Timeline of hygiene

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This is a timeline of hygiene, attempting to describe important aspects of human hygiene through the use of artifacts and statistical data display. Toilet developent is covered on the timeline of sanitation.

Big picture

Time period Development summary
Ancient times Soap is already produced in the Middle East. Thoothbrushing is already developed by civilizations in Egypt and Babylonia. Regular bathing is a distinctive feature of the Roman civilization.
Middle Ages Soap making becomes an established trade. In Europe, Purity of the soul is emphasized over the cleanliness of the outer[1], however, some scholars argue that people in Medieval Europe probably bathed more than people in the 19th century.[2]. In Japan, daily bathing becomes a common custom. In Iceland, pools warmed with water from hot springs are popular gathering places on Saturday evenings.[1]
19th Century Modern sanitation starts becoming adopted. By the end of the century, deodorants can be found in many forms, including roll-ins, powders, creams, pads, solid, and dabbers.[3]
20th Century Commercially-made shampoo becomes available from the turn of the century.[4] Between 1963 and 1998, approximately 3000 toothbrush patents are filed worldwide.[5] In the early 1980s, electronic bidets are introduced in Japan. In the late 1990s and early part of the 21st century, alcohol rub non-water-based hand hygiene agents (also known as alcohol-based hand rubs, antiseptic hand rubs, or hand sanitizers) begin to gain popularity.

Full timeline

Year Event type Details Present time country/location
3500 BC–3000 BC Babylonians and the Egyptians already make toothbrushing tools by fraying the end of a twig.
3000 BC Dental hygiene Ancient Egyptians develop an early form of toothbrush, a stick with one end flayed to soften the wood fibres. It is as well reported that Egyptians used tooth powder containing powdered ashes of ox hooves, myrrh, powdered burnt egg shells and pumice. Ancient Egyptians would also freshen their breath by chewing on fragrant mixtures with honey.[5][6] Egypt
2800 BC Body hygiene The earliest recorded evidence of the production of soap-like materials dates from this time in ancient Babylon.[7]
2200 BC Body hygiene A formula for soap consisting of water, alkali, and cassia oil is written on a Babylonian clay tablet.[8]
1700 BC Body hygiene Palatial bathrooms with water supplied through terra cotta pipes are built in Knossos, Crete.[9] Greece
1600 BC–1550 BC Publication The Ebers papyrus, an ancient Egyptian medical compendium, describes the practice of combining oils with alkaline salts to form a soap-like material for treating skin diseases and for washing. The papyrus indicates that the ancient Egyptians bathed regularly. Egyptian documents also mention a soap-like substance was used in the preparation of wool for weaving.[10][11] Egypt
753 BC–476 AD Body hygiene Regular bathing is a distinctive feature of the Roman civilization.[12] Italy
600 BC Body hygiene The Phoenicians prepare soap from goat’s tallow and wood ashes.[10]
556–539 BC Body hygiene In the reign of Nabonidus, a recipe for soap consists of uhulu ashes, cypress oil and sesame seed oil "for washing the stones for the servant girls".[13]
500 BC Body hygiene Gentlemanly etiquette in China requires hand washing five times a day, hair washing every third day and a hot bath every fifth day.[9] China
460 BC – 377 BC “Hygiene” becomes known as the branch of medicine dedicated to the "art of health," (as distinct from therapeutics, the treatment of disease).[14] Greece
460 – 377 BC Greek physician Hippocrates conceives hygiene as “an influence of atmosphere, soil, and water on human health”.[15] Greece
312 BC Body hygiene In Rome, perfumed oils are used for bathing. Pumice and ashes are also rubbed over wet skin.[9] Italy
47 AD Dental hygiene Roman physician Scribonius Largus describes three different "toothpowder” mixtures, one containing vinegar, honey and salt; another with radish and finely ground glass; and a third using ground deer antler, a rare aromatic gum and rock salt.
100 – 200 AD Body hygiene Greek physician Galen recommends soap for cleaning and medicinal purposes.[10]
200 BC–450 AD Several Hindu texts, such as the Manusmriti and the Vishnu Purana, describe elaborate codes of hygiene. Bathing is one of the five Nitya karmas (daily duties) in Hinduism, and not performing it leads to sin, according to some scriptures.[16] India
300 – 500 SD Body hygiene Indian women use a turmeric cream with antiseptic properties as an alternative to soap.[9] India
500 – 600 AD Body hygiene Japanese Buddhism teaches that bathing purifies the body of sin and also brings luck.[9] Japan
600 – 700 AD Body hygiene The "Turkish Bath" or Hammam becomes a major feature of Islamic culture. The Quran requires cleanliness as an important part of Muslim faith: face, hand, forearm and feet washing before prayer, and whole body bathing after sex.[9]
600 – 700 AD Body hygiene Palestine, Iraq, Iran, Italy, Spain and France are the early centres of soapmaking, using vegetable and animal oils combined with ashes and fragrance.[10]
1000–1200 AD Body hygiene Bathing is essential to the Western European upper class. "The Cluniac monasteries to which they resorted or retired were always provided with bathhouses, and even the monks were required to take full immersion baths twice a year, at the two Christian festivals of renewal, though exhorted not to uncover themselves from under their bathing sheets."[17] Europe
1100s Body hygiene Soap is highly taxed in England. It is considered a luxury item and is not widely used.[10] United Kingdom
1240 Publication English physician Gilbertus Anglicus publishes his Compendium Medicinae, which contains descriptions of hygiene and the care of one's appearance.[2]
1400s Dental hygiene The first precursor of the modern toothbrush is thought to come from China or Egypt in this century. It has a bamboo or bone handle and bristles from the back of the neck of the wild boar, or from horsehair. This design would spread to Europe.[5]
1500s – 1600s Body hygiene “Dry cleaning”, the rubbing action of linen underclothing replaced bathing, is adopted in England. Underclothing is aired or laundered.[9]
1600s – 1700s Body hygiene Puritans in the United States prioritize cleanliness, with Sunday washing linked to spiritual cleansing. Cleanliness become linked to respectability and moral virtue.[9] United States
1710 Body hygiene The earliest reference to the bidet appears in Italy.[18] Italy
1791 Body hygiene French chemist Nicolas Leblanc patents the process for making soda ash, a major component of soap, from table salt.[10]
1800 Hair care Early colonial traders in India discover hair and body massage, called shampoo, and introduce “champing” to Europe.[1] India
1815 Dental hygiene American dentist Dr. Levi Spear Parmly introduces the idea of using waxed silken thread as floss. Later in his career, Parmly would publish A Practical Guide to the Management of Teeth, emphasizing the importance of brushing and flossing daily.[19][20] United States
1823 Body hygiene French chemist Michel Eugène Chevreul reveals the chemical process of soap by showing how boiling fat with an alkali salt splits the fat molecule into the alkali salt of fatty acid (soap) and glycerol.[21]
1824 Dental hygiene Dr Peabody, a dentist, introduces a soap-containing toothpaste.[22]
1844 Dental hygiene The first 3-row brush is designed.[5]
1847 Body Hygiene Hungarian obstetrician Ignaz Semmelweis urges doctors at Vienna General Hospital to wash their hands. Prior to this, physicians weren't aware of the spread of infections due to lack of hand washing.[23] Austria
1853 Body hygiene English soap tax is abolished. Soap becomes widely used and is described by German chemist Justus von Liebig as an accurate measure of a country’s wealth and civilization.[10]
1857 Anal cleansing Toilet paper comes on sale in the United States, at first being sold in sheets.[24][25] United States
1861 Publication Ignaz Semmelweis in Budapest publishes Die Aetiologie, der Begriff und die Prophylaxis des Kindbettfiebers (“The Etiology, the Concept, and the Prophylaxis of Childbed Fever”), in which he explains his theories on childbed fever, and the ways to avoid spreading it by means of vigorous hand-washing.[23] Hungary
1874 Dental hygiene The first patent for dental floss is granted to Asahel M. Shurtleff for what is described as "an improved pocket thread carrier and cutter" that resembles modern floss packages.[20]
1880s Dental hygiene Toothpaste is mass produced in jars in the United States, based on Dr Sheffield’s "Crème Dentifrice” invention of 1850.[22]
1882 Dental hygiene Mass production of unwaxed silk floss begins in the United States.[26]
1888 Body hygiene The first cosmetic deodorant, a paste made from zinc chloride and wax, is patented under the name ‘Mum’.[27]
1890 Anal cleansing Toilet paper is first sold in rolls in the United States.[25] United States
1890s Body hygiene Aluminium chloride is added to deodorants to reduce sweating.[27]
1890s Dental hygiene Toothpaste was sold in collapsible tubes.[22]
1898 Dental hygiene The first dental floss patent is awarded in the United States.[26][19] United States
1898 Hair care German chemist Hans Schwarzkopf in BErlin opens a drugstore dedicated to perfume and focuses his efforts on products for the hair. His popular water-soluble, powder shampoo still causes dulling, alkaline reactions.[1] Germany
1914 Hair care British hair stylist Kasey Hebert in London invents the first commercial shampoo.[1][4] United Kingdom
1927 Hair care Hans Schwarzkopf introduces one of the world’s premiere liquid shampoos.[4] Germany
1928 Anal cleansing Toilet paper is first sold in rolls in Europe.[25] Europe
1930 Hair care Shampoo as we know it today (with synthetic surfactants) is first introduced.[4][1]
1939 Dental hygiene The first electric toothbrush is developed in Switzerland.[5][28] Switzerland
1940s Dental hygiene Dr. Charles C. Bass creates a more shred-resistant nylon floss as a substitute for silk floss, thus promoting teeth flossing as an important part of oral hygiene.[20]
1942 Anal cleansing Soft toilet paper comes on sale.[25]
1945 Dental hygiene Soap is replaced by other ingredients in the making of toothpaste, following the invention of synthetic detergents, making toothpastes smoother.[22]
1950s Manufacturers start introducing aerosol technology.[3]
1952 The first roll-on deodorant, based on the design of the ballpoint pen, is marketed in the United States.[27] United States
1965 Body hygiene The first anti-perspirant aerosol is launched to the market.[27]
1975–1980 Sleep hygiene is developed as a recommended behavioral and environmental practice intended to promote better quality sleep. This recommendation is thought as a method to help people with mild to moderate insomnia. However, as of 2014, the evidence for effectiveness of individual recommendations is "limited and inconclusive".[29]
1980 Anal cleansing Japanese electric toilet Washlet, with water spray feature for genital and anal cleansing, is released to the market.[30] Japan
1980s Dental hygiene The interdental brush is invented as an alternative to flossing.[19]
1985–1990 Hand hygiene Automatic faucets are introduced for commercial use.[31]
1989 British epidemiologist David P. Strachan develops the hygiene hypothesis, which states that there is an inverse relationship between family size and development of atopic allergic disorders – the more children in a family, the less likely they are to develop these allergies.[32][33]
1990 Publication The WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (JMP) starts producing regular estimates of national, regional and global progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).[34]
1996 Body hygiene About 141 million people visit Japan’s 15,700 hot-spring inns during the year (out of a Japanese population of 125 million).[9] Japan
2000 Statistics 1229 million people worldwide practice open defecation.[34]
2008 Hand hygiene The Global Handwashing Day is initiated by the Public Private Partnership for Handwashing (PPPHW) in August 2008 at the annual World Water Week in Stockholm.[35] Sweden
2009 Hand hygiene The World Health Organization launches its New global Guidelines on Hand Hygiene in Health Care, developed with assistance from more than 100 renowned international experts. Also tested and given trials in different parts of the world.[36]
2015 Statistics 892 million people practice open defecation.[34]
2015 Statistics Study of handwashing in 54 countries finds that on average, 38.7% of households practice handwashing with soap.[37]
2016 Anal cleansing Bidet toilets are installed in 81.2% of Japanese households.[38] Japan
2018 Scientific development Study by the University of Connecticut School of Medicine shows that dryers sucking in bacteria and faecal particles from flushing toilets can spread it onto users' recently washed hands.[39] United States

Meta information on the timeline

How the timeline was built

The initial version of the timeline was written by User:Sebastian.

Funding information for this timeline is available.

What the timeline is still missing

Timeline update strategy

See also

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 "The History of Shampoo". hairstory.com. Retrieved 28 September 2017. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Thorndike, Tales of the Middle Ages - Daily Life". Gode Cookery. Retrieved 9 August 2017. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Deodorants History - Invention of the Deodorant". historyofcosmetics.net. Retrieved 21 September 2017. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 "Shampoo: Taking the sting out of childhood". independentpharmacist.co.uk. Retrieved 28 September 2017. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 "A brief history of…THE TOOTHBRUSH". hygieneforhealth.org.au. Retrieved 20 September 2017. 
  6. "History of Toothbrushes". colgateprofessional.com. Retrieved 20 September 2017. 
  7. Willcox, Michael (2000). "Soap". In Hilda Butler. Poucher's Perfumes, Cosmetics and Soaps (10th ed.). Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers. p. 453. ISBN 0-7514-0479-9. The earliest recorded evidence of the production of soap-like materials dates back to around 2800 BCE in ancient Babylon. 
  8. Birnbaum, David. Jews, Church & Civilization, Volume I. Retrieved 21 August 2017. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 9.7 9.8 "SNAPSHOTS OF BATHING". hygieneforhealth.org.au. Retrieved 20 September 2017. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 A brief history of…SOAP. "A brief history of…SOAP". hygieneforhealth.org.au. Retrieved 20 September 2017. 
  11. "The earliest recorded evidence of the production of soap-like materials dates back to around 2800 BC in ancient Babylon. A formula for soap consisting of water, alkali, and cassia oil was written on a Babylonian clay tablet around 2200 BC.". heritagedaily.com. Retrieved 20 September 2017. 
  12. "Roman bath houses". Time Team. Channel Four Television Corporation. Archived from the original on 4 February 2007. 
  13. Noted in Levey, Martin (1958). "Gypsum, salt and soda in ancient Mesopotamian chemical technology". Isis. 49 (3): 336–342 (341). JSTOR 226942. doi:10.1086/348678. 
  14. "SNAPSHOTS OF PUBLIC SANITATION". hygieneforhealth.org.au. Retrieved 23 September 2017. 
  15. Pappas, Georgios. "Insights into infectious disease in the era of Hippocrates". International Journal of Infectious Diseases. Retrieved 10 August 2017. 
  16. "Aryan Code of Toilets (2nd Century AD)". Sulabh International Museum of Toilets. 
  17. Philippe Braunstein "Solitude: eleventh to thirteenth century", in Georges Duby, ed. A History of Private Life: II. Revelations of the Medieval World 1988:525
  18. "Bidets for Beginners". italymagazine.com. Retrieved 28 September 2017. 
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  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 "Who Invented Dental Floss?". wonderopolis.org. Retrieved 21 September 2017. 
  21. "Michel-Eugène Chevreul". britannica.com. Retrieved 21 September 2017. 
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 "A brief history of…TOOTHPASTE". hygieneforhealth.org.au. Retrieved 21 September 2017. 
  23. 23.0 23.1 "In 1850, Ignaz Semmelweis saved lives with three words: wash your hands". pbs.org. Retrieved 13 April 2018. 
  24. Panati, Charles. Panati's Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things. Retrieved 4 August 2017. 
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 25.3 "A BRIEF HISTORY OF TOILETS". localhistories.org. Retrieved 4 August 2017. 
  26. 26.0 26.1 "A brief history of…DENTAL FLOSS". hygieneforhealth.org.au. Retrieved 21 September 2017. 
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 27.3 "A brief history of…DEODORANT". hygieneforhealth.org.au. Retrieved 21 September 2017. 
  28. "A Brief History of Dentistry". dentistsnearby.com. Retrieved 21 September 2017. 
  29. Irish, Leah A.; Kline, Christopher E; Gunn, Heather E; Buysse, Daniel J; Hall, Martica H (October 2014). "The role of sleep hygiene in promoting public health: A review of empirical evidence". Sleep Medicine Reviews. 22: 23–36. PMC 4400203Freely accessible. PMID 25454674. doi:10.1016/j.smrv.2014.10.001. 
  30. Akbar, Adhiutama; Seiichi, Yoshikubo. "363 Diffusion of Electronic Bidet Toilet in Japan Case Study: TOTO Washlet" (PDF). itb.ac.id. Management of Technology Program, Shibaura Institute of Technology, Japan. Retrieved 28 September 2017. 
  31. "Introduction of Automatic Faucets". archive.org. Retrieved 28 September 2017. 
  32. Bloomfield, SF; et al. "Too clean, or not too clean: the Hygiene Hypothesis and home hygiene". PMC 1448690Freely accessible. Retrieved 9 August 2017. 
  33. Strachan, DP (August 2000). "Family size, infection and atopy: the first decade of the 'hygiene hypothesis'". Thorax. 55 (1): S2–S10. PMC 1765943Freely accessible. 
  34. 34.0 34.1 34.2 "Progress on Drinking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene 2017" (PDF). who.int. Retrieved 8 August 2017. 
  35. "The Global Public Private Partnership for Handwashing – Our History". The Global Public Private Partnership for Handwashing. Retrieved 28 September 2017. 
  36. "a WHO Guidelines on Hand Hygiene in Health Care: a Summary" (PDF). who.int. Retrieved 28 September 2017. 
  37. "JMP handwashing dataset". Retrieved 28 September 2017. WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) for Water Supply and Sanitation 
  38. "平成28年3月実施調査結果:消費動向調査" [March 2016 consumer spending survey]. Cabinet Office, Government of Japan. March 2016. Archived from the original on 2016-06-23. 
  39. "Bathroom hand dryers may be blowing bacteria and faeces all over you, study suggests". irishexaminer.com. Retrieved 13 April 2018.