If the summer heat has you feeling a little grubby, take heart: you’re probably nowhere as gross as your ancestors, both the ancient and the not-so-ancient. Today, we take for granted things like hygiene, indoor plumbing, and sanitation — things many people, even today, don’t have access to. Yet in times past, people had to make do with what they had to stay clean and healthy. Sometimes, what they had seemed like the complete opposite of cleanliness.
1. Bathing was sporadic and often communal.
For a while, public bathhouses, usually with communal bathwater, were popular, but they declined. Why? Well, the church thought that being naked was evil. Another reason was that bathhouses were also sites popular with prostitutes, also a no-no. Finally, there was this idea that the cleanliness of a person’s clothes was more important than the cleanliness of their body, probably because it reflected a person’s social status. Only the wealthy regularly took baths in their homes. Other people would simply wash the visible parts of their bodies, like their faces, necks, and hands, at home. The rest of the body? Not so much.