Thursday, 4 November 2010

Soap dodgers

Good grief! The mad greenies of this world appear to be turning their swivel eyes towards those of us who like to be clean and fragrant. Now, I know eco warriors have always had something of a loose acquaintance with personal hygiene and most are in need of a map to help them find their way to the bathroom, but there appears to be a definite trend towards infrequent washing in a bid to lower water consumption.

According to a survey published by tissue manufacturer SCA, 41% of British men and 33% of women don't shower every day, with 12% of people only having a proper wash once or twice a week. So what do these filthy beggars do to keep themselves from reeking to high heaven? Well, apparently some women wipe under their arms with wedges of lemon instead of washing while others have a quick rub down with half a Wet Wipe. Half of all British teenagers, according to research by Mintel, don't wash every day – with many opting for a quick spray of deodorant to mask any stink. Okay, so that's not much of a surprise, but the thought of grown-ups travelling on buses and tubes smelling like a piece of overhung game fills me with dread and makes me almost grateful to be virtually housebound.

However, there are, says The Guardian newspaper, environmental benefits in smelling like an old dustbin. Environmentalist Donnachadh McCarthy, 51, limits his showers to about twice a week. "The rest of the time I have a sink wash," he says. "I believe that I'm as clean as everyone else." It has helped him to get his water consumption down to around 20 litres a day – well below the 100 to 150 average in the UK.

As McCarthy points out, it's only recently that we have expected people to bathe or shower every day. "When I was a kid," he says, "the normal thing was to bathe once a week." Head much further back into history, and we find Elizabeth I bathing once a month, and James I apparently only ever washing his fingers. In 1951, almost two-fifths of UK homes were without a bath, and in 1965, only half of British women wore deodorant.

Quite right, Donnachadh. And in those days everyone smelt like a decomposing kipper and I doubt very much if L'Oreal shifted a whole lot of product either. Why do these soap-dodging greenies want to take us back to being neanderthal cave dwellers? I wonder if they really fancy the whole authentic experience. How about a world with no antibiotics or anaesthetics? There you are, in your cave, nibbling on an old bit of tofu, shivering in the freezing cold and you've got a raging toothache and a streptococcal infection that could scare the shit out of vancomycin. As you lay there in absolute agony, all you can smell is the fetid armpits of Ugg sat next to you. Is that the sort of world these people really want us to live in? It can't be long before they call for mandatory limits on the number of showers we can take.

I swear civilisation is going backwards.


  1. In the 40s, 50s & 60s we only changed socks, underwear & shirts once a week. As a rolling mill office wallah my father changed his starched collar every day but the shirt lasted the week. There again it wasn't until end of 1950s or beginning of 60s that we had a washing machine, twin tub no less, on hire purchase. And even then in winter my mother dried clothes on the pulley rack above the sink in the kitchen, no tumble dryers.

    Prior to that mother washed all clothes in the gas-heated zinc dolly tub and the clothes were agitated, violently churned, using a dolly peg - looked like a milking stool with a long pole out the top with handles at the top for lifting up pushing down hard and turning round in alternate directions. Then the clothes, blankets, sheets etc were fed from the tub through the mangle where the rollers had to be turned using a large L shaped handle to squeeze all the water out before everything was hung on the garden washing line or the pulley rack if it was raining.

    Regarded as women's work and done by the women of the household, usually mother and any sister not at school or work.

    The kitchen always reeked of damp on wash day.

    And my father's collars were boiled in a pan on the stove. Then my mother had to starch and iron the collars. Then iron all the washing.

    No "easy-care" clothes, no dry cleaning, no shirt-service at the dry-cleaners.

    Certainly economical on water.

    Very time consuming, didn't consume any electricity except for the kitchen light. Consumed a lot of my mother's energy but there again, that meant she didn't need a fitness gym to stop her getting fat.

    Maybe the greenies would like us all to go back to that? But there again in the 50's & 60s greenies were something else again - equally unwanted.


  2. wow, I wonder if the 'greenies' would also like the diseases that go along with being unwashed. Granted some people are obsessive about cleanliness, but that's a whole different ball of grime and cognitive-behavioural therapy helps with that.

    Yes, even in N.A. kids bathed once a week, but then unless we were visibly filthy, kids really don't sweat that much so that is not much of a argument for once a week bathing. When humans reach their puberty our sweat glands go into overdrive, and frankly seem to never slow down. Daily washes are a necessity from puberty onward. At the very least the armpits and groin areas. A sponge bath (sink wash?) could be done. But a full bath is needed for most people every second day. Seniors might get away with less, but from my experience, old men need to bathe more than they do. Gag, the old man stink makes me retch. No amount of Axe body spray can neutralize that smell.

    As for the 'in the 50's/60's we only bathed once a week, well, I remember my mother saying back then (60's) that perfume is no substitute for deodorant or bathing. Splashing perfume (or other smell) only intensifies the stench. Gee nothing like sweaty Chanel #5 eh?

    As for the clothes washing, my mother used a wringer washer until the automatic came in the late 50's early 60's. They did however have a water saving feature. She'd have a hose into the old wringer washer and the final rinse water would drain into that and then would be reused by the washing machine. Now the washers only water saver option is not using a lot of water. Somehow the washer judges how much laundry is in the machine. And we had an electric dryer (some homes had gas powered ones).

    I don't know about Britain, but we've had bathrooms with tubs and then showers for decades. Our house in 1962 had a shower/tub combination and that house was a prewar one. It might've been retrofitted though.

    Maybe all the greenies can live in their own remote place...downwind preferably.

  3. Struth !!! There has always been jokes here about Poms washing now I find they were all true :-)

    I can't imagine not showering here after a 30c plus day, you would need a can of deodorant a day to cover that !