‘Little House on the Prairie’: The Cast Smelled Awful During the Show; ‘We Reeked!’

Though starring in a popular TV show can be fun, it certainly isn’t as glamorous as many people would think. For the cast of Little House on the Prairie, this was especially true. Because they were depicting life in the 1800s, they were tasked with wearing costumes that were often quite restrictive. Furthermore, the costumes were often layered and hot which often led to less than stellar conditions on set for the cast of the hit show.

Little House on the Prairie cast cast
Gil Gerard, Melissa Gilbert, Melissa Sue Anderson, Karen Grassle | Bud Gray/NBCU Photo Bank

Back in 2008, Alison Arngrim spoke with Steppin’ Out magazine about what life was like on the set of Little House on the Prairie. Fans will recall that Arngrim played the infamous Nellie Oleson on the show. Nellie, of course, was the resident mean girl and bully. Arngrim revealed that her costuming helped her get into character because it was so uncomfortable. “I had to wear a wig with a giant metal comb in the front that was digging into my scalp until it bled,” Arngrim confessed. “I had to be a bi*ch!”

The ‘Little House on the Prairie’ cast smelled terribly while filming

Arngrim also added that the costumes that the cast donned on the set of Little House on the Prairie coupled with the conditions they were trying to emulate caused a stench on set. In fact, Arngrim admitted that the cast often smelled so terribly that the children used to make a game about it and ponder about how much worse they would smell if they were truly living in the 1800s.

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“Plus, life in the 1800s was kind of horrible,” the Little House on the Prairie alum admitted. “We used to sit around on the set and play a game called ‘How bad would we smell.’ Because during the show we bathed and used deodorant and we still smelled! Man did we stink! We reeked! So we used to imagine how bad we would smell if it was really 1886. We wouldn’t be able to stand each other!”

The food used for the episodes smelled poorly too

And the cast wasn’t the only thing that stunk on set. Arngrim also shared that the food that was utilized smelled awful as well. In fact, the Little House on the Prairie crew was tasked with constantly spraying the food down. The crew quickly realized that if the food wasn’t chemically treated, a whole host of vermin would appear.

“Even the food stunk back then,” Arngrim shared about the food they used on the set of Little House on the Prairie to replicate what was eaten in the 1800s. “Even the food on the set was terrible. They used to spray it down with pesticides because it would attract rats and bugs. So the prop men would spray the food down with bug spray. All the food was hosed down with RAID.”

Clearly, trying to keep things historically accurate was sometimes led to some pretty stinky situations. But, despite the stench, the Little House on the Prairie cast were able to press forward and give performances that thousands of fans still enjoy today.