David Whitlock is not a tramp who sleeps under bridges, but earned his scientific degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Still, he behaves like someone who hasn't seen running water in 12 years: he doesn't shower.
Bacteria instead of water
Whitlock would like to prove first-hand that shower gel and soap harm the body. He assumes that the fragrant cosmetics destroy the skin's natural protective film against pathogens and instead relies on “Mother Dirt”, a bacterial spray he developed.
Spray for the skin flora
His spray contains bacteria that are also found in dirt; it is intended to neutralize harmful substances on the skin and prevent infections, while protecting the natural skin flora.
Showering is not a matter of course
Taking a shower every day is a matter of course for many people today. This practice has only been established for a few decades and only in the rich industrialized countries.
One bathing day per weekche
Weekly bathing was still normal for people living in the country in the 1960s. The whole family jumped into the hot water tub once a week and scrubbed themselves thoroughly.
In many dry areas, water is far too precious to be wasted washing up the body every day. Traditional American natives, for example, are stunned by the fountains in Las Vegas; their ancestors invented dry washing in the Nevada desert. They cleaned themselves with sweat lodges and then rubbed the sweat off their bodies with sand.
It also made sense to save water in their arid home. Conversely, the major cities of the Southwest, which are pumping water in quantities from the soil and the Colorado, face an unresolved water problem - and a possible collapse.
Alternatives to showering
Like the Indians in the deserts, all desert peoples developed techniques to keep themselves clean without water. The Berbers in Morocco know a variety of “deodorants”, “shampoos” and “face masks” made of earth, stones and plants that clean the skin - with a minimum of water.
Sweat against stench
The sweat lodge, we call it a sauna, works through natural washing. Sweat is not a waste, but serves to cool and clean the body as well. Fresh sweat will wash away the dirt in the form of potential pathogens, waste products from bacteria, food residues and foreign substances.
If you dry your body with birch twigs after taking a sauna without taking a shower, you will not feel dirty, but cleaner than after showering ten times.
Damned to stink?
Sweat does not stink in general, but intense smells arise from old sweat when bacteria decompose, through fragrances that biologically serve sexual attraction (but are perceived as penetrative in the office) and through the connection between unwashed clothing and poor personal hygiene.
Waste products of the body dry up in old sweat as do foreign substances.
Showers are hygienic?
However, personal hygiene does not mean taking a shower every day. Removing old sweat without water removes the unpleasant smell at least as well - for example with sponges, leaves or brushes. Rubbing the skin with dry soap made from ground minerals and herbs also removes unwanted fragrances.
Showering alone doesn't help
Conversely, we do not remove the smell of sweat by simply letting the water run over your body when showering, but also by washing with a cloth, brushing and lathering.
Showering is not a scent
Shampoos contain fragrances - herbs that we rub into the skin without water also contain such substances.
Do traditional people stink?
Our ancestors in the Middle Ages probably stank up to the sky. They dumped the garbage in the river or on the doorstep, the faeces and urine of the farm animals on the dung heap betrayed the farm from afar. Sailors slept tightly in ships, and nobles covered their body odor with perfume.
But anyone who is among Navajos, Tuareg or Bushmen knows that these people have an unobtrusive and unusual body odor, but not for our noses, they stink like the residents of a home for male homeless people.
They wash dry, they brush their teeth with fragrant plants and anus like armpits with powders made from plants and stones. According to eyewitnesses, Whitlock also looks well-groomed and does not spread any unpleasant body odor.
What do scientists say?
Cord Sunderkötter from the University of Münster considers daily showering to be problematic. It damages the skin flora because it also flushes away useful bacteria.
According to the Munich dermatologist Christoph Liebich, such bacteria ward off pathogens. In other words, those who shower every day make themselves susceptible to diseases.
Water or shampoo?
Liebich recommends people who sweat profusely, such as bodyworkers or athletes, only to clean the sweaty areas such as the armpits - with water. Too much shampoo or soap reduces the fat content of the skin.
Frequent showering with antispetic soaps is reminiscent of peeled bananas in plastic packaging: the skin flora itself has an antiseptic effect against harmful pathogens. Showering them off and then lathering them up is absurd.
It is important to apply cream after showering, because washing and rubbing dry removes moisture from the skin.
Showering is not washing your hands
In contrast to showering, we should wash our hands frequently, preferably before every meal and after every toilet. Because most pathogens come from hand to mouth and from there into the body. (Dr. Utz Anhalt)