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A History of Humanity's Disgusting Hygiene

Helen was a nurse and care staff trainer for 25 years. She now works with Fife Cultural Trust.


Historic People Bathed, Too!

There is nothing like a good hot soak in a bath or a bracing shower. Putting on clean clothes and generally giving ourselves a mini-make-over lifts our confidence and mood. More importantly, we smell better.

However, travelling back in time, we might be shocked at some of the unhygienic practices that were carried out – or not carried out as the case may be. Having said this, it's a myth that people in the past never took baths. Most rich people did, using a large barrel-shaped construction for bathing in hot water. In the 13th century, there were also public baths. The water was heated from the log fires nearby and carried by servants to the tub. However, the downside was that many of these buildings caught fire and usually took down a number of other structures before the fire died out. Additionally, when firewood became more scarce due to the decimation of forests, it was expensive to have a bath. Whole families and groups of friends shared the water, or many had to remain dirty.

"High-Change in Bond Street"

"High-Change in Bond Street"

Poor people bathed in cold water, but for obvious reasons, they probably washed less frequently. They would use water where it was convenient to do so – a river, a lake, or by carrying water to the home.

Additionally, most large houses and castles had areas for washing hands both before and after a meal. Nevertheless, in other areas of life, hygiene was practically non-existent, mainly due to ignorance of bacteria, viruses and the principles of cross-infection.

Old-fashioned chamber pot for overnight use

Old-fashioned chamber pot for overnight use

'Garde Loo' and Other Toilet Habits

The romantic scene of a towering castle surrounded by the pristine sparkling waters of a moat is not strictly true. Especially when we talk about toilets from hundreds of years ago.

In Tudor houses they were called 'privies'. Many were basically a bowl with a slab of wood and a hole carved in the top. This would be set into a recess or cupboard-like area called a garderobe.

The castles were not much better. The slab of wood often just covered a hole in the floor that took waste products straight into the moat - now you know why there are no picturesque paintings of some cute rustic fishing in a castle moat.

Peasants did not have the luxury of any form of toilet no matter how crude. They were forced to relieve themselves where they could and then bury any waste matter. Washing your hands after doing your business was not practiced by anyone.

Of course, rich or poor, neither had toilet paper. Poor people would use leaves or moss to wipe their bottoms. If you had a bit more money then you would use lambs wool.

However, if you were the King, then you employed someone to wipe your bottom for you. The position of royal bum wiper was officially called 'The Groom of the Stool' the more formal title would be read as 'Groom of the King's Close Stool to King (name )'. As disgusting as this job may seem to be, it was a much sought after position. Noblemen would fight hard and dirty - excuse the pun - to get their sons employed in this role, as it often resulted in, eventually, advancing to powerful roles such as Private Secretary to the King. The reason for the promotion was that the groom, who knew the King's most intimate secrets, often became his most trusted advisor and friend.

Old Edinburgh

If you ever find yourself transported back in time to old Edinburgh be prepared for the shout of 'garde loo '. If you were not quick enough - or if you were disliked - you could find yourself being showered with the contents of chamber pots hurled from the tenement windows. Chamber pots were of course used to collect urine overnight.

The term 'garde loo ' comes from the French garde L'eau which means 'watch out for the water'. This is where the nickname - 'loo' - for the toilet may have come from. The resulting stench of chamber pot contents was ironically known as 'the flowers of Edinburgh' .

So what happened to all this waste littering the streets? There was, in theory, supposed to be some form of street cleaning, but this was seldom carried out effectively. The streets all year round were covered in faeces - human and animal - urine, rotting food, corpses of animals and so on. It wasn't until the end of the 18th century that an effective street cleaning regime came into force.

Old Edinburgh's narrow streets showing the tenement buildings from which chamber pots were emptied out of the windows.

Old Edinburgh's narrow streets showing the tenement buildings from which chamber pots were emptied out of the windows.

Personal Grooming and Hygiene


King James VI of Scotland, I of England - the son of Mary Queen of Scots - was called 'the wisest fool in Christendom '. Unfortunately this wisdom didn't include personal hygiene. The king wore the same clothes for months on end, even sleeping in them on occasion. He also kept the same hat on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, until it basically fell apart. He point blank refused to wash or bath as he was convinced it was bad for your health.

Beasts and nasty things

Medieval Times and Later

One major source of infection was bites from fleas and body lice - they were rife. The poorer people in particular were very susceptible. Due to a meagre diet and malnutrition, the sores from bites would often become infected. In addition, the human flea is capable of spreading diseases such as typhus and parasites such as tapeworms.

Another source for infection, especially in medieval times, was the use of rushes/straw on the floors. They were used to cover up the natural dirt floor of the building and the top rushes were often changed. Added to these would be sweet smelling wild flowers and herbs to fragrance the room. However, often the bottom layer of rushes was not completely cleared and this led to all manner of possible infection sources. The great scholar - Erasmus - visited Britain in the 16th century and made this statement:

The floors are, in general, laid with white clay, and are covered with rushes, occasionally renewed, but so imperfectly that the bottom layer is left undisturbed, sometimes for twenty years, harbouring expectoration, vomiting, the leakage of dogs and men, ale droppings, scraps of fish, and other abominations not fit to be mentioned. Whenever the weather changes a vapour is exhaled, which I consider very detrimental to health.

The rushes were particularly prone to dirt and filth in the eating halls within manor houses or castles. Various foodstuffs, drinks and other deposits were frequently thrown or spilled onto the floors and left - many of the household dogs would eat up the majority of the food. But even they left enough to encourage rodents and bacteria to flourish.

Samuel Pepys

Samuel Pepys was not only one of the most humorous of diarists but there was no subject that he would not write about. The following are extracts about life that give some wonderful insights into the way people lived hundreds of years ago:

. . . 27th March 1667 'I did go to the Swan; and there sent for Jervas my old periwig-maker and he did bring me a periwig; but it was full of nits, so as I was troubled to see it (it being his own fault) and did send him to make it clean . . .

. . . 3rd September 1665. Up, and put my coloured suit on, very fine, and my new periwig, bought a good while since, but durst not wear, because of the plague and was in Westminster when I bought it; and it is a wonder what will be the fashion after the plague is done, as to periwigs, for nobody will dare to buy any hair for fear of infection, that is had been cut off the heads of people dead of the plague . . .

Ten Weird Facts About Grooming In The Past

  1. Eyebrows that did not look fashionable were often masked by tiny pieces of skin from a mouse.
  2. Ceruse was the foundation make-up of choice for both men and women, that gave the famous smooth, pale look. However, it contained lead that seeped into the body through the skin leading to poisoning. This make-up also tended to crack and had a strong odour.
  3. Although the men wore linen drawers, the women wore no knickers at all.
  4. The reason why so many marriages took place in June was that most people had their yearly bath in May so they were still fairly clean when June arrived. However, as a precaution brides carried bouquets of flowers to cover up any odious smells. June weddings and carrying bouquets are still traditional today but most wedding parties smell a lot nicer.
  5. When people took their bath it was the man of the house who had the privilege of the tub filled with clean water. The sons of the house were allowed next, then the wife, the rest of the females and the babies were last.
  6. Houses in the past did not have the protective roofing we have today. It was not unusual for bugs, pests and droppings to fall onto your clean bedding from the roof. So four poles and a canopy was invented to keep the bed clean and this is where the origin of the canopied and four poster beds come from.
  7. A 17th century publication by Peter Levens gives clear instructions to men on how to cure baldness and thinning hair by making the following mixture - a strong alkaline solution containing potassium salts and chicken droppings to be placed on the area to be treated. In addition if men wanted to remove unwanted hair from any area of the body they should make a paste that contains - eggs, strong vinegar and cat dung. Once beaten into a paste, this should be placed on the areas where the hair is to be removed. Why they didn't just shave is not documented.
  8. When Mary Queen of Scots returned to her native Scotland from France she was astounded and not a little put out that the men continued to wear their hats while sitting down to eat at her banquets. It was then pointed out to the young Queen that this was not a sign of disrespect to her but necessity. The men kept their hats on in order to prevent not only their long hair from touching the food but head lice from falling into their plates.
  9. In the 16th century some members of the church condemned using forks to eat as against the will of God. One put out minister remarked: "God would not have given us fingers if He had wanted us to use forks."
  10. The use of condoms goes back many thousands of years. They went out of favour after the decline of the Roman Empire but re-emerged in the form of linen condoms in the 16th century - perhaps due to the fear of the disease syphilis. The church condemned condoms as a way for the devil to encourage elicit sex. One incensed churchman raged that "the use of these foul things allows people to play filthy persons greater than ever."
The Diarist – Samuel Pepys

The Diarist – Samuel Pepys

Cesspits and Water

In the good old days there was no such thing as proper sewer drains. Most town and city streets had open sewers running down them in to which all kinds of waste was thrown. There was in theory at least a system of refuge collection to clean up the streets that were littered with rotting food, dung, animal corpses, human faeces and other waste products. But the cleaning up system was sporadic and not carried out effectively enough.

In addition people had to make do with burying much of their waste material in a cesspit either in their cellar or in the garden. Technically these were supposed to be emptied regularly, but many were not. The stench was overwhelming not only in summer but in winter as well.


If you were fairly well off then you could hire a water-carrier to bring water to your home. The poorer folks had to collect their own either from a nearby river or public well.

The super rich paid private water companies for their drinking and general water needs. But this didn't necessarily make the water any healthier or taste better. The main water supply was via elm trunks and domestic pipes which were lead lined. In addition because the water supply only ran for a few hours at a time it had to be stored in large lead tanks and often became stagnant. The famous diarist Samuel Pepys believed he caught a cold after washing his feet in water taken from a lead-lined tank.


When doing your laundry in the past you didn't have the luxury of biological or non-biological soap powders nor sweet smelling fabric conditioners. Your clothes, linen etc would have been scoured in lye made up from ashes and human urine. The use of human urine to wash clothes and linen goes back to at least Roman times and was favoured for it's great ability to remove stains.

A sketch showing a dirty Father Thames – referring to the River Thames in London

A sketch showing a dirty Father Thames – referring to the River Thames in London

Griffydam Well – an old way for people to get their water

Griffydam Well – an old way for people to get their water

The Environment

The lakes and rivers, as they are today, were becoming increasingly polluted by people dropping waste into them. The amount of filth being dumped was reaching such a level that in the 14th century, just after the outbreak of the Black Death, the English Parliament made a declaration, that clearly shows they are beginning to identify a link between disease and waste disposal. The 1388 declaration states:

Item, that so much dung and filth of the garbage and entrails be cast and put into ditches, rivers, and other waters... so that the air there is grown greatly corrupt and infected, and many maladies and other intolerable diseases do daily happen... it is accorded and assented, that the proclamation be made as well in the city of London, as in other cities, boroughs, and towns through the realm of England, where it shall be needful that all they who do cast and lay all such annoyances, dung, garbages, entrails, and other ordure, in ditches, rivers, waters, and other places aforesaid, shall cause them utterly to be removed, avoided, and carried away, every one upon pain to lose and forfeit to our Lord the King the sum of 20 pounds . . .

However, numerous generations would pass before Britain developed a superior and cleaner sewage system. Until this time some of the most dangerous diseases known were rampant due to poor sanitation, hygiene and overcrowded conditions. Some of the most virulent were, as they are today in some parts of the world:

  • Dysentery
  • Cholera
  • Plague
  • Typhoid Fever
  • Typhus


It would be all to easy for us to gloat, ridicule or laugh at our ancestors for their less than clean lifestyle. However, it should be remembered that many of their habits, or lack of them, was not due to laziness but lack of understanding about the true nature of disease. In addition they had a different set of priorities from us today.

Death and disease was a daily battle for people in the past. It was not until the 20th century that we found the means to really begin the fight against dangerous infections. But this conflict continues even today. A number of our oldest disease adversaries are making a comeback. We may have, so far, won the battle against disease but will we win the war? The fight continues.


Photograph Sources

  • Wikimedia Foundation
    Wikimedia is owned and operated by the Wikimedia Foundation, a non-profit foundation dedicated to bringing free content to the world.

Further Information and Sources


Michael S Emery from Dubuque area,Iowa on November 14, 2018:

Thanks,helps show us how evolving,is a slow difficult process

Glenn Stok from Long Island, NY on April 10, 2015:

Your hub was mentioned in this week's HubPages newsletter. I found this an interesting read. We sure have come a long way since the medieval days. It's amzing that people didn't think about hygiene or care to be as clean as we do today.

Of course it's understandable that technology has a lot to do with the advances in things such as toilets. I wonder what toilets will be like in the next 100 years. The toilets used on the Intenational Space Station already are a thing of the future since they need to work in zero gravity.

TripleAMom from Florida on March 23, 2015:

Very interesting. Glad I live today :)

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on January 01, 2014:

Your welcome! Many thanks!

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on January 01, 2014:

great comment - thank you!!

Al Wordlaw from Chicago on December 04, 2013:

This was excellent Vibesites. Thank you

vibesites from United States on December 04, 2013:

Very interesting hub! I enjoyed reading it all the way through.

We now take these things -- a nice warm bath with clean water, soap, shampoo, conditioner, feminine wash, rubbing alcohol and hand sanitizer as well as detergent soaps, bleach and fabric conditioners -- for granted, but the more I'm reading this the more I'm thankful for these conveniences that they not had. I can't imagine that babies were the last to take a bath, and clothes washed with urine, and all those myths that cleaning yourself will be bad for your health... I'm glad we're through with that stage.

Thanks for posting. :)

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on May 31, 2012:

Thanks for that Chuck - very interesting! Fasting was and is reported to be one of the best ways to facilitate a profound spiritual experience, so the list of names, from ancient to modern, makes sense in this respect.

Chuck Bluestein from Morristown, AZ, USA on May 30, 2012:

Two thousand years ago Jews like Jesus used fasting for many problems. That is why the bible has 74 references to fasting. Others who did fasting were Moses, Pythagoras, Gandhi and Dick Gregory. Dick Gregory is a person of color. He used fasting to lose a great deal of weight.

Then he helped others to lose weight and helped a 1,200 pound man to lose 600 pounds. He was a feminist that helped the movement a great deal. He wrote the book Nig*** An Autobiography that sold over a million copies.

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on May 30, 2012:

Hi Chuck, I got your comment okay - fascinating response! Thank you!!

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on May 30, 2012:

Hi Chuck Bluestein, wow this is a fascinating answer and I've learned a lot from your response - thank you! The history of the hygienists is really interesting - I haven't come across that before. Seems like many of their ideas were on the right track. Like today perhaps, there are some professionals (MD's included) who hate to think that someone else knows better than them!!

I agree with you about our lifestyle. Kings might have someone to wipe their butts and jewels on their clothes - but I still prefer living today as I believe my life style is a hundred times better than any royal person from days past.

Thank you once again for your fascinating response - this would have made a great hub in itself!!

Chuck Bluestein from Morristown, AZ, USA on May 29, 2012:

I left a comment but I guess that it was too long so it was automatically deleted.

Chuck Bluestein from Morristown, AZ, USA on May 29, 2012:

I really enjoyed reading it. It was very funny at some points like how it was an honor to wipe the king's butt and how they needed to keep their hats on so lice would not fall out. Lice is plaural for a louse. My grandfather would call people that word (louse) that he did not like. I used to be like the king and had someone to wipe my butt. I called her mom. But if I had that now, it would not improve my lifestyle at all.

I learned a lot but I have said for years that the average American lives better now than a king of that time. They could heat the cold air with fire but if it were too hot, they could not do much. The average American can sit in an air conditioned house on a hot day and watch TV while surfing the internet. If he wants to eat, he can pick up a phone and order food to be delivered.

Here is information on the word that you used in this article-- hygiene. Merriam-Webster defines it as 1

: a science of the establishment and maintenance of health—see industrial hygiene, mental hygiene


: conditions or practices (as of cleanliness) conducive to health

In the late 1800s there were MDs that stopped using drugs and would heal using natural means like fasting. They called themselves hygienests since only the first definition existed. At that time the MDs taught that bathing was unhealthy. The hygienists taught that bathing was healthy.

The people prefered to bath and the MDs said the following to save face. They said that bathing was not a matter of health but cleanliness so the hygienests knew about cleanliness but not health. This comes from Dr Shelton's book about natural hygiene.

The hygienists taught that most disease was caused by too much toxins in the body-- toxemia. Many NDs today believe that. The best way to get rid of that was with fasting. Fasting was practiced by the 3 fathers of medicine Galen, Paracelus and Hippocrates.

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on October 16, 2011:

Hi Unionmusician,

Great to hear from you and glad that you enjoyed the hub! There was quite a few bits and pieces, when doing research, that I hadn't heard of before either, so this made the hub a lot more interesting for me as well.

Many thanks again for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment!

unionmusician from Savannah, GA on October 16, 2011:

Wow I really like this page. Very interesting things I didn't know before.

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on October 09, 2011:

1. Hello leshey, many thanks for stopping by and glad you found the hub interesting. I have taken any toilet for granted since I wrote this article!!!

2. Hi Faceless39, Many thanks for stopping by and for leaving such a lovely comment - many thanks!! I'm glad that you enjoyed the hub and weren't put off too much by our ancestors habits!!

Kate P from The North Woods, USA on October 08, 2011:

Wow--I haven't been this impressed by an article.. umm.. in a long, long time. It's well-written, interesting, thorough, and has lots of interesting images and links. Thanks so much for writing such a quality hub!

leshey from England on October 08, 2011:

Very interesting! I'll never take a flushing toilet for granted again!

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on October 03, 2011:

Hi Moonlake - I don't if there was a glitch in the system on the website, but I had difficulties posting replies to questions last night.

Anyway, glad that you enjoyed the hub!! I'm not that young either and I remember my Dad's Mum who lived in Coventry - Lower Ford Street, it was quite near to the old bus station Pool Meadow. Anyway, although she had a toilet inside, the outside one was still working and she kept it spotless - but as your Gran says, it was really hard work for them!

I was surprised as well by some of the hygiene stuff. But I was thinking. I wouldn't have minded the Royal bum wiper job! I've been doing similar for 25 years but without the nice promotion at the end of it!! As to some of the other things - I've seen a few revolting things in my nursing career, but some of the habits from olden times even had my stomach churning. Yuck!!

moonlake from America on October 02, 2011:

I signed this hub before but it didn't go through. Not sure if I forgot to hit the post comment.

Enjoyed your hub. I didn't know all of this disgusting hygiene stuff.

It's amazing how far we have came.

Voted up when I was here before.

moonlake from America on October 02, 2011:

Loved this hub. It is so interesting I did not know all of this. I know my grandmother had always said how hard it was way back in her day to keep things clean.

I'm also not so young that I don't remember houses that just had outhouses.

We have came along way.

Voted up.

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on September 25, 2011:

LOL!! Hi Hollie,

I know exactly what you mean. Having lack of human hygiene from the past displayed abruptly before us does tend to bring us back down to earth with a nauseating bump!!

Oh what a let down about Glastonbury?? It's such a beautiful place as well! If there is one thing I genuinely can't tolerate is a dirty loo! I'd rather be in agony and not go than put my rear end on a loo that is filthy! In this day and age there's no excuse!

Many thanks for the vote up and hope the nausea has settled!!

Hollie Thomas from United Kingdom on September 24, 2011:

Hi Seeker7,

As interesting as I've found this hub it's also made me feel a little nauseous . As beautiful as Edinburgh is now I would not have liked to walk the streets during that particular era. Ehhh!! I have to say though, that those medieval toilets remind me of the ones I encountered at Glastonbury a few years ago. And the picture of the head lice made me shiver. Really interesting and a great historical account of hygiene (or lack of it). Voted up.

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on September 24, 2011:

Hi Stacie,

Lovely to hear from you. I agree, it's a wonder any of our ancestors did survive with all the bugs and bacteria they were carrying. I was thinking though, maybe they carried so many different things that they actually cancelled each other out by feeding on one another? LOL! And maybe our ancestors had amazing immunity?

I think today, as relieved as I am to live in much cleaner times, that we are a bit too sterile in the 21st century. We seem to recoil at the least bit of dust or dirt!! I remember by old Gran saying that a dirty kid is a healthy kid. Meaning that kids who were allowed to role about in the mud having fun, built up amazing immunity to all sorts of nasties - maybe she had a point?

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on September 24, 2011:

Hi Kitty,

Many thanks for stopping by, as usual it's great to hear from you and to get your feedback.

LOL! Yes it is very disgusting in bits. Have you ever had an idea for an article/hub that just wont go away even altough you don't really want to write about it? That's what happened here. To top it all - do you remember, I think we mentioned something about synchronicity a while back - anyway, it seemed that every web page I turned to had something about hygiene from the past. I gave up and wrote the hub!!! I agree with you, It's a relief to live in the present times with better hygiene and sewage pipes!!

Stacie L on September 24, 2011:

This hub shows excellent research on the human grooming habits of the past. Apparently our ancestors didn't have any.It's a wonder we've evolved to our present state of cleanliness!

Kitty Fields from Summerland on September 23, 2011:

Voted up and awesome, Seeker7! Your hubs never cease to amaze me, truly. This hub was interesting, though a bit disgusting. I knew our hygiene was something lacking back in the day, but GROSS. People literally dumped their crap out of their windows onto the streets...didn't they think that it was possible that they would walk through it and slip in their own crap the next day? And drinking water that was contaminated by the very streets where their feces flowed...holy hell. Revolting...and stupid, really. I think we've become a little bit smarter in the aspect of disease and hygiene these days.

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on August 31, 2011:

Hello Vinaya,

Wow!!! The Indus Valley must have the oldest loos on the planet! Just goes to show that these wonderful ancient civilisations were much more advanced than many others that came after them.

Some of the information about human hygiene is odd but as you say amusing as well.

Vinaya Ghimire from Nepal on August 30, 2011:

Perhaps history of loo and bath is very old. Remnants of loo and baths were found in Indus valley. The civilization is believed to have flourished in c.2500 BCE. I'm amused by information in your article.

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on August 27, 2011:

Hi Nell and many thanks for stopping by.

Oh that is gross about the French!!! They always looked so pretty decked out with their silks, jewels and feathers - and to think they probably crapped wearing this finary!!!! How gross is that!!! Maybe I'll do a hub just on them and their weird pooping habits! LOL!

Nell Rose from England on August 26, 2011:

Hi, fascinating and amazing, this is great I love history and reading about this sort of thing, I remember reading that at this time in france, people used to walk about the castles and stately homes, just pooping on the floor as the went! didn't happen over here, but in france it was the thing to do! yuck! rated up! cheers nell

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on August 14, 2011:

Hi Judi Bee,

Many thanks for stopping by, it was lovely to hear from you, and for leaving your comment. I'm like you, I've stopped going on a guilt trip when I leave the hoovering one day - I feel like my house is sterile compared to what happened in the past. Yuck!

Judi Brown from UK on August 12, 2011:

Superb hub - really interesting and informative. I tend to think that I don't do enough housework, but having read this I am feeling quite superior!

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on August 10, 2011:

Hi meow48,

Many thanks for stopping by and leaving your comment. I have to say that since writing this hub I haven't complained quite as much about silly things as I used to. I'm really glad I live now instead of back then - especially when you think they had no lovely, soft Andrex loo roll - only moss or sheep wool! Yuck!

meow48 from usa on August 07, 2011:

very impressive, thankyou for sharing... and i complain of alcohol laced with lotion to clean my hands in and out of pts rooms all day, hee. take care.

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on July 30, 2011:

1. Hi Phil, many thanks for the vote up and for stopping by. I think when I first began to write this hub I thought how gross it must have been living in those times. But then when you are living it and it's an everyday thing I reckon you don't get that hung up on it. But I'm still glad that I live in a relatively clean environment with flushable loos!

2. Hi carlness, may thanks for stopping by and for your interesting comment. It is weird that we are now in the 21st century and people are still living in grotty conditions. But as I said to phil, if it's within your everyday life you just accept it and don't think too much about. I think as well that today we can freak out a bit too much about bacteria, bugs and so on - they are always going to exist in some form and we should just accept it. Many thanks again for stopping by.

carlness from San Francisco on July 30, 2011:

This is really interesting. I am in Panama right now and have visited some of the remote islands in the Kuna Yala. Many of the toilets are not much different from some of the ones in your article. Voted up + interesting.

Phil Plasma from Montreal, Quebec on July 29, 2011:

Yep, and there are still places in the world today where hygiene is no better than it was three or thirteen centuries ago. Voted up and interesting.

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on July 28, 2011:

Hi Rooskaya,

Lovely to hear from you and many thanks for leaving such a nice comment. I agree with you about 'the real stuff' from history. It's all the down to earth and common happenings that bring us closer to what people were really like rather than all the pomp and ceremony.

Rooskaya from USA on July 27, 2011:

You have written a fantastic and a very informative hub. Some facts are very interesting. Thanks for churning out the real stuff from history. Enjoyed reading your hub. Great job.

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on July 27, 2011:

Hi Alastar, many thanks for stopping by and for taking the time to comment.

I agree with you about 'what a topic to cover'. Have you ever came across an idea but really wanted to ignore it, but found that you couldn't? This is what happened with this hub. I basically had to write it to get it out of my system - the muse works in strange ways!

The photos are nice. But it was one long hall through wikimedia commons and a lot of them I found by accident by putting in ordinary words such as 'washing'. Luckily though the majority were within the first few hundred!!! LOL! I tend to go onto wikimedi commons only to look at photos that I might use at sometime, so this does save me a lot of time when coming to write the hubs.

Many thanks again for stopping by it's always great to hear from you and I always respect your input.

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on July 27, 2011:

Hello Alma, Many thanks for stopping by and for leaving a comment - really appreciated. Glad you liked the hub - I think the royal 'loo' looks really weird, but comfortable to sit on. I wouldn't have fancied the job of having to empty it though!!LOL!

Alastar Packer from North Carolina on July 27, 2011:

You've done a great Hub here Seeker7. The pics & accompanying text is very interesting. And what a topic to cover. I have never seen any of the pics & paintings. In the first one the woman in the street holding the little girl's hand looks to be headless when you look closely. Love the one of old Edinburgh, well, all of them actually.Ten weird facts is some great info, and it is a good idea to have your yearly bath preceding marriage!

Alma Cabase from Philippines on July 26, 2011:

This is a very interesting hub!

The royal toilet is new to me. haha

Keep up the good work!