General Question

jonsblond's avatar

How long could you withstand living without hot water?

Asked by jonsblond (43452points) August 10th, 2014

How would you go about your day cleaning yourself and cleaning your home? You don’t have the option of going elsewhere to shower. Would you last a week, month or longer?

I have a good reason for asking this question, but I’d like to get your first gut reaction without it being influenced by my thoughts.

I’ll share my inspiration for this question after several responses have been made.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

34 Answers

El_Cadejo's avatar

I didn’t have hot water for 7 months when in Belize. Wasn’t really a problem.

To be fair, I had hot water in the shower but it was a suicide shower , after being electrocuted twice in the shower, I turned that fuckin thing off.

JLeslie's avatar

In FL I could do it. Up north it would be much harder. As long as I can heat water I guess I would manage, but it would be extremely difficult. An ice cold shower is heart stopping for me. I really think it is potentially harmful for my health. If I could heat water for a small bath it would suffice. If I had heat in my home then leaving water out would bring it to room temperature I guess. If I could build a glass box and store a water hose in it for greenhouse affect it might heat up enough to bear, depending on the temp outside and the amount of sun. If there was no way to heat the water and I was in the upper third of the US I don’t think I would last more than 3 days. In FL I could go weeks and months, because I would be able to warm it up to a tolerable level.

marinelife's avatar

Not long at all.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

Do we have the option of heating the water on the stove??
Or go cold turkey no hot water at all?
Would get really tired of sponge baths,and cleaning in cold water,maybe a week or 2 tops.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

I imagine I’d have to if it wasn’t available but I wouldn’t like it. I like tepid showers in summer but cold water in winter… agh, no thank you. I’d have to resort to boiling water and having sponge baths rather than showering. Or boiling a lot of water and filling a bath. My nanna didn’t have hot water on tap, she managed and lived to a ripe old age so I’m sure I’d survive. I hope you have hot water @jonsblond.

Smitha's avatar

With the heat in where I am now I’d take an Ice-cold shower any day. I guess it depends on the country where we live, if its very cold region and there is no hot water then may be I would boil some water and take a warm bath. But I can’t go a day without showering or at least a sponge bath.

jonsblond's avatar

@SQUEEKY2 You can heat water on the stove.

JLeslie's avatar

Oh, if I can heat the water on a stove I could last for weeks, maybe months, but it would suck.

gailcalled's avatar

I did it for a month when I was 17 and living with a French family in Burgundy. They had only cold running water. Twice in four weeks they boiled a few pots of water for me to wash my hair with. I had a sink with cold water in my room and did a French sponge bath daily. i washed my clothes in cold water in the bidet.

I discovered a large bath tub tucked away in an alcove but it was filled with coal.

At that age it was fun. I eventually discovered public hot showers in town.

Cleaning was pretty rudimentary….brooms and dustpans and a swipe with a rag dipped in cold water. It was one of the best summers of my life. No one ever was sick.

I never did discover how the family bathed or did laundry. They seemed to wear the same clothes over and over.

SavoirFaire's avatar

I’ve lived without hot water a couple of times before, though not nearly as long as @El_Cadejo. The first time lasted about a month, the second time was nearly two months. Cold showers were unpleasant for the first few days, but I adapted pretty quickly. And since I take cooler showers anyway, it’s less of a shock.

As for cleaning, water temperature makes very little difference when hand washing dishes and such because you can’t get the water hot enough to sterilize anything while still being able to touch it. And luckily, my dishwasher has its own heating unit, so it doesn’t matter what temperature the water you put into it is.

And if we can heat water on the stove, that would make it much easier. I’ve lived places where I had to shower out of a bucket anyway, so it would just be a return to those days. And in those cases where hand washing is easier with hot water, it would just be a short boil away. I could probably live forever that way (even if I’d prefer not to).

If my mother were answering she’d say, “This is how I grew up, so I could make it at least 18 years!”

Adagio's avatar

Five and a half years with no running water and certainly no running hot water but it is no problem to heat water on the fire and use two buckets of hot water to wash and rinse oneself. Alternatively, have an old cast-iron bath outside, dig a small hole underneath in the middle and build a fire, fill up the bath with cold water, you get used to timing having the fire die out at the same time as the water reaches the right temperature. A plank of wood in the bottom and bobs your uncle!

Edit: I have assumed there is the facility for heating water over a fire, perhaps it doesn’t answer your question in the way you wanted?

anniereborn's avatar

Totally depends on where I am and the season. I live near Chicago. If it was summer, I could last maybe a month or two. In the winter…..MAYBE a week…maybe.
Our bathroom gets quite cold in the winter, so that would really suck.

dappled_leaves's avatar

I’ve gone 8 days without electricity, so no hot water and no possibility of heating it on the stove. Not fun, but certainly doable. I think I would find it very frustrating if I knew that it were possible for me to have hot water, but something was holding me back. But in the impossibility of having it, of course you make do.

Pachy's avatar

I’m a complete wuss—can’t go without a hot shower every day.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Room temp water would be zero problem for me. 50 degree showers would get old quick. I would probably take baths and heat some buckets of water on the stove or propane grill. That said when we are out of hot water I usually just put up with cold showers.

syz's avatar

I spent 6 weeks on Laos without hot water.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I can swim in cold water, but when I wake up, I want a hot shower. Cold water for a shower sucks, unless my male parts are overheated.

Stinley's avatar

I’ve washed in a cold water shower in winter. Not very nice but I don’t see why I couldn’t do it every day.

gailcalled's avatar

@jonsblond: I hope that this is a theoretical question.

jca's avatar

My hot water heater went two years ago in April, which, if you know NY, you know that April is still a cold month. I washed my hair with my head over the bath tub, and the water was freeeezing! It gave me a headache.

I didn’t last long in the cold shower. Just washing “what was important” and it was like @JLeslie described, pretty heart stopping.

When I tried to use the hot water on the stove-sponge bath technique, I found that I didn’t feel clean (I felt a little clean, but not like a shower or bath) and frankly, it was disgusting and a lot of work, just to get one pot of hot water, carry it over, and then deal with getting the hot water where it belonged to rinse the soap off.

Some people are referencing Florida, Belize, Laos. Maybe there, in a hot tropical climate, the cold water is not frigid, and it’s do-able. To me in the cold winter of NY, not do-able. Maybe two days and I was at my wit’s end. Am I spoiled? Maybe. If I had no choice and had to live that way, could I? Of course. If I had a choice (like I do), would I want to live that way? Hell no. Not in a cold climate.

JLeslie's avatar

Even in the hot summer in NY, or places at a similar latitude, the water is freezing that comes through the pipes. A lot of people when they move to FL don’t like that the water throught the pipes is rather tepid. They don’t like brushing their teeth with warmish water. It was odd for me at first too.

dappled_leaves's avatar

Since people are talking about the effect of climate, I probably should have mentioned that my experience was during a Canadian winter.

RocketGuy's avatar

When I lived in Thailand, water did not run at the time I usually wanted to bathe. We had no hot water anyway, so we heated water in a teakettle and added it to a tub of cool water. We used bowls to douse ourselves with the warmed water. Worked fine for the 6 years we lived there.

Response moderated (Writing Standards)
Adagio's avatar

@jca Next time I suggest carrying out your ablutions standing up in the bath or shower cubicle or anywhere you don’t mind getting wet, you can wash and rinse yourself really thoroughly with two buckets of hot water, the first for washing body and hair, in that order, and the second for rinsing, starting with hair which naturally helps rinse the body is well. It’s extremely useful to have an extra large pot, such as a preserving pan, for heating reasonable quantities of water on the stove or over a fire or wood burner.

jca's avatar

@Adagio: The reason why I washed my hair under the faucet is that I felt it took more water to rinse the shampoo and conditioner then what could be had from just a pot. I used a big pot for the water for the body. Just the time taken to heat the water, and then carry this big heavy pot over to the tub, so laborious and time consuming. What used to be a simple shower that took 5 minutes became a big job that took time and planning.

jonsblond's avatar

I apologize for taking so long to get back to my own question. I have been paying attention and reading all of your answers. Thank you. I’ve enjoyed all of your responses.

I asked this question right after I noticed our propane ran out. There was no hot water when I went to wash my hands. I checked our percentage the day it ran out. I had a feeling. The tank was showing we were at 2%. We have a 1,000 gallon tank. I knew we would run out soon, but I was hoping it would last until September. We have fewer bills that month. A minimum purchase will cost us $500. The little money we have saved is for our much needed vacation coming up soon. We haven’t had a vacation in over four years, and some of you know our family has had a lot of disappointment the past two years. Our vacation will now be just one day instead of three, but at least we’ll have a hot shower while we wait for the trip. This is all a minor inconvenience for us. Not so minor if this had happened in January.

We’ve been without hot water for two days now. I keep two large pots of water heating on our electric stove for washing dishes and cleaning. We are taking cold showers, and they take your breath away. Our upper Midwest tap water is cold, especially after the hard winter that we had and a nonexistent summer. We’ve had two days this summer that reached 90 F. That was back in May. Our high today was 74 and our low is expected to be 50 tonight. It’s mid August! We’ll have propane in two more days.

JLeslie's avatar

Do you keep your car outside? Consider putting the water in the car. You can use gallon jugs. Cars have big time green house effect and will keep water warm. If it is 70 and sunny outside, the inside car temp is easily 90.

jonsblond's avatar

We do. That’s a great idea @JLeslie. Thank you.

JLeslie's avatar

Remember the sun coming through the windows with the windows closed is what makes it so hot. If the trunk is totally covered like a trunk on a typical sedan, the trunk will be cooler than the car.

I hope it helps. :).

El_Cadejo's avatar

@JLeslie Sounds like a great way to get mold growing in your car…..

JLeslie's avatar

@El_Cadejo If the water is in jugs? She isn’t going to leave the same water there for days. Just to get it warm and then use it. I leave water on my counter in a Brita and my apt is 77 degrees. People leave a bottle of water in their car while they drink it throughout the day all the time. The water is in the plastic container.

Adagio's avatar

@jca “labourious and time-consuming”? I guess that depends on how you look at it, for me it was simply a way of life and I loved it. : ^)

jca's avatar

@Adagio: Yes, for me, having to heat up the big pot, carry it to the tub and then do the little sponge bath thing and then hair separately when I was in my regular morning rush was tough. The regular shower is 5–10 minutes, so I was happy when I got hot water heater back. Maybe if I didn’t have to work and I could make it a charming exercise, it would have been a different story.

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther