Illustration by Sofia Bews.

Illustration by Sofia Bews.

There comes a time in nearly every young person’s life when a spontaneous sleepover is in order. Staying at a friend’s house after a party, spending the night with a cute love interest…it actually mattereth not the reason you’re staying over. What does matter is that it’s rare to find a bathroom fully stocked with all your grooming needs. I mean rare.

I once spent the night at a boy’s apartment and woke up to discover that he kept exactly one item in his shower: a dried-out, cracked, scummy-on-the-bottom bar of Irish Spring soap. That was it, y’all. No shampoo. No conditioner. A quick inventory of his bathroom cabinets turned up a near-empty tube of toothpaste, a spent toothbrush, NO DEODORANT, and NO LOTION. I had to go to class! What was this??? He seemed baffled by my needs: The boy had a shaved head, he didn’t believe in deodorant, he had “never needed lotion” and, really, wasn’t soap all I needed? WASN’T SOAP. ALL I NEEDED.

I resolved to not date aliens after this terrifying encounter. But because you, too, will inevitably find yourself in a vast grooming-products desert with no conditioner or toothpaste in sight, I give you this:

Krista’s Basic Hygiene Alternatives®

This is a list of all the tried-and-tested ways I have gotten clean and ready for my day at someone else’s house while lacking even the most essential grooming items. Best-ever solutions? Maybe not, but they get the job done.

Here’s what to do when…

There’s no toothbrush.

I am not a person who can use another person’s toothbrush, no matter if I just met them or have known them for years. I cannot do it. I would rather not brush my teeth. If you don’t have a toothbrush, and you’re like me, it’s no problem! Grab a washcloth (or the corner of a towel if you can’t find a washcloth), get it wet in the sink, and put a dab of toothpaste on your finger. Rub the toothpaste on your teeth, then scrub your teeth and tongue with the washcloth or towel-corner. It’s remarkably effective! Your mouth will actually get clean! Alternatively, you could just put some toothpaste on your finger and waggle it around in your mouth, but it just doesn’t work as well.

There’s no toothpaste.

S’fine. You don’t need it. Repeat the washcloth trick from above, sans toothpaste. Make sure you thoroughly scrub your tongue, swish a lot of water around your mouth, and you’re good to go.

There’s no shampoo.

Some people (shoutout to my friend Kelly) only wash their hair with conditioner, and even though you’ve known them for nearly your entire life, you always forget this fact and are surprised when showering at their house. No problem, though—there are tons of alternatives for shampoo. Liquid hand soap works. So does bar soap. Don’t have either of those? Holler at your friend to bring you some dish soap, excellent for cutting the grease in your strands! We’ve been so brainwashed by specialized products that we forget that regular ol’ soap is perfectly fine to put into hair every now and again. Or hell, just try the washing-with-conditioner thing. Maybe your friend is on to something?

There’s no conditioner.

WHO IS THIS ANIMAL YOU’RE SPENDING THE NIGHT WITH??? Jkjk. I hate it when there’s no conditioner, but alas, this is an extremely common situation to find yourself in when sleeping over at someone’s house. Deep breaths—it’s going to be OK. Wash your hair with whatever shampoo is available, and then find this person’s lotion. Pump or squeeze a big dollop of lotion into your hand, and then—yes!—put the lotion on your wet hair, rub it around, and rinse it out. If there’s no lotion…you’re in my prayers, bb.

There’s no soap.

Why is there no soap/what is going on? No matter—you can get a handful of shampoo and rub yourself down with it. Or use hand soap, or our faithful friend, dish soap from the kitchen. You can also take a lotion bath with a washcloth: On wet skin, cover yourself with a thin layer of lotion and wipe it off, pressing fairly hard with the washcloth, then rinse.

There’s no lotion.

I’m here for you, hunnybun. If, without lotion, your skin will tighten and then gently flake off in sheets during the rest of the day, we must moisturize you somehow. Get thee to the kitchen and commandeer any type of vegetable-based oil you can get your crackingly dry paws on. Olive oil works particularly well, but coconut oil, vegetable oil, sesame oil, or literally any kind of cooking oil will be just fine. Crisco (going there, it’s happened to me) will also work in a pinch. Back in the bathroom, a small amount of Vaseline does the trick, too: Put a few dabs on your face and/or body and rub it in.

There’s no brush/comb.

When I sleep, my hair gets tangled into an amazing rat’s-nest-like snarl in the back. There is no hiding it, and I must have a brush. Now, feel free to be horrified, but I will admit I’m disgusting: At a friend’s house I once used a small hand-broom (That I washed! In the sink with soap!) to brush out the tangles in my hair. All I’m saying is find something vaguely comb- or brush-like (like one of these claw clips) and put it to work. Or just use your fingers, if your hair lets you do that.

There are no Q-tips.

No problem. Grab a washcloth or the end of a towel, then get it wet, twist it, and rub your ears clean. You could also twist up toilet paper and use that, but really, why not wait until you get home? ♦