As a woman, there are certain hygienic practices that must be maintained to remain healthy, fresh and clean. Maintaining these can sometimes be difficult when you’re in a new place or just out of the comfort of your own home. Cadets from 9th Regiment Advanced Camp recently experienced this as they finished the second phase of their field training exercises, also known as the Panther Phase. 

During their time in the field, Cadets are only allotted a certain amount of time for hygiene.

Cadet Steven Tejeda, from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, shaves his face at 9th Regiment’s Refit at Advanced Camp on Fort Knox, Kentucky July 30, 2021. | Photo by Marissa Wells, CST Public Affairs Office.

The rest of their day is designated for running missions. However, Cadet Raichel Portis, from Whitworth University, has found a way to combat the time restrictions. 

“I packed a lot of underwear, but sometimes you don’t have time to change underwear, so I definitely recommend panty liners,” said Portis. “I go through probably like eight or so a day. You can just rip those off, change them and what not.”

Another way Portis keeps up her hygiene is by using baby wipes when she doesn’t have access to a shower. 

“On the first field day a lot of people got chafing and irritation down there and once you baby wipe you feel a lot better after being out in the field, being sweaty and everything sticking to yourself,” Portis said.

Some of the other tricks Portis has for feeling cleaner in the field is to air yourself out at night. On occasion she will take her trouser bottoms off and only sleep in spandex shorts. Portis also takes her hair out a bun when she sleeps. This helps her hair dry from all the sweating she does throughout the day.

Cadet Sydney Strupp, from University of California, Davis, and Cadet Olivia Roble, from Eastern Washington University, prepare to take a shower at 9th Regiment’s Refit at Advanced Camp on Fort Knox, Kentucky July 30, 2021. | Photo by Marissa Wells, CST Public Affairs Office.

Cadet Latesjia Lorfils, from Morgan State University, also uses baby wipes to keep herself clean in the field. Lorfils says anytime she has a small break she tries to tighten up on her hygiene because “as a female we have to take those extra steps.”

Another part about being in the field that Lorfils has found to be difficult is managing her hair. 

“I’m actually about to get my hair cornrowed, braided to the back,” Lorfils said. “I left my hair natural in Wolverine, the first iteration, that was super hard with the gel and stuff. So I learned keep your hair braided. The braids will last all three days and as soon as you feel super disgusting that’s when you’re going to march to your next refit.”

After gaining some experience at her previous refit, Lorfils was able to complete some tasks she didn’t have a chance to last time.  

“Today was actually the first day I was able to wash [my hair],” Lorifls said. “Last time I didn’t have enough time. I think I was in a leadership position so I had to make sure my people were squared away before I could have personal time. Today was the first time I got to wash my hair in probably two weeks.”

As a woman, being in the field for extended periods of time can be very intimidating, but it’s not impossible. There are numerous tips and tricks for staying fresh until there is time to take a shower. Asking a battle buddy for some of their tips is always a good way to go because field hygiene is an issue a lot of Cadets in the Army deal with.