Smart SpendingSmart Spending

Should we bathe less?

Maybe frugalists who eschew a daily shower or bath are on to something.

By Karen Datko Nov 9, 2010 5:37PM

The navy shower has long been a frugal hack. You know the drill: Get wet, shut off the water and scrub, then quickly rinse off. Your use of the water you paid to heat is two minutes tops.

But maybe we should give up the daily shower or bath routine because it would be better for our skin and overall health.


The New York Times reports:

Of late, researchers have discovered that just as the gut contains good bacteria that help it run more efficiently, so does our skin brim with beneficial germs that we might not want to wash down the drain.

Not to mention all the bad bacteria you might be inhaling from your showerhead. (Note: The article recommends showering more regularly if you frequent places with lots of germs, like the subway during flu season.)


Can you get on board with this? A growing number of people are doing without a daily shower or rub-a-dub-dub -- or even deodorant.


After all, isn't our hypersensitivity to body odor (the dreaded B.O.) a result of marketing? Katherine Ashenburg, who wrote "The Dirt on Clean: An Unsanitized History," told the Times that Americans bathe much more than they did when people actually worked up a sweat on the job. Then bathrooms became standard in American homes, and the Don Draper types jumped on board. 


But, you know what? This little trend makes sense -- for some. When the cold, dry air of winter comes, I usually shower every other day. (It helps that I work at home -- alone -- and, yes, sometimes I wear my jammies all day.) It's partly about using less water and less energy, and also about keeping my skin from drying out.


How do other people, those who work outside the home, pull this off between showers?

  • Sponge baths, hitting the obvious parts.
  • Cleaning underarms as needed throughout the day. Some recommended using a fresh lemon slice or baby wipes. (If you're worried about the contents of deodorant, you can make your own.)
  • Dry shampoos. Consider also no-poo alternatives and the wash-with-water-only approach.
  • It seems key that you don't tell anyone, particularly on a first date.

Alexandra at No More Dirty Looks made this confession:

I'm just going to put it out there and say that …I generally do not shower more than three times a week. Am I gross? Maybe. But my skin and hair feel better, and I've reduced my water consumption by about 1,000 liters a week -- something worth thinking about when you live in California. I also don't take the subway, work out vigorously or go to an office every day -- all things that make it easier to shower less.

Do you want to try this out? Or are you satisfied with installing a low-flow showerhead and turning down the temperature on the water heater to save money?


One other question comes to mind: All but one of the no-deo types quoted by the Times said they must smell OK because no one has told them they don't. If someone who worked with you had a natural smell that didn't appeal, would you speak up?


More from MSN Money:

Nov 10, 2010 11:00AM
Sounds good if you don't get too active during a day, however for those of us who perspire a great deal daily from exercise, or labor-type jobs...bathing is critical, or we would offend a great number of people :)
Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.


Smart Spending brings you the best money-saving tips from MSN Money and the rest of the Web. Join the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.