History lives in everything, and personal hygiene is no exception. When it comes to hygiene in the Arab and Middle Eastern culture, there is a long and rich history that is often forgotten. 

Just consider the fact that taking care of our hygiene would not have been the same if it weren't for the ancient Egyptians, who are credited with introducing loofahs, toothpaste and deodorant. 

Additionally, the Arab hammam (public bathhouse) is greatly believed to have inspired Europeans to readopt the culture of bathing during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.

So, what did Arabs use to maintain personal hygiene in the past?  

1. Primitive soap

According to the Ebers papyrus, which dates back to 1,550 BC, ancient Egyptians produced a soap-like substance by combining animal and vegetable oils with alkaline salts. They used this mixture for washing, as well as treating sores and skin diseases.

Meanwhile, the Phoenicians are said to have made soap from goat fat and wood ash in 600 BC.

Arabs went on to develop their soap production, making liquid and hard soaps that were often perfumed and colored. They did so by using vegetable oils, including olive oil, or some aromatic oils, such as thyme oil. 

2. Toothpaste featuring rocks and pepper

Ancient Egyptians are believed to have started using a paste to clean their teeth around 5,000 BC and were among the first to use twigs with frayed ends as toothbrushes.

The ingredients of their ancient toothpastes included a powder made of rock salt, mint, dried iris flower and pepper.

They also made the world's first breath mints using myrrh, cinnamon, frankincense and honey. 

3. The miswak

A Czech company recently came under fire for promoting what it dubbed a "revolutionary" new product aka Raw Toothbrush. In reality, it was just a miswak, a teeth-cleaning twig used by Arabs for thousands of years

Miswaks are taken from the Salvadora persica tree - a traditional and natural alternative to the modern toothbrush. As a natural toothbrush that offers several health and beauty benefits, it was used by Prophet Muhammad and is frequently encouraged in the hadiths (collective records of traditions depicting the life of the prophet).

The origins of the miswak are traced back to the Babylonians, Greeks, Romans and Egyptians.

4. This vegetable doubled as a loofah

Source: Wikipedia

We've already established that Ancient Egyptians were all about personal hygiene. When it came to cleaning their bodies, they are said to have used the Luffa - a long and narrow vegetable that belongs to the cucumber family, which eventually led to the production of modern-day synthetic sponges. 

5. The ceramic bath scraper

According to The Met Museum's website, Arabs used the ceramic bath scraper - a 12th century Iranian creationto scrub away dead skin in public hammams. 

6. The ancient Egyptian deodorant

The Hearst Papyrus reveals that ancient Egyptians sought the help of physicians to get rid of body odor. They used mixtures that included spices, incense, fruits and fragrances to mold natural deodorant pellets that they stored in their armpits.