Cleaning House TEOTWAWKI Style

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If the S ever hits the fan, obviously cleaning house is not going to be your immediate concern,  survival is.  However, for continued comfort and health it is something that will need to be taken care of.  How can you keep your house and family clean in a worst case scenario?


If your house has wall to wall carpeting and there’s no power, it’s mighty hard to vacuum with no electricity.  Using a generator can be loud,  it will call attention to yourself, and it can be a waste of resources.  Instead, try sweeping the carpet with a broom.  A rubber bristle broom such as the Bissell ARRGH Pet Hair Broom should work or use a carpet sweeper, such at the Bissell Swift Sweep Sweeper.  Both will work well on carpet to clean up surface dirt and pet hair.  To neutralize odors from pets, accidents, and spills, use baking soda.  Sprinkle liberally over the carpet and let it set overnight or as long as possible, then sweep up with your sweeper.  As a word of caution, damp baking soda may be hard to remove from carpet fibers so if you live in a humid climate, you may want to mist your carpets with vinegar instead of using baking soda.

For area rugs, bathroom rugs, or kitchen rugs take them outside and hang them over a sturdy clothes line or from a tree.  Beat them with a tennis racket, baseball bat, or even a sturdy piece of wood.  Be sure to have a cloth over your mouth and nose to avoid breathing in any of the dust and dirt you are trying to get out of the rugs.  Again, to remove smells you can sprinkle on baking soda or spray with vinegar.  Both are great at neutralizing acid based odors.  By the way, this is also a great exercise and a great way to relieve some stress.  If you let your kids do it, they get to burn some excess energy as well.

Bedding, and Curtains:

Sheets and curtains can be washed the same way but won’t go through a wringer very well.  But this is a great way to get the kids to help.  Let them twist the sheets to get as much water out as possible.  Of course getting them to keep them out of the mud could prove to be an exercise in patience all of it’s own.  If it’s warm and dry outside, hang your clothes to dry.  If it’s cold and/or rainy, use drying racks or shower curtain rods.

Of course, keeping clothes clean in the first place helps cut down on laundry.  There’s a reason why aprons and pinafores were so popular in days gone by!  Use an apron to cover your clothes while cooking and cleaning.  It’s easier to wash an apron that an entire outfit.  Have a set of clothes for inside that can be worn a few times before being washed and a set of coveralls for outside work.


Washing dishes would be similar to washing your clothes. Fill one bucket or side of the sink about half full with very warm water and let the dishes soak a bit, wash, then rinse.  A bit of vinegar in your rinse water will cut down on soap suds for both clothes and dishes.

These are just a few suggestions.  Of course, trying to do them for the first time in an emergency could prove to be very frustrating.  Practice these things before an emergency, and you will be more prepared to handle them when things aren’t going so well.

Guest post by Kimber.


11 thoughts on “Cleaning House TEOTWAWKI Style”

  1. my mother had a wringer washing machine…the water fed into two heavy metal large basins with a drain to the outside…..she would start with hot water, run the whites thru, then to the lights and finally to the darks….no wasting of water and the wringer did a surprising good job of getting rid of extra water….then they were hung outside….winter as well….my mom did have a line in the basement and she would hang some things inside as well if it was rainy outside…..

    back in the” bad” old days, people were actually more resource and energy efficient then we “modern” “educated” people…..


  2. “Plunge and scrub, plunge and scrub’! Where I live, we can’t hang laundry outside, I know, right?!. But still clothes pins and clothesline were two of the first items I put in my preps.

    I love brooms. I love sweeping. My neighbor once said- Oh, your house is so clean you can be out sweeping the porch?!

  3. I read something.. I wish I could remember where. It said to pour your dirty wash water on the porch and scrub it down after doing the laundry.

  4. frugallysubstainable.blogspot is my go to for any “green” cleaning.
    Andrea has some great ideas & best of all, everything she recommends using preppers already have in their storage!

  5. I would like to add my 2 cents to the above article since I have had experience washing clothing by hand and dishes by hand.

    I used 3 tubs when washing clothing. Wash day was on Wednesday and Saturday. The first tub was used for washing the clothing. The second tub had a little vinegar and used for rinsing and the third was the final rinse tub. ALso, I had a wash board.

    I used Ivory soap and or Lifebouy soap and there was an excellent blue soap made by Fab. I have not researched this soap in the USA but it could be bought while I lived in the Caribbean. I presume Fab would offer this soap via the net. It is an excellent clothes washing bar of soap and it is cheap.

    Next, I separated the clothing… Whites were always first to be washed and rinsed, then colored clothing and then finally darks such as blue jeans and the most dirty clothing came last.

    With dish washing, I used two buckets and washed drinking glasses first since they are cleanest. Then I washed the next cleanest items such as forks knives and plates which are not so dirty. The dirtier dishes and or pots were always washed last.

    1. When I was much younger, my parents used to take me and my brothers on archeological digs, usually lasting only a day or two, but I remember one two week stint. My Mom seemed to have the washing well in hand. Since my two brothers and I were the only two kids on that two-week dig, my Mom had to do all of our laundry. This was out in the high desert in late summer/early fall. There was no going back to town to do laundry and water was scarce.

      She had three large tubs. If she wanted heated wash water, she would cover one tub with black plastic and then just left in the direct sunlight (I have since found a black hose left in the sun to works much better). She had vinegar in the first rinse and plain water in the second. She did not have a wringer, but instead role our clothes in a large bath towel or muslin sheet and had two of the guys in camp twist until wrung. Everything was of course line dryed

      Everyone wore undershirts. Over that was a button down shirt. My brothers and I had cotton patches on the elbows of our shirts and denim patches on our pants knees, even when the cloths were brand new. This way they didn’t wear out as fast, but it meant sometimes the patches remained damp after line drying.

      We changed underwear and socks everyday, but pants were to last for about four or five days before changing and shirts two to three days. PJ’s, unless soiled,were to last 7 days. These she hung to air out each day. We wore bandanas around out necks to keep down the dust on collars. A second bandana was our handkerchief, these got soaked before washing. Bandanas were changed everyday and new clean ones issued each morning. I remember some sort of chaps and short apron like gadget if we were out doing something really dirty. We were all to wear hats at all times, day to keep off the sun and nights to keep off the cold (and it got really cold). Coats, jackets, scarves and gloves were never washed, but they were aired out regularly.

      We had washday on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday. Shirts, PJ’s, and bandanas first. Socks and underwear second. Pants last. My younger brother was in diapers still and those were done everyday. These were tossed in a soaking bucket throughout the day and washed in the evening using the final rinse water from the dinner clean up. Mom worked on the dig, did childcare, washing, and more. I don’t know how she did it. At least there was a regular cook for the site.

      I was really young so details are vague.

  6. Sue the Frugal Survivlist

    If water is in very short supply, but the sun is out, Cody Lundin says that the sun will do a good job of killing germs and bugs in your clothing. Just lay the clothes out in bright sunlight for a day or two, and then shake them out well before putting them on again. The sun sterilizes, and shaking gets rid of dead skin, etc. that was clinging to the clothes. I’ve tried this and it does a good job of making dirty clothes smell better and feel cleaner. It’s a good trick to know if times are desperate.

  7. Rip out the wall to wall carpeting. It’s just going to get full of allergens and fleas. It’s not that clean even with a vacuum and a broom is just going to kick stuff into the air.

  8. birdhouse girl

    If there is no electricity, there will be no power to run well pumps. The municipal water supply will run dry after a few days. Then what? Water is something everyone should be storing, in some way or another. Thoroughly wash out plastic juice containers and fill with fresh water now, while water can flow freely. Refresh these containers after a year or so, so that you have a ready supply. Don’t waste the water you are replacing; use it to water your garden. Then, if you are blessed with your own well, buy a Bison deep well pump at Expensive, but worth it in a black-out, grid-down, or TEOTWAWKI situation.

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