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What Is a Communal Shower?

Judith Smith Sullivan
Judith Smith Sullivan

A communal shower is an area where multiple individuals can shower at one time. Typically is it a large room with several drains and shower heads. Communal showers are commonly used in dormitories, fitness facilities, and locker rooms. The advantage of a communal shower is that the cost of installation is lower than individual showers.

In some cases, a communal shower simply refers to a shower which is used by multiple people. Any type of public shower is technically a communal shower. They may have dividers like stalls or shower curtains for privacy, or they may be a stand-alone shower which can be secured by a lock on the door.

Locker rooms often have communal showers.
Locker rooms often have communal showers.

In a large scale communal shower, the shower room is typically lined with tile. The shower heads may be located along the walls. In other cases, the middle of the room has a large rack of plumbing which includes faucets and shower heads. There are also some designs which are shaped like a tall post with a cap at the top. Multiple streams of water are emitted from the cap.

Ancient Romans often went to public bath houses.
Ancient Romans often went to public bath houses.

Communal showers have been the topic of embarrassment for many years in western culture. Individuals are often uncomfortable bathing in front of others. Many are also put off by the possibility of catching a fungal infection, such as athlete's foot or plantar warts from the floor of the showers.

Some universities with co-ed dorms also have co-ed showers. Many individuals simply accept this as another part of college life but others are offended. There are some individuals who find showering with the opposite sex to be unacceptable, often for personal or religious reasons. For this reason, most communal showers are single sex.

There are cultures where communal showering is considered normal. In ancient Rome, going to the bath house was a social event. Communal showers can be as well designed and posh as a spa pool. It is customary in Asian cultures for an individual to have a long soak in a hot tub after a thorough shower.

In 1999, the British department of education decided that communal showers should be phased out. Secondary schools and colleges were thereafter required to install stalls and curtains in showers for privacy. The department sited the desire to respect religious beliefs and practices as a motivation behind the new law.

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    • Locker rooms often have communal showers.
      By: Brocreative
      Locker rooms often have communal showers.
    • Ancient Romans often went to public bath houses.
      By: Veronika Trofer
      Ancient Romans often went to public bath houses.