Hygiene Habits In The Wild West

The American Frontier, otherwise referred to as the Wild West or Old West, was a time period in American history that involved the westward expansion across the United States. During that time, pioneers looked west to “the frontier” in hopes of making their fortunes and starting new lives. With this came a new way of living that is now associated with gunslingers, saloons, and constant conflict with the Native Americans. Life on the frontier was not for the faint of heart, and those who were brave enough to face it paid the price with their hygiene. Take a look to see what hygiene was really like in the Wild West and how greatly it contrasts from today.

Spitting Became A Health Hazard

In the Old West, many of the men spit tobacco, and when in a saloon, would spit it directly on the floor where spittoons lined the bar (as seen here). The saliva on the floor and the spittoons were then covered in sawdust, which became an issue due to respiratory diseases such as pneumonia and tuberculosis.

bar with spittoons

The spit-riddled sawdust was a breeding ground for germs. A lot of people slept on the floor when the saloon would rent out space to travelers. For this reason, spitting was banned in some places altogether, and to do so would mean a fine or prison time.