Welcome back to our two-part series exploring the many methods of hygiene before modernity! We hope that you enjoyed learning about some of the ways that people in the old days bathed themselves, as well as how they took care of their dental hygiene. Needless to say, we are pretty happy that modern medicine has let us extract teeth professionally and painlessly! To finish up our post, here are some additional ways that people used to practice bodily hygiene before the modern era…
Over on the European continent, bathrooms were commonly referred to as a “privy” or “garderobe.” For the most part, bathrooms were either holes in the ground, where one would have to physically squat down to use them, or sit on a bench over the hole. Regardless of how you actually used the bathroom in these times, toilet paper hadn’t been invented. When it came to wiping, there was usually a pile of linen or wool rags, straw, moss, or leaves that people would use. While the idea of using straw as a form of toilet paper doesn’t seem too comfortable or logical, there has been evidence of people from all over the world who have used leaves. However, if you were poor, you wouldn’t have the luxury of using a privy or garderobe. Instead, you would have to do your business in a bucket in a corner of your home. Eventually, the world moved to things like chamber pots, which people kept under their beds and cleaned out in the mornings. Want to know a weird fact? If you were a king, you actually had a servant designated with one task: wiping your behind.
Seeing that baths were pretty much limited to the wealthy and royal, keeping yourself smelling fresh was a big challenge for many in previous centuries. For the people who had the money to do so, they would frequently purchase oils extracted from the local flora that they would rub underneath their arms, as well as on their bodies. Likewise, mixtures were concocted from these oils that also included ingredients like spices and a variety of herbs to improve their bodily scent.