Showering You with Facts - The Clean Backstory

Published on September 4th, 2015

Imagine the Ice Bucket Challenge, every day, for every shower.

A slight exaggeration, but that’s how everyone used to do it – simply tipping a pail of water over you from a higher height. Or you could opt to fill up a barrel of water and jump right in. Sometimes, there was the option to heat the water before you dumped it. Luckily for us, technology made some changes.

The Ancient Greeks, who typically washed in a louterion (a bowl on a pedestal), invented a form of shower which sprayed bathers with water. Also used for socializing, Roman public bath buildings received clean water from aqueducts. Northern Europeans in the Middle Ages were charged to use a bathhouse. By the 14th century, many bathed in wooden tubs in their bedroom.

In 1767, Englishman William Feetham invented the first modern shower.  Electricity and indoor plumbing in the 1880’s allowed for new designs and mechanisms that eventually led to what is the common modern shower. Here are just a few examples of these contraptions:

A needle shower (aka the cage shower due to its encompassing structure) allowed water to be jetted out of the pipes that wrapped around the person. It was noticed that this shower simulated a sort of massage for internal organs and was marketed as a liver shower.

A rain (or spray) shower involved a circular head that would let water flow directly down or slightly slanted. A combination of showers that included a variety of aspects from previous styles led to canopy showers. These showers were found in more fluent homes and were constructed out of a porcelain enamel tub that is built vertically into a curved shower wall. This upward tub “L”’s into a horizontal tub to stand in, and this shower was often ornate with intricate designs.

The invention of the electric water heater in 1889 made the bathing experience more pleasant.  In the 1920’s, showers began to expand from the upper class norm to the middle class households, and by 1965, 85% of middle class Americans had both a tub and a shower in their homes.

Today, the average American showers every day. Whether it is a part of your morning routine or nighttime ritual, the use of the shower has become an integral part of day-to-day life in the U.S. culture as the focus on hygiene has consistently increased. Next time you’re singing your next top hit in to your showerhead microphone, think of the luxury of having a shower in your home…instead of taking a trip to the bathhouse!

Have any questions about owning a home? Is there a Home History topic you have always wondered about? Reach out to our Housing Buzz Team today! We are always more than happy to scrub up the answers.

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