How to Bathe when Water Is Scarce

With increasing problems of water supply in many parts of the world, thrifty use of water has become an essential trait for all of us. Even if water is gushing out in your part of the world now, it may not always stay that way. Here are some tips for making the most of very little water.


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    Take a shower instead of a bath. A bath uses a lot more water than a short shower. Considering that each minute under the average shower uses 2.5 gallons (9.5 L) of water and an average full bathtub takes 35 gallons (130 L) of water, a five minute shower will use 12.5 gallons (47 L) instead of the average bath's 35 gallons (130 L). Make the shower even shorter and you're saving a lot more. You don't need more than 10 minutes under a shower to get properly clean - the rest of the stay is enjoyment.
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    Research low-flow shower heads. The technology has gotten far beyond the drip-drip-drip of earlier days. Most current shower heads use 2.5 gallons (9.5 L) per minute, but you can find and purchase shower heads that use as little as 0.5 gallons (1.9 L) per minute without dramatically sacrificing the shower experience. These shower heads are also perfect for areas with low water pressure.
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    Only fill the bathtub a quarter or halfway. Doing this will lessen the water usage. It will also make you colder in colder weather, so the shower is again preferable for colder days. When it's a warmer day, fill bottles with water and put them in your half filled bath to increase the water level but not the water usage. Keep these filled bottles for reuse. It will also make the water get colder sooner. However, this is usually fine for small kids in any weather. A good rule of thumb is to fill no more than five inches (125 mm) for small kids, and ten inches (250 mm) for adults and older children.
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    Share a bath. You and your beloved can hop into the bath together rather than filling it up again. Children can share one bath, or at least one after the other can use the same bathwater but there will be complaints from the children following that the bathwater is cold.
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    Have a sponge bath. If you've ever been in the Armed Forces, or camped rough, you'll know this one. You simply put water into the basin (you at least have the luxury of warm water!), dip a sponge or washcloth into it, soap up the sponge and then wash over your body. Pay particular attention to underarms, genital region and feet. Your face should be washed separately with a softer cloth. Rinse the soap off of the sponge (put clean water on the sponge) and use the sponge to rinse the soap off yourself. It may sound icky but it works just as well as a shower to remove dirt and germs,-- it is just that we've become accustomed to sheer luxury in our bathroom habits.
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    Take a Navy Shower. In a dire water emergency, use this to save on water and still get a clean feeling. Turn on the shower and jump under it and wet yourself. Turn it off, soap up. Then jump in and rinse off the soap quickly. Turn off shower and dry yourself.
    • Try installing a valve behind your shower head. You turn the water on and get wet, then turn it off with the valve at the shower head. The valve keeps the water temperature consistent so you don't have to readjust it for the rinse.
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    Think laterally. If you have smelly, tired feet, just bathe them in a bowl. You can also soak scratches and similar injuries in just a small bowl, as long as they are on a leg or an arm.
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    Use baby wipes. You can get quite clean without any water.
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    Medical supply stores carry various brands of hair and body cleaners that don't require rinsing, and use very little water. As an additional bonus, it is usually faster to clean up this way than taking a bath or shower.


  • Fix drips immediately. A lot of water is lost each day through a dripping faucet or a running toilet.
  • Recycle your bathwater. Bucket it outside to your plants or rig up a hose and pump through your window and pump it outside. If you're really serious, install a grey water system. (However, do not use grey water on edible plants. This is generally forbidden by code because grey water can contain E.coli bacteria, viruses, and can lead to other health issues.)
  • Install a rainwater tank or a rain barrel. Not only is the water supply more dependable for you, it does absolute wonders for your hair.
  • Teach children to get used to the shower early. Many are afraid of the ferocity of the water pressure, so make sure the nozzle can provide soft, gentle flow over the child's head and get a nozzle that can be lifted off and moved down to the child's height. It may cost a little more at the outset, but the water savings will be huge in the long run. And your life suddenly gets easier when a child can shower from an early age.
  • When first turning the shower on, the water is cold. Use a bucket to catch the water until it warms up. Set that water aside for other uses, such as watering plants or flushing the toilet.
  • Shower at public showers. There are showers you can use at the YMCA, public showers next to the beach, at swimming pools, etc.
  • If you are sending your child to school, send them with baby wipes if they dont have time for the school shower.
  • Turn off the water in the shower when washing, then turn it back on to rinse.


  • Just because water may be scarce or you're trying to conserve doesn't mean you should cut back on your fluid intake. Keeping hydrated is important.
  • If you're collecting rainwater, remember that in some areas rainwater may not be totally pure and clean, if you're storing it in a container, the water might be standing for a while. This water may not be safe to drink or bathe in. It should be mainly used for watering plants or flushing a toilet and should not be used to clean injuries. If planning to drink it, take steps to ensure the water is pathogen-free, by boiling the water or using sterilizing tablets.

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