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Hygeine 1950s - 2020s

(110 Posts)
grannyactivist Fri 22-Jan-21 15:46:46

Reading the 'How many pairs of knickers' thread has got me thinking.

As a (very poor) child in the 50s we had a bath (4 children in the same water) probably once a week, never more often, but sometimes less, and our morning wash was face and neck only. Hair 'shampoo' was a bar of soap and I never used deodorant until I was in my late teens. Toothpaste was a rarity, but as we didn't have a toothbrush each until I was fourteen it didn't much matter. shock

My sister and I often shared the little clothing and underwear we had so the first up was the best dressed. Mum used to wash once a week on a Monday and we were expected to wear our clothes for the whole week - yes, including our underwear (which was often also worn in bed as we rarely had nightwear).

My sister and I sometimes used to have overnight visits to our Nana's house and they always included a bath, followed by talcum powder and she once bought us two flannelette nighties each for Christmas. Bliss.

I visited my boyfriend's (later husband) family for three days when I was sixteen and I was shocked to discover that every family member had a bath every night! In fact when I was asked on arrival if I wanted a bath I remember proudly saying that I'd had one the night before (and it wasn't even Friday). blush

Fortunately, by the time I had my own children I had educated myself about good hygiene and ensured that my own children grew up to keep themselves and their clothes clean.

Did you have a daily bath, or were your home circumstances, like mine, not conducive to good hygiene?

Wheniwasyourage Fri 22-Jan-21 15:56:52

I didn't have a daily bath, and still don't have a daily shower. I don't think it is necessary, except if it is hot and I'm sweating a lot, and I am quite capable of keeping myself clean without a daily bath or shower.

cornishpatsy Fri 22-Jan-21 16:05:15

We had a bath and hair wash once a week, 1960s, on a Sunday. Clean underwear every day but socks only twice a week! Also had a wash every evening with mum saying which bits had to be washed , I remember not liking it when I was told I had to wash my knees, no idea why I didn't like it.

There were 6 in our family, everyone had their own flannel which were lined up on the bath rack. I used to take great delight in telling on my sisters if I noticed their flannel was still dry after they were supposed to have had a wash.

BBbevan Fri 22-Jan-21 16:25:03

We had a bath and hair wash on a Sunday night ready for school. Other nights it was what my Mam called’a strip wash’.
Clean knickers and socks every day, and a nice ironed hair ribbon. ( 1950s)

kircubbin2000 Fri 22-Jan-21 16:32:04

Until I was six we lived in a house with no facilites. Water came in a bucket from the well down the road, oil lamps, tin bath at the weekend and privy at end of garden. Washing was done in a boiler once a week,wash board and mangle too. Toast could be made at the open fire.

Callistemon Fri 22-Jan-21 16:32:12

I had a bath about three or four times a week but hair wash only once a week. I do remember Mum saying that the people next door only changed their knickers and socks once a week which she found shocking; we had clean every day. A school blouse had to last for two days, sometimes I got a clean one again on a Friday but not always. Cardigan was washed once a week. Gymslips and blazers etc had to go to the dry-cleaners so that was only once a term.

I had wyncyette pyjamas (is that spelt correctly?) and cosy flannelette sheets in the winter, goodness knows how they all got dried. The Laundry Fairy must have worked very hard.

Callistemon Fri 22-Jan-21 16:33:37

I just took it all for granted and feel like giving my Mum a big hug to say thank you.

NotSpaghetti Fri 22-Jan-21 16:35:50

I had a bath twice a week most weeks as a child. Once would be Sunday and once in-between. We had toothpaste, soap and flannels and each had our "own" towels.

Clean socks and knickers every day too, and school shirt at least every-other day.

Almost everything was ironed. Even cardigans (and most certainly hair ribbons!)

I was very, very, fortunate and was aware of it, even in my primary school... though I hated "lacy" socks had those too in summer months.

NotSpaghetti Fri 22-Jan-21 16:37:34

Some of us were really lucky.

Always grateful Mum and Dad.
Happy days.

FannyCornforth Fri 22-Jan-21 16:40:36


I just took it all for granted and feel like giving my Mum a big hug to say thank you.

Aah, that's so lovely.
You've honestly brought a tear to my eye

Tangerine Fri 22-Jan-21 16:43:00

I think, as a child, I had a bath two or three times a week.

Underwear and socks changed every day as far as I remember.

Callistemon Fri 22-Jan-21 16:46:31

FannyC yes, I feel a bit tearful too.
It's too late now, of course.
And my dear Dad used to polish my shoes every night.

Redhead56 Fri 22-Jan-21 16:47:10

I was one of eight children there was always more than one in the bath which was once a week. My mum washed every day to dads annoyance so we had clean clothes. We didn’t always have toothpaste we only got our hair washed once a week. If we had nits it was washed more often. I remember when I had nits my mum cut all my curls I was really upset. We all had a job to do in the house mine was brushing the stairs.

Mapleleaf Fri 22-Jan-21 16:52:39

It’s funny how things have changed, isn’t it? When I was little, bath time and hair wash was always on a Sunday evening to be all smart for school the next day! The rest of the week it was a good wash at the sink.
Underwear was changed daily along with socks. I can’t really remember how often in the week other clothes were changed, but probably only if they got really dirty, because wash day was a big event and took Mum most of Monday to do - there was no automatic washing machine to do a quick wash in between times back then. We never smelled, though, and Mum was scrupulous about housework and keeping everything and everyone clean.
Teeth were cleaned every day, morning and evening.
We never had a lot financially, but we never went without and were well looked after. I’ve a lot to be thankful for.

tanith Fri 22-Jan-21 17:20:40

We bathed once a week in front of the only fire in a tin bath shared with my sister and brother. Hair washed once a week and I honestly don’t remember even having a toothbrush till I was probably 10 or 12 the reason I had awful teeth no doubt. Socks were worn all week I can’t remember about underwear. When I think about it now it’s horrifying.

Georgesgran Fri 22-Jan-21 17:26:44

We had a tin bath in front of the fire and no inside loo until I we moved from private rented accommodation to a council house. I was 7 - the luxury of hot running water and a flush loo! An only child so I was fortunate not to have to share clothes or toiletries.
What sticks in my mind was that shampoo and hair (lacquer) spray were quite new things and every Saturday I was sent to the local shop to buy a little sachet of Supersoft shampoo to wash my hair and a sausage shaped pod full of lacquer which Mum poured into a plastic bottle that had to be squeezed to get it to spray out.

Tizliz Fri 22-Jan-21 17:29:41

When I was first going out with the soon to be OH he said one of the reasons he liked me was because I smelled clean - I was horrified that other girls went out dirty.

Grandmabatty Fri 22-Jan-21 17:29:41

A bath once a week. Top and tail wash in the sink every day. Hair was washed on a Sunday night and mum would brush it dry. I didn't have s clean blouse every day and woe betide me if I got a clean one dirty too soon. Clean undies and socks every day.

SueDonim Fri 22-Jan-21 17:42:32

Hair wash and bath on Sundays, then a couple of other baths through the week. My bro and I shared a bath until we got old enough that we needed to be done separately.

I think undies were worn for two days until I reached a certain age. Outer clothing was worn for several days. I can’t much recall what I wore, apart from a checked skirt and some summer dresses.

There were seven of us, four children, my parents and my grandad, so my mum was always doing washing. I recall her machine with a wringer on top and then she got a twin tub, which was revolutionary, except it broke down all the time. We all had clean bedlinen weekly, six lots of bedding each time. She had a Flatley drier but I also remember her drying underwear in the oven, in desperation.

My mum is 93 now and still a clean-freak. The house was cleaned throughout every day.

Tea3 Fri 22-Jan-21 17:51:21

I was fourth in the bath on a Saturday evening after the baby and two older siblings. I can remember having a bath at Granny’s and being surprised that the water was so clear.

Auntieflo Fri 22-Jan-21 17:56:04

Do you know, I can't really remember about changing clothes and undies. It just seemed to happen. We didn't smell dirty, and I didn't have deodorant until mid teens.

I know we had a bath once a week, and the top and tail, or " up to there, and down to there", every day, in our cold bathroom.
Hope that nothing was missed in between 🤗

Alishka Fri 22-Jan-21 18:01:03

I remember sharing the Sunday bath with my sister. I had to sit at the taps end. It wasn't fair!! grin

Missfoodlove Fri 22-Jan-21 18:03:48

Despite my parents being horrible there was plenty of hot water and I had a nightly bath.
It was mainly because I could lock the door and get away from my family!
There were pupils at my primary school who used to go the local baths once a week.
It was where we went swimming, I was always intrigued to see the huge slipper baths and thought it would be wonderful experience.
It never occurred to me it was because they didn’t have a bathroom!

Artaylar Fri 22-Jan-21 18:13:38

Once a week bath and hair wash on a Sunday. Tin bath until aged 7. Proper bathroom when we were rehoused by the Council that year.

One of the houses I lived in as a student in the early 80s had no hot water and we used the big slipper baths at the public baths up the road. 20p for a huge bath with as much hot water as we wanted....bliss.

Calendargirl Fri 22-Jan-21 18:20:57

We had a bath once a week, and hair washed then. Just a wash in between each day. Mum wasn’t too particular about teeth cleaning really, but I took that quite seriously myself.

Can’t remember how often we had clean underwear but not every day I think. Socks in the winter were knee length fawn ones, think they lasted a school week. Not sure about ankle socks in summer, more often I imagine.

But highly polished shoes were a must, they were cleaned every night.

It all sounds strange now, but I honestly cannot remember that me or any of my friends smelled or looked grubby.

Should add that back then we had definite school, best and play clothes. You changed out of school clothes the minute you got home, you had clothes that were kept for going out, and you had shabby, too small clothes that were for playing and messing about in.