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How old is cleaning


Cleaning comes natural (to most!), we wash ourselves and our clothes, the car gets done on a Sunday and of course, carpets and sofas love a good clean.  But where did all this start?

We can see examples of personal cleaning as far back as the prehistoric days.  Man knew that water was essential, and so the closest he lived to this wet stuff the easier life would be.  Then waters cleaning powers were used as a minimum to clean the mud off their feet!

What about soap?  Well, a soapy substance was discovered  in clay cylinders when Babylon was excavated back in 2800 B.C.  These cylinders have inscriptions on them that say that fat’s along with ashes were boiled together.  This can be a crude way of making soap.  It must be pointed out that there is no real evidence that these soaps were used for personal hygiene.


A medical document from 1500BC named ‘The Ebers Papyrus’ describes mixing  vegetable and animal oils along with alkaline salt in order to make a soapy substance that was used for washing, as well as for helping treat skin diseases.

It was around the same time that  Moses was said to give the Israelites detailed laws governing their personal cleanliness.  Moses also compared cleanliness to health and religious purification. Historical accounts also suggest that the Israelites knew that mixing ashes and oil produced a kind of hair gel.


Early Greeks were known to wash for aesthetic reasons. Although the use of soap isn’t evident, they did use blocks of clay, sand, ashes and pumice to clean their bodies.  After this oil was used along with a tool named a strigil to help scrape any dirt away.  Clothes were washed, but just with stream water.

It is said that the name ‘soap’ comes from a place where animals used to be sacrificed named ‘Mount Sapo’, here was found a clay mixture of melted animal fat’s, along with wood ashes that were washed along the Tiber River. The Greeks realised this made cleaning things a lot easier.


With the onset of time more sophisticated bathing began.  312 BC saw the first Roman baths that were filled with water from their aqueducts.  These baths were incredibly luxurious and became very popular.  By the second century AD using soap for medical and cleanliness was suggested by Galen – a well renowned Greek physician.

By the time we saw the fall of Rome in 467 A.D there was a sharp decline in these bathing habits.  In fact, the result of this saw the great plagues of the Middle Ages as well as the Black Death of the 14th century.


Modern day cleaning solutions have moved along.  Detergent free cleaning solutions (such as used by Dirtbusters) have come a long way and are a great choice for carpet and upholstery cleaning.

Soap tends to leave a sticky residue that simply attracts dirt.  We also need to be aware that dirty waste soapy water is not good for our environment.

Supermarkets sell more eco-friendly soap powders in past years, these are a great choice for you any your family.

When choosing any kind of cleaning product for your home try and avoid the following –

  • Added fragrances
  • Added colours
  • Ingredients youve never heard of! (just Google them)
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