Vanity, in the eyes of the Amish, is a sin that God must punish. In Amish communities, there is a stigma attached to the idea of caring about the way one's body smell in comparison to the standards of modern American culture.
Because the Amish adhere so closely to the standards set by their community, it is quite unlikely that any of them would ever consider going against the grain.
If following the laws of society is the same as following the will of God, and if one's goal in life is to reach heaven, then one must be very careful to adhere to these cultural norms.
Members of the Old-Order Amish community do not use deodorant but bathe with soap and do not have a problem with the natural body smell. This may be due to the fact that the Amish bathe frequently and do not care for worldly fragrances.
Amish also avoid smelling over-ripe. Amish believes that if one wears natural fibers and uses anti-bacterial soaps, they will smell clean. Bacteria are the main cause of body odor and not sweat; therefore, the Amish believe they are just okay after a shower.
During the 19th century in the United States, a significant number of people from upper-class backgrounds did not use deodorant.
Because of its prohibitively high cost, no one else but the destitute bothered to wear it. If a member of a strict Amish community wears deodorant, they can be excommunicated or shunned from the community.
Perfume is vain
The Amish community believes that no one has a reason to look under your arms because they should always be covered.
There is also no reason to wear deodorant or shave the armpits, and it should be left as it is the way God intended it. Amish are taught that smelling perfume is vain; therefore, they should avoid it and smell natural.
Amish women consider themselves plain people and do not value basic beauty. Due to this fact, Amish women do not use makeup on their faces as makeup serves as a point of pride. Amish women prefer their appearance to be void of anything flashy.
Therefore, the Amish community discourages its female members from using cosmetics because of its "worldly" associations. They learn to be modest and plain.
This is why they never appear to be dressed fashionably. They have no interest in the "English" culture where everyone who is not Amish lives in the English world.
They do not even bother to wear wedding bands. Typically, you will spot them wearing the same sort of home-sewn gowns in blue, black, or a very light purple.
There will be instances when an apron is worn. The net bonnets they wear over their heads certainly serve as some sort of head protection.
Do Amish Sweat A lot?
Amish communities are characterized by their modest and hardworking villages. Women take care of their households, and the men work in the fields.
Due to working for long hours, especially during the warm months, they may sweat considerably. Similarly, Amish women also tend to wear heavy clothes made of cotton that can make them sweat a lot during the summer.
The black clothes that members of the Amish community wear also tend to retain a lot of heat which can cause them to sweat. Likewise, the Amish do not shave their armpits because they consider razors worldly and unnecessary.
With a schedule that requires one to shower twice a week, body odor can be a problem. Some Amish sects have realized that deodorant is not such a bad idea and have adopted its use in their communities.
These deodorants should, however, have mild fragrances, as strong fragrances are mere vanity.
Do Amish Shave their Armpits?
Amish culture forbids the shaving of the hair. According to 1 Corinthians 11:
5-15, the Amish understand that they are not supposed to shave their armpit hair. Shaving hair in the Amish community violates the Ordnung rules.
Also, teenagers were not allowed to shave any of their body hair except during the rumspringa, where they were allowed to shave their hair in order to fit in with the non-Amish communities.
The teenagers may use deodorants and perfumes during this transition, making it hard for them to stop these actions after returning to the Amish community.
Some teenagers sometimes come to find their ways, like not shaving their armpits unhygienic and starting to feel the odor of other Amish sweat.
However, since they decided to return to the Amish community, they had to abandon those actions, which might lead to ex-communication. But, since the armpits are hidden from the view of other people, teenagers still shave, creating a black market for shaving razors and deodorants.
What are the Amish Bathing Habits?
The Amish community is a complex and complicated culture. From their non-shaving culture, people tend to judge Amish hygiene.
But cleanliness and bathing are essential attributes for the Amish people despite what other people say. The Amish people are fascinating because they follow a simple, rural lifestyle that emphasizes hard work, humility, and deference to God.
Old Order Amish members believe that technology and electricity should be avoided in favor of simpler means of living.
The lack of indoor plumbing raises the question of how the Amish take a bath. The Swartzentrubers are a very conservative and secluded community that follows the Ordnung, which restricts the use of indoor plumbing.
It is customary to relax in a bath on a Saturday night. They use water heated on the stove to fill a huge tub with hot water.
Some Amish buy store soaps, while others make homemade soaps. Also, some Amish houses have indoor plumbing that contains deluxe walk-in showers.
The conservative Amish still take baths in the old-fashioned way, which is by boiling water on the stoves and stepping into an old washtub.
Amish bath thrice a week or more. Amish men can only wash once a week, while women wash more. Bathing is a process where the mother washes the kids first. In large families, kids normally share the bathing water.
Women wash second and fathers wash last with their fresh boiled water. Due to no use of deodorants, Amish clothes will definitely smell the sweat and require thorough washing. Amish women are responsible for handling household washing.
They wash using old-fashioned wringer washers. However, Amish families are large, meaning a lot of washing requires to be done.
The clothes are normally put in a large bowl where they are spun with some homemade lye sap until they are clean. The laundry day is typically any day apart from Sunday, and a sun-drying method is used.
New Order Amish
Amish water is pumped from the well to their houses through the water lines. Since electricity and technology are not allowed, the Old Order Amish draw their water manually.
New Order Amish use solar water panels to power their water pumps to draw water from the wells. Amish warm their bathing water through heating in the wood.
Also, others who have embraced modernity use hot showers and solar panels. However, Amish cleanliness and use of deodorants vary between communities. For instance, the Old Order Amish has an outdated way of handling hygiene and cleanliness, while the New Order Amish have their ways.
More lenient Amish communities use an automated system more like the English, but they are still off the grid. As long as they are off the grid, these Amish can use energy sources, including propane, gas, and kerosene.
It is extremely similar to the system you'd find in a typical English home that uses propane, down to the delivery trucks from local companies. Since most of the Amish homes are off the grid, the hot water is heated by a pilot light that must be lighted with a match.
What are the Consequences of Wearing a Deodorant?
Since the Amish community is based on simplicity and modesty, applying deodorants and perfumes violates the Ordung rules.
Being seen with a deodorant automatically leads to a warning where the member is advised to get rid of them. If a member continues to violate the law, they are excommunicated and given a chance to repent and return to the Amish ways.
However, wearing deodorant is considered a lesser sin in other Amish communities; therefore, the church council may ignore the issue.
Also, Amish people have started to adopt the use of deodorants due to the modernization from the interaction of the Amish and non-Amish people. Generally, not all Amish communities prohibit the use of deodorants.
The rule against deodorant is not a church rule; rather, it is a community-based rule. Some communities do not allow their use because they are worldly and vain. Other communities can allow mild fragrance deodorant as it helps with body odor.
Those communities that do not allow deodorant use trust that their frequent baths are the only thing they need to stay clean. Having not known any other way, these Amish cannot really tell whether they have body odor or not and see it as a natural smell.