How do you shower more efficiently?
February 22, 2018 4:33 AM   Subscribe

I want to learn to shower more efficiently - be just as clean, but take less time and water! Help me with your tips and tricks.

(Non-negotiable time wasters: I have curly hair that needs conditioner in it every morning or it turns into a frizz poof, and some shaving that must be done daily.)

How have you cut back on the sheer amount of time you spend under that delicious hot pounding water while trying to get clean and ready for your day?

Are there types of soap that are just easier and faster to spread across your body? A particular order of operations beyond wash-your-way-down that somehow speeds things up? How do I get yesterday's gel out of my hair as quickly as possible before fingering today's conditioner in and scrunching it all up? I dunno, what else might help me spend less time in the shower each day?
posted by 168 to Health & Fitness (28 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
The Navy Shower

Not attempted the real deal, but I do try to remember to shut off the water when lathering. A thermostatic shower helps with this.
posted by doornoise at 5:07 AM on February 22, 2018 [4 favorites]

Here is the most efficient process I've found (which was initially inspired by reading, as a kid, about organizational efficiency experts Frank and Lillian Gilbreth in "Cheaper By the Dozen")

- Commit to learning something while you shower. A language, daily events, your times tables, water-saving tips, MetaFilter, whatever, and prepare your tech to do so.
- Be undressed already.
- Place your phone, radio, etc. a safe distance from the water and any electrical danger, and engage it with your preferred topic.
- Pre-heat water at the sink tap if it takes a lot of time with the shower. Use/capture that water as it warms for brushing teeth, washing your face, shaving, hand washing delicates, etc. Barring those, see if someone else in the house can use that water as it comes up to heat.
- When the tap water is warm, turn it off.
- Turn on the shower and get in.
- Wet yourself fully head to toe.
- Shampoo your hair. It doesn't need to sit. Just aim for a mild lather and be rinsing it by the time it gets there.
- Rinse your hair and add conditioner.
- Wash your body, top to bottom, using liquid soap. (Liquid body soap is easiest to spread and rinse and tends to require less water afterwards to clean from the shower itself.)
- At this point, and in warmer climes, you may consider turning off the shower to lather and shave and/or simply listen to your chosen topic. Decline a few verbs. Pronounce the names of a few unfamiliar politicians. Resolve, on advice from AskMe, not to eat the meat that's been sitting out.
- Shaving could happen with water on or off. Depends how much shaving you have. If you shave your legs, consider using some of that earlier sink water to fill a bowl you take into the shower and pre-shave before you turn the shower on.
- Rinse the conditioner from your hair.
- Rinse the soap from your body.
- Turn off the shower. Dry from the top down.
posted by cocoagirl at 5:10 AM on February 22, 2018 [9 favorites]

Seconding the above: When I was little and first learning to take a shower, my dad taught me to take “Navy showers.” Turn on water, wet down, turn off water. Apply shampoo and soap. Turn on water, rinse, turn off water. Apply conditioner and shave legs if you like. Turn on water, rinse.

I didn’t learn until college dorm life that most people just leave the water on the whole time. I now leave the water on like a lazy profligate (joking), but have broken out the Navy shower under drought conditions.

(Dad was never in the Navy, but his dad was. Maybe that’s where he learned it.)

I find that body wash and a pouf is faster than bar soap and a washcloth. A Wet Brush works conditioner through long thick hair much faster than my fingers (and with much less breakage). For shampoo, just focus on scrubbing the scalp with your fingers and let the length take care of itself (it will).
posted by snowmentality at 5:14 AM on February 22, 2018 [4 favorites]

The navy shower set up really only works if you have a shower where you can turn on and off the water at the same temperature. On my shower it just goes “on” and you adjust temperature from there so baby showers are an extra pain in the ass.

Depending on how warm your bathroom is (I would not do this in an English shower- too cold) you could do a bucket shower. Fill up a 5(?) gallon bucket and use a little cup to pour water over you. It might be worth using the shower for a final rinse (or a shampoo rinse) but I never felt a bucket shower left me wanting when it came to the body part.
posted by raccoon409 at 5:22 AM on February 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

This is what I do:

- I run the water, wet my hair, wash it (just once) and rinse it. (You might need to do this twice, if you use a lot of product.)
- I let the water run all over me, and wet a massage sponge thoroughly. I drizzle some Nivea bodywash onto the sponge.
- Then I shut off the water.
- I massage conditioner into my hair.
- Then I lather myself all over with the sponge.
- I turn the water back on, unhook the shower handset and rinse away the soap and the conditioner.

This cuts down on water use, as well as condensation. It takes me about three minutes in total.

You will definitely find you get much more lather more quickly using a sponge and bodywash than with a bar of soap.
posted by essexjan at 5:30 AM on February 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

The big time sink in my showers is not how quickly I can get the soap onto my body or the shampoo out of my hair - the thing that takes the most time is my sleepy brain stalling out under the hot water and saying "warm!! comfy!!" while I stare into space. So for me, the fastest showers I take are when I am actively reminding myself of the 4 things I need to do, and pound through the tasks at hand (shampoo, conditioner, soap, face wash) chanting "1, 2, 3, 4" and then turn off the water as soon as I'm done so I'm not tempted to keep standing in it.
posted by aimedwander at 5:53 AM on February 22, 2018 [21 favorites]

I am a very long shower-taker, but want to chime in that bar soap + loofah/salux cloth/whatever makes a lot of lather very quickly, and IMO better than liquid soap. It's much more effective than just rubbing the bar on your hands or directly on yourself.
posted by Fig at 5:54 AM on February 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

I put the kettle on right before I get in (for pourover coffee). Would work extra well with a loud whistling kettle.
posted by advil at 6:07 AM on February 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

I have curly hair too and I shave almost every day - all under 10 minutes. Set a timer, turn on shower, hop in. Then, I put conditioner in my hair to soak, exfoliate the areas I'm going to shave, and go for it. I shave with the grain on my legs so it's fast and cuts down on ingrown hairs. Then I rinse out the conditioner, wash my hair, wash my body, do a thorough rinse and then I'm done. Really the length of shower time depends on how long my hair is and how much I have to do to it to deal with it and if I'm going to shampoo my hair that day too.
posted by pumpkinlatte at 6:23 AM on February 22, 2018

Wait, you people all leave the shower running the whole time? Good lord.

I can shower in like 5 minutes without shaving. Wet everything. Conditioner on. Coconut oil applied for face, for areas to be shaved. Shave and rinse shaved places. Rinse out conditioner. Take washcloth, run under hot tap and add some soap. Lather everywhere but face. Rinse under shower. Run washcloth under super hot tap and scrub coconut oil off face. Done.

That way you need like 3 products, conditioner, coconut oil and some soap/bath foam. Don't fuss with lots of things. Is it possible to do conditioner while you brush your teeth ahead of the shower, so you can put it in your hair, toss a towel on it, and then get straight into the shower?

Also if this is morning routine - lay out your clothes the night before, hang the towel out and have a shower playlist of like three songs that are 2-3 minutes each so you know that when song A finishes you have to get the soap scrubbing, Song B means turn the water off and song C has you in a towel getting ready to dress.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 6:54 AM on February 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

Put the stopper in the drain. The rising level of dirty water is a great reminder of how much water you are using, and incentive to get out asap.
posted by rebent at 6:55 AM on February 22, 2018 [13 favorites]

Navy shower for the win! I've been using the Navy shower since I was 7 or so. At that time, we lived in a house with a well and the parents were petrified it would run dry(terrible drought at that time), so no more than 3 mins of water. Just never lost the habit.
posted by james33 at 7:03 AM on February 22, 2018

This single most effective way to save water is to get a water-savings shower head, if you don't already have one. This page estimates that switching from a 3 gallon per minute to 1.5 GPM fixture would save a family 10,000 gallons per year; that would of course be lower for fewer people or if you took shorter than average showers.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 7:35 AM on February 22, 2018 [3 favorites]

I find being actually alert & awake for a shower makes it take way less time than trying to shower in half awake zombie mode. You might want to try adjusting your pre-shower routine to be fully awake, if this is the case for you.
posted by TheAdamist at 7:42 AM on February 22, 2018

the thing that takes the most time is my sleepy brain stalling out under the hot water and saying "warm!! comfy!!" while I stare into space

Start using a Salux towel for your body washing and it'll wake you up right quick.
posted by phunniemee at 7:42 AM on February 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

If my shower taking was causing me to be late or miss other things, I would either wake up earlier or go to bed later by 10 minutes. It is one of the few every day enjoyments that I appreciate so much. I say enjoy it and find other things to sacrifice.
posted by blackjack514 at 7:48 AM on February 22, 2018 [11 favorites]

I too have curly hair that needs time-sucking care to look good. The best way I've found to cut down on my shower time was to figure out an updo that works for my hair, that I can do with relatively little fuss by myself in the morning, and then straight up just not wash my hair as often. I can only wear my hair down the first day after washing it - so I just don't wear my hair down as often. My usual cycle is to wash every three days - day one, hair down and looking good. Day two, hair up in a loose french twist. Day three, dry shampoo at the roots and a high bun. Repeat.

The hair-washing is by far the longest part of my showering process, so skipping it two out of three days has really cut down on my average time in there.
posted by DSime at 7:49 AM on February 22, 2018 [5 favorites]

Turn the water off when conditioning, shaving etc. Specially if you spend a lot of time working it in, separating curls etc. If you get cold without the water on get a bathroom heater, it will also make it easier to want to get out of the shower because the room is warm.

Also work on weaning yourself off having to wash your hair every day. Pretty much all types of curly hair benefit from not being washed every day. Over time it decreases the frizzy, also look at how you are sleeping. Do you wear a sleep cap? Have a silk/satin pillow? They can both help with next day frizzy.

Get one of those razors with built in soap so you don't have to soap up then shave, & they have wires to stop nicking so you can be a bit more slapdash in shaving, I cut my shaving time in half with one of those.

Get a water saving shower head.
posted by wwax at 8:52 AM on February 22, 2018

You can get a water saving device that screws in between the shower head and the pipe. It lets you adjust the flow down to a trickle while you soap up, but because the water is still trickling, it stays at the right temperature. Here's one on Amazon, although I don't have experience with that brand. You may save on shampoo etc by turning the water down because you'll not be rinsing it off early. Use your conditioner dwell time to soap the rest of you.
posted by SandiBeech at 10:15 AM on February 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

Get wet and relaxed less than 1 minute. Shampoo hair 15-30 seconds. Use lather to wash body 30 seconds. Use lather to shave 1 minute. Rinse hair 30 seconds. Conditioner in hair 10 seconds. Relax for two minutes. Rinse 30 seconds.

Total of about 6-7 minutes, easily sped up to 4-5 minutes.

How much quicker are you trying to get to?
posted by Vaike at 1:18 PM on February 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

First, get undressed and brush teeth while waiting for the water to heat up. This should take less than five minutes.

Now for the good part, and don't laugh, because it works: I have a little song that I sing, twice over. The first time through my little song, I get my hair wet and put conditioner in it. The second time through I soap my body and rinse off. By the end of the last chorus, I have to shut off the water. The whole thing takes me approximately 1.5 minutes per sing-through, for a total of 3 minutes. Toweling off is "free" (no song required) because I'm not going to space out thinking "mmm, warm" while standing there dripping and shivering.
posted by epanalepsis at 1:29 PM on February 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

Oh, and shaving? Is a separate event, not done in the shower. I figured my father always shaved in front of the mirror, I can shave anything without having to stand under running water.
posted by epanalepsis at 1:30 PM on February 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

I can enjoy the hot water on my back almost indefinitely, but if I am facing the water I will feel "done" relatively quickly and stop the shower.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:58 PM on February 22, 2018

I have been working on this too! What has made a world of difference to me was getting a waterproof timer to hang in the shower. I use this one.

It's been helpful because I can visually notice the countdown. It also works well because it makes showering slightly more like a competitive sport. You can really work to get your time faster through concrete time goals. The husband has started using it too.

In terms of washing and conditioning my 2b past the shoulders hair, I have developed this as my current shower order.

1. While water warms, open all products, then wet and add body wash to shower pouf.
2. Hop in and soak hair.
3. Turn off water and shampoo hair.
4. Rinse out shampoo and soak body.
5. Turn off water. put in a hefty amount of conditioner, then soap up body (shaving as necessary).
6. Rinse everything.

Bonus points because every time I turn off the water, I get to pause the timer. Putting in conditioner before all shaving and soaping gives the conditioner time to set. Ending the shower with a full rinse gives me the cozy shower feeling that you get when you don't turn off the water.

I usually wash my hair once or twice a week and do a series of ponytails, braids, buns, etc. in the day or two before my next hair wash.

I've done bucket baths before when traveling and I can definitively say that I prefer my off and on version immensely more. Good luck with your speedy shower endeavors.
posted by donut_princess at 2:35 PM on February 22, 2018

As a fellow curly, here is the fastest way:

Turn on water.
Wet your body & hair.
(If you're shampooing- hopefully only 1-2 times a week for curls- quickly do that now.
Tip: try diluting the shampoo bottle by adding 30-50% water... you'll generate less lather, use less water to rinse, and also, dilute shampoo won't strip as much oil from your hair, which means less dryness and nicer curls).
Turn off water.

Put conditioner in hair.
Shave whatever you're shaving.
Detangle & finger comb hair.
Soap up entire body.

Turn water back on.
Rinse conditioner from hair.
Rinse soap from body.

Turn off water.
Exit shower.

(But honestly? This does not sound nice at all, it's ok to enjoy the shower!)
posted by pseudostrabismus at 2:44 PM on February 22, 2018

Saving water: turn off the water while you soap up (I actually find it baffling that people don't do this).

Saving time: set the max water temperature to be just slightly cooler than luxurious, this works wonders!

Also, see this :)
posted by splitpeasoup at 3:18 PM on February 22, 2018

This is going to sound snarky but it isn’t meant to be. Go faster. This is no different than cleaning your kitchen counters. If you move from point A to B faster you will finish the job quicker. You ever see a really good busy boy wipe down a table? Do the same in the shower.
posted by jasondigitized at 3:30 PM on February 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

Do everything the same, but with water that is as cold as you can get it. You’ll be amazed how quickly you can get things done.


-I have curly hair that needs conditioner in it every morning or it turns into a frizz poof

-yesterday’s gel

The gel is drying out your hair.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:48 PM on February 22, 2018

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