Disclaimer: The following blog post is filled with habits and lifestyles that are not typically ‘normal’. If anyone knows me in any depth, they’ll know that I believe in kindness towards all, regardless of race, religion, sexuality, and in this case…cleanliness. 😛 So please be kind.
I live in a dry cabin. I’ve spent many posts talking about the lifestyle we’ve chosen to live (temporarily), and we are soon coming to our end in the cabin. July 1 marks the end of our lease, and we hope to be moved out in late June. When thinking about the past year, I have so many conclusions about dry living, but one that sticks out in my mind more than most is this: living in a dry cabin is the equivalent of accepting the existence of countless germs and bacteria. And I honestly believe this notion has helped boost our immune systems, and made me less of a germaphobe!
I don’t think I ever claimed the title germaphobe, but after this year with no hot, running water, I’ve come to realize maybe I used to be. When we first moved into the dry cabin, doing dishes was the worst chore possible. I was so against that way of doing dishes that I wrote a whole blog post about it. Oh, the hassle of heating and reheating water. Back then, we would not only reheat water several times during a dishwashing session making the process last MUCH longer than was ever intended, we would even have a huge pot filled with water and an iodine solution for ‘cleansing’ our dishes once they were rinsed. And I’ll be real straight here, that habit only lasted a few times.
More times than I’d like to admit, I’ve come across a dish or two that isn’t perfectly spotless. There’s a bit of coffee residue here, a little residue there. It’s definitely not a classy, high-style life. And here, I will admit another mistake I’ve been making for the last 10+ months (until I just recently realized). I have been doing laundry the wrong way!!!
Yeah…you read that right. A 23 year old woman who grew up doing her own laundry, perfectly capable of DOING LAUNDRY has been doing laundry wrong. I am so ashamed. I take our laundry to this tiny little building on the army base that has 4 small washers and dryers. It is not normally occupied by anyone, and is located by a series of trails, so it’s been perfect for me with a dog. Doing the laundry takes up a good chunk of the day because I only do it once every week or two. So apparently, with these particular washers, you have to put the soap in the bottom of the machine (even though it has an agitator) before you put in your clothes! I never read the directions on the machine because why would I need guidance on such a simple chore?? -_-
So yeah, the past 10 months, not all of our clothes have been exactly cleaned properly at each wash. I even added more soap a lot of the time because I always noticed our clothes didn’t have that freshly washed laundry smell when I took them out of the washer, and I just blamed that on the fact that “it was probably just the washer’s fault…it’s not as good of quality.”
Add this on top of the fact that you just can’t really wash your hands that well at all in a dry cabin! And when you do, you are using completely cold water. Do you know how many times I’ve cooked dinner in this place!? Do you KNOW how messy baking dishes get when you have leftover dough or batter sticking to the bowl, not to mention, all over your hands? I make homemade pizza dough probably once a week, and it is AWFUL because of the mess that gets on your hands! Handling raw meat? Just forget about it. The germs are going to be there, regardless. Raw eggs? Same deal. It seems I can’t crack an egg without somehow getting it all over my hands. Lysol wipes are my best cleaning partner.
I’ve saved the most gross (for some) for last. So if you’ve made it this far…hold tight. Showering. I’d say most regular adults shower at least once a day. It’s typical for most to either start or end their days with a nice hot shower. It either gives you a jolt of energy in the morning or cleanses your body of all that the day brought. Some shower twice a day if they are very active. When you live in a dry cabin, 30 minutes from the nearest shower, daily, routine showering becomes rather obsolete. Now bear with me here.
I consider myself a clean person. Studies have actually shown that showering every day can be more harmful than beneficial unless you are legitimately dirty. Most people shower daily because it has become the societal norm. When you soak your body in hot water every day or more than once a day, it can severely dry out your skin and hair, not to mention that unless we are working out every day hardcore or working in a chemical factory, we’re probably not that dirty anyway! Your body also uses bacteria for good too. The body’s exposure to good and harmful bacteria helps to regulate your system and boost your immune system. Besides, in my opinion, showering just a few times a week only makes the experience that much sweeter.
In the Alaska dry cabin community, this news is completely second nature. Of course you don’t shower every day…that’s absurd. When we first moved in, I tried making daily showering a habit, but quickly discovered that it was too time consuming and there were much better things to do with my time. I once mentioned to a dry cabin friend that I am so thankful for baby wipes because that is my go to shower, if I can’t immediately go shower in town. Logan will warm up water on the stove and just pour it over his head on our deck down to 30 degrees and that is just as refreshing. When I said that to her (about the baby wipes), she laughed and said, “Oh, you’ve discovered the glory that is baby wipes.” haha…this is a thing. It is a real way of life.
I’ve gone on and on about germs and the inevitable grossness of living in a dry cabin. But I find irony in that while I am not a germaphobe, I am definitely a neat freak BECAUSE of living in such a small space. I ‘clean’ my house every day, which mainly consists of putting away the unnecessary clutter and trash that comes with living. Everyone has that junk drawer or several piles of just stuff that is unnecessary. I don’t mind living in a small space with no water, but it will most definitely be clutter free! I’d go insane if I lived in a small clutter box AND had no means to really deep clean anything.
When we move to a new place, hopefully closer to town AND with running water (though who really knows what will happen…), I look forward to giving all of my dishes and clothes a good hot, soapy wash. Always be thankful for what you have, even if it’s simply the means to be clean. 🙂