Originally posted 23 December 2007.
This is an article I found on microfilm of the newspaper, The Clarksville Star, published in Clarksville, Butler County, Iowa. This comes from the April 5, 1872 edition.
Regular bathing, so far as the people of this country are concerned, is certainly a habit of quite modern adoption. The fathers and mothers, and grandfathers and grandmothers, of those who have reached middle life, seldom or never bathed, except in the warm months of summer. Their dwellings afforded no conveniences for the act, if they felt the need of performing it. As a general thing, the health was unaffected by this omission. Why was this? Because of their occupations and their methods of living. They were active workers, they wore but a small amount of clothing, they lived much in the open air, and their dwellings were without stove and furnace heat. If any one in these days will exercise in the open air, so that each day he will perspire moderately, and if he will wear thin under-garments, or none at all, and sleep in a cold room, the functions of the skin will suffer little of no impediment if water is withheld for months. Indeed, bathing is not the only way in which its healthful action can be maintained by those living under the conditions at present existing. Dry friction over the whole surface of the body, once a day, or once in two days, is often of more service than the application of water.
If invalids and persons of low vitality would use dry friction and Dr. Franklin's "air bath" every day for a considerable period, we are confident they would often be greatly benefited. Cleanliness is next to godliness, no doubt, and a proper and judicious use of water is to be commended; but human beings are not amphibious. Nature indicates that the functions of the skin should be kept in order mainly by muscular exercise, by exiting natural perspiration by labor; and delicious as is the bath, and healthful, under proper regulations, it is no substitute for that exercise of the body without which all the functions become abnormal.--Fireside Science