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As is often true today, the poor and uneducated practiced horrible hygiene - if any at all. Body odor remains a nuisance among groups of people who are not brought up with proper hygienic awareness. The Victorian attitude was "CLEANLINESS IS NEXT TO GODLINESS" and surprisingly, the middle and upper classes were probably cleaner than we are in the 21st century!

It is possible to completely clean one's body without total immersion in a bath tub or benefit of a full shower. Water was precious and often hard to come by; a daily full body bath would have been a shocking waste of valuable water. To prepare a bath they would have had to heat a bathtub full of water in a fireplace or on a wood or coal burning stove - one pot at a time - until the tub was full. They did do this, usually once a week. (Saturday night was often traditional bath night.) When the bath tub was full, the entire family washed in the same water. Between times, people washed at the wash stand. They heated a pitcher full of hot water, carried it to the washstand, poured it into the bowl (as you would fill your bathroom sink with hot water) took a wash cloth and soap and completely washed their bodies. The act of cleaning oneself was known as "making toilette" or "toilet" - that word having a different meaning than the modern usage as "commode."

They usually washed at the washstand 2 - 3 times daily, often when changing out of morning clothing and into afternoon and evening wear. (Especially in summer and in hot climates.) Therefore, since they cleaned their bodies so frequently, they were probably cleaner than we are.

Cologne (also known as eau de cologne or "cologne water" or eau de toilette or "toilet water" - as in the old usage of "making toilette" - not toilet water as we know it) was their deodorant. The base for cologne is alcohol (even still) and alcohol kills bacteria that creates body odor. Cologne was often reapplied between washings.

As recently as the 1950's and '60's people often bathed once a week and washed their bodies at the sink in between times. Try it - rather than take a full bath or shower, fill your bathroom sink with hot water, soap up a wash cloth and wash your body standing at the bathroom sink. (You will want to stand on a towel or bath mat.) Once you've soaped up, rinse the wash cloth and start rinsing your body. If the water in the sink gets too murky for you, empty it and refill it. You'll be surprised to find that a.) it takes less time than a bath or shower and b.) you'll feel every bit as fresh and clean as if you'd stood in the shower for 15 minutes.

To quote an old Victorian joke (considered VERY risque in its time) in order to clean your body, wash down as far as possible, then wash up as far as possible...and then wash Possible!

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12y ago
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14y ago

Needless say hygiene was virtually non existent during this period. People took a YEARLY bath usually around May and got married around June because they still smelt nice but brides carried bouquets to hide the smell, a custom still apparent in modern christian weddings.... the bath itself was a large tub of hot water, where the man of the house went first followed by the sons, then women, then children and last of all babies! the water was not changed during the entire process hence by the time the poor baby got its bath the water was so dirty you could lose the poor child in it! people thought water was evil in itself because it could permeate the skin with germs and other diseases, so they left the grime on themselves to create a water proof seal to prevent illness. imagine not bathing for a year as it was deemed evil and especially during a time when people were more physically active, clothes were hardly washed and human waste thrown into the street directly in the path of people. the smell alone would have been enough to kill someone! hope this helps :-) !!

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11y ago

There wasn't any personal hygiene, no bathrooms, toilets etc.

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Q: What was the hygiene like in the 16Th Century in England?
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