Cleanliness is one of the pillars of society. Despite this, there's a dearth of information available that tells us specifically how we should go about cleaning ourselves. Is one way of cleaning yourself actually better than another?
The truth is that everyone's skin care needs are different. For many people, for instance, water is an integral part of the bathing process. In ancient Rome, however, some people would clean themselves simply by dousing their bodies with oil and then scraping it off their skin with a tool called a strigil [Source: VRoma Project]. Today, soap and water are more popular.
Because every person is unique, it's up to you whether or not you use soap when cleaning yourself. If you want your body to smell more natural, then soap may not be for you. However, if you're inclined to emit a fragrance other than your body's natural scent, then soap can be a good choice.
However, your choice isn't limited to only soap. There are all kinds of cleansers you can use -- some of them include shampoos, astringents, peroxides and rubbing alcohol. You can even make combinations; for instance, maybe you want to use a cleanser on your face, shampoo on your hair and rubbing alcohol under your fingernails. You should go with whatever makes you feel clean and comfortable.
Many people prefer to take showers and baths. But others simply jump into nearby lakes and tributaries to wash off. Some people may only get to clean themselves when it rains. If you live by the shore, you can bathe in the ocean if you want to, but always remember that water temperature is going to be a major determinant of how comfortable your bathing experience will be.
You certainly don't want the water to be too hot, and if the water is too cold, you'll probably want to get out before you're fully clean. Lukewarm is a good middle ground. Some people use their hands to clean different parts of their bodies, but a washcloth or loofah sponge on a stick can be very helpful for cleaning hard-to-reach places.
It's arguable that the best way to learn how to clean yourself is through a process of trial and error. Go about your normal routine, and decide which regimen works best for you.
For lots more information on cleanliness and skin care, see the links below.
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- McManus, Barbara. "Roman Baths and Bathing." VRoma Project. July 2003. (Jan. 11, 2010)http://www.vroma.org/~bmcmanus/baths.html
- Smith, Virginia. "Clean: A History of Personal Hygiene and Purity." (Jan. 11, 2010)http://books.google.com/books?id=GZBsRv17U3gC&dq=clean+a+history+of+personal+hygiene+and+purity&printsec=frontcover&source=bn&hl=en&ei=pINLS7byAp-ltgentIDlDQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CBkQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=&f=false