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Bathing recommendations from 1857: Hall’s Journal of Health

I found this precious and telling article in the (Hannibal) Tri Weekly Messenger

Bath Brush and Soap

May 21, 1857. I accessed it through - a free source of digital newspapers provided by our government.


Once a week is often enough for a decent white man to wash himself all over, and whether in summer or winter, that ought to be done with soap, warm water, and a hog’s hair brush, in a room showing at least 70 degrees Fahren-heit.

Baths should be taken early in the morning, for it is then that the system possesses the power of recreation in the highest degree. Any kind of bath is dangerous soon after a meal, or soon after fatiguing exercise. No man or woman should take a bath at the close of the day, unless by the advice of the family physician. Many a man, in attempting to cheat his doctor out of a fee, has cheated himself out of his life; aye, it is done every day.

The best, safest, cheapest and most universally accessible mode of keeping the surface of the body clean, besides the once a week washing with soap, warm water and hog’s hair brush, is as follows:

Soon as you get out of bed in the morning, wash your face, hands, neck and breast; then in the same basin of water put both feet at once, for about a minute, rubbing them briskly all the time; then, with the towel which has been dampened by wiping the face, feet, etc., wipe the whole body well, fast and hard, mouth shut, breast projecting. Let the whole thing be done within five minutes.

At night when you go to bed, and whenever you get out of bed during the night, or when you find yourself wakeful or restless, spend from two to five minutes in rubbing your whole body with your hands, as far as you can reach, in every direction. That has a tendency to preserve that softness and mobility of skin which is essential to health, and which too frequent washings will always destroy.

That precaution is necessary, in connection with the bath-room, is impressively signified in the death of an American lady of refinement and position, lately, after taking a bath soon after dinner; of Surgeon Hume, while alone in a warm bath; and of an eminent New Yorker, under similar circumstances, all within a year.

Hall’s Journal of Health

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