Beyond rubber duckies: must-haves for the best baths
December 16, 2013 9:08 AM   Subscribe

You love to take baths. What do have in and around your tub that makes it a great experience? Is there more to life than soap and shampoo?

Bubbly products: sure. Strange plant oils: maybe. But what else makes for a good bathtime arsenal for a grown-ass human who occasionally needs to soak sore muscles but also just likes to bath it up for relaxation? What kind of containers or stands are best for holding your products or suspending a laptop/tablet at both eye-level and a water-safe distance from the tub? What could you not take your baths without?

Difficulty level: small urban apartment (tub built into short wall of bathroom). Alternative title: "pimp my bath". Second alternative title: "bath to the future".
posted by Theophylactic to Home & Garden (28 answers total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
Epsom Salt! Great for sore muscles. I also add a fair bit of Johnson's Baby Soothing Vapor Bath. I love this bath combination -- so soothing.
posted by Lescha at 9:12 AM on December 16, 2013 [3 favorites]

My kids (and, I am told, may adults) love these.
posted by originalname37 at 9:16 AM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

If I had an apartment to myself, and thus could monopolize the tub, I would get a bath pillow. And some sort of tray to rest booze on. Oh, and steam-proof wireless speakers...
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:16 AM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

My boyfriend uses a bath pillow and aromatherapy candles. Sometimes he brings his phone and docks in the bathroom and listens to music.
posted by KogeLiz at 9:18 AM on December 16, 2013

Bath Pillow. I also like a shower hat to keep my hair out of the water.
posted by wwax at 9:19 AM on December 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

If you're into candles I find that can add to a nice bath experience. As can some music. A bath pillow is heaven, but arolled up towel will work as well.

A glass of wine.

Warm towels never hurt anything.

Bath racks are good for holding your sponge and bath brush while you're in the tub.

Borghese Fango mud is just the BEST!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:19 AM on December 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

For me, most of the Lush bath bombs are not worth the amount of time I have to spend scrubbing the residue off the inside of the tub afterwards. Definitely avoid the ones that are brightly colored.

A 3-way bulb or dimmer switch on your overhead lights or nearby lamp is always nice, for when you don't want the ungodly bright clinical eyebrow-plucking light on but also sitting in the dark is weird.
posted by elizardbits at 9:20 AM on December 16, 2013 [4 favorites]

I have, in the past, propped up the iPad on the nearby toilet for Netflix purposes. Careful with the drying of the hands before touching, of course. But it's pretty much decadence, all the better with a glass of bourbon on hand.
posted by jbickers at 9:23 AM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

A towel over you while in the bath!
posted by jgirl at 9:28 AM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Bath/shower radio. We have a Sony one which is FM, but has presets, so I can listen to Radio 4 or Radio 2 at the push of a button. Ideally I'd have a digital so I could listen to Radio 4Extra, but there isn't a bathroom-proofed one out there. (We have this one, though it seems to have gone out of production since then. The sound quality, particularly in London where FM is rarely useable, is awesome.)

Trashy book or magazine, though my eyesight is getting too bad now to read in the bath without my glasses. I have an eReader for my reading purposes now, but tend to get books used cheap from Amazon or charity shops, as it isn't a big deal if they get splashed.

I absolutely loved a Lush bubble bar called Ruby Slippers (might have been called something else in the US) but they haven't made it for years. My current favourite is an Original Source bubble bath with chilli and black pepper - tricky to find sometimes, but about £2 a bottle if it's on offer. A slightly pricier alternative is the Organic Surge Spiced Lily bath foam. I also find soap easier than shower gel to wash with in the bath, so something that smells good is worth looking out for.

For some reason, having wine or a hot chocolate in the bath always feels decadent.

I should really get me a bath pillow. Sigh.
posted by mippy at 9:32 AM on December 16, 2013

High-quality snacks can be nice in the tub. Also: reading materials.

I like fripperies like face masks and deep conditioning whatnot for long soaks, so I can feel like I'm going to come out well softened.

A natural bristle brush and/or a big loofah and/or a natural sea sponge.

Lots of people put their electronics in a thick zip-lock bag or two; not ideal if you drop it, but certainly helpful if you're using it with damp fingers. The totally waterproof iPhone case I use for boating was something like $10 bought direct from China; presumably cheap tablet options are out there too?

I have this Ikea Molger storage stool thing right next to the tub and it is filled with books and magazines, and the top is for setting the current mag/book down on...

Algemarin is the perfect bubble bath.
posted by kmennie at 9:36 AM on December 16, 2013

1. One of these. Christ on a cracker, it was life altering for me. You get to have a way deeper bath, which for me ups the relaxation ante.
2. a cool wet face cloth. I like my baths to be pretty hot so occasionally being able to cool my neck/face off is wonderful.
3. I installed a dimmer switch in my bathroom. Duuuuude. So worth it and a very easy job.
4. do up a bowl that has coarse epsom salts mixed with baby oil until it resembles wet sand. Add a little lavender essential oil. Use that in the tub to scrub your body. It feels weird but oh so good, and your skin will be really soft.
5. a nice shower curtain that looks nice from the INSIDE. I often close the shower curtain while I am in the tub. It feels more cocoon like, more snuggly and like a safe warm refuge. It isn't about the light - I have a dimmer for that - it is about the cocoon.
6. Glass of wine. Always.
7. White noise generator.

also, I always make sure to give my legs a really close shave either just before the bath or at the start of the bath. Having smooth legs in a bath... i don't know why but it feels so much nicer in the tub. It makes me feel more... refined? Not that leg hair isn't refined. I don't know, it just makes me feel sexier.

Also, once I had a popsicle while I was in the tub. Being in the hot warm water and then having a tasty popsicle to cool down concurrently with... I cannot express how wonderful an experience that was. It felt unbelievably decadent. Highly recommended.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 9:37 AM on December 16, 2013 [5 favorites]

My Kindle in a Ziploc so I don't kill it.
posted by cecic at 9:52 AM on December 16, 2013 [4 favorites]

A kindle, zipped into a ziploc bag. Or my tablet on a stand, streaming netflix from outside the tub.

A cold beer. Oh my god, bath beers are the best.

Towel on a towel warmer. Pajamas on a towel warmer. Underwear on a towel warmer.
posted by specialagentwebb at 10:04 AM on December 16, 2013

Epsom salts, especially if you're sore.

A splash of unscented baby oil in the tub.

A super fuzzy soft bathmat.

Scented soaps.
posted by windykites at 10:11 AM on December 16, 2013

A pitcher so you can pour cold water over your head.
posted by ottereroticist at 10:50 AM on December 16, 2013

My radio, tuned to the non-commercial Classical music station.
posted by Rash at 11:23 AM on December 16, 2013

Waterproof case for phone, ereader or tablet. Mr Pod is a dedicated bather and has a Lifeproof phone case he loves.
posted by escapepod at 12:24 PM on December 16, 2013

If you like adding essential oils to your bath, add them to half a cup of full fat milk and dump that in the bath. It is a hundred times better.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 12:37 PM on December 16, 2013

I love lush bath bombs and have never had issues with color/staining, they also have nice (neutral) colored shower gels. Do NOT buy the ones with glitter in them! There was glitter everywhere for weeks... glitter on the cat even.

There are these great looking wood trays that slot over the tub... on my wish list!
(I can't highlight text on my phone to embed the link! Sorry!)
posted by jrobin276 at 1:03 PM on December 16, 2013

Seconding PuppetMcSockerson on the bathtub overfill drain cover - being able to fill the tub up almost to the tip-top makes a HUGE difference in my bathing enjoyment.

Also, I know these don't look very "grown ass adult," but I've been using these Color Bath Drops for several years now and they have yet to get old. Who doesn't love a blue, purple, or green bath?? Non-staining, and if you have a Rite Aid nearby you can probably get them cheaper than they're listed on Amazon.
posted by DingoMutt at 1:04 PM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh boy, I love baths, and I'm pretty good at taking baths. Like others have written above, I'd recommend:
- epsom salts. But a LOT of epsom salt. I'm talking 2-4 lbs of epsom salts per bath. Why? Well, that much salt really feels good on the skin, and I swear it makes me feel a little more buoyant in the bath. You can get em cheap, in volume, on sale, occasionally.
- bath bombs. Like Lush carries. Not necessarily for the scent, which can be overpowering, but because it changes the color of the bathwater. How cool is it to soak in a blue water?
- you've covered bubbles. Supermaximize bubbles by pouring it while the tub is filling.
- fun soaps. Rotate a variety so you don't get sick of the same scents.
- candles are good if your bathroom lights are bright.
- a small towel to cover your face while you soak, and a backscratcher brush with a nice, long handle.
- music.
- a quality drain plug. Nothing worse than the sound of water gurgling down the drain while you're trying to relax.
- booze.
- the practice of occasionally draining some bathwater, and refilling the tub with hot water. Depending on how your hot water is supplied, and the size of your water heater, you might have to wait for some time for the heater to warm up the water it refilled itself up with.
- finally, a superkickass bath robe. Because the post-bath time is just important for relaxation as the bath itself.

Generally, over time, collect a whole bunch of different soaps/shampoos/mud/scrubs/etc. just to mix things up a bit. And keep a clean tub, so you don't ever think, "gee, uh. I should clean this funk sometime," or some other similar kind of task that moves you out of the mindset. I'm not a fan of electronics anywhere near my bathtub apart from music, but that's only because I get distracted. I suppose if I had to have a laptop, I'd be sure to close anything related to work, or e-mail, or anything similar.

And always, ALWAYS, dunk your head beneath the water level, both completely and low enough just so you can go "pbpBLBIbipbilbibpiblbbpppbpbpblplplblp" with your mouth.
posted by herrdoktor at 1:10 PM on December 16, 2013 [3 favorites]

I like to read books or magazines in the bath; it's too stressful worrying abouf putting electronics at risk. If you want to avoid water logging your reading material, drape a hand towel nearby so you can quickly dry your hand before turning the pages and then plunge it back into the warm water.
posted by carmicha at 1:28 PM on December 16, 2013

PuppetMcSockerson: "1. One of these. Christ on a cracker, it was life altering for me. You get to have a way deeper bath, which for me ups the relaxation ante."

I am not exaggerating to say I have been looking for that for years. An ex had one, and swore it was sold in all the "bath" stores; I've never found them... and it never occurred for me to look online. Thanks.

Everyone else: P MS isn't kidding. It works.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:41 PM on December 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

A bigger tub, if you can manage it. One big enough that you can definitely submerge in the water and stretch your legs out and such. (Might not be something conceivable at the moment, but I had a bath in a huge clawfoot tub this weekend and now I'm dreaming about it.)

+1 to Lush bath bombs. I don't have much of a problem with them staining, but once the water runs out, I'll give the tub a quick spray from the shower head to get the rest of the water down.
Definitely get a little spa pillow thing (or use a rolled up towel).
+1 to cold drinks. I also like a little bit of slightly chilled fruit. (Oranges are awesome for this, specifically those little clementines.)

I like having some of that silly spa music playing (shit like whale noises and gently falling rain). Definitely turn the lights off or dim them if at all possible. Tons of candles burning plus some incense makes for a pretty awesome experience.

As far as something to put my stuff onto--I just drag a folding footstool into the bathroom and set it up with all my stuff while the tub fills. Candles and incense go onto the sink/closed toilet lid. My bathroom is also pretty small, so I find that the whole process of getting set up for the bath is part of the fun too. :)

There's also some aspect of trial and error to this too. I like to make little bath cocktails with different bath fizzies/bubble baths/hair masks/face masks/etc. You never know what things are going to make your bath extra awesome.
posted by sperose at 4:53 PM on December 16, 2013

To get maximum bubbles, my husband uses a drill with a paint stirrer attachment. He can create a 2 foot glorious wall of bubbles this way.
posted by I'm Brian and so's my wife! at 6:06 PM on December 16, 2013 [8 favorites]

Wrt epsom salts, I get them in bulk at the hippie garden store. Way cheaper than the drugstore!
posted by ottereroticist at 11:04 AM on December 17, 2013

Thank you, everyone. This was to inform the construction of a gift bath-k[e|i]t for a christmas present. I went with the following:
- Lush bath bombs (+a Lush cauldron; the Lush staff are persuasive)
- a brand new drain stopper
- a bath pillow
- one of those cages for the overflow drain
- assortment of bath salts
- a pretty caddy to hold some of these things
- an OXO press sure corner shelf to provide more tub-accessible storage

I only wish I could have managed more of the great ideas suggested here.
posted by Theophylactic at 5:29 PM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

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