How Women Around The World Get Clean

Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
We’re obsessed with what people in other countries eat, how they dress, and where they hang out — after all, these habits are ways to understand and embrace cultures and customs that are different from our own. But have you ever thought about how people in other countries bathe? Military showers or long, lingering baths? Shower gel or bar soap? Daily or every other day? More importantly: Bidet or no bidet? Well, the answer may depend on one’s postal code.

Even within one country, people’s bathing customs, preferences, and tendencies depend on so many factors: geographical location (city apartment dwelling, sprawling suburbs, or rustic countryside?), climate (boiling hot or cold and dry?), lifestyle, cultural beliefs, and more. From the U.S. to South Korea to France to Sierra Leone, when it comes to bathing habits, how different — and yet the same — we all are is fascinating. Which is why we decided to do a deep dive on all things hygiene — pulling back the shower curtain, if you will, on how a diverse selection of people from around the world keeps clean.

Read on to learn a few hacks that will make your own bathing experience more fulfilling, dispel quite a few stereotypes, and make you realize that Americans are actually kind of, erm, behind when it comes to post-bathroom hygiene.

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