Keeping clean without running water

You might expect without a shower or running water that I’m a bit of a dirty scruff these days. On the contrary, I don’t think I’ve ever been so clean! This is thanks to Todmorden’s leisure centre, which I joined after moving aboard. Whenever I like I can use the pool, jacuzzi, steam room, sauna and showers, so basic personal hygiene has become a regular treat.

For water inside the boat, I keep a few large bottles which I can fill up from the tap right outside. Even when I have plumbed-in taps, I’ll still use this for drinking water.

For washing up, it doesn’t take long to heat a kettle full of water each evening and whizz through my few cups, plates and pans. The sink currently empties into a bucket sitting right underneath, and because this is harmless ‘grey water’ which  I can empty into the canal when it gets full. Emma’s coming to help me fit a proper waste pipe tomorrow.

Laundry is also fairly simple – I just use the local launderette. A service wash is pretty cheap so I don’t have to sit their putting 20ps into the dryer either, I just drop my things off on one day and pick up a bag of clean, neatly folded clothes the next. This is about to become even easier as the woman there has just told me they pick up and drop off laundry for no extra charge.

Keeping the boat clean is a bit trickier. Because there is such a lot of furniture crammed into a tiny space, it’s hard to keep on top of keeping all Swallow’s nooks and crannies clean, but a weekly hoovering and some eco-sinning with disposable wipes does the job on a basic level.

So it’s not too hard really. I’m still really looking forward to having the luxury of running water on board though. Plumber Hattie Hasan (founder of brilliant national women’s plumbing network, Stopcocks) came over to check things out and give me some advice and a quote last week, which has moved me on in this regard. Emma did all of her own plumbing and is going to take on the job in exchange for some curtains (I haven’t tried using my sewing machine on board yet, but I’ll be getting it out this weekend…) and Hattie is happy to wonk alongside me at her day rate – I get the benefit of her expertise, whilst doing the donkey work myself.

My aim is to be fully-plumbed by Christmas…which is two weeks away. I know I won’t have gas by then (I need to have some welding done on my gas locker before I can safely have gas on board) so I won’t have hot water, but it will be nice to be able to just clean my teeth or wash my hands without pouring water from bottles into little cups and bowls.