30 April 2019, Tuesday
Greetings from our family to yours and Welcome to another TrailMagick89 missive,
A while back we talked about this very subject last year and I thought I would bring it up again, seeing that there are many aspects about staying clean on the streets and on the trail. The missive was kind of vague but from the comments I could tell that we need to look at it closer. I will make sure to chat about hygiene a little more often.
Further into the missive I will make sure to announce that if you continue passed that point you may read more than you bargained for. Women’s hygiene is sometimes more important than for men. So let’s get started.
How to Stay Clean on the Trail…
The best thing about being homeless or backpacking is the fact that while it is important to stay clean it is not the first priority. The first priority is staying warm in the seasons that it is cold and cold when it is hot and the second would be shelter. Cleanliness is a bit farther down the list of priorities.
Staying clean on the streets comes with a few compromises. The first is being clean; smelling like flowery laundry soap or hotel soap because that is what was free at the shelter or day room you were at the previous day has one major draw back – insects like that smell – i.e. mosquitoes, gnats, horse flies, whatever. Those flowery smells draw biting bugs to you. The second part of smelling flowery is the fact that many people have allergies or problems with air pollutants.
One thing we need to look at is when you think about donating supplies to your local program whether you are just wanting to help or you are one of us and come from the streets. Keep it in mind that though you may like the flowery smelling products many people do not like it. Unscented products are the way to go.
If you want to smell the flowery stuff go to the local senior center or coffee shop any given morning and the air in those places will be thick with flowers. So when you are purchasing bars of soap, laundry soap, deodorant, etc. make sure to purchase unscented or original scent as those kinds of products will not offend the people that use them or draw bugs to you. I know that it may seem harsh to tell people that the flowery products that you may like offends people the problem is once you are on the streets people take offense to those scents.
One of the best products that I have come across are baby wipes or wet wipes. They work well to clean your body in the nether regions, as well as your hands, and even your bum. Unscented baby wipes are good for not only cleaning your body but also for cleaning tools; such as utensils and cook pots, even knives. They may not be ideal but they get the job done in a pinch.
Being a woman and homeless can be difficult while trying to stay clean to the best of your abilities. There are a couple of options; stay in a shelter or stay in an encampment. Indoors versus outdoors is the biggest question when it comes to staying clean.
Some day rooms also have showers and laundry available. The one we visited had a laundry bingo as they called it. You would put your name on a piece of paper, then they would draw the names for certain days of the week. Sometimes everyone got to do laundry sometimes you didn’t. We were allowed two loads. So, at times we went from two weeks up to two months before you were able to do laundry.
You learn quickly where to go during the day. Most days we spent time at the library and day room. Yes, we even spent time looking for work only to watch the application be put in the trash because they recognized the day room or shelter address.
What helped us most was that we were able to have a fire to keep us warm and to cook our food. The smell of wood smoke masked the possible “dirty smell”.
If we were not able to shower due to them being broke, we were able to “can dog” and buy some baby wipes that we used. The best ones are the fragrance free, that way you don’t smell like flowers and end up having bees chase you.
Some churches are also able to help with those supplies, you just may have to, or be willing to attend a few of their services in return.
ATTENTION: Stop reading if you don’t want more details about women being clean.
Yes, you can stay at a shelter (if there is room in the shelter). There you can have a shower once a day, maybe do laundry once a week. When it comes to your menses, that is quite different. If they have had donations they are able to share more than if they don’t. While I was staying in one, I was given two tampons and one sanitary pad to last my whole cycle. That would only last me a day. Luckily I was able to get more from a different organization to help. I overheard one of the volunteers tell a young lady that was asking for a few more items that she couldn’t. They just didn’t have enough.
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