Monday, December 31, 2012

The Dirt on Clean.

For Christmas, my cousin got me a book. It's called The Dirt on Clean: An Unsanitized History, by Katherine Ashenburg.

It could not be more perfect for me. It is at once horrifying, fascinating, vomit-inducing, engrossing, and fucking pure awesome.

There are quotes spattered throughout the book. For example, Marcus Aurelius said at one point during his life from 121 to 180 AD, "What is bathing when you think of it? Oil, sweat, filth, greasy water, everything revolting."

MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY. Baths are the grossest thing ever, unless you shower thoroughly first and wash all your naughty bits. And bathing with someone else? Unacceptable.

Also, when delving into the medieval period, the book states, "We don't know how and how often people washed, ... but plausible estimates are 'not thoroughly' and 'seldom.' "

Imagine your whole body looking like this.

Another revolting quote, this time from Ulrich, a monk of Cluny circa 1075, states "As to our baths, there is not much we can say, for  we only bathe twice a year before Christmas and before Easter."

So glad you at least get clean for Jesus.

The book also talks about how, for most of our recordable history, when people "bathed" at all, it involved rubbing oil on your body and scraping it off with something called a strigil.

When "soap" was invented, it was made from animal fat and ashes. Mmm. Bath & Body Works should come up with a new foaming hand wash called "Antibacterial Donkey Lard."

I am still in the process of reading this gem of a book, and I shall promptly report back with further horrifying details. There is an entire chapter entitled, "But Didn't They Smell?"

That they did, Sonny Jim. That they did.

Also, here's a baby lamb.


  1. They had to at least have rinsed off certain body parts...I can't imagine how disgusting a year's worth of period blood accumulation would be.

    1. I don't know. I haven't read anything about rinsing parts. And there are people who did not bathe at all, not even once or twice a year. The answer to the chapter called "But didn't they SMELL?" was that when everyone smells, no one notices it. I call bullshit on that though.

  2. OK I think Chesea above said it all...I have nothing else to add to that except ewwwww