I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: appropriate hygiene and sanitation will be very necessary for your survival in any grid-down situation. And a significant aspect of appropriate sanitation are your cleaning preps. Fortunately, you don’t need a lot of knowledge or even a lot of money to get this aspect of your preps in order fairly quickly.
While you can certainly procure enough commercial cleaners to suit your needs for a long time to come, you might stronly consider DIY solutions for a real grid-down situation. A while back I wrote an article on 290+ Ways to Use Four Basic Supplies for a Healthier Life that references some links to articles that include plenty of recipes for using the four supplies mentioned in my post.
Anyway, if DIY solutions aren’t your “thing” that’s ok. Like I said you can definitely buy plenty of commercially-prepared options. Regardless, here’s what I suggest you stockpile, in no particular order:
- Bleach (sodium hypochlorite) – Sadly, bleach begins to lose it’s effectiveness roughly 6 months after manufacture regardless of whether the bottle is opened or not. That said, I think it remains plenty effective for years with regards to cleaning, though, maybe not so much for ensuring water quality if used for treating drinking water. With this is mind, bleach is a must-have cleaning prep for so many reasons, such as general purpose cleaning and santizing dishes for sure. Be sure to write the date you purchase each bottle so you use the oldest first.
- Pool Shock, bleach alternative (calcium hypochlorite) – I know some people choose to stock pool shock instead of liquid bleach which is perfectly fine and maybe even better in some regards, just heed the safety and storage warnings.
- PPE (gloves, masks, glasses) – Maybe this seems a little overboard but there are some chemicals and substances you don’t want in your eyes, mouth, or hands even if they’re a natural DIY solution. And, because we’re preparing for a time when medical attention may not be available then it behooves you to be as safe as you can… even while cleaning.
- Buckets, pails, trash bags – I’m a huge fan of stockpiling buckets (especially the 5-gallon sort) but I would say smaller pails are more appropriate for most cleaning tasks. And, seeing as though water conservation is probably at the forefront of most everything you do in a grid-down scenario, then being able to contain and transport water and maybe even reuse it will be a good idea. Likewise, including plenty of trash bags to contain whatever needs disposed of is equally important.
- Rags, towels, paper towels – Everything you could need to keep the house up like you normally might. In fact, I would consider stockpiling more paper towels than normal for the simple fact that running water may not be available and so washing even rags may be taxing of your precious water resources.
- Liquid cleaners – everything you would use to keep up the house, from kitchen sprays to bathroom cleaners, glass cleaners, floor cleaners, and so on.
- Scrub brushes, old toothbrushes, etc – Any sort of scrub brushes and old toothbrushes to get those nooks and crannies of whatever needs a good scrubbin’… after all, you’re going to have plenty of time on your hands. 😉
- Broom, dust pan, mop – Assuming that at least a part of your house has tile, hardwood, laminate, or linoleum then you’re going to want to keep them clean as well. I’m sure you have this stuff already but I’m trying to be thorough here.
- Manual vacuum cleaner – I doubt anybody is going to want or be able to run their electric vacuum cleaner with the grid down but that doesn’t mean the carpets need be neglected. Instead, consider a manual vacuum cleaner. They’re cheap enough on Amazon and while they won’t deep clean they’re at least keep the major stuff off of the carpet.
- Laundry cleaning supplies – depending on your setup this could include a washboard and scrub brush or maybe buckets, but it WILL include some form of laundry soap which will most likely be a DIY solution. Oh, and include a quality clothesline or two.
Precisely how much you need of each of the above is up to you but since most of the aforementioned will last a long time I would say it’s hard to have too much of any of it. Of course, it’s probably best to rotate your cleaning supplies (follow the FIFO method) so that the oldest stock is used first. If you need some quantity-related suggestions, here’s what I think:
- Bleach – 3-4 bottles to start. Since it’s cheap and will be your main general purpose cleaner–especially for sanitizing dishes–you will use more than you think.
- PPE – Each adult should have a pair of safety glasses, at least a few masks, and two to three pairs of good chemical gloves. Remember, these quantities are purely for cleaning purposes.
- Rags / towels – I would say it’s hard to have too much but why not have a few dozen rags set aside for long-term cleaning needs? I would also include a few dozen rolls of paper towels as these will likely go fast and, like toilet paper, it’s hard to truly stock enough for your long-term needs.
- Liquid cleaners (commercially-made) – At least 4-5 bottles of each of your favorite cleaners. Obviously, some cleaners get used more, others less, adjust accordingly. Better yet, learn to make your own (see link at the start of this post) and stock the supplies to do so.
- Laundry supplies – You probably only need one washboard, a few scrub brushes, and plenty of ingredients to make laundry soap.
- Everything else – If you can afford to do so then following the advice “two is one, one is none” and you’ll be in good shape.