Three young women bathing. Side B from an Ancient Greek Attic red-figure stamnos Throughout history, societies devised systems to enable water to be brought to population centres. Ancient Indians used elaborate practices for personal hygiene with three daily baths and washing. These are recorded in the works called grihya sutras and are in practice today in some communities.
Ancient Greece utilized small bathtubs, wash basins, and foot baths for personal cleanliness. The earliest findings of baths date from the mid-2nd millennium BC in the palace complex at Knossos , Crete, and the luxurious alabaster bathtubs excavated in Akrotiri , Santorini. The Greeks established public baths and showers within gymnasiums for relaxation and personal hygiene. Ancient Rome developed a network of aqueducts to supply water to all large towns and population centres and had indoor plumbing, with pipes that terminated in homes and at public wells and fountains.
The Roman public baths were called thermae. With the fall of the Roman Empire , the aqueduct system fell into disrepair and disuse. Medieval Japan[ edit ] Before the 7th century, the Japanese likely bathed in the many springs in the open, as there is no evidence of closed rooms. In the 6th to 8th centuries in the Asuka and Nara periods the Japanese absorbed the religion of Buddhism from China, which had a strong impact on the culture of the entire country.
Buddhist temples traditionally included a bathhouse yuya for the monks. Due to the principle of purity espoused by Buddhism these baths were eventually opened to the public. Only the wealthy had private baths. The first public bathhouse was mentioned in These were built into natural caves or stone vaults.
In iwaburo along the coast, the rocks were heated by burning wood, then sea water was poured over the rocks, producing steam. The entrances to these "bath houses" were very small, possibly to slow the escape of the heat and steam. There were no windows, so it was very dark inside and the user constantly coughed or cleared their throats in order to signal to new entrants which seats were already occupied. The darkness could be also used to cover sexual contact. Because there was no gender distinction, these baths came into disrepute.
They were finally abolished in on hygienic and moral grounds. Author John Gallagher says bathing "was segregated in the s as a concession to outraged Western tourists". At that time shared bathrooms for men and women were the rule. These bathhouses were very popular, especially for men.
Some guests apparently offered to pay but the yuna also provided favors. The segregation of the sexes, however, was often ignored by operators of bathhouses, or areas for men and women were separated only by a symbolic line. Today, sento baths have separate rooms for men and women.
Very neat and cleanly, bathing every day each afternoon As the steam accumulates in the upper part of the room a person in charge uses a bough to direct the steam to the bathers who are lying on the ground, with which he later gives them a massage, then the bathers scrub themselves with a small flat river stone and finally the person in charge introduces buckets with water with soap and grass used to rinse.
This bath had also ritual importance, and was vinculated to the goddess Toci ; it is also therapeutic when medicinal herbs are used in the water for the tlasas. It is still used in Mexico.
The Church also built public bathing facilities that were separate for both sexes near monasteries and pilgrimage sites; also, the popes situated baths within church basilicas and monasteries since the early Middle Ages.
Public baths were also havens for prostitution , which created some opposition to them. Rich people bathed at home, most likely in their bedroom, as 'bath' rooms were not common. Bathing was done in large, wooden tubs with a linen cloth laid in it to protect the bather from splinters. Additionally, during the Renaissance and Protestant Reformation , the quality and condition of the clothing as opposed to the actual cleanliness of the body itself were thought to reflect the soul of an individual.
Clean clothing also reflected one's social status; clothes made the man or woman. Furthermore, from the late Middle Ages through to the end of the 18th century, etiquette and medical manuals advised people to only wash the parts of the body that were visible to the public; for example, the ears, hands, feet, and face and neck. This did away with the public baths and left the cleaning of oneself to the privacy of one's home. Linen clothing is much easier to clean and maintain — and such clothing was becoming commonplace at the time in Western Europe.
Clean linen shirts or blouses allowed people who had not bathed to appear clean and well groomed. The possession of a large quantity of clean linen clothing was a sign of social status. Thus, appearance became more important than personal hygiene. Contemporary medical opinion also supported this claim.
Physicians of the period believed that odors, or miasma , such as that which would be found in soiled linens, caused disease. A person could therefore change one's shirt every few days, but avoid baths — which might let the 'bad air' into the body through the pores. Consequently, in an age in which there were very few personal bathtubs, laundry was an important and weekly chore which was commonly undertaken by laundresses of the time.
Public opinion about bathing began to shift in the middle and late 18th century, when writers argued that frequent bathing might lead to better health. Two English works on the medical uses of water were published in the 18th century that inaugurated the new fashion for therapeutic bathing. One of these was by Sir John Floyer , a physician of Lichfield , who, struck by the remedial use of certain springs by the neighbouring peasantry, investigated the history of cold bathing and published a book on the subject in It was highly popular and first placed the subject on a scientific basis.
Hahn's writings had meanwhile created much enthusiasm among his countrymen, societies having been everywhere formed to promote the medicinal and dietetic use of water; and in Professor E. Oertel of Anspach republished them and quickened the popular movement by unqualified commendation of water drinking as a remedy for all diseases. Kneipp's own book My Water Cure was published in with many subsequent editions, and translated into many languages.
Claridge was responsible for introducing and promoting hydropathy in Britain, first in London in , then with lecture tours in Ireland and Scotland in The first modern public baths were opened in Liverpool in The first known warm fresh-water public wash house was opened in May In Wilkinson was appointed baths superintendent. Whilst the dimensions of the baths were small, they provided a range of services.
Monro who had had premises in Lady Well and Snow Hill. On 22 April and 23 April , two lectures were delivered in the town hall urging the provision of public baths in Birmingham and other towns and cities. After a period of campaigning by many committees, the Public Baths and Wash-houses Act received royal assent on 26 August The Act empowered local authorities across the country to incur expenditure in constructing public swimming baths out of its own funds.
In he wrote The Pillars of Hercules, a book about his travels in through Spain and Morocco. He described the system of dry hot-air baths used there and in the Ottoman Empire which had changed little since Roman times.
In Richard Barter read Urquhart's book and worked with him to construct a bath. During the following years, over Turkish baths opened in Britain, including those built by municipal authorities as part of swimming pool complexes, taking advantage of the fact that water-heating boilers were already on site. Similar baths opened in other parts of the British Empire. Soap reached a mass market as the middle class adopted a greater interest in cleanliness.
By the midth century, the English urbanised middle classes had formed an ideology of cleanliness that ranked alongside typical Victorian concepts, such as Christianity , respectability and social progress.
It was in the midth century, though, that the large-scale consumption of soap by the middle classes, anxious to prove their social standing, drove forward the mass production and marketing of soap. William Gossage produced low-priced, good-quality soap from the s. William Hesketh Lever and his brother, James, bought a small soap works in Warrington in and founded what is still one of the largest soap businesses, formerly called Lever Brothers and now called Unilever.
These soap businesses were among the first to employ large-scale advertising campaigns. Before the late 19th century, water to individual places of residence was rare. London water supply infrastructure developed through major 19th-century treatment works built in response to cholera threats, to modern large-scale reservoirs. By the end of the century, private baths with running hot water were increasingly common in affluent homes in America and Britain.
At the beginning of the 20th century, a weekly Saturday night bath had become common custom for most of the population. A half day's work on Saturday for factory workers allowed them some leisure to prepare for the Sunday day of rest. The half day off allowed time for the considerable labor of drawing, carrying, and heating water, filling the bath and then afterward emptying it. To economize, bath water was shared by all family members.
Indoor plumbing became more common in the 20th century and commercial advertising campaigns pushing new bath products began to influence public ideas about cleanliness, promoting the idea of a daily shower or bath.
It is a means of achieving cleanliness by washing away dead skin cells, dirt and soil, and a preventative measure to reduce the incidence and spread of disease. It also reduces body odors. Bathing creates a feeling of well-being and the physical appearance of cleanliness. Bathing may also be practised for religious ritual or therapeutic purposes  or as a recreational activity. Therapeutic use of bathing includes hydrotherapy , healing, rehabilitation from injury or addiction, and relaxation.
The use of a bath in religious ritual or ceremonial rites include immersion during baptism in Christianity and to achieve a state of ritual cleanliness in a mikvah in Judaism. It is referred to as Ghusl in Arabic to attain ceremonial purity Taahir in Islam. All major religions place an emphasis on ceremonial purity, and bathing is one of the primary means of attaining outward purity. In Hindu households, any acts of defilement are countered by undergoing a bath and Hindus also immerse in Sarovar as part of religious rites.
In the Sikh religion, there is a place at Golden Temple where the leprosy of Rajni 's husband was cured by immersion into the holy sacred pool, and many pilgrims bathe in the sacred pool believing it will cure their illness as well.
Types of baths[ edit ] Carl Larsson , Summer Morning, Where bathing is for personal hygiene, bathing in a bathtub or shower is the most common form of bathing in Western, and many Eastern, countries. Bathrooms usually have a tap, and a shower if it is a modern home, and a huge water heating pot.
People take water from the tap or the water-heating pot into a large bucket and use a mug to pour water on themselves. A soap and loofah is used to clean the body after, and then rinsed again using the mug.
People most commonly bathe in their home or use a private bath in a public bathhouse.