The toilet, dubbed the “Häusl” in Upper Bavaria, which translates as the “little house”. What we have here is a magnificent period example. In summer, people shared the loo with flies, and in winter, it was unheated. Inside, there’s a large mirror, and a nail, that served to hold the toilet paper.
It wasn’t exactly cosy, and we can be sure nobody retreated there to read the paper, as some people do these days. No – sheets of newspaper, cut to size, served as toilet paper instead.
Nor did any form of professional night-soil removal exist. Beneath the toilet, there was a pit, about knee height, which extended beyond the structure to one side, where it was covered with planks. The owners emptied the pit themselves via this side access. Often, they’d pack straw in first, soak it thoroughly, clear it out using a pitchfork, and dispose of it on the muck heap.
What about a daily shower? Nope, not even close. Though many bedrooms contained elegant wash bowls and jugs, poorer people, in particular, simply washed their hands and face at the well. Bath time was once a week, usually on Saturdays. The bath tub stood in the kitchen. First came the children, then the women, and last to take a bath were the men. By the time everyone was squeaky clean, there was straw floating in the bath water.
Similarly with clothing. Changing outfits every day was unheard of. Washing day came around once every four to eight weeks. It meant three days’ work for the women: setting up the copper and the wash bowls, soaking the laundry, boiling it up, scrubbing, rinsing and wringing it out, bleaching, putting it through the mangle, folding it. No wonder people wore the same underwear for a whole week – at least.