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Several years ago I lived for about a year in a wooden cabin I built on a mountain side in the Gallilee, far from the city, without running water or electricity. There was a whole community living around that mountain, mostly families with kids, and each one built himself a house of sorts. Of course, like most places in the Middle East, there was no creek or river nearby, other than draining rain water in the winter, and we had to either wash in one of the deep pools in which this water collected, which involved going down a rope six or seven meters underground, or haul many containers of water from the nearby town of Safed (Zefat). We'd then fill them from the main cistern that stood above the dwellings and provided water to each family through gravity pressure. Needless to say, hauling the water was not our most pleasurable exercise, and since in that hot climate everyone had to drink at least several liters of water a day, showers were somewhat of a luxury. I noticed several things about this:

  1. When you spend most of your time outdoors, like we did there, you don't tend to smell bad even after working hard all day, probably because the wind airs you out. Most of the people there could easily do with one shower in a week or ten days in the winter, perhaps twice or three times a week in the summer, when it's over 40 degrees C at noon. You can also wear the same clothes for many days without offending those around you with your smell, as long as you have several layers on.

  2. You can very effectively cut down on the amount of water used for each shower when a person pours water on you, rather than using a faucet.

  3. When you don't wash every day the body develops an additional covering layer over the skin, that changes daily and sort of refreshes the way we smell.

  4. Under these conditions, living, as it were, close to nature, body odors that we would normally find repulsive in the city actually smell different, because of this outer layer. Our smell can be even perfumed if we hang around a fire which is scented by incense or dried flowers, or just regular eucaliptys bark and leaves.

  5. Every time during that period that I had to come to the city for several days, I immediately had to go back to showering and changing my clothes every day because I could tell I stank, as if the city was causing my body to smell differently. Perhaps a city actually does something to our body chemistry, and makes us produce a different, more offensive smell. More likely it's the pollution and the automobile exhausts and all the other smells of the city that cling to your clothes and body, and the fact that in the city you hardly ever stand in the wind for more that an hour at a time to get aired out.

  6. One more important thing I noticed, is that when I tell people from the city about how we washed and changed clothes once a week, they all think I'm odd, to say the least. I guess if you haven't experienced a thing yourself, you just find it hard to believe.

Offered by Shaul.

I lived in a very primitive cottage in Spain for 2 months once - no toilet or running water, so no showers. We did find, however, that a daily strip wash from a basin of water made us feel quite refreshed and it didn't use up much water.

Offered by Cass.

My family lived for eight years in our cabin near town with no running water and an outhouse. You would be surprised how fast you snap into a routine. A trapper friend of mine said that after 30 days with no showers you just don't stink anymore, or at least you just don't care.

Offered by Clipper.