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A comparison image with the text "THIS OR THAT?" at the top. On the left is an illustration of a bathtub for a relaxing bath in a tiled bathroom. On the right is an illustration of a shower stall with a glass door for possibly healthier hygiene. The word "VS" is in the middle.

Bath vs Shower – Which is Healthier?

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Our Verdict

When comparing bathing to showering, we picked the shower.


For the basic task of getting your body clean, the shower is better as it is an entirely one-way process. Clean water hits your body, dirty water leaves it, and no dirt is making its way back.

Baths do not have this advantage, and if you enter a bath dirty, you will then be sitting in dirty water. You will leave it a lot cleaner than you entered it (because a lot of the dirt stayed in the bathwater to be drained away after the bath), but not as clean as if you had showered.

One could argue soap or equivalent will prevent the dirt re-sticking, and that’s true, but it’s true for soap in the shower too, so it doesn’t offset anything.

Additionally, being immersed in water for more than 15 minutes can start to have a (paradoxically) dehydrating effect on the skin; this happens not only because of losing skin oils to the water, but also because of osmosis, the resultant mild edema, the body’s homeostatic response to the mild edema, then getting out the bath and drying, leaving one with the response having now just caused dehydrated skin.

Baths do have some health advantages! And these come primarily from the mental health benefits of relaxation in warm water and/or generally pampering oneself. Additionally, some bath oils or bath salts can be beneficial in a way that couldn’t be administered the same way in the shower.

Best of both worlds?

In some parts of the world (Thailand and Turkey come to mind; doubtlessly there are many others) there are traditions of first taking a shower to get clean, and then taking a bath for the rest of the bathing experience. As a bonus, the bathing experience is then all the more pleasant for the water remaining just as clean as it was to start with.

However, if you do have to pick one (and for the purpose of our “This or That” exercise, we do), then it’s the shower, hands-down.

Want to read more?

You might want to also take into account how it’s still possible to have too much of a good thing:


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