The Long Road to Showers vs Baths

A shower is a method of bathing that involves a spray of water that streams down onto the bather. The intensity of the spray may or may not be adjustable and the angle of the water may or may not be adjustable. In some showers, the spray arm is even detachable, so the spray can be directed anywhere the person wants it. Most modern showers also have an adjustment that allows a person to adjust the heat of the water. There was a long road to all of this, though.

It should be mentioned that not all countries have an adjustment for water temperature. In some countries, the only temperature that is available is cold. This actually comes close to the first showers; waterfalls. A person would simply stand under a waterfall. Soap wasn’t commonly used to shower at the time, either, so this wasn’t ‘polluting the environment’, not that people would have particularly cared back then.

The Romans had communal showers that operated off of gravity feed, too, much like an artificial waterfall, with the water carried by aqueducts. Since the Romans weren’t big on privacy and took delight in the human form, it was common for many people would shower together. There were no taboos on nudity. (The participants of the first several Olympics competed in the nude.)

There are still many communal showers in operation in the world today, just as there are many communal baths and bathhouses today.

The first mechanical shower was operated with a hand-pump and was patented in 1767, in England. It didn’t catch on, initially, but that was only a little over 250 years ago.

Showers have now become so commonplace that nearly all homes in developed countries have a shower, normally connected to the bathtub in some way. Many homes are equipt with more than one shower. People are also prone to use their showers. This isn’t a bad thing in as much as a shower typically takes less water than a bath. The average American uses 21 gallons of water in order to shower and about 40 in order to take a bath.

In some of the poorer countries, it is still more common for people to bathe than to shower and many people still bathe in natural bodies of water, such as rivers and lakes. Naturally, these places have no temperature controls, either. In the US, showers are easily more common and most people take a shower at least a few times a week, if not daily. Some people go so far as to take several showers a day. Soaps, detergents, and shampoo are usually used now, too, and the cost of those cleaning agents to the consumers is huge.

However, the soaps are for a different topic.

  • Question of

    Are you more apt to shower or to take a bath?

    • I usually take a bath
    • I usually take a shower
    • I take both baths and showers, equally
  • Question of

    How often do you shower, specifically?

    • several times a day
    • daily
    • several times a week
    • once a week
    • less than once a week
    • I don’t shower, I take a bath
  • Question of

    Have you ever bathed at a communal shower, bathhouse, river, or lake?

    • Yes
    • No


What do you think?

Written by Rex Trulove


    • In the US, people usually use soap whether they shower or take a bath. The biggest difference is simply that in a bath, you mostly submerge in water and in a shower, you don’t.

  1. Showers are fine, often more convenient and quicker especially when travelling or when on vacation.
    Baths though are more relaxing, soaking aching muscles, relieving tension. They can be indulgent, soaking in hot scented suds, eating strawberries and drinking champagne… neither of those really work in a shower, nor does reading a book or surfing posts on Virily… but you can do all those things in a bath.
    So, I guess it is horses for courses, take your pick to suit the time you have and the mood your in.
    Oh, and don’t forget you can share both with that special someone in your life… but I suppose thats another story altogether!

    • That is certainly true enough. My sister used to have a house that had a sunken Roman bath. It was more of a hot tub than a bathtub and there was plenty of room for multiple people. It took a lot more than 40 gallons to fill it, though.

        • I can understand that. I just like to take my shower, get out, dressed, and on my way most of the time. On the other hand, if I’m tired and achy, I enjoy soaking in a bath with some mint added.