Personal hygiene in the 1700s was a complicated balance of practicality, religious belief, and social position. Colonial America had people washing their bodies and clothes irregularly, so disease and disorders were common.

Colonial hygiene left a lot to be desired. The odors, dirt, and waste were inescapable parts of daily life. Ironically, lack of hygiene didn’t go unnoticed, with dirt and grime believed to be indicative of bad manners and sloth. See how they got by during the time.

Bathing was done with a wet cloth and a pail of water.

Full-body baths were usually only given to infants, but not necessarily to clean them but to “harden” them. Men, women, and children would rinse their faces and hands in the morning but bathing was less involved.

A basin, cloth, and perhaps a sponge were all they needed, wiping themselves off if there was privacy. Baths were relatively common, but soap wasn’t used.

Swimming helped but dips in a nearby stream or lake were more for cooling off rather than cleaning up.

Bathtubs were reserved only for those who could afford them, and were just large enough for a sponge bath.