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.
Clothes, Bedding, and Curtains:
We all need clean clothes and we’ve become very dependent on our washers and dryers, but laundry can still be done without these conveniences. It will take longer, but it’s still do-able. Only you can determine what is the most effective way for you to do your laundry when there is no power, but here’s a way we suggest. Have at least two very large buckets (you can pick up some 20 gallon tubs at the big box store for just a few dollars), a Rapid Washer, a wash board, and wringer if possible. If you don’t have the funds to purchase an actual clothes wringer, a mop bucket wringer will work as well. You need something that will get as much water out as possible to help the clothes dry quicker. You will also need to have a clothes line outside or some sort of rack inside to hand the clothes out to dry.
Start with warm water in one bucket with a minimal amount of soap. You need soap to clean but too much and it will take longer to get the soap out of your clothes. Place clothes in the bucket and just let sit for a couple hours or overnight. Much of the surface dirt will come out of your clothes. Use the Rapid Washer (or your hands to agitate the water). The Rapid Washer though will help circulate the water and separate the dirt from the clothes. In your second bucket you will place your rinse water. Wring out as much of the dirty wash water that you can and put the clothes in the rinse bucket, again agitate to get soap out of the clothes, wring. Your first bucket of dirty water is then dumped and refilled to make a second rinse bucket. If you need to do a second load of laundry, you can reuse the first rinse bucket and repeat the steps.
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.