Thankfully, we are able to enjoy the perks of modern-day personal hygiene, but back then, people did not have access to the same products and had to create their own. Though some of them may have worked (many did not), they are seriously gross. Here are 41 old hygiene tips that might make your skin crawl.
41. Lysol for Feminine Hygiene
Lysol tried to market itself as a feminine hygiene brand for women in the 1920’s. The medical community claimed that it was too strong to be used for these purposes.
40. No Clean Clothes During the Winter
People back then didn’t wash their clothes during the winter. The process involved heating up water and waiting for their clothes to dry while they were naked. It was too cold and too much effort.
39. Snail Slime for Sore Throats
An old remedy for sore throats was to mix snail slime and sugar to coat the throat.
38. No Tooth, No Toothache
Unfortunately, dentists were not around back then to tell you to floss more. If you had a toothache, you would likely get your tooth removed, but not by a dentist. You would get your painful tooth pulled by a barber of course since they were licensed to operate minor surgeries.
37. Families Shared Bathwater
Poorer families could not afford to heat a bath for every person in the family, so they ended up sharing the bathwater. They bathed from oldest to youngest, so if you’re the youngest in your family, you would’ve had some pretty gross bathwater.
36. Gray Hair Removal with Radium
So this method worked, in that it would remove peoples’ gray hair, but it would also remove their hair completely.
35. Using Mercury for Cold Sores
Mercury is definitely not the safest method to treat a cold sore and in fact, wasn’t successful at treating cold sores at all. We can’t say we’re very surprised.
34. Urine as Mouthwash
Because Listerine wasn’t around back then, people came up with an anti-bacterial mouthwash of their own, urine.
33. Toilet Paper Didn’t Exist
Can you believe that people didn’t use toilet paper until 1857? People used leaves, rags, or even their hands before it was invented.
32. Straw Floors
In medieval times, the floors were made of straw. Apparently, people did not remove the old layer of straw before adding another one on top.
31. Silphium as a Contraceptive
Ancient Romans actually ate the silphium plant as a method of birth control. The plant was so in demand that it did not live to see past the Roman era.
30. Women Painted Lead on their Faces
Pale skin was a favorable look back in the day. To look fairer, noblewomen and men painted their faces with white paint, which happened to be made of poisonous lead.
29. Hair Health Suffered
Women in the 1920s put all sorts of products in their hair and used many heat tools to achieve the popular 20’s hairstyles, which in turn, badly burned and damaged their hair.
28. The Truth about Castle Moats
In old times, castle keepers emptied leftover food and human waste into the castle moats.
27. Using Chicken Poop to Prevent Baldness
Men were advised to combine chicken poop and Lye and wash their scalps with the mixture. Since Lye is a deadly alkaline solution, it is unlikely that this hair tip worked.
26. People Had One Outfit Per Season
People in the 19th century had one outfit per season with the exception of the upper class, who had a different outfit every day.
25. Silverware Didn’t Exist
Before silverware existed, people used their hands to eat their food. Another fun fact is that people never washed their hands back then either. Doesn’t sound very appetizing, does it?
24. Using Crocodile Poop as Contraceptive
Ancient Egyptian women took crocodile poop and put it in their genitalia to avoid pregnancies. This method could have worked too since crocodile poop has a fairly similar makeup to modern-day spermicides.
23. Dentures were Made from the Dead
In the 18th century, dentures were made from the teeth of dead soldiers.
22. The Creation of Deodorant
Deodorant was created in 1888 and has been around ever since! It replaced the old method of using flowers to mask odors.
21. Urine was Used as Face Wash
People in the 17th century believed that urine had antiseptic abilities that made it a great face wash.
20. Shoe Polish was Toxic
Shoe polish contained the ingredient nitrobenzene, which could make you faint if inhaled.
19. Old-Fashioned Tampons
Tampons were not very comfortable in ancient times. In Ancient Egypt, women would combine dirt and honey inside linen covering, while women in Ancient India would use rock salt and oil.
18. Graham Crackers Were Made to Combat Lust
That’s right. Graham crackers were invented to combat all feelings of lust, even lusting after yourself. Though an odd idea, graham crackers are still enjoyed today, especially with chocolate and marshmallows!
17. Toothpaste or Mouse Brains?
People in the Roman era had to create their own toothpaste back then, so naturally, they used pureed mouse brains.
16. A Position as the King’s Butt-Wiper
While this sounds like a gross job, it did come with some perks. The Groom of the Stool, aka the King’s butt-wiper, was the King’s trusted confidant and knew many royal secrets.
15. Origins of the Phrase “Feminine Hygiene”
Beginning in 1973, it was illegal in the United States to sell birth control as birth control. Instead, these products were called “feminine hygiene” products to avoid breaking any laws. The term “feminine hygiene” is still used on many products to this day.
14. Beaver as Birth Control
A popular birth control concoction in the 16th century, male beaver parts were used to prevent women from becoming pregnant.
13. X-Ray Hair Removal
X-rays were used to remove body hair permanently. The problem with this is that to remove the hair completely, people were vulnerable to radiation for long periods of time, which caused cancer.
12. Kerosene for Bed Bugs
To combat bed bugs, people covered their beds in kerosene. This method did not work. Kerosene is highly flammable so don’t try this at home.
11. Dying People Became Medicine for the Living
This Chinese practice, called mellification, involved a dying person transforming his body into medicinal candy for the living. The dying person would only consume honey until his death.
10. Cannibalism was Commonplace
In the 17th century, the wealthy believed that consuming the dead would be beneficial to their health.
9. Rotten Teeth Symbolized Wealth
In the Elizabethan era, only the wealthy could enjoy refined sugar. Because of this, rotten teeth were a sign of wealth. Some peasants even tried to fake rotten teeth to make themselves seem richer.
8. Flowers as Deodorant
Before deodorant existed, people used flowers to mask their odors. Baths and showers would have been viewed as a waste of water, so flowers were the next best thing.
7. Lead in the Water
Lead was used to build water systems and bathtubs in the past, and people were not aware of the toxicity of the metal. It is still a problem for our water systems today, though we have more precautions in place now, such as filters.
6. Hairstyles Full of Bugs
Hairstyles in the 18th century were comprised of wigs and real hair that was constructed using lard. Because the hairstyle took a lot of work, women would wait weeks to wash their hair. During this time, bacteria and bugs would live inside the hair. Gross!
5. No Freckles, No Problem
In the past, freckles were not considered as beautiful as they are today. The solution to remove unwanted freckles was to rub sulfur on them.
4. Eagle Poop as a Painkiller
Can you believe that eagle poop was used as a painkiller during labor? We’re so thankful for modern medicine.
3. Surgery Equipment was Non-Sterile
Before the 1800s, people did not know about germs at all. Therefore, they didn’t know that they should sterilize their surgery equipment before they operated. Yikes!
2. Cauterizing Wounds
People would cauterize (or burn) their wounds closed. The problem with this is that cauterized wounds can get infected easily, which exposed people to further risk.
1. Teeth Blackening
An old beauty trend was teeth blackening. Black teeth were seen as a sign of maturity. Many chemicals were used in the process to create the black finish, which caused some serious tooth damage.