The Bath vs. Shower Debate

image I love baths.

Back when my older two were much, much younger and I was in a far less egalitarian marriage than I’m in now, the bath was my sanctuary. It was the only time and place in an otherwise hectic day when I could lock out the outside world, and sink deep into scented bubbles, my latest read in hand.

These days, I don’t have the need to run away and hide from the world like that. And I actually don’t read in the bathtub anymore, either, although I do listen to the occasional audiobook (not often, though – I always have this nagging fear that my iPod might fall into the water, and as you might guess, nagging fears are not conducive to a good time, anywhere or anyplace.)

Nowadays, my time in the bath is my me time. Often, it’s a very creative time for me – I’ve dreamed up solutions to plot tangles while in the bath and I’ve stumbled magically onto solutions to what I had thought were pressing problems. Mostly, though, it’s a time and place of serenity and contemplation. At its best, it’s meditative rather than reflective.

I only require three things for a great soak:

1. A candle. Only one is needed. Lots of candles are always lovely, of course, but I only need one.

2. Something scented to put into the water. I don’t require it to produce bubbles, either.

3. Something scented to wash with. If it’s the same scent as the fragrance in the water, that’s a bonus, but again, it’s not absolutely necessary.

I’ve been thinking about baths quite a lot, because over the past three weeks, when it seemed like my life was all about work and nothing else, I made a deal with myself: I would find the time to pamper myself with a bath every day.

As it turned out, it was a splendid deal, and made the work go by more quickly both before and after each day’s bath. I felt refreshed, pampered, and comfortable after my bath, and looking forward to it made me work more quickly. It really did.

One thing I’ve learned over the years – and this is my point for writing this post (as Ellen Degeneres would say, I do have a point). There are very definitely two camps when it comes to baths vs. showers.

There are people who adore a good long soak in a lovely, hot, scented bath.

And then there are others who haven’t taken a bath in ages, for whom a shower is the only way to go.

My own daughter, for example, falls within the “showers only” camp. As she said to me recently, “Ugh. You know, if you look close enough, you can see flecks of your skin on the top of the water. Why would you want to sit in that?”

Or my sister, who I seem to remember telling me once that a bath feels like trying to clean yourself with dirty water.

Personally, I think if that’s one’s problem with a bath, then the simple solution is to do it the Japanese way: take a shower to get clean and then soak to your heart’s content in a nice hot bath.

(Now that I think about it, my sister said that to me long before she went to Japan on holiday a few years back. So her perspective might indeed have changed. I should ask her.)

Despite loving baths, I’m not adverse to showers myself. They are the only way to go on a hot sticky summer day, for example. And when I finish a rare bout of time on the treadmill, it’s not the tub I head to, but the shower.

Still, though, the moment the temperature starts dropping, the bath comes quickly to mind.

So here’s what I’ve been wondering (don’t ask me why I’ve been wondering this, but I have been, and the inquisitive part of me wouldn’t rest until I agreed with myself that I’d write this post) – where do you stand in the whole bath vs. shower debate? Are you a showers-only kind of person? Or is a bath the only thing that calls to you? Maybe you partake of both methods, but lean more towards one than the other?

And if you love baths, do you read in the bath? Listen to audiobooks? Or just reflect?

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39 thoughts on “The Bath vs. Shower Debate

    1. Kat

      First of all, how do you read while taking a bath? The challenge of keeping your hands dry to hold a book would take all the pleasure out of taking a bath or do you just turn the pages wet w/wet hands & not worry about it. Secondly, unless you stay in your bath for an extraordinarily
      long time, how much can you actually read? Lastly, I thot the whole purpose of a bath besides getting clean (except for the Japanese method which I prefer–shower first, then bathe) was to relax. And when I relax in a tub I lie down & submerge my arms and legs in the water which would end up giving th book as well as me a good soak!

      Reply
  1. Cathryn

    Shower. Always. Bath water cools too fast and then I’m shivering and grouchy. But I’m the only female in my family who is not in love with baths.

    I do reflect in the shower and often get fiction ideas, tie up troublesome plot points and then have to rush out to take notes.
    .-= Cathryn´s last blog ..Office Dynamics =-.

    Reply
  2. Kathy

    We rarely take baths. We’ve lived in this house for almost 2 and a half years and I used one of our bathtubs for the first time about a month ago. I discovered it’s made for a giant! It was way too long for me to lay in and relax, so I figure that will probably be the first and last time that tub’s going to be used while we’re in this house.
    .-= Kathy´s last blog ..Wondrous Words Wednesday =-.

    Reply
  3. Caitie F

    I used to take baths at least once a month – not as a way to get clean, but as a way to relax. A hot bubble bath and a radio or iHome is a great way to spend a half hour and forget about all my problems!

    Unfortunately, I no longer have a bath I can use. The main bathroom in our house is shower only, and we had roommates use the one with the tub and they were NOT the most hygienic people…so I don’t want to take a bath in there!

    I also love showers though.
    .-= Caitie F´s last blog ..Seeing Redd by Frank Beddor – a Mini Review =-.

    Reply
  4. nat @book, line, and sinker

    in 10 years in this house, i’ve taken two baths. i’m just a shower girl, what can i say? maybe if i had a roman tub or an old claw foot i’d spend more time in there, but always in a rush!

    my cousin has a claw foot and takes a bath EVERY night. i can’t imagine. eek.

    Reply
  5. Margot

    We are shower people too. I can’t even remember my last bath. Probably decades ago. Shower time is also creative/problem solving time for me too as is washing dishes. Even when I had a nice electric dishwasher I loved doing dishes. (Same thing with ironing.) It’s a time when my hands are busy but my mind can go somewhere else. Must be the same for you and your bath.
    .-= Margot´s last blog ..Wondrous Words #49 =-.

    Reply
  6. Janel

    I take showers to get clean, but you can’t beat a long soak in a bath. I love adding some kind of luscious scent to a bath and often Epsom salts too. The salts are supposed to be detoxifying and do wonders for sore muscles or bruises. I have actually seen bruises get lighter colored after soaking. However, we have a cast iron tub that sits against and outside wall to the house. Even the house is well insulated my bath water still gets cold way too fast in the winter!
    .-= Janel´s last blog ..Egg Week =-.

    Reply
  7. Page

    I’m a bath sort of girl. Always have been, probably always will be. I love at the end of the day to climb in to a hot bath thats been scented with whatever and my latest book. It’s also my “me” time.
    I do take showers too. Sometimes its just faster and easier.

    Reply
  8. Jessica

    Baths are a treat for me. I probably take one or two a month. There’s always scent and there’s always a book. Bubble bath too, if possible. :-)

    Funny about showering first. My husband shocked me when we were first married by showering after our bath. I was like, why??? He said it was to rinse off, which to me was silly. But now I kind of get what he means. LOL

    Thanks for stopping by my blog today. :-)

    Reply
  9. Bernadette in Australia

    I love baths but these days don’t ever have them. My current house has a teeny bath. I am just shy of 6ft tall so I need something more than a teeny bath but somehow I’ve never been able to quite justify the $10,000 or so it would take to re-do the bathroom and put in a more realistic size bath. Alas.

    When I did used to have baths (in the old house) they were a once-a-week treat, usually on a Sunday afternoon/evening (and often I would shower quickly first – especially if I’d been doing lots of physical activity during the day as I too don’t like the idea of sitting in my own filth). I too had to have a candle and something smelly (in my case citrus-y as i don’t like floral smelly stuff). I did used to listen to audio books but this was back in the days of CDs so had the player away from the tub and only used the remote control anywhere near the water :) I also used to have a glass of wine as I bathed (just the one).

    Now I’m reduced to having a footsoak of a Sunday evening. It’s not bad but not quite the same.
    .-= Bernadette in Australia´s last blog ..Crime Fiction Alphabet – M is for Marker (or when crime fiction goes bad) =-.

    Reply
  10. Barbara

    I love a hot shower; the water beating on my sore back and shoulder are wonderful. Margot and my husband must be related. He likes to wash dishes too, but we both hate ironing.
    .-= Barbara´s last blog ..A House Divided =-.

    Reply
  11. Dorte H

    Oh, I like Steve´s comment!

    We don´t have a bath tub so even though I would like to relax in one a few times a month, I haven´t been able to for fifteen years. We could not even install one if we wanted to as our bathroom is too small (we don´t own our vicarage so some changes are just not possible).
    .-= Dorte H´s last blog ..Thy´s Day =-.

    Reply
  12. Cat Woods

    The only time I’ve ever loved a bath was when we lived in our last house. For seven long years and through two pregnancies I had the most amazing tub in the world. I got spoiled.

    Now, my tub makes me bend my knees and kink my neck when I try to lie down (I feel like I’m doing a perpetual half crunch) and it’s so shallow my belly doesn’t get wet.

    I think it was made for the little people in Wizard of Oz.

    So now I’m back to showers. The one perk: 20 minutes from jammies to walking out the door.
    .-= Cat Woods´s last blog ..Not for the Squeamish =-.

    Reply
  13. Amy

    I love the questions you ask Belle…its always so interesting to see everyone’s different perspectives. I take showers for getting clean but I love a pampering bath and I do sometimes read in the tub. Last year we put in the patio….this year I want the hot tub and I will be in heaven!

    Reply
  14. Ann-Kat (Today, I Read...)

    I only had to jump in because I remember purchasing a Japanese bath kit from Red Envelope a few years ago and it was one of the niftiest things in the world. (Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find it since, but it was absolutely superb.)

    As for which camp I fall into, both. However, I haven’t taken a bath in ages–which is kind of sad when you consider I have a roman tub. My sister yells at me because she doesn’t have one and she feels I’m squandering mine. LOL

    Come to think of it, I should probably take the time to soak in the tub tomorrow. It’s a cool Saturday. Perfect time.

    Also, I find that creativity tends to come more easily when I’m around water, be it the bath or the shower. I prefer to turn off all the lights, light a candle (or nightlight) and just let my mind drift away.
    .-= Ann-Kat (Today, I Read…)´s last blog ..Giveaway: Wish by Alexandra Bullen (Autographed) =-.

    Reply
  15. Debbie

    I always take showers but that’s just because I have a 2 yr old that wouldn’t let me relax in a tub plus our tub is tiny. The one or two times I have soaked in a tub I have to take a shower first and then soak. It definitely sounds like some great down time for you to think and relax.
    .-= Debbie´s last blog ..Book Blogger’s New Disocveries January 15 =-.

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  17. Laure

    My dad is from Germany and he never takes showers. NEVER. haha. I only shower when I’m pressed for time, at someone else’s house, or really quick after a workout. Whenever I feel the need to bathe I think of the bath, not shower. When you clean yourself you don’t need to be completely disinfected. I feel that with showers I’m losing essential oils or something. haha. Baths still get all the yuck off. I don’t listen to music or read in the bath but I like to go underwater and just listen, every little sound is amplified. LOVE baths! In fact I may take one now…

    Reply
  18. Graham

    Baths in any tub I would enjoy being in are waaaay too wasteful of precious H2O and get cold waaay too fast. I too am not a fan of soaking in my own filth, and I find the shower very invigorating. Even a slightly long shower with a lower flow shower head uses less water than even the smallest bathtub. Conceptually I do enjoy the concept of soaking in hot water-but the temperature needs to be hot, and I do enjoy the massing of jets on a sore back or after standing on my feet all day…so a combination of the pre-shower, and extended soak in a hot tub with a refreshing cold shower to rinse chlorine off and bring body temp down is the only way to go. With energy efficient hot tubs, you can spend less than 20 bucks a month to keep a hot-tub warm and ready at a moments notice even in a cold climate–and sitting in a hot tub under falling snow or a blanket of stars is magnificent!

    Reply
  19. Claire

    I am most definitely a bath girl. I take a shower occasionally, but at my house, the only shower is in our spidery basement. And yes, I read in the bathtub.

    Reply
  20. Claire

    And I should also mention that I’ve never been accused of smelling bad. I have a shower head attachment-thing for my bathtub, so I usually rinse off with that afterward.

    Reply
  21. Judy

    I prefer baths; even though, when I was a child and on the television shows everyone took showers in the morning and I wanted to try taking showers. Did it, didn’t like it because I felt “naked” standing and anybody could see me. The feeling in a shower didn’t compare to being submerged in soapy warm water. I don’t get people saying you’re sitting in filth; how filthy are you? That would hold true to someone who doesn’t bathe regularly. The soap/gel, etc., breaks up the oils and it doesn’t attach to your body. You rinse the soap off and just feel so good. I would bet some of those “bath haters” are people who don’t wash their hands after using the restroom; now that’s nasty.

    Reply
  22. LS

    I went to Japan once and I love the bathtub because it reminds me of a small pool.
    But in Singapore, almost everyone take showers. I read in showers too, for a short while. And you can’t sing in the bath because it’s too quiet.

    Reply
  23. faith

    First off, how dirty can you get do you play in mud all day,at night when all is asleep I enjoy a 10-to 15min soak in bubbles,and some times scented water,when i go to bed,a clean bed I am clean,on clean sheets, it relaxes me, clean and fresh.

    Reply

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