Rub-a-dub-dub, I have to use the tub
September 24, 2010 10:39 AM   Subscribe

For someone who's taken exclusively showers almost all her life: What are your bath hacks?

I've just moved in to a house with no shower, only a bathtub. Until now, I've been a shower kind of girl - jump in, jump out, all clean. Baths to me are an entirely different animal - relaxing but time-consuming. I can enjoy a soak in the tub from time to time, but when my mornings are hectic they just don't seem practical.

Given my current situation, I'd like to make my baths as nice as possible - either by making them quicker and easier, or by making them more relaxing and luxurious.

Bathtub fans - what are your top tub tips?
posted by Gordafarin to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (30 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
I like to have a couple of shots of liquor before entering the tub. I bring one of the newspaper-format book review weeklies to read in the tub. I start out at a warm temperature, but then, every 5-10 minutes, I let some water drain out and replace it with pure hot water, getting the temperature hotter and hotter. After about 45 minutes, I yell to my significant other and ask her to do me a favor and bring me a big glass of cold lemonade, which I drink down quickly in the tub before handing the glass back to her. I then stay in until I fell almost entirely dead. When I get out, I lie down and take a nap.
posted by Paquda at 10:45 AM on September 24, 2010 [21 favorites]

Take a nice, relaxing full bath at night before bed or after coming home from work, and then in the hectic mornings, just wash your hair and face.

Experiment with fun bath additions in the evening when you're up for it -- milk, essential oils, bubbles, salts, etc.
posted by Ouisch at 10:46 AM on September 24, 2010 [4 favorites]

Wow, weird!

I love baths, but I have no idea how I would use them as my exclusive form of getting clean. Would you consider installing at least a new tub spout with a diverter for a handheld shower head?

Our shower is actually a cast iron clawfoot tub with a permanent diverter situation for a fixed shower head and a cage around the top from which two shower curtains hang down.
posted by peachfuzz at 10:46 AM on September 24, 2010 [5 favorites]

It might be too late, but the deal-breaker question when moving into a new place is: can you operate the bathtub faucets with your feet?
posted by Rumple at 10:57 AM on September 24, 2010 [8 favorites]

My standing quick tub method: get a bucket. Fill with hot water and set aside. Soak a big shower sponge under faucet, and soap it up. Scrub all over. Rinse sponge under faucet and set aside. Pick up bucket and dump it over yourself (top to bottom). Refill bucket with hot water. Suds up hair with shampoo. Dump bucket again to rinse.

Note: make sure you've got a shower curtain with this method, or the kind of bathroom furniture that can deal with getting really wet.
posted by ocherdraco at 10:58 AM on September 24, 2010 [2 favorites]

Ugh, I am NOT a fan of the bath. I even got my five year-old taking showers (he likes to dance around and spray himself with the handheld nozzle thingie).

In any event: I suggest fighting the power with a converter kit like this one.
posted by julthumbscrew at 10:59 AM on September 24, 2010

Best answer: I did this for awhile. You'll want to take two distinct types of baths--one for washing your hair and one for luxury.

For washing your hair, don't put anything in the bath water. I put my whole head under for rinsing shampoo out of my hair---then drain and replace some if the water both to get new heat, and to have cleaner water for my conditioner rinse. I wash my body last.

For luxury -- go ahead and add anything you want! I have a theory that epsoms salts keep the water hotter longer ---please, no one blow this theory for me!
posted by vitabellosi at 11:02 AM on September 24, 2010

I had a tub-only apartment once and did as Quisch suggests--long baths in the evenings and then used a handheld diverter in order to be able to quickly wash hair or clean up (after working out, etc.).

It didn't take long to get really used to it, and I liked that I was directed by routine to take some time to relax (without TV, internets).

My favorite thing to do (and still is) is to open the bathroom window all the way--if it's cool out, I run hot water, and if it's hot out I run cool. Then I can feel the breeze and hear the noises, and in my current bathroom, see the treetops. This is especially nice at night, turn the lights out in the bathroom and look out while you soak.

Other than that, baths are nice for books, for letting some fancy product sit and do its work on your hair or face, for adult beverage, and for having a conversation with someone else (if your tub is big, with you in the tub, if not, I love to talk to my SO while I soak and he sits in the bathroom).

Also, the best thing about a free-standing tub is that you can lay WAY down and hook your legs over the side for awhile. Don't forget that you can lay on your belly in a tub, as well.

You'll want a bath pillow and to use non-gritty tub cleaner--you may want a way to keep your hair up and dry. When your objective is to get clean, it's better to start with plain water (IMO).
posted by rumposinc at 11:03 AM on September 24, 2010

Best answer: I lived in a house with just a bath for a long time. There's really a difference between the "bath to get clean" and the "bath to luxuriate" but both are useful things to have.

1. Bath to get clean - make sure you have some sortof a way of pouring water over your head, whether it's a pan for water or a spray hose attachment. Fill the tub with hot water, get in, scrub off. Use salt scrubs and a loofakh on a stick or whatever. Save hair washing and leg shaving for last [or shave legs some completely other time]. Start the tub draining as you rinse off soap or conditioner so you're not lying in a tubfull of whiskers and hair and soap. Give the tub a good rinse after you get out of it to keep soap scum from adhering to the tub forever. In the winter [if you have winter] you may want to pre-heat the tub if it's a chilly metal one by tossing in some hot water before you start to fill it. My hot water tank doesn't quite fill my tub so I have to heat up water in the stove if I want a big full bath. If I have to get clean for work, I usually bathe the night before, it's tough to feel that you need to be zipzip while you're watching a tub fill up.

2. Bath to relax - I like to read in the tub sometimes. It's good to have a little shelf of some sort that you can put across the tub (like this, or wood ones are nice) to lean a book or a cup of ice water on [nothing glass, just in case]. I like to fill up the tub and add something that smells nice. Maybe light some candles over by the sink and play some relaxing music. If I've been exercising, epsom salts are good for the muscles. If I've been dry-skin itchy, oatmeal sachets can be good. You can experiment with scents you like and read up on other bathing suggestions.
posted by jessamyn at 11:04 AM on September 24, 2010

If you'll need to take baths in the morning, start the water and then brush your teeth, go start coffee, make your morning bagel, whatever. The key is to spend the time waiting for the tub to fill up doing other things you have to do.

I think much of baths being 'long and relaxing" are psychological. It's nice, but if you really need to, you can take a bath in 10-15 minutes too. My biggest mental block is feeling like I'm just waiting for the tub to fill up.
posted by nakedmolerats at 11:06 AM on September 24, 2010

For what it's worth in my part of the world, tub-only is not an uncommon configuration. I know absolutely nobody under 60 who attempts to do this without a converter. The broad scenario for a non-soaking task-oriented morning wash is more or less that you get up, start filling the tub, go make a cup of tea or iron a shirt or some other part of your morning routine, hop in the tub, soap, splash, begin to drain and rinse with nozzle. If you are washing your hair there's a learning curve but I have long, long hair and pretty quickly mastered it.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:06 AM on September 24, 2010

I love baths. During the times I have a bath for both relaxation and cleanliness, I'll hang out in the warm tub with the stereo on and armed with my kindle in a large ziplock. When I'm done relaxing, i'll pull the plug. As the water drains, I'll run the tap again (while still sitting in the half-filled tub) I just sort of splash the running water at myself to get rid of any stuck bathtub water floaties (usually hair.) Finally, once the tub's empty and I'm out of it, I'll turn the water back on and stick my head under the faucet to wash my hair. It's not the most efficient process, but it works.

However, most of the time I will admit to just getting up when I'm done relaxing in the tub and turning on the shower. Not always however, and thats when the above tactics come in.
posted by cgg at 11:10 AM on September 24, 2010

I look at this situation differently. $20-30 worth of stuff from the hardware store, and you can hack up your own shower - easily.

Some kind of wall anchor or picture-hanging stuff to keep a nozzle on the wall and pointed the right way (depends on what kind of wall you have, and what you're allowed to do to it), the nozzle (If you want to spend a little extra, get a massaging shower head - nicer, and easier to mount!), a length of hose, and a washing-machine hookup kit (which should come with some flexible flange-y things and some hose clamp bands.

I could probably do one up in an hour. There's a little more to it if you want to easily switch from shower to bath to shower again. But, I'd end up rarely using the bath faucet if I were in your shoes.
posted by Citrus at 11:25 AM on September 24, 2010

I don't agree with this getting clean/luxuriating dichotomy. After one day, how dirty can you get? Just have a bath every night, if you stay in there long enough you'll get clean by osmosis or whatever. As for hacks:

- get a lot of bath books. By which I mean disposible chick-lit, crime thrillers, bonkbusters. Eg: Jackie Collins, Spenser novels, Elmore Leonard etc.
- get one of those plastic trays that go in the bath to put your glass of chardonney/aforementioned book/sandwich etc
- buy really really nice, really really moisturising bath oils and cremes. Don't get bath bombs, they smell awful and dry out the skin.
- wash your hair and body first, then add bath stuff, if you want to stay fairly gunk-free.
- get a really really nice fluffy bathrobe, your wrinkled fingers will appreciate the softness.
- wee in the bath just before you get out. Yeah, it's a bit disgusting but it feels really good.

posted by low_horrible_immoral at 11:59 AM on September 24, 2010

Vitabellosi, you may be right. Although I'm not sure how much of that effect you could get in a bathtub.
posted by lholladay at 12:04 PM on September 24, 2010

I'd like to make my baths as nice as possible

I take showers for basic self cleaning, including shampooing and conditioning hair and shaving.

But baths . . . oh I love my baths . . . are for reading, relaxing, getting and staying warm, dissolving muscle kinks, sipping wine, and smelling lovely smells.

So, I recommend:

1. A deep tub, or this gadget to make a normal bathtub hold more water

2. A bath pillow, like this one

3. A bath tray, like this one

4. Bath bombs or melts or bubble bars like these made by Lush.

I wish you many fabulous baths.
posted by bearwife at 12:05 PM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

I prefer baths for daily cleaning. Instead of having to wait for the shower to slowly drip out enough water to get my hair wet, I can fill the tub while I'm doing something else, then when I get in I'm pretty much instantly wet. I also feel like there's a bit of a rain-shadow with a shower that is eliminated in the tub. If you shave your legs, it's much easier in the tub. You don't have to fill the tub up all the way, you just need it deep enough so when you dip your head back, you can wet your hair. As long as you don't luxuriate, it will be faster than a shower.

Bathtub rings are less likely if you use body wash rather than bar soap.
posted by SandiBeech at 12:51 PM on September 24, 2010

My keeping-the-bath-clean tip: Back when I was a kid who only took baths, my family always kept Comet, a green scrubby pad, and a really big (32 oz.?) cup - some souvenir plastic cup from a fast food place, probably - right by the tub. Before bathing, wet the tub down by pouring water from the cub, sprinkle Comet on (or something gentler like Bon Ami), let it sit for a minute, give it a quick scrub, and rinse it down again with the cup. I did this every bath but I personally only bathed every couple of days. If you're bathing every day, I might wash the tub down every two or three days. If you do it often it's really quick and easy, and your tub is always clean and inviting. I like having the cleaning supplies right next to the tub, in view. That always made it feel like a natural, easy part of the bath, instead of a big undertaking where I had to go hunting for supplies.
posted by mandanza at 12:55 PM on September 24, 2010

My husband is a shower-only guy. I'm a bath-only girl. Current place has only a bath. We have one of those handheld shower things, he uses it in his hand to shower, and I use it to fill the lovely bubble baths I relax in with a book or my DS.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 1:03 PM on September 24, 2010

I don't agree with this getting clean/luxuriating dichotomy. After one day, how dirty can you get?

I'm open to eliminating the dichotomy--but I didn't say it's a daily ritual.

The main point is, if you're washing your hair, don't put oils in the bath water first.
posted by vitabellosi at 1:49 PM on September 24, 2010

Best answer: Quick and easy bath in the morning:
Only fill the bathtub for one third or fourth. This will make you wash yourself in a few minutes, as you get cold very quickly this way, but you will still have that squeaky clean shower feeling.

The real bath experience as it was meant to be:
1. Undress and fill bath tub with hot water. Meanwhile:

2. Put a chair next to the bathtub for easy access to your bath experience necessities.

3. Pile some good books, interesting magazines and comics on the chair. This gives you some reading choices.

4. Add a beverage of your own choice. This could be a cocktail, a glass of wine, anything you like. My personal favourite is an iced coffee. Use a straw, if applicable, for maximum drinking ease.

5. Provide a small snack: grapes are good and 'clean' as a snack. Cookies are delicious (especially with an iced coffee), but mind the crumbs! Chocolate mousse would be nice too btw.

6. Don't forget to put a washcloth on the chair, see step 13.

7. Make sure you have easy access to a towel, to dry off your hands while reading in the tub. Conveniently position clean towels for drying off, slippers, pajamas and a bathrobe.

8. Add favourite bath product. If you like lots of foam, add bath product in step 1. I find the popping of the small foam bubbles distracting while reading, so I only add the bath product a few minutes before the tub is filled, to create the optimal amount of foam.

9. Optional: add toys, if desired.

10. Feeling slightly cold from being undressed since step 1, carefully position yourself in the searing hot water.

11. Close your eyes, take a deep breath and relax underwater. Repeat as desired.

12. Choose your reading material and read.

13. The hot water is starting to get too hot at this point. Take the washcloth from step 6, wet with cold water and refresh your face. If desired, leave washcloth on forehead or in neck.

14. Take a sip of your glass.

15. Take a nibble of your snack.

16. Add some cold water, but don't mix it in. One side of your bath will now be a bit cooler than the other side, swoosh from left to right and right to left to enjoy this effect.

17. Read.

18. The water is starting feel cold. Add hot water and read on.

19. Take a sip of your glass.

20. Take a nibble of your snack.

21. Repeat steps 18 through 20 as many times as desired.

22. Clean yourself.

23. Dry off and slip into your pajamas, bathrobe and slippers.

24. Refill your glass and sit outside for a few minutes to cool off.
posted by lioness at 2:19 PM on September 24, 2010 [7 favorites]

I take a long, relaxing bath every morning. Around 45 minutes is my average. I feel so much more awake and happy when I'm finished with my bath. If for some reason I can't take a bath and have to take a shower instead, it feels like my day never properly starts.

This means going to bed around ~30 minutes earlier, but whatever. I think it's worth it for the time to chill out, do some reading, steam-clean my sinuses...
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 2:48 PM on September 24, 2010

I don't like the effect soap as on my hair, so my process differs from Jessamyn's. I wash my hair 1st, and use conditioner, rinsing by dunking, with a final rinse with fresh water from the tap. Then I settle in and relax. I soap up last. The tub cools rapidly in winter, so I keep a trickle of hot water running in, and occasionally let out some water.

If I take a bath for relaxation, it involves wine, cookies, a book, maybe some candles. The little dog like to observe the oddness of voluntarily spending time in the water.

It's not very hard to add a kit that makes a tub into a shower.
posted by theora55 at 3:00 PM on September 24, 2010

I know that people love long, hot baths. I do. But I think it bears pointing out that sitting in hot water for a long time is actually pretty terrible for your skin, regardless of what additives you put in the bath. So, if you are one to enjoy a luxurious long soak from time to time, just make sure you follow up with a super rich and lovely lotion. And really, how does that detract from the spa-at-home experience?
posted by purpletangerine at 3:59 PM on September 24, 2010

I prefer showers but lived with only a tub for a couple of years. I needed to be quick in the mornings and would save real baths for evening time. To get ready in the morning I would kneel on the floor, lean over the side of the tub and stick my head under the faucet without the plug in the drain to wash my hair. Then, to wash my body I would kneel in the tub and basically treat the faucet like a shower and splash water onto my body to lather and use my hand to divert the water to rinse (with my body as close to the faucet as possible). Sometimes I would wash my hair while kneeling in the tub this way (basically bowing under the faucet). The key would be to not to put the plug in the drain, so then you are not filling the tub with your dirty water.This method depends on the particularities of the tub and faucet orientation, but if it works out it's as fast as using a real shower.
posted by smartypantz at 4:07 PM on September 24, 2010

I was going to say the same as smartypantz. I just kneel next to the tub and stick my head under the faucet to wash it in the morning. It's even faster than a shower.
posted by interplanetjanet at 6:37 PM on September 24, 2010

Seconding lioness. I lived in a house with only a bath as a kid and teenager, and you basically just put a couple of inches of water in the bottom for the daily bath. Use a washcloth. Sit in the tub, and dip the washcloth in the water, run it over yourself, etc. If you are washing your hair, you need more water, of course, but I tended to wash my hair over the sink, and not every day.

Deep luxurious baths are for (winter) evenings. If you make the bath deep every day it will take forever, and your hot water bill will go through the roof.
posted by lollusc at 7:31 PM on September 24, 2010

Spend a few months living in India where you only have a tap positioned strategically at just below knee level on a wall that is part of the kitchen, use a bucket and a cup, try not to slip and crack your skull open on the concrete. You will get r e a l l y good at efficient bathing, washing with a hand towel and generally being more comfortable with your own body smells. When you're back in your homeland and see your bath again, you'll feel like you're in the Taj Mahal.

Absolutely the BEST PART OF HAVING A BATH is letting the water out. Trust me. When you're finished soaking, pull out the plug, lay back, close your eyes and imagine all the stress and tension draining out of your body and down the drain. Better than meditation/yoga/pilates/sex/chocolate/Jeff Goldblum all rolled into one. Do it. Do it tonight.
posted by TheOceanRefusesNoRiver at 8:28 AM on September 25, 2010

Lush's butterball ballistic (I am not girly and kind of don't like bath products but WHOAMYGOSH) + something on the iPod/home sound system (podcasts or npr work nicely) + making sure you take baths at night, so the next place you'll be is in between the bedsheets. Heaven.
posted by ifjuly at 9:27 AM on September 25, 2010

I do all the nice things and then I have to bar the door against my 95 lb chocolate standard poodle who on more than one occasion, when my eyes were closed, has daintily stepped in to join me!
posted by thinkpiece at 1:46 PM on September 28, 2010

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