If the average person were transported to the Middle Ages, would they find their fellow humans stinky?
Well, your nose might be so overwhelmed by the stench of garbage, offal, and sewage streaming down your street that you might not notice what people smelled like.
There was so much grossness - heaps of dung, mud, slaughterhouse discards — on the street that it piled up I believe 1–2 feet high until muckrakers came with carts to scoop it up:
Medieval hygiene is a bit controversial as you can see by the answers in this thread. I suspect hygienic practices varied by medieval period, access to baths, ponds, or water, wealth, etc. But there were bathhouses and people of both sexes appear to have gone.
People bathed in a communal style and could catch glimpses of the opposite sex naked.
The bathhouses were places of leisure and bathing was seen as a social activity. In fact, people often ate in the bath! (See the food across the image below.)
For example, Henry VIII (whom I consider to be medieval) closed the bathhouses in the syphilis epidemic during his reign, which wouldn't have helped matters. But people bathed more before then as I understand it.
People bathed and had met with prostitutes in medieval bathhouses. ()
By the time most people reached their twenties, their breath probably smelled terrible due to the lack of dental hygiene and rotting teeth. One visitor to a medieval court complained about the stench of people’s breath because they ate too much meat. (This implies to me that maybe the peasants with their mainly grain diet might have had much sweeter breath and teeth in better condition.)
In Tudor England, people believed in washing your undergarments (personal linens) instead of your body. The nobility only spot cleaned their outer clothes.
To get rid of fleas, which were rampant, people would hang their clothes in the garderobe — a closet-type room built into castles that would have an open seat so urine and feces would fall into a moat or cesspit below.
People hung their clothes in the garderobe because ammonia from urine would kill the fleas. Presumably your clothes would have stank like heaven knows what from this practice.
This is the inside of a garderobe:
This is the outside of a garderobe:
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Do you find the habits of medieval people disgusting?
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