personal hygiene: having a shower/bath etc.

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anothersmith

Senior Member
English, U.S.
I think it is common for people in the U.S. to shower daily, but the duration of the shower can vary greatly from one community to the next. I lived in California during a severe drought in the late 70s when water was rationed and we were urged not to shower every day and to shower for only a couple of minutes. Since then I, and many Californians, are very cautious about how much water we use. It is not uncommon to turn on the water to get wet, turn it off to apply soap and shampoo, and turn it back on to rinse.
 
  • Chtipays

    Senior Member
    Mexico, Spanish
    In my country you take a bath at lest once a day, one bath a day being the norm, though it varies, you might take a shower in the morning before you go to work or to school and if you perspired a lot because of your work or doing sports at school, or if you are going to go out for the evening, probably your going to take another shower.
    In Mexico WE shower everyday? Who are WE?
    Mexico is the size of all Western Europe and its cultural diversity is as rich, including language wise. I have met people in the mountains of Puebla, Chiapas and Chihuahua that showered only once a week. Some of them were poor people who had to warm up buckets of water to take a bath or a “jícara” shower (pouring water over you with the help of a container named “jícara”), but I had a also an acquaintance from a rich family who came from the Puebla mountains (Teziutlán) to study in Veracruz and she was only showering once a week, except if you consider her daily chemical showers, like previously mentioned in this forum; you know deodorants, creams, perfumes, etc.
    My mom grew up in the mountains of Veracruz (temperate climate) she says that when she was not married she was taking howers every other day, but she was washing her hair only once a week.
    My father on the other hand grew up in the coast of Veracruz, that is the tropics, he used to shower several times a day. When my mother married him and moved to Veracruz, she started to do the same. I grew up doing the same. But when I was going to my grandparents place we were adapting and showering every other day and washing our hair once or twice a week.
     

    ManPaisa

    Banned
    AmE (New England) / español (Colombia)
    In the US most people I know shower (more common) or take a bath (less common) at least once a day, many of them in the evening.

    I usually shower twice daily, when I wake up and before going to bed.

    Less frequent showering or bathing than once-or-twice a day seems unhygienic to me.
     
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    the-moon-light

    Senior Member
    Arabic (Saudia) but I'm Yemeni :)
    I think it depends on the weather, in hot some times you take 2 to 3 showers a day!! because you'll take a shower to set infront of the air condition to get a little cool air :D it's really hot 50 C.
    But sure you'll take one a day, usually after we came back from work or school. For me I take it 2 times in hot weather, one when I go to my work and one when I came back, but I didn't take any shower before sleeping, simply because we have a strong air condition all night and it's not good for health.
    And a real long bath would be one day a week (friday usually). One long bath (2 hours maybe) with all herbs and scrubs for my face,body and feet and olive soap to scrub my body in hot water with it's special sponge and all creams and lotions after that to my body and feet : ) ohhh nice :p

    In winter it's diffrent, it might be 1 a day or 1 the other day. But our winter is really short :) may be one month or 6 weeks no more :) and whole year we enjoy the hot weather :D I really prefer hot than cold.
     
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    kirsitn

    Senior Member
    Norway, Norwegian
    I'm familiar with those. They're very handy although I prefer the bidet I have at home.
    Bidets are nice, but they take up more space than the extra shower head, and I also think it's more difficult to use a bidet without having to take your clothes entirely off, whereas that's no problem with the shower head.
     

    koniecswiata

    Senior Member
    Am English
    The following is full of generalizations:

    In my experience, Europeans (in general) are somewhat more tolerant of bodily odor issues, sweating, extra smells, etc... if someone's hair is a bit greasy; it's not the end of the world--at least in a daily life situation. This I suppose is due to various historical and cultural issues--as anywhere.

    In the Americas--North and South, people are less tolerant, with Latin America being particularly intolerant for people to smell, look a bit unwashed, etc... If possible, in many cases, people there (including the US) will probably shower twice a day even, especially if they will go out for a social occasion. Furthermore, especially in Latin America, I suspect, class issues come into play since sweating and body odor would be more associated with physical labor, which would make you "low class"--something that people DO NOT want to seem. I hope all this does not sound to controversial.
     

    Chtipays

    Senior Member
    Mexico, Spanish
    for some Mexicans the cleanliness is like a virtue, they would tell you proudly how many times they clean this or that around the house and how many times they shower and how many hours they spent doing it.

    That sometimes gets worst with age, becoming almost a mania

    my father in his old days was proud of washing his hands around one hundred times per day and taking three showers during the day. His job was done sitting in a well ventilated office, so there was not real need to do so. He was changing all his clothes after each shower too.

    I have met a couple of old ladies who change towels and bedclothes around the house daily, like in a hotel, an old fashion hotel, because now, not even hotels can afford to do that.

    I remember too the grandmother of a friend, once she ask us to go to pick up the clothes from the clotheslines, we did, and when we came back in the house she asked if we washed our hands before doing it, since we didn't, she decided to wash everything again because we soiled it with our "dirty" hands.

    But these obsessive people were lucky to have so much water available free or at very low price to waste in that way.

    When one realize that there is people in the world that cannot even get the few daily liters necessary for drinking or that they have to walk miles to get it.

    It starts to be hard to understand what these over-scrubbed people are trying to prove.
     

    koniecswiata

    Senior Member
    Am English
    Very good points and examples Chtipays! Those people are a bit excessive, but they are just an extreme example of a society that places a lot of emphasis on cleanliness, especially visible cleanliness--I think it has a lot to do with making a good impression. Here in Chile, it could be the "end of the world" if a coffee spilled on your shirt. You might have to go home and change the shirt because a lot of people would think you were "cochino". In Europe, it seems, you could say "sorry, I had an accident." People might be more understanding about that.
    Of course, being so over-washed is not particularly ecological. North Americans are also big on showering a lot, and it is a society famous for wasteful habits.
     

    effeundici

    Senior Member
    Italian - Tuscany
    Many Italians don't have a shower every day.
    All Italians think that people who don't have a bidet in their toilet are uncivilized. :D:D

    I think that the world can be divided in shower-using countries and bidet-using countries!!!

    Bye.
     
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    Maria003

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    In Costa Rica, many, many houses do not have tubs.
    In the US, it is not uncommon for (women especially) to indulge in a hot bath on a regular basis.
    Growing up the rule of thumb in my region (Northeast) was once daily in hot weather and every-other day when it is really cold. It's really... challenging to jump in the shower in a cold house every morning when hot water only lasts for a few minutes b/c it is an older, bigger house. Plus, you don't really get "dirty" when it is freezing outside and you're not being fiscally active.
     

    Maria003

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    For me it means I have articles to read and essays to revise and it's too cold not to be in the tub! But to conserve water, I use the tub water to flush the toilet. I love, love, love that I live in a country where I can take a hot bath whenever I want. It is a wonderful thing to have. I don't like wasting water though...
     

    elianecanspeak

    Senior Member
    English - EEUU
    A number of people mentioned more showers in the summer, but in the north country it can get down to -20 F (-28C). Sometimes a hot shower is necessary to get warm. International students from warmer climates have often said that their frequency of showers increased dramatically as a means of body temperature regulation.
     

    Istriano

    Senior Member
    Croatian
    When I came to Europe 5 years ago, it was a bit of a shock that people only take 1 shower a day (and many people don't shower each day!). Many people (especially in France) think that a perfume can be substitute for a shower. :(
     

    Juan Jacob Vilalta

    Banned
    Español/Francés
    When I came to Europe 5 years ago, it was a bit of a shock that people only take 1 shower a day How many showers do you take a day? (and many people don't shower each day!). Many people (especially in France) think that a perfume can be substitute for a shower. :( True, yes, thanks God... French perfumes wouldn't exist! :D
     

    koniecswiata

    Senior Member
    Am English
    Personally, I think more than one shower a day is wasteful and shows a lack of environmental concern. The only people who should take more than one shower a day a people who do HEAVY physical labor or work in a coal mine (also heavy labor), something like that. Anyone else is just being capricious.
     

    koniecswiata

    Senior Member
    Am English
    OK, in addition to heavy physical labor, special cases like illness should be considered. No need to be sorry--ha ha.
     

    Harry Batt

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Brioche beat me to the punch. Water was scarce during those dang 1930s. Small midwestern towns and small cities still had pumped water and heated the kitchen stoves with coal. To heat water that was tolerably warm enough for a bath was out of the question. Only the folks had that luxury, using enough water to fill a galvanized round tub up half way for the first parent and giving the left-over to the second parent. We kids got sponge baths with real sponges. There was as much singing as when the time came for available showers in high school. But, the water came out of a basin rather than tub and left a share of body oils intact, so I was told. In our midwestern culture since WWII we worship plumbing, showers with water dirt cheap and our spouses perhaps each in a different order at every home.
     

    elianecanspeak

    Senior Member
    English - EEUU
    I agree.
    BUT, as a young boy, I had chickenpox... the only way to avoid scratching my body was 3, 4, even 5 showers a day.

    I had an extremely severe case of poison ivy a few years ago, and the only way I was able to find any relief was through the counter-irritation of a shower at the highest temperature I could tolerate without danger of burning myself. (I always checked the water temperature on my arm, where I did not have a rash, to make sure it was not too hot.)
     

    Beninjam

    Senior Member
    British English
    In the late sixties I remember that rented property often did not come with a bathing facility. A bedsit I lived in in Earls' Court had a communal bath that was shared by about 30 people. In N. Wales I rented a flat with a communal bathroom, but one of the tenants kept her potatoes in it. To bathe we used a tin bath and countless kettles of water.
    In Belgium the situation was similar for the cheaper rents, and it was back to improvising or using the municipal baths.
    As time has gone by bathing facilities in both countries in have improved, although the UK is still susceptible to the dreaded electrical shower heater which guarantees just enough water to wet your skin, but not much more.
    I take a shower every day when I get up. And if I've been exercising I take a quick shower to freshen up.
     

    xwolfi

    Member
    French
    When I came to Europe 5 years ago, it was a bit of a shock that people only take 1 shower a day (and many people don't shower each day!). Many people (especially in France) think that a perfume can be substitute for a shower. :(
    Allow me to disagree ! I'm french and I never considered perfume could be a substitute for a shower, however it's true that taking more than one shower a day is seen as strange (why showering to sleep ?). As far as I know, we see perfumes as "enhancers" rather than as "hide your misery", at least I take a shower, use a roll on and then put some perfume... I really wonder if you went here and lived with actual people or are just reiterating the common idea about us smelling bad (which I never understood :D)
     
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    gouged

    Senior Member
    español
    Supongo que lo normal es ducharse una vez al dia. Yo creo que lo deseable es tener un olor corporal y un aspecto que no ofenda a los demas y sentirse bien con uno mismo.Por ejemplo, yo en general me ducho cada dia pero si hay un dia que no voy a salir de casa y no va a venir nadie a verme, la verdad es que no me molesto ni en ducharme ni en vestirme. Puedo pasarme el dia en pijama leyendo, viendo la tele o cualquier otra cosa.
     

    Pinairun

    Senior Member
    Cuando el calor aprieta, y durante el día sudas como un condenado, una ducha por la noche se hace prácticamente necesaria. Además de refrescar, ayuda a conciliar el sueño.
     

    Minnie121728

    Senior Member
    SPANISH
    Personally, I think more than one shower a day is wasteful and shows a lack of environmental concern. The only people who should take more than one shower a day a people who do HEAVY physical labor or work in a coal mine (also heavy labor), something like that. Anyone else is just being capricious.
    Really? Girl, You would be in shock, if you were living at the caribbean where i am, here the least people baths, is three or even four times, because this is really hot here, no matter if you work in an office with air conditioner, or in the streets...here usually people takes more than one shower daily...
     

    Minnie121728

    Senior Member
    SPANISH
    Supongo que lo normal es ducharse una vez al dia. Yo creo que lo deseable es tener un olor corporal y un aspecto que no ofenda a los demas y sentirse bien con uno mismo.Por ejemplo, yo en general me ducho cada dia pero si hay un dia que no voy a salir de casa y no va a venir nadie a verme, la verdad es que no me molesto ni en ducharme ni en vestirme. Puedo pasarme el dia en pijama leyendo, viendo la tele o cualquier otra cosa.
    Viejo...pero ni en tus mejores partes, te dejas caer un "chin" de agua en esos dias? Mira que aquello guarda sus olores caracteristicos...y no son suaves...
     

    FYV

    Member
    Russia, Russian
    In summer when it is hot (and it can be cold here in summer too) I take a shower every day. In winter, I do not bath every day. And I can assure you, you are not going to sweat in a -20C° weather, even if you put a lot of cloths on.
     

    luna_mdq

    Senior Member
    castellano - argentina
    It's quite cold here in winter (and sometimes in summer) too. I tried to explain exactly that to a Venezuelan friend (that you don't have to take a bath every day) and she still doesn't believe me.
     

    RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    Some notes from a very different culture: Submariners.

    I spent almost thirteen and a half years on submarines. When the boat is at sea, everyone takes a shower every "day." I put day in quotes because, while a few people keep a 24-hour schedule, most of the crew are on an 18-hour schedule (six hours on watch, twelve hours off). And yes, it's considered normal to take a shower during each of these 18-hour days, for a total of four showers each 72-hour period. Some people (including me) prefer to shower before going to bed; others do it when they get up.

    A submarine shower is quite different from the way things are done elsewhere. Turn the water on, get yourself wet, turn the water back off, apply soap and shampoo, and then turn the water back on just long enough to rinse off - the water should be running for a total of no more than five minutes. This is because the showers use fresh water, and fresh water is hard to come by out in the middle of the ocean. We make it ourselves, by distilling seawater, and we can't make enough to let everyone have a "Hollywood" shower every day.

    In fact, sometimes there is a problem with one of the stills. The reactor has first claim on fresh water, and food and drink come next; if there's not enough water to go round, showers are secured. In that case, only cooks and mess cooks - persons handling food - are permitted to use the showers; everyone else, including the captain, must make do with a sinkful of water and a sponge.


    Caveat: This applies to the US Navy - other navies, of course, may do things differently.
     

    ancalimon

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    In Turkish culture, people usually shower in the mornings (and some also in the evenings). We don't usually take baths although most people have bath tubs in their homes. I guess it's a taboo of some sorts.

    There is also the thing that you have to take a shower after having sex which is related to Islam. Although it also has become something cultural and even people that are not Muslim do it. It is believed that if you don't wash yourselves after sex, you would become "cenabet" (which is a funny word) and things you do would not go well.
     
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    JeanDeSponde

    Senior Member
    France, Français
    Many people (especially in France) think that a perfume can be substitute for a shower. :(
    The number of false beliefs which can be found in supposedly intelligent people would surprise you;).
    Here, as the saying goes, the Gods themselves contend in vain...
    Some notes from a very different culture: Submariners.[...]
    Caveat: This applies to the US Navy - other navies, of course, may do things differently.
    French submariners do not waste good fresh water. A single gallon of perfume is enough for 6 months at sea...
     
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    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    you would become "cenabet" (which is a funny word) and things you do would not go well.
    O.K. I'm intrigued. Could you elaborate on that ancalimon, please? What exactly is "cenabet"?

    As for showering, where I live water is very expensive, so we tend to adopt the sort of tactics described by RM1 on board submarines. At our summer place, I am in and out of the sea a lot, so the briefest of showers is enough and the water used runs off into the garden. I'm horrified when we have guests who hog the shower for about 15 minutes. They should be forced to do time on a submarine.
     

    LilianaB

    Banned
    Lithuanian
    In the US people shower a lot, perhaps even sometimes too much -- like 3-4 times a day in the summer. There is a lot of water where I live, but it is slightly salty. You have to shower a lot in fact when the weather is sometimes in the summer over 100 degrees (Fahrenheit) and there is sand floating around. Even in the winter everybody showers in the morning, and you could see many wet people on the trains in freezing weather. In the Lithuanian and Northern Russian tradition people always had saunas, and they took baths there, even in freezing weather. In Poland people had bathtubs and took baths or showers every day. (at least this has been my experience)
     

    Mackinder

    Senior Member
    Colombian Spanish
    I shower whenever I have to go out. But, if I'll stay home all day, I don't because I was taught to save water! And whenever I shower I try to take the least time. And I hate wasting water because it's not a renewable resource sadly and we might run out of it soon

    :)
     

    L'irlandais

    Senior Member
    Ireland: English-speaking ♂
    Hello Ginazec,
    Welcome to the forums.
    I agree water is a precious commodity.
    I am somewhat shocked by the way my Swiss colleagues waste water at work; each morning they will run the tap for at least 5 minutes to get rid of water that has stayed in the pipes overnight. Quite where they think the water outside our building past the night I've yet to work out. (Are larger diameter pipes less "smelly" ? A rhetorical question, I assure you.) I've been told off for boiling the kettle, without running off (wasting) sufficient water.

    Growing up in the '70's a Saturday night bath was a regular feature. A quick wash in the basin, with a face-cloth, morning and evening sufficed on the other days of the week.
    Though clean running water in not scarce here, I like RM1(SS) in #141 above, routinely shower in this manner, every morning. Swift affair, no more than 5 minutes under the shower as above. No Submariners in my family that I know of. It's true that on particularly hot days (like this summer) a quick shower before going to bed is refreshing.

    Bonjour Ellea1,
    While in France folks tell the "famous" anecdote of Louis XIV's 3 baths in 77 years ; in the UK Henry VIII suggested that "everybody ought to take a bath once a year whether he needs it or not. He did so himself, appearantly, in buttermilk.
     
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    Minnie121728

    Senior Member
    SPANISH
    In Turkish culture, people usually shower in the mornings (and some also in the evenings). We don't usually take baths although most people have bath tubs in their homes. I guess it's a taboo of some sorts.

    There is also the thing that you have to take a shower after having sex which is related to Islam. Although it also has become something cultural and even people that are not Muslim do it. It is believed that if you don't wash yourselves after sex, you would become "cenabet" (which is a funny word) and things you do would not go well.
    What is "cenabet"?
     

    إسكندراني

    Senior Member
    عربي (مصر)ـ | en (gb)
    What is "cenabet"?
    It's an Arabic word جنابة (djana:bah) which is used in Islam to mean something akin to an impure state, requiring the full body to be washed in order to purify oneself again. It's exclusively caused by sexual activity as far as I know. The requirements of purity طهارة (taha:ra) and hence running water were a major driving force behind a lot of traditional Islamic culture, for example personal habits and urban design of public spaces.
     

    Wadi Hanifa

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    It's an Arabic word جنابة (djana:bah) which is used in Islam to mean something akin to an impure state, requiring the full body to be washed in order to purify oneself again. It's exclusively caused by sexual activity as far as I know. The requirements of purity طهارة (taha:ra) and hence running water were a major driving force behind a lot of traditional Islamic culture, for example personal habits and urban design of public spaces.
    Menstruation also causes djanabah. A person in a state of djanabah cannot pray, fast, touch a Koran, recite Koranic verses or enter a mosque.
     

    midlifecrisis

    Member
    UK, English
    Were you travelling at the Middle Age era and did you meet with Louis XIV?
    I must admit I've come across this a couple of times. We recently had a French exchange student staying with us for 6 months, and the handbook stipulated that students must take a shower every morning before going to school. No stratagem of ours was able to make this happen, or get her beyond an apparent dip in the washbasin then a liberal spraying of perfume. The other case was when I shared a room for a week with a French guy in a training centre that had communal washrooms - every morning he got fully dressed and perfumed his shirt then went into the communal room to wash his face. I'd like however to put these down to 1. teenage reluctance to get out of bed in time to wash properly and 2. shyness.

    From a personal UK perspective, I and all my family shower every morning and most evenings. Times have changed though - I grew up in an era and social stratum where the norm was a morning basin wash and one or two baths a week, as showers didn't exist.
     

    stevenvh

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    I live in Belgium and shower every day, as, to my knowledge, do all my friends.

    A gift basket with massage brush, sponge, soap, and what-have-you is not uncommon as a present for a woman here.
     

    YellowOnline

    Senior Member
    Dutch - Belgium
    In principle, I think you should only shower or bathe when necessary. If you're not dirty or sweaty, it's a serious waste of water. I don't think there's much cultural about that - how many times you shower is mostly an individual choice, if you aren't limited practically (e.g. if you live somewhere with hardly water available). I do acknowledge that in a few anglophone countries there is an obsessive hygiene trend. Both Americans and Irish (but not British) I encountered on my travels were compulsively using a kind of hand disinfectant.

    We definitely need hygiene, the single biggest contributor to our medical advancement; but a bit of exposure is good for the immune system too (hey, it's how vaccines work!).
     
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