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15 Ways You're Showering Wrong

Experts tell you how to do it right.
Woman in shower washing hair with shampoo

Hopping in the shower and sudzing up is probably a part of your daily routine (or not, given that you might be working from home). While you may consider a nice cleansing shower one of the healthiest activities for your body, if you're doing it wrong, you could cause more harm than good. Check out these 15 ways you may be showering wrong so you can make sure your time in the bathroom is refreshing and good for your body. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.

1

You're Only Using Hot Water

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There's nothing better than a nice hot shower after a long day. But your skin would disagree. When you blast hot water as you shower, it strips your skin of its natural oils, which keep it hydrated and prevent itching, scaling, and redness.

According to Dr. Harry Dao from Loma Linda University Faculty Medical Group, "Dry skin is the most common cause of itchy, irritated skin so it is important to avoid overly hot baths and showers." Dr. Dao recommends a lukewarm shower, with the water temperature around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

2

You're Skipping Your Feet

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When you shower, your feet are exposed to excess water and soap before it heads down the drain. You may assume that's plenty of "washing" so there's no need to scrub them. However, when you don't wash between your toes or hit the bottoms with a good sudzing, you leave yourself susceptible to foot ailments such as fungus, irritation, or athlete's foot.

Experts at the Institute for Preventive Foot Health recommend you "wash and thoroughly dry your feet every day. Use mild soap, and wash between the toes. Be sure to dry thoroughly, especially between the toes."

3

You're Not Lotioning Up Afterward

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Keeping your skin moisturized is the key to preventing irritation, dryness, and itchiness. Right when you hop out of the shower, your skin may be slightly warm, which allows it to absorb the moisturizing elements in your lotion more effectively.

According to an article published in Clinical Medicine and Research, moisturizer has anti-inflammatory qualities and keeps the skin smooth. Experts suggest, "After rubbing moisturizer in both palms, it should be lightly applied along hair follicles direction."

4

You're Not Cleaning Your Bathtub Floor

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Your bath or shower floor is generally a moist and dark environment, making it the perfect home for bacteria and germs. If you're not cleaning your bath or shower floor regularly, you may be exposing your feet to bacteria that can cause athlete's foot or other fungal infections. 

According to Dr. Emily McKenzie, MD from University of Utah Health, most germs and bacteria are found on shared shower floors, such as at gyms. Dr. McKenzie warns, "The most serious common infection that you can acquire from a shower is MRSA, or methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus. This can cause abscesses in the skin that may require treatment with antibiotics or surgical drainage." Clean your shower floor regularly with an antibacterial cleaner, such as Lysol.

5

You're Hanging Out Under the Water for Too Long

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A shower is meant to cleanse and moisturize the skin, leaving you feeling refreshed. However, if you spend too much time in hot water, it can actually do the opposite. Staying in the shower for too long actually dries out your skin and can wash away the good oils and bacteria your skin needs to stay hydrated.

According to Dr. Edidiong Kaminska, MD from Kaminska Dermatology, optimal showering time is five to 10 minutes. If you find your skin becoming dull, dry, or irritated, consider reducing your shower time, adjusting your water temperature, or reducing your frequency of showers.

6

You're Washing Your Hair Everyday

Woman in shower washing hair with shampoo
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Your hair creates its own oils, which are essential to keep it from becoming brittle and dry. Some may complain that these oils build up and make their hair look greasy, a common reason to wash it everyday. However, consistent washing may be what causes this excessive oil production. 

The sweet spot on how often you should wash your hair depends on your hair type, ethnicity, age, and how often you engage in physical activities. According to Dr. Shilpi Khetarpal, MD from the Cleveland Clinic, you should create a hair washing schedule you can easily stick with. Dr. Khetarpal says, "I typically advise patients to keep to a standard hair washing schedule, whether it is three times per week, weekly, or once per month, regardless of activity level."

7

You're Being Too Rough With Your Towel

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You're going to want to dry off your skin and hair after your shower. It's tempting to wrap your hair tightly in a towel so excess water can be squeezed out, but this can damage your hair follicles. It's best to gently squeeze out the water from your hair and pat it dry.

Gentle is also key when it comes to drying off your skin with a towel. Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD has said, "Using a towel in a rubbing motion can dry out skin by scrubbing away the protective outer layer of dead skin cells. It's much better for you to use a soft towel to gently pat yourself dry or you can allow your skin to air dry."

8

You're Hopping in Everyday

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If you're like most people, you've gotten into the habit of taking a shower at least once a day. While it may seem more healthy to be squeaky clean than not, daily showering could hinder and not help your skin. According to Harvard Health, the perfumes and chemicals in soaps and other products you use in the shower may cause irritation and dryness. 

Exposing your skin to hot water everyday may also dehydrate it and you could be washing away essential microorganisms that keep your skin balanced and healthy. Experts recommend only showering a few times every week, unless you're exposed to dirt or have sweated excessively.

9

You're Not Washing Your Towel Enough

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You're clean when you come out of the shower and dry off so it's easy to assume your shower towel never gets dirty. But your moist towel hangs in a humid bathroom, which makes it a hot spot for bacteria. You can ruin the cleanliness you achieved when you dry off with a dirty towel because this bacteria can worsen skin conditions or cause jock itch, athlete's foot, or toenail fungus.

According to Dr. Alok Vij, MD from Cleveland Clinic, "The longer towels stay damp, the longer the yeasts, bacteria, molds and viruses remain alive and stay active." Dr. Vij recommends washing your towel or switching it out for a clean one at least once a week.

10

You're Using the Wrong Products

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Even if your soap smells good and seems to make your skin feel good after use, it's important to review its list of ingredients. Soaps that contain certain chemicals may cause skin irritation, worsen skin disorders, and may even be linked to cancer or other medical conditions. 

According to the Environmental Working Group, it's not uncommon to see cosmetic products containing chemicals that are potentially harmful, such as formaldehyde, methylene glycol, parabens, or mercury. When choosing your products, go with "all-natural" or "organic" and browse the ingredients list for potentially harmful or irritating chemicals.

11

You're Storing Your Razor Incorrectly

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If you shave in the shower, a clean razor blade is important for the health of your skin. Avoiding nicks, razor burn, or skin irritation can sometimes feel impossible but these ailments may occur because you're storing your razor incorrectly. Rust and bacteria can grow on the blades if it's not stored properly. 

According to Dr. Whitney Bowe, "Not only can keeping your razor in a moist environment rust the blades, it also increases your risk of bacterial or fungal infection." Dr. Bowe recommends storing your razor in a place where it won't get wet, drying the blades carefully and thoroughly, and stashing it with the blade protector in place.

12

You're Not Replacing Your Sponge or Cloth

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Whether you use a washcloth, sponge, or loofah, make sure your cleaning tools are clean themselves. When you store your loofah in the shower, it never truly dries, so it can easily start to grow bacteria which will spread to your skin next time you lather up.

According to Dr. Melissa Piliang, MD from the Cleveland Clinic, "If you have a natural loofah, you should replace it every three to four weeks. If you have one of the plastic ones, those can last for two months." If you notice mold or an unpleasant smell on your loofah, washcloth, or sponge, it's time to replace or wash it.

13

You're Using a Scented Soap

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The whole point of a shower is to feel and smell clean afterward and fragranced soaps can help achieve that. But these soaps may cause irritation or allergic reactions so it's best to stay away. When "fragrance" is listed as an ingredient, your soap may contain harsh chemicals, such as sulfates, that can dry out skin.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chemical agents can also be absorbed through the skin. The side effects depend on the type of chemicals, the surface area of the skin that was exposed, and the concentration of the chemical. It's best to stick with unscented soaps to avoid these potentially dangerous chemicals.

14

You're Using a Soap Dish

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If you use a bar of soap in the shower, the way you store it is crucial to its longevity. More than likely, you have a soap dish to keep your bar from sliding around in the shower. If your dish is solid ceramic, plastic, or glass, your bar of soap is likely to sit in a pool of water constantly and never dry out. 

According to the Virtual Chembook from Elmhurst College, "Soap is a mixture of sodium salts of various naturally occurring fatty acids." And we know that salts easily melt when soaked in water. To avoid the hassle and cost of constantly replacing your bar of soap, only use a soap dish that drains. Try a wooden dish with slats or a plastic one with holes at the bottom to ensure your bar of soap dries out after every use.

15

You're Keeping the Door Shut

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If you want your privacy when showering, it's only natural to shut the door. But the steam from your shower causes moisture to collect on surfaces and with no ventilation, this moisture simply won't dry, making your bathroom a breeding ground for mold.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), "Mold may begin growing indoors when mold spores land on surfaces that are wet." Your walls and countertops remain wet when you shower with the door closed. If you can't keep it open, the EPA recommends at least running the bathroom fan and opening the windows when showering to keep the room well ventilated. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 37 Places You're Most Likely to Catch Coronavirus.

Kelly Hernandez
Kelly Hernandez is a health and wellness writer and certified personal trainer. Read more
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