25 Incredibly Gross And Surprising Hygiene Practices From History

Since the beginning of time people have tried to stay clean (which is probably why our cleaning hack list has been so popular). Of course, this meant different things at different times. For example, not every culture had sinks or bathtubs. What’s worse, not long ago the world didn’t even know about germs or infections (so they took some liberties that today we frown upon).

Things that we take for granted today, like showers, hand washing, toilets, trash cans, and sewers looked radically different and indoor plumbing was practically non-existent (for some cultures). People couldn’t just use the bathroom in the house and flush out the waste. If they lived in the countryside they would have to go outdoors and cover up the waste somehow.

The exact methods varied from culture to culture but things like toilet paper and running water certainly weren’t part of the solution. If they lived in the city, they couldn’t even go in the woods. They had to do their business in a bedpan that they kept-big surprise-under the bed.

In the morning the bedpan had to be emptied, but you couldn’t just empty it in the house (no sewer system remember?), it went to the only logical place left…the street. That’s right if you lived in London hundreds of years ago you would have human excrement being flung out of windows early in the morning. At any rate, you are about to see how hygiene has changed over the centuries. These are 25 incredibly gross and surprising hygiene practices from history.

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20

Baldness

BaldnessSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

For a short time chicken droppings mixed with potassium were rubbed into the scalp to cure baldness.

19

Bathing

BathingSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Most people bathed in the same water. Since most people didn’t have tubs at home the baths were usually communal.

18

Bathroom breaks at night

Bathroom breaks at nightSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

If you had to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night you would most likely just reach under your bed for your bed pan. When you were done, you would just slide it back under the bed and go to sleep. The grossest part? The bed pans were often emptied right out of the window and onto the street.

17

Wiping

WipingSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

If you were a king, you didn’t wipe by yourself. Kings typically had a “Groom of Stool”. This person’s job was to carry around the king’s portable toilet and cleaning necessities. Of course, you would also have to help wipe up afterwards. Contrary to what you may think, this position was actually highly coveted and often given to sons of nobles. As for the peasants? They used leaves.

16

Brushing

BrushingSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Romans used mouse brains to brush their teeth.

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