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Chronicles Of Cleaning: Medieval Cleaning

When we think of the medieval period, images of castles, knights, and grand feasts often come to mind. However, one aspect of life during this time that is often overlooked is the cleaning methods that were employed to maintain hygiene and cleanliness.

Medieval castle

1. The Importance of Cleanliness in the Medieval Era

In a time when the understanding of germs and diseases was limited, maintaining cleanliness was crucial for preventing illnesses and maintaining a healthy living environment. With lack of advanced medical knowledge, people relied heavily on cleanliness to stay healthy and ward off infections.

2. Cleaning the Castle: Domestic Methods

Medieval castles, often depicted as grand and imposing structures, had their own unique cleaning challenges. The lack of running water, proper drainage systems, and electricity made cleaning a formidable task. However, resourceful methods were devised to tackle these challenges. Sweeping, scrubbing, and beating rugs were common techniques used to remove dust and dirt. Floors were often strewn with straw or rushes, which were periodically replaced to maintain a semblance of cleanliness. Herbs and flowers were used to create pleasant fragrances, and ventilation was improved through the use of chimneys and openings in walls.

3. Textiles and Clothing

Cleaning clothes and textiles posed a significant challenge during the medieval period. With no washing machines or dry cleaners, people relied on manual methods to clean their garments. Clothes were often beaten, brushed, or rubbed against abrasive surfaces to remove dirt and stains. Water sources like rivers were used for washing, with ashes or lye sometimes added to aid in cleaning. Sunlight played a crucial role in drying and disinfecting fabrics.

4. Personal Hygiene

Personal hygiene was another important aspect of medieval life. Though bathing practices were not as frequent as they are today, people did find ways to maintain cleanliness. Public bathhouses were common in urban areas, where individuals could bathe and socialize. In rural areas, people often relied on sponge baths or washing specific body parts. Aromatic herbs and flowers were used to mask body odors.

5. The Role of Animals

Animals played an interesting role in medieval cleaning. For instance, cats were valued for their ability to control rodent populations, which helped in keeping living spaces cleaner. Falconers also used birds of prey to keep vermin in check, aiding in pest control. Additionally, feathers from birds were sometimes used as cleaning tools.

6. The Influence of Class

The level of cleanliness one could maintain in medieval times often depended on social class. Wealthier individuals had more access to resources and facilities that promoted cleanliness, while the lower classes had to make do with simpler methods.


Exploring medieval cleaning methods offers us a glimpse into the resourcefulness and creativity of our ancestors. In a time of limited resources and technological advancements, people managed to devise effective strategies to keep their living spaces and themselves clean. From castle sweeping to textile beating, these techniques reflect the value placed on hygiene and the ingenuity that allowed people to adapt to their environment.

As we marvel at the conveniences of modern cleaning technology, it's worth remembering that the desire for cleanliness is a timeless aspect of human nature. The medieval methods, though vastly different from ours, served as the foundation for the cleaning practices we have today.

Dry Master's Cleaning:

We've used today's modern methods, not the historical methods listed previously for over 33 years. Dry Master Cleaning & Restoration has offered premium carpet cleaning, oriental & area rug cleaning, upholstery & leather cleaning, tile and grout cleaning & sealing, wood floor cleaning & refinishing, air duct & dryer vent cleaning, and emergency water extraction.

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