During the Viking era, Norse people placed a strong emphasis on hygiene and grooming. They combed their hair daily, bathed regularly, and frequently changed their clothes. Viking men sported a distinct hairstyle, with long hair in the front and shorter, shaved locks in the back. They even filed their teeth, possibly as a sign of victory or intimidation. Grooming tools were highly prized, including bone, antler, or metal combs, tweezers, razors, and ear picks, often intricately decorated and worn as accessories. Maintaining facial hair was equally important, and razors, combs, and tweezers helped keep beards and mustaches tidy.
Bathing was a communal and enjoyable activity, providing relief in the summer and warmth in the winter. Some Vikings had advanced plumbing systems for hot and cold water, while saunas offered relaxation and health benefits. Latrines were situated near longhouses to maintain hygiene. Vikings also cared for their clothing, made from wool and linen, washing them regularly in nearby water bodies. Despite their grooming habits, some accounts suggest that Vikings were not always fastidious, neglecting to wash after excretion or during ritual impurity. Still, it seems Vikings were much more hygienic than modern depictions give them credit for.
Top image: Vikings used grooming tools like bone combs. Source: Fxquadro / Adobe Stock.