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Cleanliness and hygiene

(143 Posts)
Mumsyface Sun 03-Nov-19 08:24:54

I live in a town in Spain which was recently cut of by floods for a week and one of the side effects was that we had no running water for a week. The Red Cross set up standpipes, and for us the inconvenience was minimal. However, carrying bottles of water every day set me thinking about global water supplies and wastage. My question is how much/often do we need to shower/bathe for hygiene and a socially acceptable level of cleanliness?
As kids we used to have one bath a week, on Sundays, and that was shared with my brother until he was old enough to refuse. I think my mum must have encouraged/told us to wash in between but I don’t think we least, not very much. I have vague memories of washing in the sink and that is what I started doing when we had no running water - half a kettle of hot water in half a sink of cold water with a dash of liquid soap. It seemed to work okay so I’ve continued in this way hoping to save water globally and, of course, on our water bill. I do still shower at the swimming pool after swimming once .or twice a week.
Is this enough? Have I been socially programmed into thinking I should shower every day? What do you all think?

Calendargirl Sun 03-Nov-19 08:34:48

As children, my sister and I had a bath once a week, taking it in turns who went first.
Can’t remember when I started bathing more, we didn’t have a shower back then, but I seem to think when I was 17 or so, I bathed twice a week and washed in between.
Nowadays, I shower once a day, but don’t suppose I need to really.
Some people say they shower about three times a day, totally unnecessarily in my opinion.
My husband had a manual job, he certainly needed to bath or shower as he was often sweaty and grubby when he came home, but now he’s retired, not a problem but still showers daily.

I’m sure years ago we were no different to many others in our bathing habits, and I honestly cannot recall everyone smelling, but maybe I am looking at the past through rose coloured, or rose smelling, glasses!

mancgirl Sun 03-Nov-19 08:45:17

Sunday night was bath night and hair wash with either Loxene? or Vosene shampoo. After which we were allowed to watch Sunday night at the London Palladium. Through the week stand up wash with particular attention to face, ears and neck! Seems a bit gross now. Having no central heating in the house and just a coal fire might have had something to do with itgrin

BlueSky Sun 03-Nov-19 08:50:56

One shower daily minimum both myself and DH. When it's hot or abroad twice. Would feel grubby and uncomfortable if I didn't. Love showers quick and hygienic!

MaizieD Sun 03-Nov-19 08:51:34

I suppose on the 'hygiene' side one would have to delve into health statistics of the past 70+ years (if they actually exist in that form) to see if our much less obsessive attitude to 'cleanliness' in the past did make us less healthy as a nation.

I suspect that modern showering/bathing regimes have more to do with fear of being smelly than they do with necessary hygiene.

Yes, we were brought up with one bath a week and a daily 'top and tail' at the washbasin.

Sparklefizz Sun 03-Nov-19 08:54:23

I save water by turning on the shower and getting wet. Then turning it off while I shampoo my hair and soap myself, then turning it on again to rinse quickly.

BlueBelle Sun 03-Nov-19 08:57:04

I shower once a day which is hair wash, teeth clean and body wash all in one go 5 to ten minutes Can’t remember what it was as a child but we didn’t have a bathroom until I was 7 then I would guess at once a week but in all honesty I can’t remember at all

wildswan16 Sun 03-Nov-19 08:59:21

There's a lot of people who have a "I'm better than you" kind of attitude. Who seem to think that washing their clothes after one wearing makes them somehow better people.

I suppose many of us now live in much warmer conditions than previously, so maybe we get a bit more sweaty - but at least showers use much less water than the baths we used to rely on.

Teetime Sun 03-Nov-19 09:09:20

Daily shower an absolute for DH and I- twice if we feel like it- certainly in the summer and after golf a hot bath in the winter. I can tell not everyone does this or uses deodorant or washes their clothes in this town - some very ripe smells on market day.

gallusquine Sun 03-Nov-19 09:09:39

We spend 6 months of the year travelling in our motorhome. The van has a shower which we use (think sailors shower),when filling up with fresh water and emptying grey water allows, otherwise it's a wash at the sink. Every 4 days or so we are on a site and I enjoy being able to have a proper shower. This routine works for us and I think we're ok hygiene wise but as its only the 2 of us in the van who knows wink.

Its a lifestyle that makes you very aware of the environment and resources especially waste in all its forms and we are less wasteful at home too.

Laundry however is still a more stressful issue for me. grin

Pantglas2 Sun 03-Nov-19 09:11:15

This thread has made me smile with the memories brought back - top and tail, Sunday bath night, Vosene and stand up washes at the basin!

Now I’m a two minute shower every morning girl in the uk but here in Spain will shower of an evening as well in summer as it’s so hot and sticky. Only ever have a bath if there’s one in any hotel at which I’m staying.

We’re on water meters in both homes so I tend to be economical with it anyway but I do like to be clean so won’t be going back to the old days on this one.

rubysong Sun 03-Nov-19 09:17:43

A lot of power and water is being used needlessly as people insist on daily showers (or more). I have two or three showers a week and wash in between. We were fine in the past when we bathed once a week. If we are serious about global warming we need to change the way we do things, and use less power and water.

lovebeigecardigans1955 Sun 03-Nov-19 09:21:57

I was brought up to have a weekly bath and the 'top and tail' wash each day. We had to switch the immersion heater on for an hour beforehand for the bath to give it time to warm up - no central heating. Our houses weren't well insulated by modern standards so there was a lot of condensation running down the bathroom wall. By 'eck it was cold.

These days I wash my hair/bathe once or twice a week and have a wash at the sink night and morning. Clothes are washed more frequently than in the old days. I don't think I smell. I believe my forthright sister would tell me if I did.

Mumsyface Sun 03-Nov-19 09:32:06

So, most of us remember the weekly, often shared, bath coupled with a “top and tall”/“pits, bits n tits” routine.
I think part of my question relates to my stunningly poor sense of smell (since a head injury years ago) - my daughter-in-law used to get cross with me for not changing the babies nappy when it (apparently) stunk to high heaven. I learnt very quickly to check the grandchildren’s bottoms at very regular intervals 🤨. The other part of my question is about global water supplies - do we, as a global community, need to use les water? Is it an indefinitely renewable resource?

ayse Sun 03-Nov-19 09:41:58

I’m a shower and hair wash twice weekly approximately with top and tail in between. I don’t have any need to shower daily and my skin feels much better for minimising detergents and soaps.

IMO it is certainly better for the environment to reduce the amount of chemicals going into our water plus additional benefits of reducing the use of plastics. Both power and water bills have reduced so that is an added bonus.

I can’t say how it would be in a hotter country for me so well done to OP for going back to the future

Chestnut Sun 03-Nov-19 09:45:43

I think anyone around in the 50s or 60s used to wash less frequently than today, but now there does seem to be a 'thing' about showering several times a day and washing clothes after one wearing, which is wasteful and unnecessary. You may need an extra shower if you're sweaty or dirty but not for office workers in a moderate climate!

Calendargirl Sun 03-Nov-19 09:50:35


I agree that some people who say how often they do certain things, laundry, showers and so on, do so to let you know how particular they are. I used to work with a woman who said she couldn’t bear ‘dirty’ underclothes sitting I assume in her laundry basket. She had her washing machine on daily with I presume a couple of bras and knickers, she had a teenage daughter. Rather wasteful I thought, even if done on a quick wash.
I’m sure they would not have smelled the house out if left a day or two.

Regarding water usage, I think everyone should have their water metered. We are charged for how much gas and electricity we use as individuals, why not water also?

MissAdventure Sun 03-Nov-19 09:53:32

Every time this is discussed, there are cries of people nearly passing out at the whiffs other people give off on public transport, and talk about whether legs need washing.

People get incredibly offended by others hygiene.

mrsgreenfingers56 Sun 03-Nov-19 09:58:27

Honestly thought everyone had a daily shower. Had a new bathroom put in 5 years ago and never had a bath yet in it. A shower is so much quicker, easier and less water used. Would feel a real mucky pup if I didn't and DH would as well. We are on a water meter so turn off for hair wash and applied soap/shower gel.
Once worked with a young girl who had the most terrible BO and that has always stuck in my mind.
But as a child only a bath once a week with myself and two sisters in and top and tail in the week.

petra Sun 03-Nov-19 09:59:44

There is a mass of evidence out there to show that this country will be in serious trouble in the not too distant future if we carry on as we are.

Flossieturner Sun 03-Nov-19 10:02:41

We bathed on Friday night, using the same water for the whole family. My Nan would fill the bath then add soda and disinfectant. We Slept in our underwear under our pyjamas only changed it on Fridays too. We did have clean socks everyday though.

I Remember going to stay at my Aunties for a few days and she asked me where my knickers were. I said I was wearing them. On my return this was mentioned and my mother pretended she had forgotten to pack them.

Kerenhappuch Sun 03-Nov-19 10:11:35

When I've been in hospital, I've noticed getting patients washed or showered every day is a priority, and I assume this is part of infection control protocol. However, I'm unlikely to catch a serious infection at home (I hope!)

We had no shower when I was growing up, and a bath was a big deal as our hot tap ran very slowly and the bath cooled the water down as it went into the bath! So one or two baths per family member per week was the norm. I also had a quick wash every morning in the bath, using a small amount of hot water. Hair washes were in the sink and were separate from baths.

I currently suffer from fatigue, and for some reason having a shower can leave me exhausted, so sometimes I leave a day between showers. I always have a shower if someone else has to get close to me, such as a medical appointment, or if I'm going to a group.

Grandma70s Sun 03-Nov-19 10:14:18

I can’t remember how often I had a bath when I was a child in the 1940s/50s, but it certainly wasn’t every day, though it was more frequent than once a week. Good washes in between. I would guess twice or three times a week. I started to have daily baths in my early twenties when I had my own place.

Now I can no longer manage to get in and out of a bath, and the place I have moved to only has a shower (a very good one). I have a shower every other day, sometimes every third day. My skin is too dry now to have one every day. I wash my hair every other day, but not in the shower.

All the same, I felt cleaner after a bath than a shower. I don’t like not being able to immerse myself. (I always rinsed myself with a hand-held shower after a bath.)

As for how long it takes - my baths took ten minutes at most. You can do other things while it’s running. Get in, soap all over, rinse, get out. Simple. A shower seems more complicated to me, but perhaps that’s because I’m older.

Sparklefizz Sun 03-Nov-19 10:24:29

When my daughter was a teenager, we had her French Exchange student to stay for a fortnight. She only had the one pair of knickers for the whole fortnight. I had explained about putting her clothes in the washing basket and she was happy to put in her T shirts etc. When I noticed no knickers going in, I crept into the room when she was asleep and found them on the floor and they were "stiff and crispy". Yuk!

I didn't want to put them in the machine with our family things so soaked them in disinfectant and then handwashed them and tumble dried them ready for the morning.

She was a doctor's daughter but a stranger to hygiene.

EllanVannin Sun 03-Nov-19 10:39:20

Sunday night was always Amami ? night. Strip washes at the wash basin in the mornings and faces washed and teeth brushed each night.
Now it's a shower every other day and a strip wash on the non-shower days. I'd be mortified if I ever smelled a smell on myself such as you do with many-----who could have urinary problems or are just plain lazy and unclean.

I can't stand by anyone who smells in case people think it's me and I've been known to wander to the back of a bus queue for that very reason. I think this stems from working on the wards when I could smell " everyone " on my clothes.

If nothing else my body has to be clean as I unfortunately never know when I have one of my A/fib " turns " and get whizzed to hospital, so cleanliness is imperative.