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March 24, 2009

Strip washing with Rhassoul Clay in one of the World Tiniest Spaces (without turning it into a mud wrestlers changing room).

Mrs Everybodys new blog is all about reducing the environmental impact of living.

Strip washing, using a flannel and a basin of water to wash just the parts which need routine washing: face, neck, armpits, the nether regions and feet is one of the greenest ways of washing, saving litres of water and the huge energy costs in heating the water. When Mrs Everybody was a child, growing up in the sixties and seventies, strip washing at a sink was the way she washed every day. She had a bath once a week whether she needed it or not! Only the newly built houses had showers.

The other day Mrs Green, an avid clay user asked Mrs Everybody how she managed to strip wash with clay without creating a huge mess in the bathroom. Hmmm! She hadn’t actually had a strip wash since she had left home. Over to Mrs Everybody:

I had memories of luke warm water, soggy flannels, damp towels, a soggy carpet, a cold bathroom, and tepid water dripping up my arms. However this is 2009 and I had just brought my tiny downstairs shower room into commission. It is a warm room with hot water, a large mirror and good lighting. So location sorted. The tiny shower room with basin and loo was built on one side of my former galley kitchen where the hob had been located. So think small. Think aircraft loo and basin!

Well Mrs Green, this is exactly how I did it. I made up some rhassoul clay in a bowl, with a wooden spoon and hot water. While it was hydrating, I changed into my dressing gown in my bedroom and I brought the following things into the little room:
I took my watch and dressing gown off and noted the time. I had given myself 15 minutes for my first strip wash in about 25 years. I filled the sink (the size of a dinner plate) with hot water and hesitated. How indeed was I going to avoid making a huge mess?

Mrs Everybodys strip wash kit, towel, flannel, rhassoul clay, wooden spoon, pot, and alum crystal.
Mrs Everybodys strip wash kit, towel, flannel, rhassoul clay, wooden spoon, pot, and alum crystal.

A towel, flannel, headband, hair clip (to keep long hair out of the way), my alum crystal, argan oil, and a mat to stand on, oh, and a fruit smoothy.

With my hair out of the way, I smoothed a fine layer of clay on my face and neck, some under my arms and then my nether regions. Rinsed my hands, and then massaged the clay on the face, underarms, and the other parts in that order, keeping the clay moist.

The clay started to dry around my eyes – the clay should always remain wet on the body, so I wetted the flannel in the hot water, wrung it well and placed it on my face. It gave me the loveliest feeling and somehow made me want to take up a yoga pose. I begun to consider how I could get into the tree pose, about the only pose possible in this space, while keeping the flannel on my face – then I remembered the time, plus strip washing is associated with austerity, not pleasure!

No mess so far, but now for the rinse. The sink was too small to fit my face anywhere near it and perhaps this is the key – I couldn’t rinse by the ‘splashing technique’ but needed to use the flannel. So I stretched the flannel all across the face and with both hands drew it down, removing almost all the clay in one go. I rinsed the flannel and continued, removed the clay from the neck, remembering to clean behind my ears! By this time the water in the sink looked like a puddle which a tank had just driven through. I let the water out and refilled the sink, rinsing the under arms and all the other parts. On finishing, I let the water out of the basin, and wiped the basin out with the flannel (destined straight for the washing machine). The sink was cleaner than it had been in the first place, no splashes on the mirror. Zero mess.

I completed the wash by applying, some alum deodorant under the arms, argan oil on my face and nails, combed my hair and brushed my teeth. Time check: 15 minutes. However I realised that I forgot to do my feet. I will have to work on that!

In the meantime, with World Water Week coming up on March 22nd and with everyone wondering how we are going to save the planet from the carbon crisis – Why don’t you give it a go? Or, if you are already using clay and alum already in this way then share your insights here!

Tips: The Everybodys make the clay into the yoghurt like consistency, but some people may prefer it a little bit thinner, especially those with very hairy skin! Sometimes the Everybodys make up the clay for several days in advance, which is really helpful when they are in a hurry.

Technical Info: Mrs Everybody’s shower (not a power shower) releases 12 litres of water per minute, so that’s 120 litres of hot water for a 10 minute shower. For her strip wash she used just two small basins of water, total of 4 litres, that is 30 times less hot water than used in showering. Switching to strip washing will decrease her energy bills and carbon footprint. You will find a table showing you how to calculate your water flow on the Rhassoul and Alum Crystal page. For this water flow experiment you will need a bucket, a measuring jug and a watch or mobile as a timer. There will also be more about measuring water flow in the next blog.

Recommendations: Find out how Mr Everybody copes with clay in his beard and hairy arms.
Challenge others to strip wash and gather feedback and tips Take part in your own Strip Wash Challenge, buy Rhassoul Clay and Alum for £11.00
Check on how the journalists are getting on with their strip wash challenges. See the Very Lowest carbon Footprint Strip Washing Challenge to Journalists

Notes: Let’s find out how Mrs Green is getting on now that she has been challenged back!

About the Author Sally Mittuch

Hello, after my degree involving Archaeology and Anthropology and lecturing for 8 years, I founded Natural Spa Supplies in 2007, an award winning eco business which specialises in pure products straight from nature for washing and cleaning.
When I am not working, I am gardening, playing folk music on the concertina and harp. I am also the village tree warden - growing trees from local tree seeds to increase local biodiversity. I hope you will join me on my eco adventures.

Share your thoughts
  1. What an awesome site! I am in love with rhassoul and argan oil and I haven’t even tried them yet!!
    I already only shower once a week, use crystal deo (although it doesn’t seem so great after reading your articles so I shall be buying one of your volcanic crystal deos), conditioner only washing for the hair. I’m like a cat when it comes to bathing, all four limbs braced against the shower frame, hissing and spitting, I have to be forced in, lol!
    Really looking forward to trying suggested strip wash routine, have adult acne ever since high doses of morphine years ago for nerve pain pre-opp, wild hair with greasy roots and dry from the waist down. Maybe it’s the miracle cure I’ve been searching for . . . or not, time will tell. Will report back!
    Keep up the good work, great site, gonna send a link to all my pals.
    P.S. Anyone have any very quick and easy shaving suggestions for ladies legs during the week Shave a.m. – prickly by p.m. Swear I’m half cave woman :o)

  2. It was lovely to meet you at the Eco Veggie Fayre in Hove last Saturday, and I loved being reminded of the benefits of using clay.
    I am most interested to try it especially to see if it gives more body to thin hair!!

  3. I have just emailed to thank you for introducing me to clay washing and Argan oil as it has made such an immediate improvement to my skin, particularly on my face.I have been looking for a ‘miracle cure’ for years, having been through every acne cure both topical and antibiotic known, including Roaccutane which crippled me with side effects long after I stopped using it.One tip I can offer is that when using clay solution to wash hair,it is more effective if you use a pipette or squirty bottle to direct the clay to the roots of the hair and scalp.I don’t know if using a plastic bottle adversely effects the product,but I found it less wasteful to do it this way rather than pour it directly on,especially if your hair is medium/long in length.I suppose I should use a glass bottle instead to direct the stream to the roots?

  4. Hello Erica,
    Thank you for your comment. By using clay, I have been able to abandon moisturizers completely. Where my skin used to be very dry, on my legs, I just spend more time massaging them with clay during the course of my washing. When I have finished washing I use oil instead of moisturizer. Normal moisturizers, especially those containing paraffin oil, or petroleum oil may impair the functioning of the skin by leaving an unnatural barrier both on the outside and underneath the skin. Seems the skin is supposed to eliminate 25% of our body toxins, especially fat soluble toxins, I don’t like the idea of trapping them inside me. A well absorbed oil does not impair the functioning of the skin.

    I use argan oil for my face, neck, hands, nails and any skin which needs extra attention, and a mix of argan oil and olive oil for any other parts of my body. I encourage my customers to switch to oil, because the skin can absorb oil. I just need to apply the oil to my legs once a week after bathing as as through the week I mostly strip wash to reduce my exposure to chlorine, as well as for the energy savings.

    I don’t think that moisturizers were commercialized until the 1920s, following the growth of the soap industry, and the change of bathing habits. Now daily showering or bathing, in chlorinated water has become the accepted norm. Exposed to these conditions skins often do need some help to keep them supple and comfortable, but as you are finding out, you can get a long way with clay.

    One thing which I will point out, is that it is really pointless trying to moisturize or oil dead skin, because dead skin will never really soften and will look dull and possibly itch. This is why exfoliation is an important part of a skincare routine. The clay is gently exfoliating, so this may in part account for the improvement in the condition of your skin. The reduction in skin dryness and flakiness after just a single use of rhassoul clay is well attested, as are the other skin improving effects. The clay is classed as a skin emollient (softener) but I’m not sure of the mechanism. All I know is that it works!

    If you like you can add a scent to the clay, by adding some essential oils, or by preparing a herbal infusion with which to hydrate the clay.

  5. Hi Kathryn,
    a lot of people wonder whether the clay will block the drains, but it never seems to happen. For normal washing and use on the hair very small quantities of clay are needed, and when the clay is rinsed from the hair or body with water it remains in suspension with the moving water for some time. I think that the average water consumption in UK household is something like 130 liters per day. If you think about it, this much water will surely clear away 20g or so of clay powder. I would take the precaution of not pouring oil and clay down the drain at the same time.

    If you are contemplating using huge quantities, say 1 kilo for a clay detox bath, then the usual advice is to allow the clay to settle to the bottom of the bath over four hours or so, scooping out the clearish water and pouring it down another outlet, and then collecting the remaining clay slurry for disposal in landfill rubbish.

  6. I have been using clay to shower with over the last 3 days. I must admit to using just a tiny squirt of my usual body wash, because I like the lather and smell. I have noticed for the last 2 nights that my skin is much less dry than it had ever been in my life. I have always had to use a moisturizer just to stop the itching associated with dry skin. Why? Why does clay make my skin less dry? I imagine if I dropped the body wash totally, that I soon would not need lotions or creams at all. Oh, and did I mention that the once gigantic pores on my nose have all but disappeared? Clay is wonderful.

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