What Were Bathrooms Like in the 1900s?

Posted on 24 August 2019

As we know it today, the bathroom is an indispensable room of our home.  But it wasn’t always this way. In fact, the idea of having a private room dedicated entirely to washing and grooming is a relatively new concept. Let’s take a trip back in time and discover what bathrooms were like at the turn of the 20th Century.



The bath is a key component of any bathroom, but it wasn’t as ubiquitous as it is today. Many people didn’t have baths in their homes (and showers came much later), meaning they used public baths instead. Public baths were exactly as they sound — large pools of water where people would go to wash themselves in the company of others. 

For those that did have baths, it was a much more basic amenity than the baths of today. Instead of adjoining taps that could provide instant hot water at will, the bath featured a geyser, which could take around half an hour to heat the water. Geysers were essentially a small solid-fuel or gas stove fixed to the wall.


public baths


The 1900s were a monumental time for toilets. The flushing toilet, similar to what we use today, was only just very recently introduced. The aptly named Thomas J Crapper successfully patented his flushing toilet design in 1891 and households soon began using this new contraption that would remove your waste instantly at the pull of a lever. Shortly before this patent, a common solution for waste removal was non-flushing water closets, which were portable pieces of furniture with removable containers for waste.

crapper toilet

Clothes drying

Tumble dryers weren’t developed until 1938. Instead, people of the 1900s used wooden drying racks to dry their clothes. These drying racks were prevalent features of a bathroom and would be situated above the bath and attached to the ceiling. This allowed any water dropping off the wet clothes to fall directly into the bath. These drying racks were operated by using a pulley system to bring the rack down and raise it back up to the ceiling.


Toilet roll

If you entered a bathroom in the 1900s you’d likely see a roll of toilet paper much like we use today, but this was also a relatively new invention. 30 years prior, toilet paper hadn’t been invented; people would instead save their newspaper and cut them up into little squares to use when they needed them most.

1900 toilet roll

Quality Bathrooms of Scunthorpe is the premier bathroom company for North Lincolnshire and South Yorkshire, providing stunning bathrooms to meet all budgets and requirements. From traditional bathrooms to modern and innovative ranges, we offer a host of styles, all of which are designed to enhance the look and feel of your bathroom. If you’d like to enquire about our services, get in touch with our team today.


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