Miss Cowan, who resides in Ontario, has written in to the T.L.S. [October 11th] to warn us about getting too close to Germans. "A few years ago," she writes, "I was at the air-port in Whitehorse, in the Yukon Territory. Several dozen Germans were lined up to catch their flight out, all of them smelling richly, even from across the waiting room, of wood smoke and rawhide. 'They come in droves, every day,' said the ticket agent, 'and they don't bathe till after they get home. They want people to know they've been to the North.'"
I am reminded of the occasion many years ago when, motoring from Düsseldorf to Amsterdam one hot summer's day, I as was every one leaving the Bundesrepublik was obliged to stop at the border to present my passport. At that time the inspector occupied a tiny glass cabin, which motorists entered one by one; and imagine! the sheer vividity of the experience remains undiminished in memory to this day.
["Rawhide" according to the O.E.D. is simply "undressed leather or hide." Well!]
The title of "cleanest people on earth" may actually go to the Australians. However, research is difficult to come by on this point. According to an October 2006 survey of 400 people conducted by EnergyAustralia (the supplier of electricity for much of Australia), every Australian takes at least one shower each day. Specifically, "62 per cent of people showered once a day, 29 per cent twice a day, and nine per cent showered three times a day".
These figures imply that no Australian goes more than a day without a shower. This is arguably the highest rate of national showering anywhere in the world and qualifies Australians as the cleanest people on Earth. The survey also found that women take slightly longer showers than men (but only less than a minute more) and teenagers take longer showers than people over age 40.
My experience would be that the Swiss are the cleanest people in Europe. It is difficult to generalise about other people(s), but I find that the Germans tend to be rather cleaner than the British, although German women can get dirty, when required. For the record, I generally like to have a good bath before I go to bed, so I am generally clean then, if not now!