In the late 1800s, medical science gave soap a boost. Scientists discovered that many diseases are caused by tiny living things called germs. Germs are too small to see, but they are everywhere—on the streets, in houses, and all over your body. Most germs are harmless, but some can be dangerous.
At the time, there were no medicines to fight these invisible enemies. The only defense people had was soap, which lifted germs off skin so they could be rinsed away. It turned out that, far from making you sick, bathing actually helped keep you healthy.
Before long, washing ourselves with soap had become a part of our daily life. In the 1930s, a survey asked Americans what things they couldn’t live without. Soap was in the top three (along with bread and butter).
As for King Louis, he lived to be 77. That was old for the time. But we know his long life had nothing to do with the stink—thanks to modern science!