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Pre-modern Hygiene Methods (Part 1)

Isn’t it always a little stressful when you go into the supermarket to buy yourself some toothpaste? There are so many brands being marketed in so many flashy ways that it can be difficult to buy yourself one single tube. But it wasn’t always this stressful or overwhelming. In fact, many of the ancient peoples only had one or two options when it came to maintaining something of a hygienic routine. Curious about how they cleaned themselves? Here’s some interesting information to read up about!

Bathing

When it came to bathing in ancient times, only those who were wealthy or of a higher social standing had the ability to bathe regularly. Why? Well, there was no plumbing system that made it easy for people to fill tubs with water. In fact, filling up a bathtub was quite a task. Not only did countless buckets of water have to be brought inside the house from a well or stream, but it took additional time to heat up the water! Because of the manpower it took to actually prepare a bath, many people would end up bathing together, rather than separately. Soap hadn’t been invented during these times, either. Instead, servants would fill bathtubs with things like oils, perfumes, and flower petals, which would help the skin to feel smoother and smell better. Unfortunately, poor people and peasants could only bathe if they found some extra water lying around. In these situations, they would rub themselves down with a kind of cloth and water/oil mixture.

Dental Hygiene

You can assume correctly that dentists weren’t around in the old days. But that didn’t stop people from coming up with ways to clean their teeth! In effect, they had to rely on some of the simplest ways to clean their mouths. There are accounts that some of the ways people tried to maintain their oral hygiene were through methods like rinsing their mouths out with water, rubbing their teeth with cloth to remove excess food particles and tartar, chewing mint, sage, and cinnamon to keep their breath fresh, and even apply mixtures of vinegar and mint to their teeth. However, if you had a toothache or cavity, the only method of alleviating the pain was by extracting the tooth altogether. Remember, no one had Novocain during these times.