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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15

Antiseptics

AntisepticsSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

After wine, urine was the most common antiseptic during Victorian times.

14

Beds

BedsSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Thatched roofs often led to bird droppings throughout the cottage, even on the bed.


13

Waste

WasteSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Often it was just thrown into a cesspit not far from the house. Of course, these were breeding grounds for diseases.

12

Laundry

LaundrySource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

You may be used to this by now, but on the rare occasion that laundry was done, it was usually done with a mixture of lye and urine.


11

Surgery

SurgerySource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

There were no such things as clean surgical instruments. Unless you consider a urine drenched scalpel clean…

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