Cleanliness, it turns out, has been one dirty trick. One reason early-20th-century Americans ramped up their weekly baths to daily showers is that marketing companies capitalized on the insecurities of a new class of office drones working in close quarters. As Gizmodo wrote last week, to sell products like "toilet soap" and Listerine to Americans, "the advertising industry had to create pseudoscientific maladies like 'bad breath' and 'body odor.'"
Take, for instance, Gizmodo's description of the philosophy of the Cleanliness Institute, which was founded by the Association of American Soap and Glycerine Producers:
The trade association wanted Americans to wash quite unwittingly after toilet, to wash without thought before eating, to jump into the tub as automatically as one might awake each new day.
And so we did. A Reddit user recently polled 562 people and found that most men said they showered daily. Women's bathing rituals were more diffuse, but about 60 percent preferred to shower three, four, or five times weekly.
Showers Per Week
Now is the dawn of a new, more pungent era, though. People are snapping up dry shampoo and No-Poo and coating themselves in bacteria. Dr. Sanjay Jain recently told Jezebel that "showers don't need to be too hot, or too long, and you should always pat dry, rather than rub, to avoid irritating your skin." One family went six months without using soap and raved about the results.