Investments in good hygiene practices have been ingrained in us since we were young. Growing up, we heard our parents or grandparents tell us countless times that we should be thankful the conveniences we have now because it was way more difficult in their time. The things that we consider “basic” today was a privilege back then. Each and every generation had its own hygiene norm—though we’re glad we have outgrown some of them. With the advancement of Science, our understanding about these things have also changed. Want to learn just how much? Check out these mind-blowing hygiene practices from the past.
Medieval Times Bathing
Personal hygiene is one of the most basic things that were taught to us when we were young. Although we know that how it is practiced in every culture is different, you won’t believe how different it was back then! Bathing is pretty basic, right? Even animals bathe, but in medieval times the whole family shared the bathing water. This is so, because manually heating the water is time consuming that they opted for used bathwater. Fuel-generated water heater and electric water heaters, like what plumbing services that our generation enjoys, were not invented until the late 18th to 19th century.
Online classes are part of the “new normal” that we have to live through these days. We sit in front of our computers, doing homework, having video conferences in the comfort of our homes. We can all agree that changing clothes every single day is not really practical. We tend to use yesterday’s clothes that are about to be tossed in the laundry hamper. Some may find it unhygienic but this concept goes back to pre-19th century. Families then only had four pairs of clothing, one for every season. Knowing this, using that day-old uniform isn’t so bad after all.
Pre-Toilet Paper Era
Toilets are one of the most used room in a house that’s why some people spend extra on making it presentable, may it be with all-white walls and hardwood flooring or just plain tidy. This is also why most people are not comfortable using public toilets due to the fact that some might not have functional water faucets, the flush doesn’t work, or they don’t even have toilet paper available. Toilet paper is a must, but before it was invented in the 1800’s people had to use different things to clean themselves. They utilized leaves, fruit peelings, grass, wool, and even their own hands.
People in the modern times, specially the younger generations are so particular in their looks. Beauty regimens are considered a necessity nowadays. Some, put their investments on self-care, which includes improvement of one’s physical appearance. One of the basic on looks is the haircut. Most people have their own preferences of barbershops and a favorite barber. Barbers either went to school to learn how to cut hair or was trained overtime. During the middle ages they had more responsibility than simply cutting hair, they were also trained like surgeons that performs operations and dentists who took care of your rotting teeth.
Portable Toilet Bowl
Most of us have experienced the inconvenience of waking up in the middle of the night just because we have to pee. As a kid, perhaps you were too scared to run to the toilet and wished there was a one in the room. Some may have an actual toilet in the room but back in the day, it was common to have a small pot that resembles ones used to catch the water leaks when the roof repair flops, underneath the bed for urination. The contents were discarded in the morning or used for watering plants because it was believed to be a good fertilizer.
A lot of people are scared of going to into a surgical operation. It is reassuring to know that the person handling you is well trained and the equipment used are of standard quality. Every operation that must be done in our body should be performed accurately and sterility must always be observed to ensure safety of the patient but this was not the case before the 1800’s. Anesthetics weren’t available and surgeons would quickly cut the skin of the patient to lessen the pain and wound exposure. If that is how it’s done today, I would definitely invest on a good health insurance.
Syphilis is one of the diseases that afflicted many people during the 1580s. In England, nearly half of the population succumbed to this disease. It had a lot of symptoms which is readily treatable with antibiotics in current times. One of the easily noticeable symptoms is hair loss which bothered people even back then. Hair loss at a young age would almost always be associated with syphilis. To avoid suspicion, wigs came to a trend. Louis XIV should be given credit for it. As he was going bald at the age of 17, he hired wig makers to make him toupees.
Today, there are a lot of birth controls to choose from, but this wasn’t the case for women until the 20th century. Contraceptives are essential for women that are not ready to have a baby. Having a child requires financial stability and insurance companies don’t cover all of the costs. So, women back then got resourceful to prevent unplanned pregnancy. One of the things they used was Lysol, the disinfectant. Although used for cleaning, it is harmful when sprayed on the sensitive parts of the body. There were countless reports of women being treated for inflammation and burns on their genital areas due to Lysol use.
Real False Teeth
When were younger, some of us encountered scary stories about skeleton models being made out of actual humans. Did you know that in 18th century, dentures or also known as “waterloo teeth” was made from real human teeth? George Washington’s false teeth were, in fact, a combination of a lot of materials including actual human teeth. It was considered the best of its kind. During the 1800’s, these were widely accepted. However, if this were the case now, these businesses should be filing for bankruptcy because aside from hygienic reasons, I think a lot would agree that this is just too creepy.
Beauty has been coveted by people since time immemorial. We try to so hard to make ourselves presentable and be satisfied with how we look. We often try different beauty routines, spend extra on beauty products maybe even a portion of our personal loans is spent on vanity. Some people would go to lengths just to live up to society’s beauty standards. In 16th – 17th century, women would consume Belladonna plant also known as nightshade. It’s quite poisonous if taken in large amounts. Despite knowing this, it didn’t stop women from consuming it for its effect of dilating the pupils which is considered attractive.