shakey, on 17 April 2012 - 21:49, said:
I think people don't think about the past as something dreadful... in the 1800's, toilet paper wasn't officially sold to the masses until 1857... before that, you were wiping your ass with whatever you could find, and then throwing your stool water out the window onto the alley/streetway. It was a disgusting era before we learned about germs and hygiene. While it would be interesting to pull a fast one on the people of before, you would quickly grow tired of the nasty food, disgusting scene, and probably the intelligence and mannerisms of the locals
Before 1857, when "Gayetty's Medicated Paper" was marketed, the common thing people would use was actually paper -- just not paper specifically commercialized for toiletry. People would use old newspapers, and often carry the papers with them whenever they went out in case they were needed. That's where the habit of bringing a newspaper into the bathroom came from. Where there was no plumbing and you lived in a big city, yea you would directly dump it into the sewer, instead of the pipes carrying it into the sewer for you. People who didn't live in the city would have more discreet ways of disposing of it of course. Wealthier people would have been able to buy bidets, and use washcloths.
A lot of cities had problems though because their sewers were old and needed to be modernized.
The movement for sanitation also came before germ theory was completely accepted by science. Homeopathic doctors believed in the importance of cleanliness, they argued that disease was the result of "miasma", suggesting that people were more likely to be ill if they lived in ill environments and more likely to be "clean" physically if they lived in clean environments. They introduced a lot of anti-septic treatments into medicine and fought for better sanitation in hospitals and cities.