Just in case you ever feel the need to know a proper (if outdated) technique for bathing… here are some actual instructions on how to take a bath. Based on the prevailing health beliefs at the time, this information comes from an 1884 book on physiology and hygiene. My first thought after reading these instructions all these years later was to wonder which parts of OUR ordinary life will seem strange after a similar passage of time. My second thought… brrrr!
For a person in good health, a daily cold bath is advisable. To this should be added occasionally a warm bath with soap, water alone not being sufficient to remove impurities of a greasy nature. Soap facilitates this by forming with such substances a chemical mixture which is taken up by water and by it removed from the body. Most persons experience the best results when the water is about the temperature of the body — “blood heat.”
A person in sound health may take a bath at almost any time except directly after a full meal. The most appropriate time is about three hours after a meal, the noon hour being probably the best. For the cold bath, taken rapidly, no time is better than immediately after rising. Those beginning the use of cold baths should first try them at 70°F and gradually use those of a lower temperature. From five to twenty minutes may be considered the proper limit of time to remain in a bath, but a sensation of chilliness is a signal to withdraw instantly.
The body should be warm rather than cold when stepping into the bath, and after it the skin should be thoroughly dried with a coarse towel. It is best to continue friction until there is a sensation of warmth or “glow” throughout the entire surface. This reaction is the test of the good effects of the bath. It is very congenial both to health and comfort to rest for a short time after bathing, or to take some light refreshment.
–from Hutchison’s Physiology and Hygiene, 1884