By John Salak –
It’s easy to become addicted to showers. They are a cross between a refreshing wakeup call and a soothing and inexpensive massage. Little wonder then that almost 70 percent of Americans shower at least once a day. In some countries, like Australia, about 80 percent of the population hits the shower daily.
It is a habit that many people pick up as teenagers and just carry it over through the rest of their lives. But now things may be changing thanks to the pandemic. The New York Times recently cited anecdotal evidence that suggests the Covid-19 lockdowns have led people to shower less often, maybe going from a daily rise to just once or twice a week. Cleansing, of course, have been supplemented in most cases by more thorough washing in a sink.
In Britain the reduction in showers is more defined with 17 percent of all adults reporting they are showering less frequently, while 27 percent of British teenagers are saying the same thing.
At first glance, this seismic shift in daily ablutions may raise a stink. But don’t worry. It may be a good thing for the health of the planet and those people opting for a sink rather than a shower stall. Many health officials, in fact, have warned for years that people shower too frequently for their own good.
Verywellhealth.com reports that daily showers with soaps and shampoos can wash away a body’s protective oils, not to mention good bacteria and other beneficial microorganisms.
What are the health impacts of showering (or bathing) every day?
Ultimately, the health site warns, excessive showering can lead to dry and cracked skin that opens a gateway for harmful bacteria and allergens to enter the body. Most antibacterial soaps can hurt a person’s health further by killing normal bacteria, which clears the way to more devasting bacteria to take over, which usually is harder to kill.
The whole process can then undermine a person’s immune system, which is one reason pediatricians recommend against daily baths for children.
Harvard University also reports that while there are greater health issues facing people than over showering, the practice could result in a host of problems, especially if the water used contains salts, heavy metals, chlorine, fluoride, pesticides or possibly other chemicals.
No one, of course, is railing against keeping clean. Thoroughly washing hands and face daily is a good health practice. Showering itself is also recommended, though moderation is important. Unfortunately, there is no magic formula as to just how frequently someone should shower. That usually depends on a person’s work or home environment.
This issue over excessive showering, however, doesn’t end with its impact on people. It has significant consequences for the planet. The Environmental Protection Agency notes that an eight-minute shower uses a whopping 17 gallons of water. And just running water of any kind for five minutes uses enough energy to run a 60-watt lightbulb for 14 hours.
If that’s not enough to rethink showering frequently, remember that the more often they’re taken, the more plastic and petroleum is used, which has all sorts of harmful carry-on impacts.
Are there fewer showers in everyone’s future? Don’t sweat it if that’s the case. It may do a world of good.