Hygiene is extremely important in everyday life — you don’t want to be that guy at the office who seems to be blissfully unaware of his own heinous body odor. But even when you’re alone in the wilderness in a survival situation, proper hygiene has substantial value. Washing your hands and body regularly will kill bacteria, reduce the risk of infection, repel insects, and improve morale by helping you feel refreshed.

Yucca soap saponin root plant hygiene cleaning desert survival 3

If you’ve ever traveled through the desert in the U.S. or Mexico, you’ll recognize the spiky yucca plant.

That said, items such as hand sanitizer, liquid soap, shampoo, and dish or clothing detergent are all consumables that will eventually run out and be difficult to replenish. It’s therefore useful to know how to improvise a cleaning agent that will produce suds and break down dirt and grease. In the desert, this can be accomplished using the root of the plentiful yucca plant.

Yucca soap saponin root plant hygiene cleaning desert survival 4

We’ve mentioned yucca soap in the past, but recently saw a video from desert survival instructor Junkyard Fox that shows a helpful step-by-step process for making and using the substance. The video discusses the active ingredient called saponin, and how Native Americans in the southwest have used it throughout history.

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Even without added water, the traces of moisture in yucca root will produce soapy suds.

In the second half of the video, James discusses creosote, another common plant that can be used externally on the skin for antimicrobial purposes. The rough-edged leaves and pleasant-smelling waxy coating will help you feel and smell cleaner if used as an improvised scrubbing sponge. It can even be used in tandem with yucca soap for extra cleaning properties, or burned as an insect repellent.

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Check out the full video below to see how yucca and creosote can be harvested and used for survival hygiene:

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