Bathing in 1882
In most of our houses in the city there is a separate bath room with hot and cold water, but country houses are not always so arranged. A substitute for the bath-room is a large piece of oilcloth, which can be laid upon the floor of the ordinary dressing-room. Upon this may be placed the bath-tub or basin.
There are various kinds of baths, both hot and cold—the douche, the shower-bath, the hip-bath and the sponge-bath.
We do not bathe to make ourselves clean; but to keep clean, and for the sake of its health-giving and invigorating effects. Once a week a warm bath, at about 100°, may be used, with plenty of soap, in order to thoroughly cleanse the pores of the skin.
A douche or hip-bath may be taken every morning, winter and summer, with the temperature of the water suited to the endurance of the individual. In summer a second or sponge-bath may be taken on retiring.
Only the most vigorous constitutions can endure the shower-bath, therefore it cannot be recommended for indiscriminate use.
After these baths a rough towel should be vigorously used, not only to help remove the impurities of the skin, but for the beneficial friction which will send a glow over the whole body. The hair glove or flesh-brush may be used to advantage in the bath before applying the towel.
Before stepping into the bath the head should be wet with cold water, and in the bath the pit of the stomach should be first be sponged.
There is no danger to most people from taking a bath in a state of ordinary perspiration. But one should by all means avoid it if fatigued or overheated.
Next in importance to the water-bath is the air-bath. Nothing is so conducive to health as an exposure of the body to air and sun. A French physician has recommended the sun-bath as a desirable hygienic practice. It is well, therefore, to remain without clothing for some little time after bathing, performing such duties of the toilet as can be done in that condition.
from Decorum (1882)
Ask the Historian!
Have a question about life at the turn of the 20th Century? Leave your question in a comment below, and I will find the answer and share it in a future post!