For centuries, people all over the world have been bathing in order to stay clean, but early bathtubs were quite different than modern ones. Today, we have some of the most advanced and efficient bathtubs and showers that can make bathing more than just a necessity. Here, our bath experts share the history of baths and bathing:
The B.C. Years
Before bathtubs and showers were created, civilians turned to nature in order to bathe; free-flowing rivers served as baths and waterfalls served as showers. After awhile, early civilizations created wash basins and small tubs for personal use and soon after, the idea of public baths emerged as civilians began to come together to form communities.
The oldest civilization (the Indus Valley Civilization) was the first to utilize public baths followed by the Greeks and Egyptians. Bathhouses became the most popular way to bathe and civilizations even developed basic soaps and cleansing sands to aid in the bathing process; it was believed that cleanliness was associated with power and spirituality.
The Roman Era
Perhaps one of the most popular examples of public bathing was during Roman times. Roman bathhouses became elaborate structures that could hold hundreds or thousands of people at a time. In fact, the city of Bath was dedicated to bathing and featured an array of public baths with intricate water systems, swimming pools, hydrothermal springs, and more. These baths became the center of the town and drew in people to exercise, socialize, and relax.
The 16th Century
Beginning in the 16th century, public bathing became less and less popular as people began to realize that the spread of many plagues, epidemics, and diseases was due to sharing water. In addition, churches started speaking out about their dislike of bathhouses and believed the act was too sensual. Instead, being “dirty” was the commonality and bathing moved to a more individual practice.
The 19th Century
By the mid-19th century, middle class homes started being built with their own bathrooms and people turned to wooden bathtubs for bathing. It was also at this time that soap-making became a massively popular industry and a variety of soap scents and materials were introduced.
By the end of the century, the first bathtub design that used porcelain and cast iron was created by the Alexander Manufacturing Company and became the sought-after bathtub design. As you probably guessed, they featured the classic “clawfoot” design and were popular in the U.S. As the years continued, the clawfoot style faded and a more flush-bottomed bathtub was introduced. These are among the most popular bathtubs we use today.