Bathing and Washing


One common misconception is that people did not bathe in the Middle Ages. Not only would people would bathe, but they would also wash their hands before and after meals, and brush their teeth. It is true that peasants would often bathe less often than nobles, because it was inconvenient for them to carry enough water to fill a tub and to heat large quantities of water without servants. Also, nobles would often have pipes and well-systems set up to convey water to their bathes more easily — systems that peasants lacked. Even so, hygiene was still considered important by both peasants and nobles alike.

Nobles | Peasants







  • Would usually bathe in wooden barrels/tubs padded with cloth
    • Would bathe in the garden if the weather was warm
    • Would bathe by the fire if the weather was cool
  • Servants would have to carry the water to fill the tub
  • Sometimes water was piped to rooms from a cistern on a higher floor of the castle
    • A windlass (a mechanism used to hoist and lower buckets from a well) would run through a trap door in the wooden floors above to provided access to the well
    • There was often a central point on each floor where water could be drawn from
  • People would wash their hands before and after meals in a laver (a stone basin located outside the Great Hall)


  • Bathed in portable wooden tubs
  • Privacy was provided by a canopy or tent
  • A bathman would travel with the lord and prepare his bathes




  • Would bathe in rivers, or hand-bathe by dunking old rags in buckets of water
  • Sometimes they would bathe in tubs of cold water. In that case, families would share the same tub of water, and only dump it out once everyone had taken a bath
  • Public bath houses existed that offered warm baths for fairly low prices
  • Sometimes pipes from a manor/castle would channel water to a local area or stone tanks, where the peasants could then collect it
  • Although soap existed at this time and was considered to be important, not all peasants used it
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