What Were the Hygiene Habits of People Living in Ancient Egypt?

What Were the Hygiene Habits of People Living in Ancient Egypt?

Hygiene was important to Ancient Egyptian society, given the elaborate tombs and hieroglyphs depicting people with eye makeup and linen clothing. Many things modern societies came to associate with the Ancient Egyptians, such as dark eye makeup and wigs, weren’t just for looks. They were also adopted as methods of survival in a place scorched by the sun and infested with insects. Lacking sanitation and other modern amenities, societies like Ancient Egypt had to be creative and resourceful to survive. Egyptian makeup and body cleansing methods inspired many of the soaps, cosmetics, and perfumes that became popular in later times. The people of ancient Egypt had numerous hygienic habits that made them unique. Let’s get to know more closely the hygiene rules adopted by the Ancient Egyptians.

Men and women shaved their hair to prevent lice


Parasites such as lice were such a big problem for the Egyptians that they had to take drastic measures to prevent the insects from living on their bodies. To limit where the lice could live, people shaved their hair. However, they wore wigs made of real human or horse hair on their heads. However, since those with less money could not afford wigs, members of the lower classes often wore head coverings instead of wigs or made wig-like creations from papyrus.

Ancient Egyptians used natural deodorant to block body odor


Ancient Egyptians turned to herbs and other natural substances to keep body odor in check. They made a paste of herbs, flowers, and roots, combining them with oil to apply under the armpits and making a cream. Historians; They discovered deodorizing agents made from mixtures of oatmeal and resin, along with ancient Egyptian nuts, crushed tortoiseshell, and ostrich eggs. Some of these primitive deodorants had a really pleasant scent.

They used chewed herbs and mint to prevent bad breath.


For the ancient Egyptians, a breath of fresh air was a very important scent. For this reason, they would often chew herbs such as parsley during the day or after meals. The Egyptians also used candies they made or bought themselves to prevent bad breath. These candies; It was made by mixing fragrant spices, cinnamon, cashew and pine seeds with honey.

Men were circumcised for cleaning.

Various historical examples of circumcision exist in ancient Egyptian culture, including sculptures and paintings on tomb walls. Although the culture of circumcision continued for other reasons, some historians believe that the practice began as a need for cleanliness. Researchers think that uncircumcised men were considered unclean in Ancient Egypt, based on inscriptions found in temples and tombs. Over time, circumcision evolved into rituals involving religious ideas. However, while circumcision only affected men, women practiced their own rituals for cleanliness and sexual health. Many women get into the habit of removing pubic hair by shaving or trying other natural hair removal methods. Women believed that this practice prepared them for intimacy with men and helped drive away lice and fleas.

Toilet and bathroom habits in ancient Egypt

Most toilets owned by wealthy Egyptians had seats made of limestone. Those who could not afford such luxuries often used a pit they dug outside as a toilet. However, although people used the river’s water for drinking, bathing and washing their clothes, many people also used the rivers for bathing. Because the ancient Egyptians did not have a sewer system, waste and other rubbish would often end up in pits, open fields or canals, contaminating the river and the fields where people grew their food. Despite the Egyptians’ clean-up efforts, diseases, parasites, and insects from unsanitary conditions killed many people each year.

They used cosmetics for health and aesthetic purposes.

Cosmetics were used by both men and women in ancient Egypt, as they provided other benefits besides beauty. People applied eye shadow, mascara, and eyeliner after smoothing their skin with honey or aloe oil and face masks. Eyeliner was not popular in Egypt at the time, just as an expression of beauty. Sociable people used eyeliner to protect their eyes from the sun’s rays and to repel flies. To make these cosmetic products, people would pulverize natural elements such as malachite and galena, mix them with oil to form a cream, and then store them in containers.

They used laxatives and enemas to clear their bowels.


As evident from their elaborate mummification processes, the ancient Egyptians were trying to learn a lot about human health. Many physicians in ancient Egypt also functioned as priests and often associated illness with offending the gods. However, doctors who also practiced medicine recommended the use of laxatives to help clear the bowels. Laxatives, administered by many Egyptians three days a month, were believed to help rid the body of disease. The Egyptians also used enemas to cleanse their bowels.

The methods the ancient Egyptians used to shower depended on their social class.


Egyptians usually showered every day; but the methods they used to do this depended on their social class. Rich Egyptians had places to wash inside their homes. They had basins or jugs filled with water carried by their servants from the Nile. Some upper-class homes had foot baths made of wood, stone, or ceramic, which were used to clean feet, since most people did not wear shoes. The Egyptians used a natural substance called natron as soap and applied moisturizing creams after bathing to keep their skin soft. Members of the lower classes, which included most of Egyptian society, bathed in the river.

They produced perfumes from various materials

Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egyptian people valued fragrance and they made various perfumes for it. People created different kinds of scents by mixing fragrant spices and herbs such as cardamom, mint, and juniper with oil. A perfume called Kyphi was adopted as a sign of wealth, becoming the most valuable and expensive of ancient Egyptian perfumes. The Egyptians also turned scented materials into incense cones, which they burned for themselves and their gods.

They used the Nile River to wash their clothes

Ancient Egypt

Although for most of Egyptian history, people wore very few clothes, in later periods they adopted larger wardrobes and cleanliness was an important issue for them. Since the color of the fabric of the clothes they wore was white, the clothes showed dirt very easily. This required the laundry to be washed more often and it was not an easy task. Clothes had to be beaten, rinsed, spun and hand-wetted to remove dirt. For this reason, the Egyptians gave the laundry job to men. While the wealthy hired others to do their laundry and made use of private facilities, the lower classes had to use the Nile River to do their laundry. Because many people also use the river for taking garbage and showering, the water was full of parasites and other disease-causing things. It also meant that doing laundry in the river was in danger of being harmed or killed by hippos or lurking crocodiles.

They used toothbrushes and toothpaste

Ancient Egypt

The ancient Egyptians powdered natural substances such as salt, flowers, and mint to clean their teeth. They rubbed it on their teeth using their fingers. The Egyptians eventually created a toothbrush using a stick tied like a bristle with thin strips of plants. Historians have discovered evidence of the treatments the Egyptians applied to their teeth, including fillings and holding loose teeth in place with splints. It turned out that several mummies had bridges built using teeth that did not belong to them.

In ancient Egypt, the wealthy had manicures.

Ancient Egypt

Upper-class Egyptians and royalty hired manicurists who used rasps and small knives to trim and clean their nails. Manicurists held a special place in society, and they took care to prominently label their graves with their professional titles after they were selected. People also created a primitive form of nail polish using henna to paint their nails orange and yellow. Regardless of class, most people went around barefoot and used creams and ointments to prevent their feet from chafing or attracting insects.

They applied sunscreen and moisturizer after bathing

Ancient Egypt

Because Egypt is a sunny, warm place, the ancient Egyptians took care to protect their skin. After bathing, people applied animal products such as tallow, which helped moisturize the skin due to its oil content. They also used herbal products such as flaxseed or castor oil and added honey to these products to help reduce the appearance of scars and maintain their youthful appearance. Many of the ingredients the Egyptians used in their creams acted as sunscreen, with the added benefit of repelling insects like sand flies. The wealthy could buy ready-made creams and oils at the market, while those who had no money made their own creams at home using easily accessible ingredients.

They built towers to get rid of mosquitoes

Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egypt was plagued by mosquitoes, and the inhabitants took many precautions in this regard. In some cases, those in the upper reaches of the marshes would build towers around their sleeping quarters because the wind would keep the mosquitoes from flying high enough to infiltrate the barrier. One of the precautions they took was to wrap themselves in a net while they slept. Each man had a net he used for fishing during the day, and at night they would wrap it around their beds and sleep under it. Thus, they prevented mosquitoes from reaching their bodies.

Ancient Egypt women used embers and barley for pregnancy tests

Female doctors would test for pregnancy status with an early pregnancy test, which required urinating on a mixture of barley and ember. If barley and core did not grow after urinating, it meant no pregnancy. If they were larger, it meant that the owner of the urine was pregnant. This test is actually quite effective. In the late 20th century, researchers tried to validate the technique and found that barley or embers grew in more than half of the tests done by pregnant women. No growth was seen in every test done by a man or a non-pregnant woman. While this was not the only method of fertility testing practiced in ancient Egypt, it was perhaps one of the most effective.

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