Healthy Living

Finally, Answers To The Shower vs. Bath Debate

Lather, rinse, repeat.
11/20/2016 03:11pm ET | Updated November 21, 2016

The shower vs. bath debate is a feisty one.

Some people are die hard daily bathers, while others actually think “baths are for gross people.” Some people with several roommates couldn’t fathom taking a bath in good conscience, while for others nothing beats submerging oneself in a tub of water.

We decided to investigate which option reigns supreme once and for all by consulting a few experts. Take a look at the evidence below:

What’s better for your skin?

Winner: Showers

Showering might be better for your skin health, according to one dermatologist.

“While both are great for keeping clean, prolonged lounging in a bath can lead to dry skin,” Lauren Ploch, spokeswoman for the American Academy of Dermatology, told The Huffington Post.

Ploch also warns against bathing in spas, which might lead to hot tub folliculitis, a condition in which bacteria inflame hair follicles and cause a red, bumpy rash. “I recommend rinsing with water or even washing with soap and water prior to exiting a [spa] bath to prevent this,” Ploch said. And if you have eczema, try to get in and out of any hot shower or bath between five and 10 minutes in order to best protect your skin.

What’s better for cleaning?

Winner: Tie

Unless you are literally covered in mud, there is no evidence a bath leaves you any cleaner than a shower. More concerning to doctors is not which way you choose to rinse off, but for how long you do so.

“We don’t have to have a long shower or a long bath to be clean, and scrubbing yourself more will just make your skin drier,” said Emma Guttman-Yassky, a professor and vice chair of the Department of Dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center. Guttman-Yassky recommends bathers rinse off under fresh water to be sure no soap sticks to the body after a soak.

What’s better for the planet?

Winner: Showers (technically).

Showers beat baths from an environment standpoint so long as you aren’t taking a very long shower, Grist reported earlier this year.

The best way to conserve water is to use a water-saving shower head, which uses no more than two gallons of water per minute. A 10-minute shower will put you at only 20 gallons on average to get clean through this method.

The average bath uses 36 gallons to fill a tub, while the average shower (without the water-saving device) uses five gallons of water per minute, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. You can make it snappy and rinse off between five and seven minutes with a regular shower head, or go a bit longer with a water-reducing nozzle instead.

What’s better for your feelings?

Winner: Tie

This one is up to you. Both can do the job. And, as researchers wrote in a 2013 study published in the journal Emotion, long, hot showers and baths may immediately reduce loneliness. So if you are feeling sad, don’t make it worse by thinking through the shower vs. bath debate. Either one will leave you feeling warm from the inside out.

Ultimately, when it comes down to it, showers do have the slight advantage.

Do you agree? Tell us in the poll below! (Then when you do take that shower, make sure you aren’t making any of these mistakes.)

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story stated showers beat baths so long as you aren’t taking a 45-minute shower. Language has been updated to more clearly state the parameters in which a shower saves more water than a bath.

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