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HomeSurvivalHealth, Hygiene, Illness, Injury

Personal Hygiene

There are various survival topics that we seldom see the solutions for, yet they are things that we take for granted in today's world, and to some extent are essential for our personal health and well-being. This page lists some of them, along with possible resolutions to them.


These are only ideas of what could be used, 
or how something could be done,
contributed by various people.

They are NOT recommendations! -- They MAY not even be correct!
They have not been checked for accuracy.
Some of them may work really well...others may hurt you

Use these suggestions at your own risk!



Please contribute to this page by emailing your solutions to Wildwood Survival

Toilet paper

  • smooth stones
  • mullein leaves - these can be too soft, however, and you may poke your finger through
  • oak leaves - very tough
  • soft bark
  • leaves from other plants - need to be soft, pliable, tough.
  • water is used in Asian countries with much success. However, their diet is different
  • going without (this would depend on one's diet and personal preferences)
  • dried corn husks - these are very strong, pliable, and partially absorbent, and work really well.
  • corncobs!  They're either red or white, and an old Appalachian joke says you need two red ones and a white one:  First use a red one, then the white one to see if you need the other red one.
  • sphagnum moss
  • please take this seriously!!! I've tried it many times and it works. If you are caught short and need to poo simply spread your bum cheeks apart with your hands, and do your business, it will come out and your but will not need cleaning. it maybe useful to lean your back against a tree or rock if you need to balance yourself. -- Michael M


Teeth & mouth care

  • Dogwood stems can be used as a chew stick or toothbrush.

  • Birch twigs can also be used the same way.

  • Without the modern sugar-based diet, you won't need to worry about this as much

  • Paste of wood ashes works as toothpaste.  Rinse thoroughly to avoid irritating gums.

  • Gargle of pine needle extract (from soaking pine needles) works to freshen breath somewhat and has some antiseptic properties.

  • Oak tanin (from soaking bark) is also antiseptic.

  • Flossing, or more likely in a survival situation, picking your teeth is almost as important as some form of brushing. Keeping food out of the spaces between teeth as well in the hollows of molars goes a long way.  Carve some tooth picks or use thorns from non toxic plants (i.e. wild roses, hawthorns)

  • Simply rub clean fingers through the teeth until they feel clean (sound like rubbing a clean wet plate). Also eliminate any food between the teeth with a small, non-toxic stick.

  • Juniper twigs for brushing teeth.

Diapers, Menstrual care

  • moss - sphagnum moss in particular
  • soft hides, such as rabbit
  • some native peoples made their own cloth
  • milkweed fluff
Poison Ivy Prevention/Cure
  • Jewelweed helps cure poison ivy: rub the juice from the stems on the affected area.

Skunk spray

  • One approach is to accept the smell -- maybe it wouldn't matter too much, and might be a good thing.  Some people don't mind the smell too much and in any case you would smell less human with skunk odor.
  • Charcoal/ ash.  Is masks most odors, would probably help with the skunk.
  • Stinging nettle juice...  It is acidic and would probably break up whatever stinks
  • Some acid mixture from the ants (the large army ants), crush and smear on yourself. Then a mix of sweet gale and sweet fern wash or a "strong" brewed birch wash (Allan "Bow" Beauchamp)
  • Roll in the mud, slather it all over.  Probably would take a week or more to go away completely.
  • Urine
  • Try boiled and steeped pine needles.
  • Try plants in the same family as tomato, and also Creosote  bush.
  • The smelly stuff from Mr. Skunk is an oily material so do whatever you can to remove oil.  Lots of water and any soap-like material you can find will eventually remove much of the oil.  The problem is it only takes a small amount of the oil to saturate your smeller, so at first you won't be able to tell you are doing any good.
  • If you have access to baking soda to add to your soap solution you will probably be doing as much as possible in the wilderness setting.  If you also have hydrogen peroxide to add to the soda-soap mixture you will have the best known formulation for eliminating the smell.  The latter combination works very well
    and very fast.
  • In my experience tomato juice doesn't really work to remove the skunk oil.  It does cover up the smell somewhat if it's not too strong, but as the smell of the tomato dissipates the skunk smell comes back.
  • If you ever get sprayed in the eyes by a skunk, you will go blind for up to five hours afterward, with the eyes burning like they are  on fire. Rinsing the eyes immediately with urine, will neutralize the blinding spray.
  • Why bother?
  • One person suggested trying wet wood ashes (??), although you are likely to burn yourself. BE CAREFUL.
  • Flint-knapped knife - ouch.


  • Though most people today consider urine to be 'dirty', it's actually  sterile, works great to wash out wounds, if there isn't sterile water around.
  • Boiling water; use "rock boiling" (heat rocks and then place them in the container in water with the objects to be sterilized).
  • If your shelter is overrun with insect pests and the like, try smudging with Cedar (be careful to not burn the place down!)

Nail Clippers

  • Bite them.

  • Sanding them down with an appropriate rock.  That's what emery boards are, well, except for the fact that they aren't rocks.

  • Unless you're in wilderness for very long time you shouldn't worry about your nails. However I find that long nails can be very useful, especially when tying or untying rope knots, can be used to clean between your front teeth (clean them first by using other nails on other hand) -- Michael M

Towel or equivalent

  • Fire, air drying... Skin is wash and wear, no ironing
  • shredded cedar bark
  • Thin notches in a flat-edged piece of wood
  • Teasel seed heads, after they have shed their seeds.
  • Yucca: hairbrushes made from the pointy ends of the leaves are found in some ancestral puebloan sites by archeologists
  • Echinacea seed heads

Rain (especially when it's cold)

  • Many peoples around the world made "rain capes" from reeds: try cattails, phragmites, etc.
  • Large pieces of bark sewn together into a hood: Birchbark, elm bark, cedar are possibilities.