Tips for Doing Laundry During an Emergency/Natural Disaster
Are you prepared to do your laundry if a natural disaster strikes your area without warning? If not, now is a good time to make your plan for keeping clothes clean during an emergency.
Ensuring the health of you and your family is a significant concern when water and/or electricity is unavailable. Keeping clothes clean helps control both the contact and spread of infectious diseases.
Here are our time-tested tips for doing laundry during an emergency/natural disaster.
Manual Clothes Washer
In case of a tornado, hurricane, flood or other natural disaster, adding a manual clothes washer and 5-gallon bucket to your emergency preparedness stockpile, will ensure you are all set for the unexpected. The Breathing Mobile Washer gets laundry cleaner than electric washers, because its powerful push and pull action extracts the residual soap left by electric washing machines.
This hand-powered clothes washer uses minimal water, which is important during a natural disaster, when fresh water may not be available. Using the Breathing Mobile Washer conserves drinking water, typically this is bottled water or water that has been sanitized with purification tablets. This water is essential and can’t be used for laundry.
Also, it doesn’t require much soap (about 1-2 teaspoons), which preserves your supply of detergent.
Tip: Concentrate detergent sheets are a great space saving alternative to bulky powder, liquid, or pods.
You will never need to replace this hand-powered washer, as the apparatus is made of plastic with an aluminum handle, meaning it will not rust and is sturdy enough to wash most anything you need washed.
So, no need to depend upon electricity, using less water and less laundry soap is a good thing anytime, not just during emergencies. Also, since the mobile washer is budget-friendly, you may want to order two or three. Keep one with your emergency preparedness supplies, one in your laundry room and one in the RV or with camping gear.
Relax your Standards
How many outfits do you wear in a typical day? For instance, 1 – business attire, 2 – casual clothes, 3 – after five dressy frocks. As for kids, they will go through several changes of clothes, depending upon the number of messes they make.
But, when you’re in the midst of a natural disaster, consider relaxing your standards. Rather than tossing clothes in the laundry hamper after wearing them once, some items will survive multiple wearing.
However, this is non-negotiable – you must wash socks, T-shirts and underwear more consistently. Consider jeans your workhorses. Normally, you can wear them 5-6 times without washing, unless they are visibly dirty. Wear shorts and pants 3-4 times. Wash tops after two wears. Baby clothing and cloth diapers must be washed after each wearing.
Just use common sense. You may be able to wear some items longer than the recommended time. But, err on the side of caution, because dirty clothes give refuge to pathogens, which cause skin infections. The importance of maintaining clean clothing depends on the severity and type of emergency that has taken place.
An interesting article about the importance of sanitation during flooding can be found here.
If you really get in a bind water-wise, an age-old trick is to hang clothing in the sun for a couple of hours to kill germs. Note: Disaster preparedness experts advise stockpiling enough drinking water for a week, or one gallon of clean water, per person, per day.
Sometimes, the National Weather Service will issue a pre-warning when extreme weather is heading toward your area. If so, run water in your bathtubs, sinks and several large vessels. This water can be used for laundry, flushing the commode, washing face and hands, etc. Just don’t drink it.
It’s a good idea to shut off your water over a weekend and practice life without running water. Rely solely on your stockpile of emergency water. This will give you a pretty accurate estimate of how much emergency water you would need per day.
Also, wash a couple of loads of laundry with The Breathing Mobile Washer, so that you can get used to it.
Having what you need before an emergency helps alleviate the stress of finding afterwards when everyone else and their dog has raided every store within miles. Emergency kits and a plan of action will be invaluable and can be a matter of life and death. We never know what tomorrow brings.