Viking Hygiene Back in the Day

We’re so lucky that we live in a century where there is no shortage of grooming products to keep us looking and smelling our best. It makes us wonder how many times Viking people cleaned themselves and what kind of products they used in order to look and feel presentable. So if you want to learn more interesting details about Viking hygiene then keep reading this article. 

Viking Cleanliness and Grooming  

You probably think that Vikings back in the day must have stunk and looked miserable because they don’t have a lot of what we have right now but guess what? You’re wrong! 

Despite the living conditions back then, Vikings were actually known to be hygienic people. They were also concerned about the way they look, especially their hair. They are just like us who will clean and comb their hair for it to stay healthy, look decent and less messy. You wouldn’t believe that they even carry combs in boxes with them just in case they need to fix and keep their hair in place.

Aside from looking after their hair on top of their heads, they also made it a point to keep their facial hair trimmed, neat and tidy looking. They used a variety of embellished grooming tools that were made from either metal, bones, and antlers. These ornately decorated tweezers, razors, and combs that they used on their mustaches and beards were also buried alongside them when they die.

Haircare is really important for them back in the day but it wasn't uncommon for people with a lack of facial hair to be ridiculed and mocked. Those with longer and thicker beards were seen as more masculine and matured compared to their peers with less facial hair. This is one of the reasons why they paid attention to their hair appearance and why it’s better to have longer but well-managed beards at that time.

Apart from hair care, Vikings were also keen on bathing every Saturdays and this is in fact, actually more frequent than other Europeans living at that time. Writings from the Viking Age, on the other hand, revealed that they do wash their faces and hands to some extent on a day to day basis. They also enjoyed visiting saunas and bathhouses to keep themselves not only clean but also entertained as well. They meet there and hang out just like what we do in cafes, malls, and other places.

Sometimes smelling good isn’t enough, they have to look the part too and wearing clean clothes made out of linen and wool will help them present themselves even better. After cleaning themselves, it’s only right to change clothes and they do change clothing more frequently than expected due to their desire to look extra polished and put together.

Staying clean for them is valuable and necessary so if ever a fellow Viking will do something to disgrace and make them feel humiliated (like cutting their hair or clothes without permission) then they will find it absolutely offensive, according to Grágás, or the Laws of Early Iceland. 

People guilty of committing uncalled for acts like this will be penalized and subject to full outlawry. This type of punishment is considered a life sentence where their basic rights are taken away from them. It’s a very big offense as they are banished from society and refused by even their family members.


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