Hygiene is the way we stay clean and healthy. Over time, hygiene and cleanliness have changed. Today, we take baths and showers, brush our teeth, and wash our hands with soap. Thousands of years ago, people used to think that taking baths would make them sick. One of the reasons perfume and cologne were invented was to help cover the smell of body odor. So, how far has hygiene come over the centuries?
In ancient Greece (1200 – 200 BC), the people enjoyed bathing. They used blocks of clay, sand, pumice stone, and ashes to clean the body. Around 600 BC, the Greeks started using chamber pots and had public baths set up near places where they exercised.
In Medieval Britain (AD 400), finding ways to clean the teeth became popular. People rinsed their mouths out with water or made a mixture of vinegar and mint to clean their mouths. Bay leaves soaked in orange flower tea was another choice. And, when all else failed, a cloth could be rubbed against the teeth to clean them, too.
During the 1400s, the Chinese invented toilet paper.
By 1846, taking a bath had become popular, but firewood to heat the water was hard to come by. Entire families, and sometimes even friends, had to share a bath or stay dirty.
Today we have learned a lot from our ancestors’ trial and
error. We know the importance of washing hands with soap and that we should wash them for 20 seconds to make sure all germs are removed. Cleanliness is one of the best defenses against spreading or contracting diseases. Social distancing isn’t a new idea, as it was done during the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, but modern society has improved on this method as well. As we grow and learn, our knowledge on health and hygiene evolve as well.