53 Must-Have Items For Emergency Hygiene

Water is the essential item on your hygiene list for emergency preparedness, for your other hygiene supplies, choose items applicable to the most likely emergency scenario or natural disaster you will face.  If you are making a small hygiene kit for packing-out, keep in mind pack weight. Are you planning to stay put during a natural disaster? If so, determine what items you will store.

Consider redundancy when choosing items for hygiene. Some supplies will work in multiple areas of the emergency preparedness kit.

Clean Water Is The #1 Hygiene Item You Must Have

  • 1 gallon (16 cups) of water per day for each person and each pet
  • 3-Day Supply of water for each person and each pet
  • 1 Bottle of unscented liquid household chlorine bleach (bottle labeled 5% to 6% of sodium hypochlorite),
  • 1 Medicine Dropper
  • Follow the link to learn how to treat water with bleach CDC Water Sanitation and Hygiene
  • Consider storing more water for hot climates, pregnant women or persons who are sick

Information provided by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention

Eye Opening Facts About Water Usage:

  • According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) each American uses about 80-100 gallons of water per day, for indoor home use
  • The average American shower uses 17.2 gallons of water
  • Per day the Average American flushes 18.8 gallons of water down the toilet

53 Items For Your Emergency Hygiene Kit

  1. Household Chlorine Bleach: Used to treat drinking water and dilute with for sanitation purposes (Bleach label should say it contains between 5-6% of sodium hypochlorite)
  2. Eye Dropper: To measure bleach for water treatment
  3. Hand towels: (Microfiber is quick to dry)
  4. Washcloth: Keep it clean, you can use your bleach bucket mentioned below.  
  5. Bar Soap: I keep my hair short so sometimes I will wash my hair with bar soap as well.  This is a trick I learned from my depression-era grandfather.  It works. If you plan on hiking out have something to keep your bar soap in.  Bar soap gets messy. Drop it on the ground once; it gets dirty.  
  6. Baby Wipes: Clean all over with baby wipes, they are awesome. When it comes to personal sanitation you can stay pretty clean even if you aren’t able to take a shower or bath.   In addition to baby wipes, you can also check out products like Epic wipes.  These are huge wet wipes the size of a small bath towel.  
  7. Comb: The best use I found for a comb is to remove jumping cholla cactus from your body or clothing.  I was out jogging once and brushed a cholla, a spiked ball stuck deep in my calf. A plastic comb easily extracted the cactus. 
  8. Toenail or fingernail clippers: Clippers have multiple uses in your hygiene kit. Good foot and hand hygiene is important.  If you’ve ever hiked long distances with your nails cutting into your toes you know what I mean.  Toenail clippers are also good for cutting fishing line or small string.   
  9. Tweezers: For splinters or cactus spines
  10. Metal Nail File
  11. Luekotape:  Flexible athletic tape that you can use to cover blisters and hotspots on your feet.
  12. Mirror: Used for hygiene and signaling
  13. Hair Ties
  14. Aloe Vera Lotion: For sunburns or chapped skin
  15. Tooth-Brush-  full-sized tooth-brush 
  16. ToothPaste: Full size or travel size to reduce pack weight
  17. Mouthwash or Listerine
  18. Dental Floss: Use dental floss in place of a tooth-pick, it keeps your mouth fresh and seconds as a super light-weight string.
  19. Toilet Paper: Running out of toilet paper is a real pain.  You can wipe with leaves but you better know your plant identification. 
  20. Feminine Products: Sanitary Napkins/ Tampons/Menstrual Cup Sanitary Napkins can also be used as a wound dressing.
  21. Bidet:   A device that allows you to clean the unmentionable areas of your body without taking a full-blown shower or bath. This isn’t something I would use but I can see where it might be useful under certain circumstances.
  22. Clothesline:  Consider packing some paracord to use in a wash station. Clean towels in a bleach bucket and hang them on a paracord clothesline. Paracord is a multi-use item that you should have in your emergency survival kit.  
  23. Antibacterial Soap or Alcohol-based Hand Sanitizer- Great post potty hand cleaner; seconds as a firestarter
  24. Shovel: To bury nasties or biodegradable stuff
  25. Scissors 
  26. Potty Bucket: Use kitty litter, sawdust, or a trash bag liner. You can purchase a lid that looks like the lid on a regular toilet.  I’d probably just use the bucket but that’s up to you.
  27. Bucket For Washing: Fill the bucket with clean water and bleach or laundry detergent; use it to clean clothing and surfaces.  
  28. Trash Bags:  For waste disposal. Trash bags are an excellent resource; they are very useful in survival situations. If you use trash bags for your poop bucket get a smaller size that fits in the bucket.  Large contractor trash bags are so handy I can’t list all of the possible uses. They can second as a rain poncho, a waterproofer or a shelter builder.
  29.  Diapers:  If you have a baby don’t forget diapers and rash cream. Consider the extra, wipes, hand sanitizer, and trash bags you will use.      
  30.  Sunshower: These are a luxury but they are worth considering if you have a good supply of clean water.  A couple of years ago I helped a friend build an off-grid cabin.  We were out there for several days at a time without running water.  I made it a habit to fill my sunshower first thing in the morning and lay it on a large rock in the sun. Great for morale.
  31. Deodorant: I don’t consider this a necessary item, but you might
  32.  Shampoo: I’d use an all-purpose camping/ backpacking shampoo. 
  33. Washtub- use this to clean clothes or as a backup for other cleaning chores
  34. Clothes Detergent: Plan for some kind of soap to clean your clothes and cleaning rags
  35. Lip-balm or Chapstick: choose a chapstick with sun-protection
  36. Q-tips: Use to clean your ears, apply antibiotic ointment, clean electronic gear or as a firestarter 
  37. Cotton Balls: Good for cleaning around your eyes, cleaning blisters, applying antibiotic ointment or as a firestarter 
  38. Antibiotic ointment: Like Neosporin, and a safety pin for cleaning blisters. Neosporin provides infection protection and seconds as a fire accelerant 
  39. Clothing: Merino wool is anti-microbial so it’s easier to keep down odors and other funk.  Keep an extra set of underwear and socks in your hygiene kit      
  40. Kleenex
  41. Lysol or Lysol Wipes: Kill 99.9% of viruses and bacteria
  42. Isopropyl alcohol: Kills 99.9% of viruses and bacteria, can be mixed with water and used in a spray bottle to clean surfaces, can be used to disinfect an injury, can be used in a backpackers alcohol stove.    
  43. Empty Spray Bottles:  Use spray bottles to make your own cleaners with water and bleach, or water and isopropyl alcohol    
  44. White Vinegar: Can be used as a natural cleaner, it will kill about 80% of bacteria and viruses, can also be used to clean clothing and disinfect surfaces.
  45. Baking Soda: Alternative toothpaste, mouthwash, and deodorant, shoe deodorizer, cleaning agent   
  46. Condoms
  47. Hydrogen Peroxide: used as a cleaning agent 
  48. Clean buckets and lids: You never know what you will need to clean or store. A clean bucket with a lid will keep stuff clean and dry. and Can be used to organize your supplies.
  49. Portable Urinal: For Male or Female
  50. Shower Shelter: if you want to get fancy you can put up a tent-like structure made specifically for sunshowers or use it as an outhouse in conjunction with your potty bucket.
  51. Gold Bond Medicated Powder: Controls moisture, soothes skin irritation, and reduces odor
  52. Sunblock or Zinc Oxide: To keep the sun-off and keep from getting blisters than need to be cleaned.
  53. Bug Spray: Reduce infection and discomfort from bug-bites

How Simple Can A Hygiene Kit Be?

Hygiene kits can be super simple.  I  recently did a section hike on the Appalachian Trail. My hygiene kit included only 7 items for a 10 Day, 140-mile trek. The equipment didn’t provide the ultimate comforts, but it worked.

7 Items In My Backpack Hygiene Kit:

The Federal Emergency Management Agency says you should be ready to walk out of a Natural Disaster or Emergency Situation on foot. In order to do this, you are going to need a pack list that is very slim.

  1. One Platypus water bladder (To store drinking and Hygiene water)
  2. One Sawyer Mini-Water Filter (To filter stream water)
  3. One biodegradable liquid camp soap
  4. One toothbrush
  5. One travel-sized toothpaste
  6. One quick-dry towel (lightweight and quick-drying)
  7. One bundle of toilet paper in a ziplock bag.    
  8. Interesting Facts When determining Water Storage and preparedness:

Total Pack Weight Should Not Exceed 20% Of Your Total Body Weight: That’s a pack containing your food, clothing, shelter, cooking equipment, first-aid, and hygiene supplies.

Useful Links for Emergency Hygiene Preparedness:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: CDC

CDC Emergency Water Supply Preparation

CDC Water Sanitation and Hygiene

CDC A Guide To Water Filters

CDC A Guide to Drinking Water Treatment and Sanitation for Backcountry & Travel Use

CDC Emergency Disinfection of Drinking Water

CDC Personal Hygiene and Handwashing After a Disaster or Emergency