I bet that the last time you showered was not too long ago. Most likely, it was either this morning or last night that you were lathered in soap under running water.
Since showers and bathrooms have become a standard in most regular houses, just about everyone in western society showers daily. We’ve become accustomed to showering and washing our body with soap every day. Sometimes even twice! It has become culturally entrenched.
Although some campervans and campers do have a shower built in, many do not. They take up quite a bit of space, and can be a pain to clean. We’ve also heard many campervan owners who do have a shower mention that they don’t use theirs because of the work involved.
Showering, or taking a bath, so frequently however is not something our grandparents did whilst growing up. We personally do not have the option to wash ourselves thoroughly that often. On average, we get to take a shower once a week. Sounds gross, right? We sure feel so. But besides our armpits smelling a bit more often, we do not notice a clear difference.
So we asked ourselves, how often should I shower? Or rather should you shower everyday?
Yesterday, on a sunny Friday evening, we enjoyed a lovely walk through the city center of Uppsala. Similar to just about every city, it was crowded with mainly young people on a night out.
What does everyone do before going out? Right, they take a shower, clean up and spray on some perfume. Well, we smelt whiffs of fragrances from every direction.
Showering daily and lathering our body has resulted from our obsession with smelling fresh and being as clean as possible when we expect to be surrounded by other people.
What does soap do, exactly?
Many people often consider bacteria as bad. What they often forget however, is the fact that bacteria are vital. Our bodies cannot function without them, and neither can our skin.
The ecosystem of our skin is slightly acidic. Soap however, is alkaline. As you might expect, this creates a conflict.
Soap is very effective in cleaning dirt and grease. But our soap still isn’t so technically advanced that it is able to discriminate between the bad and good bacteria (and fats) on our skin. Instead, it removes everything, including natural oils produced by our skin to protect it.
Excessive showering disturbs the natural ecosystem of our skin and with it our skin’s ability to protect us against extensive threats such as diseases.
But doesn’t it also prevent the spread of diseases?
A review of scientific studies concludes, that considering bacterial counts, you’re certainly not better off after showering or bathing with soap than you were before. Dr. Elaine Larson states similarly in an article by metro: “People think they’re showering for hygiene or to be cleaner, but bacteriologically, that’s not the case.”
This does not solely include your usual soap. A study from Larson also shows that the frequent use of anti-bacterial soap whilst washing your hands is potentially damaging. It can even lead to increased spread of organisms due to a declined skin health.
What does this all mean for our daily shower?
So, how often should I shower? Associate Professor Stephen Shumack concluded in the sydney morning herald that we should only shower once our body needs it. If we’re dirty or really sweaty after some exercise, it would be best to hop in the shower. However, people with sensitive skin should shy away from showers more often to protect the natural ecosystem of their skin.
When solely considering your health, showering once or twice a week should be sufficient according to Dr. C. Brandon Mitchell.
Just about every article we read, seems to conclude with the following tips:
- Do not lather your whole body but focus on the armpits and groin, the most smelly parts basically
- Keep the temperature down, warm not hot
- Soap is not necessary each time, it truly depends on your skin and hair type
- Take short showers, about 3 minutes should be more than plenty
- Lastly, do not forget to wash your hands, they are the main culprit of spreading bad bacteria and the like.
It seems that we can take a breather considering our irregular showering. It turns out that taking a shower once a week is not all that bad. In between our shower sessions, we do regularly wash our sweaty parts with a little washcloth. We also wash our hands multiple times a day, so we seem to be safe considering our personal hygiene. Aside from the fact that, at times, we do smell slightly 😉
How do you take care of your personal hygiene on the road? Do you shower daily? Or do you shower occasionally when the possibility arises, like is the case for us?