Published 2016-12-16
14 Comment

The strange hygiene of people in the 19th century and before will shock you

Everyone knows very well how unsanitary were the conditions of the people living in the Middle Ages. However, there were many hygienic problems hiding behind those fancy dresses of the romantic heroines in the early nineteenth century. These beauties did not have much idea about the many benefits of hygiene, which we are familiar with. Their customs were mostly strange.

It is hard to imagine the difficulties encountered in everyday life related to hygiene and health now. What was done 200 years ago to deal with the smell of sweat was very complicated, and even regular washing of intimate places was not done as it was considered infertile! This is just the glimpse of what the citizens of that time actually thought.

NO for relaxing baths

Do you like taking long relaxing hot baths? Women of the 19th century did not experience that pleasure. We, right now cannot even step out of the house without taking a shower, but the Medieval Europeans believed that when they took a bath the water penetrated into the pores causing infections and weakening the body. It was believed that also frequent washing could even cause an injury. Their hygiene methods get stranger and stranger.

Washing is not such a bad thing

Literally doctors had to convince their patients to bathe. For example, Friedrich Biltz in the late nineteenth century explains to German citizens in his book "New natural cure” that there are people who do not dare to swim in a river or bathe, because since childhood, they have never entered the water.They have an unfounded fear. But after the fifth or sixth bath one can get used to it.

Bathing issues

Even before that, the monarchs bathed only a few times in life and in the fifteenth century, it was known that Queen Isabel bathed only twice: at birth and before her wedding. Louis XIV was forced to bathe bound by his doctors. He got so terrified that he promised to never do it again. Until the eighteenth century, he only rinsed his hands and mouth area. Regularly washing your face was not something that doctors advised because it was believed that it can cause inflammation and loss of vision. In the nineteenth century people bathed only if they were sick and only if so prescribed by their doctor.


Perfumes, in the time of Louis XIV were prescribed by royal decree. Without them, appearance in court was not allowed - they somehow had to stifle the smell of the aristocrats who did not bathe. And until the mid-nineteenth century, when finally the role of bacteria and dirt in the development of disease was revealed, regular bathing was taken massively established.

First deodorants

The women who lived before the twentieth century were not recommended to wash their intimate areas, because this supposedly made them sterile . Only books could be worse than the washing! Doctors argued that reading was particularly dangerous, as well as any other mental activity.
The same perfume was used to hide the body odor accumulated in all layers of clothes, corseted dresses and multiple fabrics on the human body, although it did not completely eliminate the odor. Only in 1888 they finally came up with a way to fight the smell of sweat, deodorant, however, it would be ineffective for us if we bring that deodorant to our time. Antiperspirant, which reduces body sweating, was invented in 1903. What about one of the most important elements, hairstyles?

Disturbing hairstyles

Hairstyles in seventeenth century were very complicated: the hair was stacked by a hairdresser for several hours. And to create them, special supports were installed in the hairstyles. Naturally, not dismounting hairstyles for weeks or months. No wonder that these works would become a hotbed of bugs or mice nests. In the Middle Ages in Spain, women rubbed their hair in garlic to combat mice.

Home remedies

A daughter of one of the kings of France died because of lice accumulated in her hair. In order to scratch her head, the lady had a special wand and if she had to wash, she had a special soap (basically shampoo but not even close to what we use now) for her hair. As if that could solve the monumental problem! Different home remedies, like ash and mustard were used. The shampoo, which really allowed wash hair and make it shiny and elastic, was invented only at the end of the nineteenth century.

No toilet paper!

Lastly, there was also no toilet paper in Europe. A German was the first to know toilet paper in 1857 on one of his trips to China. Modern and smooth rolls began to be produced in the year 1890 in the United States. Until that time, newspapers were mostly used as toilet papers.
Seriously, looking nice in those days was not an easy task!
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Source: Starstock/ Imgur

What do you think? Join the conversation
Horrors that badly affected actors who starred in them
Nupur Sahni
Nupur Sahni 1/4/17, 7:06 AM
Ashpreet Kalra you're living in the wrong century bud
Jemima Judith
Jemima Judith 1/4/17, 7:06 AM
There goes my love for this era .... Ewww
Sridevi HR
Sridevi HR 1/4/17, 7:06 AM
We indian are best we know the benefits of Bath far before 17th century
Aprajita Saxena
Aprajita Saxena 1/3/17, 7:06 AM
omg why did I ever read this!
Afreen Zaki
Afreen Zaki 1/3/17, 7:06 AM
Vidush Sinha you were talking about hygiene nah, lol
Manisha Singh
Manisha Singh 1/2/17, 7:06 AM
India at that time was way ahead of Europe.
Sardar Amandeep Singh
Sardar Amandeep Singh 1/1/17, 7:06 AM
In short europeans were disgusting from the very start.
Govind Singhaniya
Govind Singhaniya 12/30/16, 7:06 AM
Really proud to be an indian...
Delna Irani
Delna Irani 12/30/16, 7:06 AM
Arushi Batra tu kya karti yeh zamane mai
Jagapriya Ulaganathan
Jagapriya Ulaganathan 12/29/16, 7:06 AM
Abirami Baburaj Sundari Parthiban read this x(
Punica Sethi
Punica Sethi 12/29/16, 7:06 AM
Aprajita Saxena
Aprajita Saxena
Aprajita Saxena 1/3/17, 7:06 AM
omg why did I ever read this!
Saarim Naeem
Saarim Naeem 12/29/16, 7:06 AM
Moonis I finally found this article on hygiene that you were talking about
Mario Maurer
Mario Maurer 12/26/16, 7:06 AM
Lol. it Looks like Jackie Chan is in some trouble.
Manila Gambhir
Manila Gambhir 12/24/16, 7:06 AM
Prashansa Vandana anand
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