Warning: This article isn’t for germophobes.
It should come as no surprise that keeping clean and practicing good hygiene has come a long way over the years. Today there are a ton of cleaning products, washing machines, disinfectant wipes, and other products on the market to help us keep our daily lives squeaky clean.
However, we can’t be perfect all the time. Every once in a while, I slack off and forget to change my sheets or put off doing the laundry ’til the weekend. These little oversights sometimes make me feel like I’m swimming in a pool of filth, but they don’t even compare to some unhygienic practices of the past.
Let’s just say that our medieval ancestors didn’t exactly set the bar high when it came to cleanliness.
1. In medieval times, when someone was too lazy to get up and go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, they would go #1 or #2 in a chamber pot that they stored underneath their bed.
2. And when it came time to empty the pot, the waste was thrown into a giant hole in the backyard.
3. A “groom of the king’s close stool” was a person who wiped the king’s rear end, and they were actually highly esteemed for having the opportunity to do so.
4. Peasants didn’t have the luxury of quilted toilet paper, so they used leaves instead.
5. Most medieval people only had four sets of clothing, one outfit for each season.
6. And speaking of these outfits, most of them were made of wool, making them incredibly difficult to clean.
7. Instead of washing their wool clothes, they would use brushes to try to remove dirt and smells.
8. Periwigs were common head fixtures, and most of them were plagued with lice.
9. People attempted to treat their mental illnesses by taking a bath in urine.
10. When mixed with lye, urine was also used to wash clothes.
11. Unless you were rich, you bathed in public bathhouses in the same water as countless other people.
12. It was also widely believed that taking a bath in the summer should be avoided at all costs.
13. If someone caught an STD, their disease was treated with poisonous amounts of mercury.
14. Women used lead powder as makeup.
15. A mixture of potassium salts and chicken poop was used to help those with bald spots.
16. Eagle poop was used to ease a woman’s pain during childbirth.
17. There were no pads or tampons in medieval times. Women used patches of moss.
18. If you fell ill, a leech would feed on you. They were believed to rid your body of toxins.
19. Surgical tools weren’t sterilized, meaning that the germs of patients before you were still on the instruments being used to help save your life.
20. Novocain wasn’t around yet, so getting a tooth pulled (which was done by your local barber) was a less-than-pleasant experience.
21. Physicians would use wine and even urine as antiseptics.
I am definitely glad that I wasn’t born during medieval times. Share these outdated practices with someone in your life who needs to bring their hygiene into the modern age!