Shower less. Save water. Stay healthy

How often should you shower? Daily showers have become a norm for many, but aren’t always necessary. In fact, your everyday scrubbing ritual may be doing you more harm than good.

With parts of the country experiencing a drought, where water is more essential than ever: do we really need to shower?

Showering regularly, particularly in scorching hot water, can dry out and irritate your skin, and disrupt your microbiome – the collection of bacteria, viruses, and other microbes that live in and on your body. A healthy microbiome is essential to your health. Without it, your immune system, digestion, and heart wouldn’t function properly. According to the Genetic Science Centre at the University of Utah, even subtle imbalances in your microbiome can cause diseases like acne, obesity, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, and cancer.

Scary, right?

Considering the potential health risks of being squeaky clean, you’re probably wondering: how often do we really need to shower? And, are there a “correct” number of showers we need each week to get the perfect balance between a robust microbiome and not being smelly?

The short and sweet answer: there is no ideal shower frequency. You should only shower when you need to, advises Professor Stephen Shumack, President of the Australasian College of Dermatologists.

“It’s only in the last fifty to sixty years that the idea of a daily shower has become commonplace,” says Professor Shumack. “The pressure to do that is actually social pressure and not actual need. It’s become popular because of the social need to smell good.”

As long as you focus on the “right areas” (your face, underarms, under your breasts, genitals, and rear end), showering every other day would do no harm, says John Oxford, Professor of Virology at Queen Mary’s School of Medicine and Dentistry.

Showering less can also help with our current water crisis. The average shower uses about 22 litres of water per minute. That’s a whopping 220 litres, if you had to shower for 10 minutes, which is the global average shower time. Just think about how much water you would save if you cut back on showers to twice or thrice a week.

Read  Showers vs. baths: which is better?

Stay fresh and clean

So, you want to jump on the no-shower bandwagon, but you’re worried you may cause a stink. Of course, showering can get rid of body odour, but it isn’t the only way to feel fresh and smell good. Keep it clean on non-shower days by:

  • Wet wiping away. Swipe your face, armpits, and groin with a deodorising, cleansing, moisturising wet wipe. Carry them on you and use when you smell a funk.       
  • Powdering up. Fight unwanted moisture and odour with a sprinkle of body powder. Dust it in your socks and underwear, and repeat when things get a little musky. This will absorb the smell without drying out your skin. You can also dab some on your hair to keep bad hair days at bay.
  • Changing your clothes. Clothing collects a lot of the dead skin cells and grime your body accumulates, so make sure you change outfits (and underwear) on days you’ve skipped your morning shower. Choose clothes made from breathable fabrics like cotton to stave off odur-producing bacteria and sweat.

Good to know

Showering isn’t your best defence against illness – hand washing is. Research shows that hand washing is the single most effective and inexpensive way to reduce your risk for diarrhoea and respiratory diseases. Washing your hands more than six times a day is the basic hygiene minimum, according to the Global Hygiene Council. You can also use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser that has at least 60% alcohol to kill disease-causing microorganisms.