After our toddler hit two years old, I wanted him to have more freedom in the yard to make a mess and get dirty. I also wanted to keep our freshly resurfaced cedar deck looking nice-ish. And with almost zero space inside our backdoor to go from outside to indoors, I wanted a way to contain the dirt, mud, rain and mess from immediately trashing the house. Presenting: the Outdoor Foot Washing Station! (*yes, we use it as a hand washing station too, but I love it for feet and shoes!)
I love the look of outdoor showers with wood and river rock. So this is like a mini version, with a coiled retractable hose mounted next to it. Here’s how I built it…
- cedar board – 6 feet – I used 2x6s leftover from my deck redo
- decking screws – 3″ screws from a previous project
- medium river rocks – we had a pile in our yard that didn’t have a specific use
- paper shopping bags or newspaper
- recoil 25′ garden hose w/sprayer – $27
- hose 2-way splitter – $10
- foaming hand soap – $3 (mint-based to keep bugs away)
- shovel – I used a curved for digging and flat edge to get sides straight
- circular saw (you can also usually ask Home Depot to make exact cuts for you)
How to Build an Outdoor Foot Washing Station:
- Cut your 4 pieces of lumber to resemble a box – mine is square-ish 18.5″ x 21″ and I used 5 boards of random lengths combined since it’s what I had leftover. If starting from scratch for an 18×21 box, that would be roughly 2 pieces of 21″ and 2 pieces of 15″ 2×6.
- Pre-drill pilot holes and then screw the sides together. I used two screws per side so eight total.
- Next dig out your space. We had gravel in the area already, so I first moved the gravel aside and then dug down far enough for the box to fit flat level with the gravel surface. Remember it will probably sink down a little over time. We didn’t want it to be a tripping hazard since it’s right near our deck steps. (Note: in the picture above, our handrail is not up to current building code since it doesn’t extend to the bottom step. It was like this when we moved in, so we’ve left it as-is, to tackle as a future project!).
- Test place the wood box in the hole to make sure it fits. Then lay down the paper bags to act as a weed barrier, before putting the box back in for good. Fill in any gaps on the outer edges with dirt and gravel.
- Place a small layer of gravel or smaller rocks as base, then fill the rest of your box with river rocks.
- Add a coil hose nearby. I used a wooden stake in the ground, I’ve also seen hooks or baskets as storage.
- Just add soap and rag towels! In summer time we leave a foam pump soap next to the rinse off station. It’s a minty (Dr Bronners) soap that helps with keeping ants and pests away from the water area. We keep our dry off towels just inside the backdoor since it does rain more often in Portland and I don’t need one more thing to remember :P But it keeps me happy as wet feet on the deck and in back door is much easier than wet and filthy.
Ta-da! Enjoy your clean up! And since all of the coronavirus obsessive hand washing started in March, it’s nice to be able to wash hands outside. Whether it’s to just have a quick snack, after bringing in the garbage bin, or cleaning up after playing with the mud kitchen.
Have you thought about adding a rinse-off station outside?