Every Peace Corps post is different, and each volunteer experience varies in degree from one to the next. But there is one thing that just about all of us have in common: the bucket bath.
In countries where most volunteers serve, water scarcity is an obstacle. And if scarcity isn’t the issue, it’s still safe to assume that a lack of running water is. That’s why when you meet an RPCV, you can easily conclude that he or she is an expert at taking bucket baths.
So what exactly is a bucket bath, and how do you take one?
A bucket bath is a method of maintaining cleanliness that is achieved by using a bucket of standing water, and the objective is to waste as little of it as possible.
To learn how to take one, feel free to follow along with my step-by-step instructions
First, you’ll need a bucket of water. (Or in my case, a basin.) If you’re able, you can boil the water first for warmth and added comfort.
Pour a small amount of it into a separate container, so you have a place to dip your hands after shampooing or washing your body. You don’t want to let your clean water get soapy or dirty!
You’ll also need a small container for pouring a controlled amount of water onto yourself. I like to use a recycled tomato sauce jar
Make sure you have a washcloth, looffa, or shower glove available. These items are great for lathering soap, and help a little go a long way.
Personally, I like the shower glove, because the course texture helps remove stubborn, unwanted dirt.
Finally, you need the obvious; soap, shampoo and conditioner (or 2in1 if you’re really economic)
Now you’re ready to bathe!
Using your jar or small container, pour some water onto yourself. For long hair, gather as much of it to your head as possible, for maximum wetness with minimal water. If you need to, use more than one helping of water to make sure you’ve got your whole body. It also helps to use your hands or a washcloth to spread the water around. Remember, you want to waste as little as possible.
Next, shampoo your hair as normal, and when you’re finished, dip your hands into the second water basin to rinse them off. Using your washcloth, looffa, or shower glove, clean your body as normal. You can rinse that off in the basin as well.
Now it’s time to rinse. Again, using your jar or small container, use however much water you need to properly remove all soap and shampoo.
If you’re using a 2in1 for your hair, your bucket bath is complete! Otherwise, repeat steps one through three for conditioner.
Feeling so fresh and so clean, remember to spill your rinsing basin out, and use a little bit of clean water to wash away any remaining soap. If you’re able, cover any unused water for future use.