New movement turning their noses up at cleanliness.
Want to save water? A growing number of Americans have a novel solution: don’t wash. Turning up their noses at the US culture of cleanliness – 93 per cent of the country’s adults say they wash their hair every day – these few shun showers and eschew deodorants, adopting the slogan: “Smell more like yourself”.
“We don’t need to wash the way we did when we were farmers,” says Katherine Ashenburg, author of The Dirt on Clean: An Unsanitised History, a bible for the great unwashed. With cars and labour-saving appliances taking the sweat out of life, she says, “we have never needed to wash less, and we have never done it more”.
The new abstainers say that staying dirtier is healthier, preserving the skin’s natural oils, stopping it from drying out, and avoiding eczema.
And now they are getting backing from medics who are discovering that pelts harbour beneficial bugs that we shouldn’t necessarily wash away. “Good bacteria produce their own antibiotics and kill off bad bacteria,” Dr Richard Gallo, chief of the University of California, San Diego’s dermatology division, told The New York Times. He added that getting rid of “some of the good bacteria that help maintain a healthy balance of skin” and removing its “lipids and oils” could dry it out. And, since you ask, clean society isn’t shunning Miss Ashenburg, who insists: “I’m still invited to dinner parties.”