Bath Vs. Shower

Like everyone, transitioning from the comfort of your home to a much smaller, more compact dorm room is quite drastic. Being away from home makes you appreciate the smaller things that we often overlooked in our daily lives before we were living in dorms. This past weekend I had the opportunity to go home. The two things I was looking forward to the most were sleeping in my bed and taking a shower without slippers on. After being on a bus for four hours in order to get back to my home in New Jersey, I felt tired and dirty. The first thing I wanted to do when I got home was bathe. I went to my bathroom and stared at the shower and bath tub. Due to my four hour adventure back home on public transportation I knew I wanted to be as clean as possible. Then it dawned on me, Which actually gets you more clean, a shower or bath? My null hypothesis for this specific topic would be that there is no distinct difference between the cleanliness of baths and showers. The alternative hypothesis would be that there is indeed one cleaning method that is more effective than the other.

I first wanted to investigate bathtubs and how many germs they might have lurking in them. In my opinion it seems like bathtubs would have more germs in them because you are essentially just sitting in your own filth. Dr. Elizabeth Scott recently conducted a study that compared bathtubs and garbage cans. From her study she found staphylococcus bacteria in both the bathtubs and garbage cans she tested. I had no previous knowledge of what staphylococcus bacteria is so I had to look it up. Staphylococcus or staph, is a collection of bacteria buildup that can cause various diseases. From her research Dr. Scott was able to determine that 26% of the bathtubs tested had staphylococcus in them while only 6% of garbage cans had the bacteria. It is tough to think that the place where you go to get clean is more bacteria infested than the place you throw away waste. I tried to make sense of this study and thought of a few ways why bathtubs might be more dirty than clean. Perhaps it is because once you enter into the bathtub and begin to clean off your body, germs, bacteria, and dead skin cells go into the water that you are sitting in. Bacteria needs moisture to grow so a bathtub which is a damp place, is the perfect habitat for it. Some lurking variables in Dr.Scott’s research may be how old the bathtub is, how often it gets cleaned, type of cleaner used, and possibly depending how dirty the owner of the tub is. Lurking variables for the garbage cans could have to do with what type of waste was thrown out into it. I wonder if the study was more specific how different the data would be.  

Next I wanted to look at showers. It seems like the obvious choice for getting a better clean because you are not sitting in what you are washing off of your body. The only way I can see a shower as a potential danger for bacteria is from the showerhead. In a 2009 study done by Norman R. Pace, a professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder he and his research team wanted to take a close look at showerheads and possible germs they may harbor. The study group consisted of 45 different showerheads from cities all around the U.S. Swabs were taken from each showerhead and then tested for bacteria. The study concluded that bacteria and microorganisms were indeed present in showerheads. Some are small enough to go into our airways while other can cling onto you. Pace says the only people who need to alter their bathing routine are those with immune system or lung problems. A better option for people with those problems would be to take a bath instead.

To revisit my question, Which actually gets you more clean, a shower or bath? Based off of both studies, taking a shower is the best way to get yourself as clean as possible and stay more germ free as opposed to baths. 


Doheny, Kathleen. “Bacteria May Lurk on Your Showerhead.” WebMD. Ed. Louise Chang, MD. WebMD, 14 Sept. 2009. Web. 11 Oct. 2016.

“Soap Up! The 12 Germiest Places in Your Life.” TODAY, 12 Nov. 2008. Web. 18 Oct. 2016.

Stöppler, MD Melissa Conrad. “Staph Infection Symptoms, Causes, Pictures & Treatment.” MedicineNet. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Oct. 2016.

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4 thoughts on “Bath Vs. Shower

  1. Alyssa Marie Frey

    This was a very well structured post with great organization and good evidence to find an answer to your question on whether a shower or bath gets you more clean. I would have also figured that a bath would be dirtier, I mean your bathing in your own filth! Both can serve though as a type of relaxation and not just a way of getting clean. I think my favorite part about going home is getting a nice, hot shower without my shower shoes. I HATE the dorm showers and when it comes down to it I feel they are definitely the dirtiest and filled with the most bacteria. I found this article that shows all the dirtiest parts in the showers we have to use every day.

  2. Thomas Tatem Moore

    This is an intriguing article, and a question that I have asked myself for years. Like the prior comment up until I was able to wash myself I always too baths. However, once I was able to wash myself I rarely ever took showers. The only real times I have taken a bath is when I have been sick. Here is a video I found on the benefits and risks of a hot bath.

  3. Robert McCarthy

    Interesting to see that the commonly heard trope of showers being more hygienic than baths turns out to be true. Makes sense as there isn’t really anywhere for the filth and bacteria from your body to go after you have scrubbed it on you other than to float in the water around you. The communal showers in my dorm are bad enough, now the communal bath just seems disgusting. When bathing yourself, another important thing to consider is your water usage while bathing. According to the Sacramento Bee ( it looks like the answer points to showers, even though they continually use water while bathing. As long as you keep the shower to 10 minutes or under it looks like showers rule in both cleanliness and environmental sustainability. Will definitely be saving baths for special occasions only.

    1. Olivia Helen DeArment

      This question arisen as been argued for as long as I can remember, giving reasons back and forth for the better of the two. When I was little, it was always baths because I couldn’t clean myself yet, but as I got older, showers become a everyday routine. When taking baths, especially when dirty, kind of grosses me out to be honest, thinking about me sitting in my own dirt and just letting it all float around me, not escaping into the drain until I pull the plug. Showers on the other hand just let the water run over you and the dirty water directly hits the drain, getting rid of dirt surrounding us. Now don’t get me wrong, I can enjoy a bath a as well, but only if I was clean and just needed a little relaxation. In this article it explains why people use baths for this reason instead of cleansing.

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