Introduction: Washing Your Hands With One Ounce of Water

About: Hello

In a situation where you don't have running water it would be nice to be able to wash your hands without cutting into your stored water supply too much. The rule of thumb for emergency stored water is 1 gallon per person per day. My initial testing was done with a leaky faucet. This worked so well that I was initially planning on buying a valve of some kind from the hardware store but then I decided to go with the setup below. The 2 liter wash station. It works well and can be made from stuff found around the house so it really costs nothing. I used the thinnest sewing needle I have (I have a pack of about 20 needles in assorted sizes) and pierced a hole in the top of the cap of a 2 liter bottle. This hole did not work. The hole closed up. This may have been due to the lack of rigidity of the plastic.

Step 1: The Hole for the Water Stream

The second try worked fine. I made a hole in the side of the bottle just below the cap.

Step 2: The Holder for the Bottle

Next I made a holder for the bottle out of a wire coat hanger. The indentations at the bottom of the bottle work well to keep the bottle captive in the wire holder.

Step 3: Wash Station in Use

When the bottle is initially pointed down the water exits in a thin stream without squeezing the bottle. After that the bottle must be squeezed. I hung the water bottle from a rafter in the garage with the addition of a bungee cord. Another coat hanger is used to hold the bottle in an upward pointing direction. Filling the bottle about 2/3 full, no water will leak out when the bottle is angled as shown.

For testing, I used only one or two drops of Dawn dish washing liquid. I got my hands wet, lathered up, and then rinsed. This took about 3 minutes and the water was "running" for about 2 minutes. I rinsed until I could hear the faint squeak you get when you rub a wet finger on the wet palm of your hand. This is "squeaky clean".

To find out how much water was used I squeezed water into a measuring cup for 2 minutes. I collected about one ounce. So I anticipate getting several hundred hand washings from one bottle of Dawn and over 100 hand washings per gallon of water.

Note: Washing your hands like this may ideally be a two person activity. One person with clean hands (to squeeze the bottle) and the other person who is washing their hands. Or this could be like washing your hands at home under normal conditions if you don't have a motion operated faucet. Hmmm.

Step 4: Plan B. the Misting Spray Bottle

A spray bottle. Or this may be your plan A. This should also work quite well. This is my plan B since I have worn out a few of the pumps over the years. There is also the issue of overshoot but all in all either one will work better than pouring water on your hands straight out of a bottle.

Step 5: Water.....

A lot of people buy those packs of bottled water at the store. I have talked to some people who have two or three of these at home for stored emergency water. How much water is in one of those packs? A 24 pack of 16.9 oz bottles is a little over 3 gallons or about enough for an average family for one day?

From the FEMA "Food and Water on an Emergency" Red Cross PDF:

"You will also need water for food preparation and hygiene. Store at least one gallon per person per day. Consider storing at least a two-week supply of water for each member of your family"

hmmm.... 4 x 14 = 56.

Have you considered one or two blue 55 gallon barrels? "This item ships free"

I got mine for less at the local feed store. I live in a major metropolitan area. Who would have thought there would be two feed stores within 10 miles of my house.