I don't wash my legs
August 7, 2014 10:13 PM   Subscribe

I shower daily, and thoroughly wash everything from my head down to my hips. But I basically never wash my legs or feet. I guess I assume that the collateral water and soap running down from the top of my body will take care of things down there, and I also find it a big pain to bend over and wash my lower half. How big of an issue is this? How common is this? Additional information: I'm male, with a reasonable amount of hair on my legs. I've never noticed or had anyone comment on the cleanliness of my legs. Thanks!
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (38 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I do this, well did this, and my partner was all "OMG UR GROSS". So I started washing my legs and feet and the biggest difference is about skin texture. So my tattoos look darker (blackwork on white skin) thanks to exfoliation, basically. And when I scrub my feet they're softer. Not entirely sure how to measure the cleanliness of one's legs - there's certainly no grime and dirt on them - but the washing motion does do more than just water and soap running passively down.

(I'm female, and variably hairy.)
posted by geek anachronism at 10:23 PM on August 7, 2014 [6 favorites]

I'm a hairy dude as well. Soap and water don't do much without the pressure of scrubbing. Even a gentle scrub with no soap will get you far cleaner than a rinse with soapy water. Get a shower bench, and wash your legs and feet!
posted by infinitewindow at 10:23 PM on August 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Umm. Washing both the top and bottom halves of your body seems like the way to go here...
posted by foodgeek at 10:24 PM on August 7, 2014 [4 favorites]

Eh. Unless I'm particularly dirty or have been walking around outside barefoot I do the same. Regular soap and exfoliation isn't really all that great for your skin anyway.
posted by R343L at 10:25 PM on August 7, 2014 [12 favorites]

This is one of those times that I wish I could answer anonymously.

I have sensitive skin, and all I soap is: neck, armpits, nether regions, and feet. Nobody ever has said anything to me and I can't imagine how they'd figure it out if I didn't tell them. So I'm going with: not an issue at all. I guess it depends on how dirty you get in real life, but if you work in an office, you're probably fine.
posted by number9dream at 10:25 PM on August 7, 2014 [15 favorites]

If no one cares about the texture of your leg-skin I think it's fine. It's not like legs even have a smell. If your bed-partner complained that your legs were like sandpaper then exfoliating would be the nice thing to do.
posted by bleep at 10:26 PM on August 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

I forgot to mention feet - if your feet don't smell then you're probably good. But be honest with yourself.
posted by bleep at 10:29 PM on August 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

I agree with R34EL, it isn't clear to me that barring lots of outdoor work or indoor sweatiness that you really want to be slathering harsh soap and exfoliating your entire body every day. Not great for your skin.
posted by Justinian at 10:42 PM on August 7, 2014

I wash my legs/feet about 50% of the time, plus when I shave my legs they get a bit of a scrub/exfoliation. I have never noticed any... issues due to this. In fact, lately I've been scrubbing them more, and I noticed when I took a hot shower at my parent's house (they turn up the water heater so damn high) that my legs had this gross sort of skin/soap pilling effect that I assume didn't have long to build up since they got scrubbed recently. So... I don't know where I'm going with this, except that it doesn't seem to matter either way!

I barely scrub my feet at all (I have had plantar warts and I am squickly about touching the bottoms of my feet now) and they definitely don't stink. Someone would've told me by now, trust me, I'm surrounded by people who feel free to critique my hygiene at any time.
posted by stoneandstar at 10:43 PM on August 7, 2014

Bacteria grow in the dark and moist. Top to bottom. Wash you pits, dick and ass and other crevices you might find.

Were I you I would wash your feet as they stay in a dark moist stew. Legs not so much.

I haven't worn socks [and only occasionally encasing shoes] for two years and my feet are cool and dry and bacteria free.
posted by vapidave at 10:45 PM on August 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

My feet need to be washed, but I don't see the point of doing legs either. Most of the time they are just there under your pants. They aren't getting dirty. They aren't sweating. They're just there.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 11:24 PM on August 7, 2014 [10 favorites]

Oh it's /fine/. Your pants are probably buffing off the dead skin anyway -- or maybe since you have body hair, not as much? I have never had that fuzzy layer and can only imagine its effects.

Anyway, I scrub down my legs only when it's fun (i.e. after a long run or hot yoga class where ALL THE [dead] SKIN comes off). I have never had leg cleanliness problems (infection, smells). Moreover, while I notice that my legs look brighter when I wax my legs, I don't think scrubbing them down really makes much difference, and I have a pretty good scrub mitt.

I like scrubbing my feet though because (dead) skin almost always comes off. This is probably due to me standing in shower water and softening them up through the course of the shower.
posted by batter_my_heart at 11:33 PM on August 7, 2014

You need to wash your feet. Wash your legs less frequently if you want, but wash your feet.
posted by studioaudience at 11:41 PM on August 7, 2014 [10 favorites]

Nthing that you need to wash your feet -- I'm surprised that you haven't gotten a fungal infection yet! (Unless you're peeing in the shower, in which case the ammonia helps disinfect feet.)
posted by Jacqueline at 11:58 PM on August 7, 2014

I don't use soap and my skin is very happy with that decision (I'm allergic to everything). Which means I scrub the necessary parts with hot water (face, armpits, boobs, genitals) and let the spray take care of the rest. I'm not dirty, so I wouldn't assume you are either.

If your feet have gotten dirty by all means scrub them. I'm sure you're fine overall, though.
posted by lydhre at 12:18 AM on August 8, 2014

I put soap on, and scrub, my hair, underarms, genitals/ass and sometimes on my feet. I let the runoff take care of the rest. Intersting question though because I think a lot of people scrub their whole bodies. Like when they provide a towel, they include a washcloth. I don't need no stinking washcloth.
posted by banishedimmortal at 12:20 AM on August 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

You're probably not really doing anything wrong, as long as you don't stink or get rashes or whatever. But for the sake of your health and aesthetics I suggest you take a long bath now and then, instead of just showering. I always think I'm being thorough when I shower, but then I take a bath and all of this horrible gray dead stuff sloughs off. (Don't give me that look! It'll happen to you too!) Seriously, take one long bath after not taking one for a while and then you will understand how important it is to take a bath.

But: always take a quick shower, after you bathe. As Seinfeld described it, a bath is basically a tepid pool of your own filth. You wanna spray that mess off.

Damn. Now I feel all crusty and I wanna go take a bath.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:05 AM on August 8, 2014 [3 favorites]

Before right now it did not even occur to me to take a shower without washing all over, including my legs and feet.
posted by Xany at 4:08 AM on August 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

Toe jam. You should remove it. It stinks.

Navel fluff also.
posted by glasseyes at 4:30 AM on August 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

Shaving my legs requires me to cover them in soap and shave/rinse it off, so I guess I wash them daily as a consequence. I don't really think about washing my legs, though, unless they're dirty (from running in the rain and getting mud all over them, stuff like that).

I wash my feet every time I shower, though. I exercise every day and my feet sweat, and it would just be nasty to not rub some soap between my toes and stuff. Also, I walk around barefoot (including outside on the porch and in the yard and stuff), so my feet usually get dirt on them from that by the end of the day, and I don't want to track more of that around inside (or into my bed!) than necessary. I just use my hand and the soap to clean them, though.

Used to be that I used a washcloth, and then I used a bath pouf, but eventually the bath pouf started making me break out (how do you clean one of those?!), and I never feel like dealing with a wet or used/dried/hardened washcloth anymore, so now I just use my hands and the bar of soap.

Oh, and I also put lotion on my legs and feet (should probably be daily, but I get lazy), so of course I want them clean before I do that. Which probably means I take some extra care that I do wash them? *shrug*
posted by rue72 at 4:52 AM on August 8, 2014

Female, been bathing for 50 years now. I've never heard of specifically washing the legs/feet. I've never had a problem with infection or fungus. Now when my right ankle/foot was in a cast for three weeks, I did notice rather nasty dead skin buildup between my toes, so I get what the exfoliators are talking about, but that all went away once I could get that foot wet again, under ordinary standing shower conditions like the OP describes.

Whenever I hear "you're supposed to do" something I've never heard of, I immediately suspect magazine ads and commercials as being at the bottom of it (so to speak).
posted by JanetLand at 5:05 AM on August 8, 2014 [8 favorites]

There are those who claim that you shouldn't wash the rest of your body, either. See this fascinating article from the New York Times Magazine: "My No-Soap, No-Shampoo, Bacteria-Rich Hygiene Experiment"
posted by alex1965 at 5:06 AM on August 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

Pits, tits, and bits!

The rest needs only occasional scrubbing, like after gardening.
posted by theredpen at 5:19 AM on August 8, 2014 [7 favorites]

I, a male, used to wash my legs and feet in the shower every day. I stopped after I met my wife and discovered that she never did unless they had some cause to be dirty or she was going to shave her legs.

Since I stopped washing my legs and feet I have noticed zero difference.
posted by VTX at 5:36 AM on August 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

I was a tits/pits/bits showerer, and I was constantly fighting off athlete's foot. It would stay away only as long as I was putting foot cream on it at least daily. Pain in the neck, and foot cream smells funny, and the doctor was considering prescribing something stronger. And then I started washing between my toes with soap every day in the shower. Fixed!! I felt like such an idiot.

That said, no, I don't wash my legs or arms in a normal daily shower, I just added "toes" to the list of important things to wash.
posted by aimedwander at 5:49 AM on August 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

The "pits and bits" approach to washing is fine, and one embraced by millions of people with eczema, but I would make it "pits, bits and kicks" because yeah, you need to wash your feet. (Toes are like ears; you have to scrub behind / between them.)
posted by DarlingBri at 6:35 AM on August 8, 2014 [3 favorites]

At least wash your feet. If you are wearing doors all day they are a bedding ground for bacteria and if you are going barefoot or open shoes you'll want to each of the dirt. I am lazy do have a long handled scrubbing brush, squeeze some shower gel on it and a quick scrub and clean with no bending.
posted by wwax at 6:51 AM on August 8, 2014

In the summer, I am constantly aghast at the unkempt manfeet on display out in the wild.

Take a photo of your feet. Go get a pedicure (no polish). Take another photo. Compare. I bet you'll start washing your feet and trimming and cleaning your toenails afterwards.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:15 AM on August 8, 2014 [8 favorites]

If you hate having to bend over to scrub your legs and feet, I highly recommend sitting down to do it! It's much easier and it's actually really nice down there, with the warm water showering over you. Every time I sit down to do my feet I end up sitting there for a little while afterwards. It's so nice. Oh but remember to stand up very carefully so you don't slip, and use the bar to hold onto if you have one. But anyways, sorry but you can add me to the bunch who think that not scrubbing your legs and feet sounds pretty gross. Wash those mofos! ; )
posted by early one morning at 7:34 AM on August 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm amazed at how many people are claiming that not washing your legs makes no difference, go ahead and skip the legs. Legs have skin, skin sweats and dirt accumulates on skin. WASH YOUR LEGS!

Here's a quick test for washing:

- Is it part of your body?
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 7:53 AM on August 8, 2014 [12 favorites]

As a leg non-washer, let me suggest that if you dry with a towel, you're doing OK. (Although your towel may get a little funkier, a little sooner, than it would if you washed your legs.)
posted by Bruce H. at 8:23 AM on August 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Well, I don't wash them every day but I do wash them. I think for those of us who shave our legs, it's a little different, too.

posted by theredpen at 9:46 AM on August 8, 2014 [5 favorites]

I prefer to wash all of my body (except my hair) every time I step in the shower or tub. I feel cleaner that way. As for my feet, I will use Dial instead of or in addition to whatever LUSH smelly stuff I use on the rest of me, because I find it really does keep the foot rot away.

Legs don't get as dirty or as susceptible to fungus as feet, but I think they should be washed anyway, unless you shave them, in which case shaving can substitute for scrubbing. If your legs get dry, wash them with Dove or Cetaphil and then use lotion, body butter, or coconut oil on them.

But feet - ugh, unless you want foot rot and stinky feet, you HAVE to wash them thoroughly every day.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 10:23 AM on August 8, 2014

Wow. I'm surprised that so many people don't wash their legs! I suppose your legs probably get clean enough without actually lathering them in soap. On the other hand, unless you have you have a specific health issue, you might want to try to get into better shape. It shouldn't be that physically difficult for a healthy person to wash his legs.
posted by parakeetdog at 12:33 PM on August 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

I never had an issue with stinky or fungal feet, for what it's worth. I don't go barefoot often, or even wear shoes without socks, but I think there's a big variation between people. But seriously, I don't scrub between my toes and there's no smell beyond skin. I've never had athlete's foot or anything like that either, so maybe I have impervious feet? They do get hard skin around my heel and a callous over one toe, but not fungal or stinking.

That all said, what I wash with is non-soap cleanser because I have sensitive skin. If I can avoid slathering stuff on it I do, because itchy skin sucks a lot, so not washing it means not only do I skip the soap, I skin lotion as well. Certain parts (tits, pits, bits) get a wash everytime with soap or cleanser (I hate it when I only have random soap because ow) and I've started with legs every so often since switching to a cleansing wash because the cloth is soapy anyway. And like I said, very little difference except that scrubbing my feet with a pumice means they're softer and the exfoliation makes my blackwork less ashy.

And yeah, seriously, shaving counts as washing. You're scraping off a layer or two of skin when you do it.
posted by geek anachronism at 7:32 PM on August 8, 2014

Damn, I just thought I had naturally stinky feet, but actually I'm an idiot. Thanks metafilter!
posted by mike_bling at 10:14 AM on August 9, 2014

And yeah, seriously, shaving counts as washing. You're scraping off a layer or two of skin when you do it.

Where did the OP say he shaves his legs?

Taking a shower without washing certain major body parts is not a good idea. Once you've taken the trouble to get into the shower, make the most of it and get totally clean. And since you have to fully dry yourself off with a towel, you really shouldn't want to get your towel unnecessarily dirty by wiping your unclean feet on it.
posted by John Cohen at 10:32 PM on August 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

In addition to toes, take your washcloth or other scrubbing apparatus, gently squeeze the back of your ankle in the Achilles tendon area, and rub up and down 2-3 times.
posted by anaelith at 6:05 AM on August 10, 2014

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