A Brief history of Hygiene and Public Health

The word hygiene comes from Hygeia, the Greek goddess of health, who was the daughter of Aesculapius, the god of medicine

2800 BC.                    Some of the earliest signs of soap or soap-like products were found in clay cylinders during the excavation of ancient Babylon.

1550-1200 BC.           Moses gave the Israelites detailed laws governing personal cleanliness. He also related cleanliness to health and religious purification.

1500 BC.                    Records show that ancient Egyptians bathed regularly.

1200-200 BC.            The ancient Greeks bathed for aesthetic reasons and apparently did not use soap.

600 BC.                      Ancient Greeks start using public baths.

300 BC.                      Wealthy Ancient Romans began to use wiping techniques in their toilet habits.

33 BC.                        Ancient Romans began to use public baths. They increased in number rapidly; at least 170 were operating in Rome by the year 33 BC, with  more than 800 operating at the height of their popularity.

Medieval Period

During the Middle Ages the crusaders brought back soap from the Middle East to Europe.

When King John traveled around his kingdom, he took a bathtub with him, along with a personal bath attendant named William.

Most monasteries were on the outskirts of towns or in the countryside, and they observed strict rules about cleanliness. They had fresh running water, ‘lavers’ (wash rooms), flush ‘reredorters’ (latrines) connected to sewers, clean towels and a compulsory bath four times a year.

Towns began to build provided public latrines (toilets).

Towns had bath houses. Southwark, in London, had 18 hot baths.

However, despite the efforts listed above, there is no evidence of any real improvement in public health during the Middle Ages.

16th, 17th and 18th Centuries

Henry VII passed a law stating that all slaughterhouses should be placed outside town walls.

Henry VIII gave towns the power to raise taxes to build sewers, but few towns did.

19th Century

1848 – The Public Health Act set up the Board of Health – the first time that Government had legislated on health issues.

1854 – Florence Nightingale believed in the miasma theory. The miracles she achieved in the Crimean War hospitals resulted from her insistence that bad smells must be eradicated by thorough cleaning.

1857 – The toothbrush was first patented.

1858 – London was affected by the Great Stink.

1875 – The Public Health Act forced councils to carry out improvements.

The late 19th century had seen great strides in public health provision and hygiene. However, there was still a lot of ill-health.

20th Century

1900 – life expectancy was still below 50 and 165 infants out of every 1,000 still died before their first birthday.

1948 -The Labour Government of 1945-1951 created the NHS.

1952 – The killer smog in London killed an estimated 12,000 people.

1956 –The Clean Air Acts of 1956 and 1968 aimed to reduce air pollution.

21st Century

2015 – Hygiene Vision Europe Ltd is established to create innovative washroom and hygiene products for a worldwide market. It is an international manufacturer of professional washroom hygiene products and systems for building owners and facility managers.

Hygiene Vision Europe Ltd offers new and improved professional cleaning and hygiene products and solutions for toilets and washrooms outside the home which are only available through a selected network of quality-controlled, locally based distributors. Its’ business model is based on giving the best customer service, combined with excellent products to attract and keep customers. Work with us and you’ll see the difference, our coordinated range of better performing washroom hygiene products to create best practice washrooms you can be proud of, will make to your company.

Covid 19

2019 – In December 2019, Chinese authorities notified the World Health Organization that a striking number of patients were presenting with pneumonia in the city of Wuhan. What began as a local outbreak, very quickly became a pandemic: just a few weeks later, the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and the COVID-19 respiratory disease it causes had taken the world hostage.