How do Soldiers Maintain their Personal Hygiene while on the Front?

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There are three body parts that you must keep clean, even on the battlefield. If one of those parts gets infected or causes you any other trouble, the war will be over for you:

Your teeth

I always had a toothbrush with me. I used the plastic bags from the MRE combat rations to protect the brush from dirt. You get used to cleaning your teeth while doing something else at the same time (like watching the terrain, listening to an officer giving orders or checking your rifle). There is really no excuse for not brushing your teeth.

Your butt

You can use wet wipes to wipe your ass. If you don’t have any, try to clean your butt (and your genitals as well) with water from time to time. You should also change your underwear whenever you can. There is always some space in your backpack to take some spare underwear with you.

Your feet

Always carry at least one pair of spare socks with you! Change your socks whenever there is an opportunity and let the old pair dry. Wet wipes or alcohol are perfect for cleaning your feet if you have no water. Sometimes, if the situation allows for it, just take off your boots for a few minutes to let your feet get some fresh air.

You will get quickly used to this “field hygiene”, but sometimes, you will be tired and just want to rest and then you really have to push yourself to make this extra effort and dedicate a minute of your time for your personal hygiene.

If you follow this advice and keep these three body parts clean, you will be fine!

This article is written by Roland Bartetzko on Quora.

Another writer Ben Kolber shares his experience on how he maintain their personal hygiene while on the front.

While on the front, soldiers personal hygiene will be 1% of that of an ordinary, clean person.

To achieve that 1% of personal hygiene is an extremely tough task to accomplish, considering you do not want to go into a war zone with shampoo and hydrating creams.

The following is my personal list of things I would bring to stay as clean as possible on long-term deployments:

Talcum Powder- extremely important in preventing athletes foot, rashes and sweat patches.

Toothbrush and Paste- usually 1 paste bottle for every 5 guys.

Alcohol Pads- used to clean the face, back and any other area you would like to “clean”. Very important to use in order to prevent unbearable itchy rashes caused by sweat, dust and the friction between the soldier’s body and his vest.

Fresh and Clean Clothes- two pairs of socks and underwear, one set of clean operational uniform, all bottled up in a vacuum sealed bag to prevent moisture from reaching them, and saving up as much space in your bag.

Toilet Paper- don’t think this one takes much explaining.

Let me conclude by saying, after a week in the field, no matter how many tools you provided yourself with for staying clean, you will need one hell of a shower before your mom lets you back into the house. True story.