Bath Night

Now there’s an expression from the ‘olden days’! When I was a child, hot water was a precious commodity. Although we had an indoor toilet and bathroom and an immersion heater for hot water in our house, many of the farms and houses in our village didn’t. My grandparents in North Wales didn’t have indoor plumbing either. In the fifties, they still carried their water in buckets from a public tap 50 metres or so from their house – it had been converted from a village pump to a village tap. Their toilet was in a shed at the end of the garden and involved buckets which needed emptying daily. Even people who had indoor plumbing and hot water in the fifties remembered how life had been, just a short while back, so the use of hot water was very carefully controlled. I also believe that electricity was more expensive back then in relation to income which was an additional factor.

There was always a ‘bath night’. Just once a week, usually on a Sunday so that you would be clean and ready for the week ahead at school. Back in the 20s, 30s and 40s, when our parents were growing up and water had to be carried into the house, hot water had to be heated in pans on the coal fire. The bath was a tin bath which was brought inside and filled with the hot water. Is it any wonder people only bathed once a week?




So in the fifties and sixties, even in houses with indoor bathrooms and hot water, people were still really, really careful with hot water and bath night was still strictly once a week.

The bathrooms of those days were not places designed to relax in like the bathrooms of today. No thick, fluffy towels warmed on the radiator, no scented oils, candles. There was no heating in British bathrooms in the fifities so bath night in winter was an ordeal – especially on the way into the bath and on the way out.

Toiletries were basic and the choice was limited.

vintage-lifebuoy-toilet-soap-original_360_00e06dc4be75bb4920be084937656172      Wrights coal tar      Imp Leather

Some basic soaps from the 50s.


loofah     forsters_natural_sea_sponge_    Pumice Stone Mouse 5060528741590 | eBay

Apart from the ubiquitous flannel, the only washing equipment found in 50s bathrooms were the loofah, the sponge and the pumice stone. Also a back brush and nail brush. What is interesting about the three items shown above is that none of them are man-made. The loofah and the sponge were living organisms and the pumice stone (why was it always mouse-shaped?) is a volcanic rock. The back brush and nail brush were always made of wood with natural bristles.


Bath cubes     bath cubes

radox bubble bath 

Toiletries were minimal. A bar of soap and a shampoo. Mums and Grandmas liked a bit of ‘scent’ in their bath water so there were things called bath cubes which were dissolved into the water. Bath cubes were one of the things you bought your mum or your granny as a present. Bubble baths became associated with luxury and glamour so bubble bath started to become popular as a bath additive and Hollywood stars were often shown relaxing in a bubble bath. Then came bubble bath for children and I well remember the arrival of Matey. The idea was that this fun-looking bottle had a liquid in it which made bubbles but also washed you clean! Radox was widely advertised in the 60s on TV as an additive which helped with aches and pains. I believe it was Epsom Salts or similar with a bit of added perfume. Epsom salts and some other salts and minerals are still hailed as being beneficial to the body when used externally such as in a hot bath

Below is a selection of toiletries and the washing aids available today. Just a few, there are hundreds, if not thousands!



body scrubber scrubbers


15 thoughts on “Bath Night

  1. I haven’t thought of bath night in years. If I remember correctly, ours was twice a week. Our bubble bath of choice of Mr. Bubble, but he didn’t make an appearance very often, too extravagant for routine use.

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  2. This..indepth coverage of ..bathing, brings back stories from my parents..and a sorta version..from the finn bathing historys. Here at our Oregon..the inside tub..porch right where it was..when I was a kid. Set up on what used to outside laundry porch. Open to the nice farm air..right? Nice heavy-protective metal screens..right? was with father decided to add walls and the bathroom. My mother must have raised a small glass of home made cherry THAT addition. Iron tub..4 lion footed legs..and big enough to hold several kids..if there had been more. Bathing up at..the Columbia river grandmothers..meant the sauna. One a week..the fires got built..under the old iron stove..covered with heaps of’gather its heat’. By 6 pm..Friday night..the parade of family members..would each pull up their own bucket of water from a home dug well (my grandfather whom met his a Russian prisoner camp..having been lied free farm land..IN Russia..had dug that one). There are still..4 long wooden benches..across the big bathhouse..and water pails..set next to the throw water on. amazing. Also..sometimes overwhelming. Also..all manner of genders..race in, race out..and if snowy or raining..go outside..for a..’cool down’. For open, happy finn family groups, cousins and all..we are not to nudity./ The polite version..of our warning anyone..that a flying finn..may soon ..streak their area of the house or intervening yards is a chipper..”commin g through”! ina

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  3. I wonder when hair washing more than once a week became more normalised. I remember that even in less “primitive” bathroom conditions in the late 60’s, it would have been unthinkable to have washed one’s hair more often. And some of us with long lank greasy teenage strands could have benefitted. The “shampoo and set ladies” who visited the hairdresser once a week for their wash were another story.

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    • I remember that too! Being a teenager in the 60s and wanting to be trendy, fashionable and smell nice but still in a household where the old values held. Do you remember when they invented the dry shampoo? Trouble was, it was basically a powder like talc. So some of my friends with dark hair ended up with white powdery patches!


  4. I don’t remember exactly when dry shampoo became available, but I think even the newer iterations haven’t been entirely successful (either aerosol spray or talc based.) Yes, your teenage friends might as well have simply applied talcum power to their scalps!

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  5. My memories are if the tin bath in front of the fire .
    My older brother went in before me, whether mum and dad had a different night or bathed when we went to bed I have no idea .
    Circa late 40/early 50,s

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  6. In the 30s/40s Friday bath night for six kids in a tin bath was orrible, because I was the naughtiest of the kids I was always last, I could almost walk on the water, one day my youngest sister dropped a brown submarine, I protested and mum just flipped it out, and shoved me in the tub, I claim that for still having good skin at 87.

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