18th century cleanliness

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I’ve spent two episodes in the wilderness for about a six week period. Once treking from Grand Junction to Fort Bridger, the other three years later going from fort Bridger to Lander Wyoming
I had Fells Naptha soap with me as I couldn’t find lye soap and had yet to learn how to make it. It was spring and many of the nights below freezing. Had some day time snows on multi occasions. I managed to wash pretty often. And I doubt my hind end is any cleaner now.
I had no deodorant and I had no after shave, my shirts were boiled in my cooking pot about once a week, and rinsed in creek or river water. As good as laundry? No Clean? Yes
People ‘washed up fer dinner’ at noon and evening. Did they get in a tub of water? No , but they washed.
johnson, referenced above would not have been famous for poor hygiene unless those around him did not have poor hygiene
 
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The granddaughter of the man that built the old farmhouse that stands on our property (in upper western North Carolina) came by for a visit. She explained that the old house was built in the early 1930's. (An old two-story log home was there previously.) Seven people lived in the four room place. They were tobacco farmers, primarially, but grew their own food and hunted daily. It had no electricity until the late 1970's. No running water either. There's a wonderful spring at the bottom of the hill where they drew water daily and lugged it up to the house.
Bath day came once a week.
This is recent history. I imagine things were no different for her family's living conditions than from the previous two centuries.
 
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It wouldn't surprise me if a lot of misinterpretation is carried forward from the middle ages and early renaissance. Not the people per se though some did contribute to the overall ambiance but large towns and cities with open sewers, animal excrement, etc. In Europe there were open gutters in the street where people emptied their chamber pots often by simply tossing the contents out open upper story windows. Cholera and dysentery were common even up through the late 1800s because people didn't understand proper sanitation.
 

troy2000

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Coincidentally, I was reading an article earlier today arguing that while Vikings might have had long hair and beards, they weren't necessarily the dirty, smelly barbarians they're often depicted as. It cites all the personal grooming items that have been found in archeology digs...
 
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Judging from laws and sermons public bathhouses were places frequented by people looking for more then a bath and was part of most towns of the Middle Ages. Monasteries normal basic plan had bathhouse for the monks and most had a private bath house for the Pryor and guest
 
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Coincidentally, I was reading an article earlier today arguing that while Vikings might have had long hair and beards, they weren't necessarily the dirty, smelly barbarians they're often depicted as. It cites all the personal grooming items that have been found in archeology digs...
Most accounts we have of the Vikings were written by their enemies. We do have one account written by an Arab ambassador who had been sent to Bulgaria from Baghdad and on the way fell in with Rus Vikings. I can not think of his name, it’s been more then thirty years since I read him.
He recorded that every morning a slave girls brought in a large cauldron of hot water. And the crew of a ship or war band cleaned themselves every morning. The bowl was passed first to the head man then down in rank. The Arab was disgusted that they shared the same water, but the amount of work required to heat enough water shows this distasteful sharing to have at least been practical. And also that the Vikings were at least used to daily cleaning. I would expect the cauldron was at least a one family only at home.
 
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While playing army I once went 30 days once without a shower. When I got back in first thing I did was go to the O Club for a decent meal. They darn near threw me out because of the smell. I didn't notice it and the food tasted much better than Charlie rats. Cleanliness is a relative thing.
We took pills to induce constipation. But for several days at a time. Charlie said our scat didn't smell like his. 30 Days would have been a bit much.
 
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Heck we all smell, you are not supposed to stick your snoot in those places. 1971 rode an armor personal carrier across Germany. Without having to look we knew we were entering a village with the odor it had.
 
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Zonie

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I think Rancid Crabtree had the right idea. If he could avoid it, he tried to stay dry so he never took a bath.
He figured, "Ye don' want ta warsh off yer protective crust. Iffen ye do, all sorts of sickness can burro thar way inta yur skin an make ye sicker than a dog."

When Rancid came over to Pat's house in the middle of winter with an ice storm blowing outside, Pat's mom and his sister "the troll" would rush around the house opening all of the windows. "Mighty strange behavior, but women are like that." Rancid mused.

(If you haven't, be sure to read Pat McManus's books. You'll be glad you did. :) )
 
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During the evac. of Saigon we went 33 days with out a wash or change of clothing talk about a bunch of crusty grunts. Once we were back for a bit on the U.S.S. Okinawa the sailors put us on the flight deck, all we kept was our weapons, flak jackets, helmets and duce gear, web belts, boots, that kind of items, the clothing or what was left of it went in the drink, then they hosed us with fire hoses, I think the sailors enjoyed that part, gave us scrub brushes and big bars of soap, and used bug sprayers with something in them said it was disinfectant, A bunch of nekkid Marines but we got clean, gave each other hair cuts with what looked like sheep shears, and took a shave, after all that we were issued new utility's. From that day until now I promised myself if I could find water I would never be scuzzy again.
 
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I think Rancid Crabtree had the right idea. If he could avoid it, he tried to stay dry so he never took a bath.
He figured, "Ye don' want ta warsh off yer protective crust. Iffen ye do, all sorts of sickness can burro thar way inta yur skin an make ye sicker than a dog."

When Rancid came over to Pat's house in the middle of winter with an ice storm blowing outside, Pat's mom and his sister "the troll" would rush around the house opening all of the windows. "Mighty strange behavior, but women are like that." Rancid mused.

(If you haven't, be sure to read Pat McManus's books. You'll be glad you did. :) )
I recall Pat got a skunk under the shed. He thought they should bring Rancid in to help get rid of it. His grandmother was sure the smell of Rancid might drive the skunk off but she didn’t think that would be an advantage
PT, Rancid , Muldoon, Retch, et al are good friends of mine.
 

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