesline:


I've bathed in a creek a few times, other times using a small pot of warm water to do a splash bath, or as we called it in the Army, a french (bad word) bath. I've done alot of this in the Army too as you can imagen.


I worry about my wife. I dont think she could adjust to that kinda life without some difficulty. She will go camping with me, get dirty but HATES staying dirty. :baseballbat: That girl loves her showers and bubble baths. :bathbaby:


With out a vacume cleaner, I'd rip out the carpets and go with bare floors and a few throw rugs.


I'm thinking the wife and I need to do another "Weekend without Power"......and this time, toss in no running water...



I just thought of something...... the Amish live like this all the time....... we could learn alot from them. :AmishMichaelstraw:




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Great topic! I've lived for up to a year without electricity [includes no well pump..er, actually, no well] and when you live rural, there always seems to be incidents of lacking power. I've had a lot of practice.


A recent broken furnace ingnition left us up here in the Rockies in late March [still winter, I assure you!] with no primary source of heat. Ancient pellet stove can't be run at full pellet-dropping speed cuz blower can't burn them fast enough anymore. But it did create a nice warm perimeter of about 10 feet. We certainly were in no danger of freezing to death in the WEEK it took to get the part back into the furnace. The electric space heater blew the circuits occasionally so we only used that to heat the bathroom before showers. I actually used the clothes drier to make sure the garage/basement area didn't freeze any pipes. FORTUNATELY this has been a mild winter and the outside temps only went down to about 15 degrees at nite. Bedrooms were about 40 degrees at nite....a bit chillier than our usual 62 degrees, but we got sleep.


Lesson learned during this MINOR vacation from the 21st century?


--Y'know? It was REAL....that old belief that bathing can make you sick. Well, it may have gotten expanded way outta proportion .....but bathing in cold water/frigid room temperatures WILL be a shock/stress to your system and tax one's immune system.


Solution: In winter, my Plan B to use black shower bag with hose [camping supply] will not work in freezing bathroom. So either hoist that thing in front of the fireplace [pellet stove would be removed/fireplace restored...hopefully]. Or take the legs off the laundry sink and sit in that. Laundry tubs are GREAT multi-use prep items, BTW!!!!


Be sure to collect enough extra sleeping bags, bubble wrap, quilts, etc to cover any nonessential windows. [need some for light] Then we also had screeeeeaming 40-60 mph winds this season which blow right thru the cracks around doors [house keeps settling funny]. Not good for keeping warm enough for bathing. Need repair but rental house... :( Can also curtain off an area around heat source...making DANG SURE you don't catch the 'curtain' on fire!!!!




So anyway, if it all 'goes south' for an extended period of time, TWO things are going to war with each other: Energy and NEEEEEED for sanitation. Definitely the sanitation standards can be lowered somewhat wthout risking health issues. But if we have to give up the daily bathing, we need to begin daily checking for scrapes, cuts, etc. {bugs...ticks?} Those will need to be scrupulously cleaned. Also covered if possible, especially if fresh clothing is not going to be worn. Rural and or primitive living means you can get all sorts of small injuries. People died of the little things thru infection! It's ALWAYS worth that energy expenditure but hard to remember when you are so flat-out-fatigued. [ask me how I know... :rolleyes: ]


But rural living...ESPECIALLY in more primitive conditions, is physically exhausting anyway. With MS, if I even come home from a day in town, there better be something ready-to-eat. My energy levels now probably forecast what 'normal' energy-users will feel like in primitive conditions. [meaning, if life gets more physically demanding...I'm in deeeeep doodoo. :shrug: God knows about it. ]


Good topic for pondering...what standards can we lower without endangering our health? :thumbs:



MtRider [...been giving THANKS regularly these past few years while enjoying hot water showers, light switches, and my lovely, clean, warm, soft bed! :amen: Soooo many in this world don't have these things now! ]

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Ripping out carpets is a no-brainer. A broom doesn't need electricity. Rugs can be rinsed, spot-cleaned, and beaten. One elderly cat or one toddler could turn a person into a bare-floors advocate in a hurry. Carpets hide filth, fleas, mold, and all kinds of allergens. Plus, they're never really truly clean.

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Ripping out carpets is a no-brainer. A broom doesn't need electricity. Rugs can be rinsed, spot-cleaned, and beaten. One elderly cat or one toddler could turn a person into a bare-floors advocate in a hurry. Carpets hide filth, fleas, mold, and all kinds of allergens. Plus, they're never really truly clean.



Eeeuuww!! You're making me reconsider the few carpets that we have in the house. (I'm starting to itch!)

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No carpets for me. I've seen how nasty they get. I have vinyl all the way thru the house. I usually vacuum, then mop, but a broom will work fine, just takes a bit more work on my part. I have one small area rug in the livingroom and a small, washable, rug next to my bed. (Daughter had a rug, but kept it wadded in the corner so I took it out.)


Now, if you need some help with laundry: Afewbirds010_edited.jpg?t=1302043005

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We have an oriental carpet in the living room , wall- to- wall in one daughters room and a few scatter rugs. Underneath everything is hard wood, though. I installed the one wall-to-wall before I knew what I was doing so it should be pretty easy to remove!


Are you violating poultry labor laws at your place, CGA? :sHa_sarcasticlol:

Edited by themartianchick
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well life would turn into one big camping trip for us.


Pull out the totes and the plunger for washing.

bathing would be either with the camp shower which is enough to do a squirt shower...no water pressure wet, turn water off, soap turn water on and rinse or a pan of water.

Carpets would be the first thing to go. I hate carpet any way. I want tile flooring through out my house.

There would be an outside fire going all day to heat water, and cook on. There would a lot of one pan meals


As for schooling our kids are college kids so no problem there.

Our time would probably be spent gardening and building a drying barn and green house.


As for washing well I wear my work clothes at least twice before I wash them. I have a desk job in an a/c building so I can get away with it. We have all boys so they wear wear their jeans over and over until you could stand them in the corner if I would let them. (it must be a guy thing) The only thing is they would change shirts when they get sweaty and sock and underwear daily. They will not put back on socks that they have already worn which is good not feet fungus. I can say I would probably have to do a load of socks and underwear and t-shirts daily but those could be washed together. In the winter it wouldn't be so bad they wear their shirts twice before changing.


We already use our towel over and over and well if don't hang it up to dry and it stinks guess what you have to wash it. The wash clothes would tossed in with the daily or every other day wash depending on the weather. I just I would not let it pile up so that it would take more than one day to wash. I think every other day would be about as far as I would want to stretch it.


In all honesty it would be hard on my guys, hubby and I would manage because we do not have to have tv but the boys are electronic junkies so they would go through withdrawals after a couple of days. I would say the first 3-4 days wouldn't be bad but after that heaven help me I may have to commit murder. (just joking)I do not have near enough books and I am buying them as I can. The library is having a big fiction book sale so I will get some from there this next payday I have some gardening books but want to add more books dealing with homesteading especially the ones that cover processing your own meat.

Edited by mommato3boys
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In summer I frequently change clothes 3-4 times a day. Sometimes more often. I can hang them to dry and maybe put them back on once, but the salt from sweat draw more moisture. I sweat them completely wet when I'm working. I have a lot of tee shirts, but not enough jeans. I'm going to try to make some more tee shirt dresses to wear this summer.

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I've found that button-up shirts of light woven cotton are much cooler on the skin than t-shirts.


In most countries, dishes are washed in cold water.


Before you talk about a fire going all day every day, consider what you're going to be burning. And who's going to watch it. And how long your supply of split, stacked, aged wood will last. And what you're going to do when you run out of burnables.

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When the grid goes down, and doesn't come back, how are you going to keep up your standards?


Ironically, the grid is down right now in my area. A massive storm hit last night and I've been without power for over 24 hours now.


I did it for 25 years in the city, but it's a whole 'nother ball game dealing with it in the country with a slew of animals.


I'm too exhausted tonight to write much more but I'll come back in the morning and share a little more then.

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This is a really interesting question. I'm not sure if it is a good or bad thing that I don't do a lot of this stuff now. We don't change sheets every week consistently, sometimes I just forget and typically the girls are washed when the go to bed so their sheets shouldn't be that dirty.


We usually do baths every other day because otherwise we have dry skin and in the winter especially I don't see a need for more often. We hang our towels to dry after baths so we can reuse them a couple times. The girls change clothes at least once a day but there are times I go to bed wearing what I've worn all day, sleep in it and wear it most of the next day. I do need more jeans/pants though. I rewear mine a day or two simply because I don't have enough that fit to change any more often. I'm a sahm to two small girls showers are a luxury most days and our house is never spotless, lol.


Teaching the girls will still be a part of our everyday activities. Learning about math while cooking, numbers and counting while picking up toys, etc. We weave our learning into our regular daily activities. But I do need to add more candles to our emergency supplies. That is something that I know we don't have enough of.


I'm not saying I think this will be a breeze by any means and of course I will dearly miss my washing machine and dishwasher but I've done without in the past. This does give me some new specific areas to focus on though. More pencils and paper for the girls, more candles, bar soaps, and extra clothing for myself.

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Sheets and towels are pretty easy here. I'm not telling how often (rarely) sheets are changed. We go to bed in either dedicated "bed" clothes - which lack daily grime - or in reasonably clean skin. Towels are usually used for a week...sometimes less if that particular odor develops. We're all fine with "spit baths" (washcloth & basin of water). And Dh & I have short, easy-to-care-for hair. I can wash & rinse mine with less than a cup of water. The kids aren't as fortunate. My outdoor clothes are worn until a project is complete or they start walking away under their own power. No sense in cleaning clothes just to get them dirty. Clothing worn around other people is a bit problematic for me. When I've tried to re-wear something, even after only half-a-day, I've found the odor to be greater than acceptable. If I'm only around family, it'll be okay.


The house is nowhere near spotless now, but the food prep areas are microbe-free. Hopefully my home-canned "convenience foods" will fill our tummies on those days when there is no more energy left.


The kids are already homeschooled. Without TV our idea of "entertainment" will change. I envision someone reading aloud each evening - from our encyclopedia set.


- - - -


Now, the really tough question: Not washer/driers, nor microwaves, nor even televisions....but how will we cope without computers & internet access? That's the doozy!

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but how will we cope without computers & internet access? That's the doozy!

Honest answer, on the BOL I go cold turkey and suffer withdrawal for a while. Not kidding.

If I knew some people I cherish are perhaps out of reach, no snailmail trans-atlantic, no phone, no internet, I'd really worry about them.

You are right, that's a sore spot. :sad-smiley-012:

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I've found that button-up shirts of light woven cotton are much cooler on the skin than t-shirts.


In most countries, dishes are washed in cold water.


Before you talk about a fire going all day every day, consider what you're going to be burning. And who's going to watch it. And how long your supply of split, stacked, aged wood will last. And what you're going to do when you run out of burnables.





Even after the cows are gone the dung piles will still be around. Just have to dry them and keep them dry.

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