This article addresses men's off-grid hygiene during the summer. If conversations about men's genitalia give you the willies, please skip this post.
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As the summer heat kicks in, I wanted to share what I am learning regarding clothing for men and basic off-grid hygiene. Since CM and I are both men, we will not be specifically addressing women's clothing or hygiene, but many of the same rules apply.
As CM and I are busy growing our food, we are constantly sweaty, dirty, and sunburned. So here are some suggestions that may help you now and in the de-industrializing future, live a better life.
It's entirely possible in the future that many people will not have access to reliable showers, and there needs to be a discussion on how this can impact your health. We do not have running water, so weather permitting, our showers are taken outside. In the summer, this is done using a stainless-steel cooking pot with water heated by the sun. We use a cup to pour the water and a washcloth with soap to take care of the rest. Summer heat and humidity create a perfect environment for skin infections affecting the feet, underarms, butt, penis, and scrotum.
Therefore, it is essential to maintain cleanliness as much as possible in these regions. Showering at the end of the day helps remove oils, dirt, dead skin, and other residues from a hard day's work. As a side note, I highly recommend buying an extra bar of soap each time you shop so that you have a stash available in case more shortages erupt.
Brushing your teeth is just as crucial to your health as diet and exercise. When we chose to collapse to this alternative standard of living, I neglected my dental health as there were so many more "important" things to get done. That recklessness led to a horrific tooth infection from all the sweet tea I was drinking and not brushing enough. Had I been unable to get antibiotics, I could have quickly died. I learned my lesson from this painful situation and now prioritize my dental health daily. This means I floss once a day and brush twice. Yes, this can be pricey as necessities are skyrocketing, but is it worth the price of tooth decay? Here are some links to articles on DIY toothpaste using minimal ingredients. Like soap, if finances allow, stock up on extra toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss when you can. Medicine may not be readily available in a few years (or months), so please take time to care about your oral health.
CM and I are naturally hairy men and can grow full beards in a week. That part is cool, but chest hair can get uncomfortable in the summer heat. Armpit hair also harbors bacteria that contribute to body odor.
To help rectify these unpleasantries, buying a trimmer kit helps take care of the unwanted hair. Trimming my armpit hair reduces potential smells. Yes, I use deodorants when they are ripe, but I am thinking ahead to when these toiletries may be difficult to source. Ticks are a big issue that can go unnoticed if you are naturally hairy. New-born ticks are almost microscopic in size and may be hard to see with bushes of hair. When I have my self-care time to freshen up, I use a USB rechargeable trimmer and a regular plug-in electric trimmer to mow my package, chest, and armpits. Keeping the beard in manageable condition is nice too. When all hell breaks loose and electricity is a thing of the past, having a nice manual trim kit may be a great toolset to own too. Ever since COVID, CM and I have gotten pretty good at cutting each other's hair so that we do not have to spend the $25 at Sports Clips. This saves us money but also builds a skill that is handy to have.
Personal Case Study:
Until our indoor shower is completed in the second container, we usually shower at a truck stop during the winter. Back in February, I had forgotten to bring a towel with me so I used the ones they provided. A few days later, I started to see discolored circles on my back, indicating a fungus infection of some kind. To make the most of this situation, I wanted to see if the black walnut tincture would be able to kill the fungus, and sure enough, it did. On another spot on my back, I used over-the-counter medicine, and it worked just as well but faster. Keep this in mind when having a medical kit. If I get another skin infection, I would plan to first use the over-the-counter fungicide cream and then enlist the black walnut tincture in the future when the cream is unavailable. Making your own tincture can be found here, and black walnut has a huge native range on the east coast, so a large majority of Americans can easily make their own.
Swamp balls are a real thing when working outside in this heat. When it comes to clothing, I discovered wearing silkies as an excellent way to help mitigate a lot of the issues
surrounding sweaty balls. The inner mesh in these shorts helps keep your package contained but enables air flow to circulate while you work.
Amazon has a variety of shorts similar to Marine silkies that have pockets and come in a variety of colors. Currently, I wear these running shorts while I work outside and Marine silkies when it's time to come in. An added benefit is the size of these shorts. You can easily wash them with very little water, and they dry very quickly. This is excellent for those living off-grid like us.
Advice From The Tropics:
Sarongs are another excellent clothing option to cover your package but enables even more airflow. This brilliant clothing option is very popular in India, the South Pacific, and other tropical areas where heat and humidity make pants/shorts absurd to wear. In addition, the one piece of fabric that makes up a sarong is very easy to wash, wear, and make. I could see the benefits of this extending into the future where fabric may be hard to come by and wearing a sarong made from one long piece of fabric is a practical clothing option during summer for men. My first sarong was a half-sarong and was too short for practical work outside. A sarong that hangs around shin height is ideal.
When the sun really gets baking, I have a UPF hoodie that helps reflect the sun off of me. These hoodies are already made of lite material but to really help keep me cool while I wear them, I soak them in water and wring it out, and put it on. This helps tremendously. There are UPF t-shirts, long-sleeved shirts, shorts, and pants to protect you no matter what you prefer to wear.
CM highly recommends neck gaiters. He wears these around his head, similar to a bandana, to help keep him cooler, he soaks them in water and then puts them on. Once they dry out he does it again and it helps tremendously. Neck gators help to keep sweat out of his eyes and keeps his head cool. CM also puts them around his neck (hence the name) and wrists. These simple pieces of fabric really make a difference in keeping you cool.
Indoor and Outdoor Specific:
The need to have an outside pair of clothing and an inside pair of clothing really helps minimize laundry. Yes, it's a pain in the butt to change back and forth but once the habit is set you will appreciate the reduced laundry load. We do our laundry by hand and this has saved us a lot of time washing clothes. Obviously, if you are coming in for something really quick and going back out you don't change but if it's the end of the day, changing into clean clothes really boosts morale and keeps the tiny house cleaner.
If you are comfortable enough in your own skin and have a private residence by all means do what you can naked being mindful of biting insects and sunburn.
I know this may be a bit much to think about but keep this in mind if you do not have reliable access to water or clothes washing. Enjoying how the good Lord made you in the comfort of your own residence is a wonderful thing.
Hats are just as important at keeping you cool and protected. During the heat of the day, I wear a large wide-brim straw hat. This gives me added sun protection and keeps me cooler. Who cares if they look ridiculous, we are the ones outside working while privileged neighbors have the opportunity to cool off in their AC. Any hat is better than nothing so baseball caps are handy too. Just be mindful of how much direct sun you are getting to avoid sunburn and skin cancer. The same goes for the rest of your body.
Sunglasses really do make a difference and protect your eyes. We have zillions of annoying gnats that fly around our faces and look for any opportunity to fly into our eyes. Sunglasses help shield our eyes from these pesky bugs and of course protect them from the bright sun.
When it comes to shoes, we keep them very simple. Your mileage may vary depending on the terrain, climate, and needs so please adapt to your location. For us, we have a pair of cheap Walmart tennis shoes, sandals, and flip-flops. While we work outside, we are wearing shoes for obvious reasons. When showering, casually walking around the place, or anywhere else it makes sense we wear sandals and flip-flops. Letting your feet breathe and get some sun is important to prevent fungal infections around your toes too.
Mosquito netting is not exactly clothing but it still protects you from insects. As I am finishing this article a mosquito just flew past me while sitting on the couch. This unwelcomed guest reminded me to encourage you to buy some mosquito netting to hang over your bed for added protection against these blood-sucking pests.
We do not have to get into the specifics of how problematic mosquitos can be to your health; as I’m sure you are well aware. When brown-outs become more and more common, the need to open windows and doors to cool your house will encourage biting insects to cause you problems while you sleep. Having some netting over your bed will help mitigate these unpleasant interactions and may even keep you from contracting debilitating diseases. If you sleep naked (especially during the summer with potential power outages) the netting will be a huge blessing.
Today's article was inspired by my newfound love for silkies and how versatile they are worn around the homestead. I'll admit that topics like this are unusual but I enjoy how down-to-earth and practical they are. I bet you won't find anything near this kind of real-life conversation from other sites you have to pay for. I love that we cover all sorts of things and share them with you as we are two people living out a simplified alternative lifestyle every day. Do you have any further suggestions on maintaining personal hygiene and wearing appropriate clothing for a future of less? Let me know in the comments below.
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