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Which is Cleaner, Bathing or Showering?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 21, 2024
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Bathing may provide a wonderful way to relax, and as well a time to nourish the spirit. However, many worry that they don’t get fully clean while bathing, and instead feel a shower is more effective for thorough cleaning. Most experts agree that showering is the cleaner method, however, one can gain the same results from bathing with a few simple steps.

Stepping right out of a bath, particularly if one has taken a bubble bath and washed the hair means one will still have residual soap on the body. As well, one is essentially sitting in the water in which one has washed off the dirt. Showering, conversely, tends to wash off the dirt from the body, and conveniently get rid of the water through immediate drainage. If one is especially dirty, it may be wise to shower off excess dirt before bathing.

Bathing followed by a quick shower to rinse off dirt and any accumulated soap, can also get one as clean as simply showering. In fact some areas are likely to get cleaner from soaking than from a quick shower, especially the areas under the nail beds.

Bathing, however, can cause problems for some people with sensitive skin. It can cause irritation of the vagina or penis in young children, and may contribute to yeast infections in women. Children with especially sensitive skin may prefer to shower when they are old enough, and should especially not bathe in bubble baths, which tend to cause the most skin irritation.

Bathing with enticing scents or oils can still be accomplished for those with sensitive skin by testing products on a tiny area of the skin first. As well, natural products from natural food or health food stores are less likely to cause irritation, though some may just find the act of soaking irritating to the skin.

If one truly prefers bathing to showering, one can invest in a movable showerhead, which can be pulled down and used to shower off the body and the hair prior to exiting the bath. This gives lovers of bathing a way to relax, and as well to get shower clean.

BeautyAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a BeautyAnswered contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By anon989678 — On Mar 17, 2015

Being clean, hygenic, and not smell offensively is not only healthy, but a norm in today's world. I see daily showers as a prevention from diseases and sickness. Remember the history of Europe and their plagues. Enough said.

By anon963752 — On Jul 31, 2014

@anon16148: From what I understand, most of us shower at least once a day. I certainly do. I hate going to bed dirty. I love my fresh, clean cotton sheets; if I didn't shower before bed, I'd get them dirty quickly.

I also shower after sweating a lot or doing some nasty construction work.

By anon953976 — On May 29, 2014

Showers are way better because in baths, you're just lying in your own dirt.

By anon950346 — On May 09, 2014

Yes. It is an American custom to shower/bathe at least once per day. You can shower/bathe again after a strenuous activity such as exercise, gardening or any activity where you sweat. Hair washing every day is also common, but does vary by ethnic groups. After a bath or shower deodorant is applied to armpits.

As a whole, Americans always smell freshly washed and clean. Clothes are usually washed after one or two wearings. Most American homes have one to three bathrooms. Any body odor or clothes smell is looked at as bad and unkempt. A person who looks dirty or smells offensive is usually sick, mentally ill, homeless or foreign. If you come to America, expect to shower/bathe every day. It is expected.

By anon317006 — On Jan 31, 2013

It is actually very funny for me as an European to read your comments. Here, it is common that everybody showers or bathes every day. Only a small number of people shower every two days, or some at least only do wash their hair every two days because when using shampoo, you strip your hair of the natural oil. Losing natural oil makes the body produce more oil and this often makes hair or skin oily as far as I learned in college/medical school.

In most European states, everybody has the resources and money for showers as most European states are very wealthy.

By anon203414 — On Aug 05, 2011

I agree that a shower is probably cleaner in theory, but in practice, I always need to bathe at least a couple of times a week as well as my daily showers because the genitals and pits just don't feel (or smell!) as clean after a shower as they do after a bath. I am in the firm belief that some things just need a good soak sometimes.

By anon122162 — On Oct 26, 2010

I'm from the US, and most people there shower every day. they don't always wash their hair (women) but they clean their bodies. I was an athlete (track runner) so I showered twice a day.

I now live in Denmark, and people here shower two or three times a week, and many only once a week. And I know you can wash without having a shower (I do that here often) but my host family that I live with do not own washing cloths so, they don't do that.

I think that in both the US and Europe people bathe when they are not clean. The difference is the perception of clean and dirty.

By anon22666 — On Dec 08, 2008

Some Americans actually bathe (by shower or bath) a couple of times a day, especially in the summer. For instance, they will bathe shortly after waking up, and then again before going to bed, especially if they have done some type of gardening, work, sports or other activity that caused them to get dirty or sweaty. Not all Americans bathe every day, of course. One of the more common ways to tell is simply by looking at their hair or skin; someone who hasn't bathed recently will have increasingly oily ("greasy") hair or skin, or they will just plain stink with body odor. Also, even people that habitually bathe every day, or even twice a day, may sometimes "skip a day" on a weekend, most likely when they won't be seeing other people and won't be engaged in a strenuous activity.

By ilovejonstewart — On Jul 30, 2008

i just had a similar conversation with someone today. after a trip to Europe, i realized that the American perception that a lot of Europeans are "stinky" is a little more complicated. i think that Americans do believe that one should shower or bathe on a daily basis to be really clean. as a mom, i often find that a daily shower is a hard won treat. in reality, i think that Americans have such cheap and plentiful resources that a daily shower is something we take for granted. in Europe, where hot water may not be as cheap, plentiful, or easy to come by, it's just not as big of a deal to not bathe every day. also, think about how many bathrooms some Americans have in their homes, vs how many in European homes.

a friend told me that she's been told by some Europeans that bathing every day is not healthy, because you are stripping your body's natural oils. so whatever it is, the reality is that Americans and Europeans have differing views on hygiene. not that one or the other is right or wrong, just a different way.

By anon16148 — On Jul 30, 2008

In America is there any way of knowing how often people bathe or shower? Some insist it is absolutely necessary to bathe or shower every day. Is this a common practice among all Americans?

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a BeautyAnswered contributor, Tricia...
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