How Often Do You Shower?

I know that some people shower a lot, but was surprised by the results of this poll showing that 23% of people shower more than once a day, and that an additional 55% shower every day or almost every day. Several people in the comments on that page also mentioned wanting a clean towel for each shower! Even though I bike daily and hike on the weekends, and Amy works in the garden almost every day, we’re both light showerers – we average 2-3 showers/week each, and neither of us take showers lasting more than 10-15 minutes (how long does it take to lather up, shampoo, and shave anyway?) Miles gets one or two baths per week, depending on what he’s been up to. Neither of us have ever been accused of stinking, nor do we feel dirty. I can’t help but think that personal perceptions of cleanliness don’t correspond neatly to cultural standards of cleanliness (in other words, people don’t consider us “dirty” based on our appearance or smell, even if they think daily showering is necessary for cleanliness).

According to one person’s calculations, the average 10-minute shower costs $1.12 and uses 26 gallons of water – they don’t come free! If you’re using low-flow toilets, reducing your lawn watering, or taking other water-saving measures for environmental reasons, you could cancel out your efforts pretty quickly by taking long or frequent showers. YMMV.

Curious whether Birdhouse readers have similar showering habits to the population at large, so I’m reproducing the poll here. Votes are 100% anonymous.

How often do you shower?

View Results

35 thoughts on “How Often Do You Shower?

  1. mikepop

    I think you have to take geography into consideration. In the bay area, there is usually not much humidity to speak of. If you were on the east coast during the spring/summer and did a bit of biking and then didn’t shower, it would not be very pleasant for you or the people around you.

    I agree that kid’s baths should be based on what they have been up to.

  2. Jeremiah

    I’m with Mike. Geography plays a major roll. Out here in east Texas where the humidity hovers around 85%, daily showers are a must.

  3. shacker Post author

    Fair enough on geography and humidity (though when I lived in Boston I didn’t shower every day either, but I can see more why someone would want to). And of course people who work as manual laborers would want to shower every day, etc.

  4. baald

    just wondering – how often, when you encounter someone who you think stinks or seems dirty, do you tell them so?
    (not implying anything here, just making the point that you can’t assume no-one thinks you’re a lil ripe just cuz they don’t mention it).

  5. shacker Post author

    @baald: True enough. But I’ve actually wondered about this for a long time, whether I might stink but not know it, and have actually asked a number of people straight out. Today, with this on my mind, I asked someone I work with – someone I can trust to give a straight answer – and he said he had never smelled anything untoward.

    Of course there’s the separate question of whether it’s “bad” if we can smell one another’s natural body smells. I certainly don’t mind a mild smell on people (but have my limits of course).

  6. azgirl

    geography does play a big part in how often one showers….LIKE YOU ARE ON A DESERTED ISLAND or where someone has to smell your stence. A larger part is offending others not to mention it is very disrepectful to think that someone would want to sit beside a smelly body or want to engage in any kind of close contact if you get the picture. Some of the male species have yet to realize that and then they wonder why their sex life goes to **** in a hand basket. OOPS did I say that outloud.
    So men and women out there clean fresh flesh is alot more tasty… SO WHY SMELL LIKE A DEAD FISH

  7. shacker Post author

    azgirl: You’re making the assumption that not showering daily makes you stink. That’s not a correct assumption at all. Some people have more smell than others, some people sweat more than others in the course of a day. But I ride 5 miles daily to work and still get by with 2 or 3 showers a day. No one has ever told me I stink.

  8. Troy

    I shower once a day. I just stink if I don’t. Not a problem with me, though. I like to feel clean and smell good on a daily basis.

  9. DrAnonymous

    Health wise one should shower at least once every 72-96 hours, more often then that depends on activities and climate, the more active and more humid the more often the baseline.

    It is largely a myth that one must shower or bath every day to remain healthy, showering once a day is more for social reasons then medical (there are exceptions though). I recommend my patients shower at least once every 48 hours, and to take a bath once per week (it’s more effective at removing dead skin cells).

  10. Jazzlady1028

    I hate to say this, but I don’t feel a need to shower often – showers are a time-consuming pain to me, as I have to take off my stockings. It uses up too much time. So what I do, is, in-between my (probably) bi-weekly showers, I wash my hair and upper arms daily, wash my face nightly, and wash my feet right through my stockings a couple of times a week. I reapply deodorant a few times a week. With a tight time schedule that includes a day job and some jazz pianist/vocalist gigs, there isn’t room for a lot of showers. I make sure I don’t smell!!! To fill you in, I’m middle-aged, 1/2 Sicilian, and from NYC. I don’t do a lot of cardio, just some calisthenics, and live in a rather dry climate in sunny Southern Calif. I believe my ethnic heritage plays a part in my approach, too. Frequent showering just benefits the soap companies!! Call this gross, it doesn’t matter; all I know, is I do get by!!

  11. Jazzlady1028

    P.S. I’m also not really overweight. I was; but I lost 42 lbs. since last June on a low carb/good starch plan. I weight apx. 147 and since I have very toned thighs from lots of leg work, I look about 140 and am a size 8 these days. I do agree it’s important to smell good, and that’s why I make sure to wash many “parts” of myself in-between. Oh, yes – when I do shower, I take a long one, and spend a lot of time “exfoliating” with a loofah, if you know what I mean! I take a “mega shower,” in other words.

  12. shacker Post author

    Jazzlady – I’m curious – what’s going on with your stockings that makes them hard to take off? I’m puzzled that you would wash your feet right through the stockings! I’ve never worn stockings, but would think it would take all of five seconds to take them off…

  13. Shara

    Hi,
    Just wanted to put my 2 cents in. I’m a 20 year old female from South Australia and in my whole life I have never found it necessary to shower every day! I shower on average twice a week… (however if im working lots, running around, exerting myself, etc this would increase). I APPLAUD you for bringing this topic up as I believe it is such a MYTH that the human body needs to be washed with water every day to remain ‘sanitary’ and clean. I know for a fact I never smell (thanks to a very honest boyfriend of 3 years who I ask often! and my mother!) I always present very cleanly and i guarantee no one would ever guess that I only shower twice a week… although i will admit those showers are usually mega showers as someone has already stated. I wash my face every day and reapply deodorant and perfume every morning.

    I know it does depend on what you do… i.e. play sport… but I basically do no physical activity and am very petite in body shape.

    ITS A MYTH I TELL YOU

    :)

  14. Scruffdude

    I don’t feel the need to shower unless I feel dirty. If i’m going to be lounging around the house all weekend then I won’t shower. My natural BO smells pretty awesome. I guess i’m lucky. I like my funk

  15. hello23

    i just wanna know how often a person should shower to smell nice and be healthy. im disabled and a caregiver showers me…how often should this happen? how bout brushing teeth(i do this on my own) or washing hair (have dry flaky hair)…anything?

  16. shacker Post author

    hello23 I don’t think there’s any blanket answer to that question. Depends so much on people’s natural smells, skin oils, and preferences/tolerances. For me every 3 days is about right, and I do a lot of bicycling. Others feel the need to shower every day, but I think that’s really overkill unless you’re a ditch digger or farmer or something.

    Brushing teeth should be done twice per day no matter who you are!

  17. DesertLady

    Clearly it depends on climate, activity level, genetics, diet, and many other factors. I understand the need to “slough skin cells” periodically but daily bathing is not necessary for most sedate people in drier climates. My grown children who visit can stay in the shower for 30 minutes or longer and it drives me wild, particularly because I live in the desert and we need to conserve water. If one has daily access to a bidet to cleanse the parts of the body that typically generate the most odor, and wash their face and armpits, daily bathing is truly unnecessary, even though a lot of people think it’s disgusting not to!

  18. shacker Post author

    DesertLady, I’m with you. I really can’t figure out what people do during long showers. 10 minutes is more than enough time for me to shampoo, wash thoroughly, and shave. And still have time to luxuriate for a while. I can’t help but think that people taking 30 minute showers spend most of the time just standing there with water falling on them, with no thought to conservation whatsoever. I’d feel guilty as hell doing that.

  19. Isaacsmom

    Im curious about the stockings too.

    I shower everyday sometimes twice but I have OCD and can not help it. I believe that in general if you wash pits and privates everyday then showering twice week is good. Maybe someday I can back off and shower once a day.. I dont even mind when a man smells a little like B.O. but.. butt rot is totally unacceptable!

  20. michael

    This is one thing that we, Filipinos, just dont get. How come people shower less elsewhere in the world? An average Filipino showers twice a day. Once in the morning and another before sleeping. If one doesn’t shower before going to work, it will easily be noticeable and people simply sneer at you (or behind you). And showering will never take less than 20 minutes. I shower for 40 minutes at least.

  21. shacker Post author

    Michael – What do you mean by “It will be noticed” ? I’ve been showering twice a week for more than a decade and no one has ever sneered or even commented on it. And yes, I work with the kind of people who would definitely mention it if it were noticeable. And I commute by bicycle!

    Even if it were noticeable, is it such a bad thing to have a bit of smell? It’s the smell of humans!

    Beyond that, the world’s water problems are dire and becoming severe. In our house, we’re so sensitive to water issues that it’s a big deal if someone leaves the water running while brushing teeth. I would feel so guilty that I couldn’t live with myself if that kind of water consumption was going on in our house. How in the world can you put your own habits in front of the world’s needs like that without feeling guilty?

    I don’t doubt that there may be aspects of this habit that are cultural. But doesn’t that make you want to do what you can to encourage other Filipinos to stop showering so much?

  22. scott

    I take a shower every day,but I work outside.If I didn’t wooo.But I have heard that showering everyday stips oils that can make your skin dry and itchy. Ialso reuse towels at least 3 times a week.Hey your clean.

  23. shacker Post author

    Scott – why do you wash your towels so often? You’re just using them to dry your clean body! We wash our towels every month or two.

  24. mike

    Ewww that’s gross.

    I can smell the sweat going bad within 2 or 3 hours of exercise.

    Man… here’s an experiment: try washing every day for a week or 2 to clear your nose out and get used to the smell of being clean. Then do not wash after exercise. After 4 hours lift your arm and smell under your armpit. You will be able to smell something I assure you. Now imagine that smell is double to anyone else because they are less used to the smell of your body. Now imagine that smell squared after 2 days without washing and cubed after 3 days. That’s how you will smell to other people.

    Of course nobody tells you you smell. Ask that guy at work again to smell directly under your armpit 3 days since your last wash and you might get some more honesty!

  25. shacker Post author

    Mike, you’re making a big and faulty assumption: That all people emit the same smells. They don’t – far from it. If we ever meet, I invite you to smell my armpit a few hours after I exercise :)

    And no one at anyone’s workplace will ever be getting their nose directly into one’s armpit (unless you have a very unusual job).

    Actually, there is one thing that will make my armpits smell rather quickly – wearing a wool sweater. And yes, I do shower the day after wearing a wool sweater. But to me it’s interesting that (for my body) exercise sweat (which flows more quickly and which gets air circulation) is not stinky, while “trapped inside a sweater” sweat (which does not flow quickly and which gets no circulation is stinky.

  26. mike

    Hi Shacker. Ok let’s agree to disagree. I can only let you know we had a stinker of a guy in our office and I was brave enough to tell him. He thanked me and said nobody had ever told him that before and he didn’t know.

    For a few weeks he stops smelling but alas, old habits die hard and before long he was back to his smelly old ways.

  27. shacker Post author

    It’s good that you had the cojones to tell him. I hope that someone in my circle will tell me, if it ever comes to that!

  28. Amanda Thimgan

    Seriously,, for those of you with oily skin … please shower everyday. It is also a health issue to .. throughtout all the day, you are exposed to so MANY germs.

  29. shacker Post author

    Amanda – What health issue? Do you really think the human body isn’t built to withstand the germs in the environment? The opposite is true – we’re much more susceptible to getting sick when we live in a sterile environment because we lose our natural ability to fight off those germs. I do agree that washing hands is important to minimize germ spread, but there is no health issue that comes from showering every few days instead of every day. None.

  30. Mike

    I think Japanese wash twice a day, and Germans do once a week “whether they smell or not” lol.
    My wife is Japanese heritage and she usually showers twice a day so I do so now also. I shower at night as I want to be clean when I get into bed and keep the bedding clean. Then I shower in the morning to wash my hair. I use soap at night in about a 5 minute shower. I don’t usually soap up in the morning but just rinse off while washing my hair, also takes about 5 minutes.

  31. Mike

    lol – sometimes I “get lucky” but usually I am just washing my hair. I tried just washing it in a sink but it’s much easier for a quick “douche” (as the Europeans call a shower). So it’s just a quick way to wash my hair in the a.m. And a quick shower feels good, too. Oh, plus I live in Washington State and there is certainly no water shortage here. If I move to a normal state I’ll cut back – maybe. I’ve never done those 15, 30 40 minute jobs as others have mentioned. What the heck can you do in there that long. It’s not like I can take my iPhone in with me. :)

  32. michele

    I shower once to twice a day and know people who don’t shower everyday. Your right they don’t stink all the time.
    However they do stink more than most I live at the beach so people do need to take of there sneakers and are outside more often getting sweaty. They do get smelly more than you would believe. it isn’t the conservation of water it’s just being lazy. Do the navy shower put your shower on, get wet then turn your shower off lather turn your shower on rinse. You can do this also for brushing your teeth and save water. I
    would never want to have intimate sex with anyone who wasn’t extra clean. A sponge bath doesn’t do that.

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