Vikings had bad hygiene. They lived in huts that were almost never cleaned, wore furs covered in dirt and blood, they rarely bathed. So they must have been filthy, right? Wrong. Historians have recently found a large body of proof which shows Vikings were actually a rather clean people, as clean as anyone could be before the invention of indoor plumbing, anyway!
The misconception of the filthy Viking
The reason many of us today have the idea that Vikings were filthy people is twofold. First, Vikings themselves did not write much about their hygienic practices (unsurprisingly). Second, many of the written historical accounts of Vikings which we do still have came from Christian authors.
Because Christian authors were biased to consider any pagan culture as being lesser than them, these writers would ignore facts and create myths to make the Vikings (and other people) seem more like wild savages than cultured people.
Historical evidence shows that Vikings bathed, on average, once a week. This may sound somewhat unhygienic to many of us today, but at the time, people in some other cultures bathed perhaps twice a year. Historians have found remnants of a soap that Vikings made which was so strong it was not used for bathing but bleaching their hair!
In fact, the original meaning (in Scandinavian) of “Saturday” can be translated as “washing day.” The Vikings actually had a day of the week that was devoted to bathing, grooming, and cleaning!
Vikings did more than just bath once a week to stay clean as well. Historians have found many different types of grooming implements that Viking people (both men and women) would use to keep themselves clean and stylish.
Grooming tools are some of the most common objects found in Viking burial mounds and include tweezers, razors, ear spoons, and especially combs. Vikings were said to brush their hair at least once a day, according to some unbiased accounts.