The Difference Between a Bath and a Shower

Often, we interchangeably use the phrases ‘taking a shower’ with ‘taking a bath’ when they’re totally different activities. While they are both used to mean cleaning the body, they are different in that they require different equipment, time, and even have different results. A shower and bath require different setups and equipment although a shower and bath combo allows you enjoy both in one place.

Bathing is cleaning the body by soaking in a tub filled with water while showering is cleaning the body with water from a spray such as a showerhead. The difference between baths and showers is that bathing uses more time and water but provides better relaxation and health benefits than showering.

The Difference Between a Bath and a Shower

What is the difference between a bath and a shower?

Taking a bath is soaking your body in a tub filled with water to clean yourself. On the other hand, taking a shower is standing under a spray of water while cleaning your body. The main differences between the two are as follows:

Bath Shower 
Body washed by immersing in water. Body washed by spraying it with water. 
Uses large containers such as bath tubs. Uses smaller equipment like showers. 
Sitting or partially standing position. Standing position. 
Takes longer than a shower. Takes about 10 minutes on average. 
Used for cleaning, relaxation, and treatmentMostly used for cleaning the body. 
The water is stationaryThe water is constantly moving
Uses about 30 gallons (113.56 l) of water per bath. Uses about 25 gallons (94.64 l) of water per shower.

What is a bath?

A bath refers to the act of cleaning the body by soaking it in water in a bathtub then scrubbing it with an appropriate item such as a loofah. The origin of the word ‘bath’ is ‘bathing’ which means washing the body by immersing yourself in water. 

Baths were initially taken in natural water bodies such as rivers, lakes, and seas. With time and the need for privacy, bathing transitioned to public baths then private baths using bathtubs. Today, a large number of people use bathtubs and similar equipment to take baths in the privacy of their homes or hotels. 

What is a shower?

A shower refers to the act of cleaning the body by spraying it with water. You may use a rainfall or handheld showerhead to take a shower. Showers usually take a shorter time than baths and with better cleaning results. 

Bath vs shower

The main differences between bathing and showering include the following:


Bathing is done by immersing your body in the water using either a bathtub or another large container. Usually, the water used is warm and the bather gets out after it cools off. 

On the other hand, showering is done by spraying the body with water either with an overhead or handheld showerhead. The water used can be warm or cold depending on the user. If you set a certain water temperature, it’ll remain that way throughout the time you take the shower. 

Amount of water used 

When you look at the shower vs bath water usage rates, you’ll realize that baths use up more water even when it’s stagnant. Bathtubs often have capacities of about 42 gallons (159 liters) and although you’ll use less than that for a bath, you’re likely to use up at least 30 gallons of water per bath

Compare that to a shower which requires about 10 minutes to use up about 25 gallons of water (at 2.5 GPM) and you realize how much more water you’ll use with a bath. Besides that, you may still need a quick shower after your bath which adds to the amount of water used.


For bathing, a bathtub or large basin is used since they can hold enough water to immerse the whole body in it. For showering, showerheads and shower panels are used.

Body position

In most cases, bathing is done while fully or partially laying down. Showering, on the other hand, is done while standing or seated. There are many variations to these positions although they can be categorized as standing for showers and laying down for baths.

Time taken

A typical bath will take about 20 minutes or as long as the water remains warm. This also depends on the initial temperature of the water and the material of the bathtub. Some bathtub materials hold heat longer than others. 

The average shower time is 10 minutes although it differs between individuals. As such, showers take shorter than baths on average. 


Both showers and baths are used to clean the body. However, they can be used to relax the body and even offer treatment opportunities for some users. When it comes to extras such as relaxation, baths are better at it than showers as the whole body is immersed in the water. You can thus add bath bombs into the water with different effects. 

Water flow

When bathing, the water is often stagnant unless you’re using a mechanism to constantly replenish the water. Once done with the bath, drain the water from the bathtub and wipe the tub clean. 

On the other hand, showering has a constant flow of water from the showerhead to the body and into the drain. You may need to clean the shower stall if you notice any dirt after the shower. Otherwise, it should be clean enough to leave it alone. 

Level of cleaning

Showers clean the body better than baths. Given that you sit in the water you’re using to clean the body during a bath, the dirt may still stick to your body. In the case of a shower, the water you clean the body with goes down the drain with only clean water coming into contact with the body. 

You may even need a shower after your session in the bathtub. Baths are sanitary enough to be used on their own although the decision to take a shower afterward is purely personal. 

Advantages of baths over showers

The advantages of bathing or showering include the following:

Boost healing

Sitz baths involve sitting in warm water only up to the hips after giving birth which helps heal the perineum and conditions such as itching, hemorrhoids, and itching. 

Relax the mind and body

Aromatherapy baths using essential oils such as eucalyptus and lavender are great at relaxing the body and mind. 

Sooth inflammation

Oatmeal baths are frequently used to soothe the body and skin from inflammation, psoriasis, and eczema symptoms. 

Relieve symptoms of cold and flu

A warm bath alleviates the symptoms of flu or cold. You can soothe sore muscles, fever, and chest congestion. 

Besides these benefits, bathing can also reduce blood sugar levels, especially for hot baths. 

Advantages of showering over bathing

The advantages of showering over bathing include the following:

Better cleaning

Water from showering directly goes to the drain thus taking the dirt from the body with it. This is much cleaner than bathing where you remain in the same water you’re using to bathe. 

Encourages healthy hair and skin

The water from the shower helps improve the circulation in your scalp and skin which in turn promotes healthy hair and skin. You will have a glowing look from this. Bathing with the right additives can thus have an anti-aging effect on the body. 

Boosts immunity

Cold showers have proven to improve the immunity of individuals who take them. There were fewer sick days recorded for those who took hot to cold showers (start with hot water then slowly decrease the temperature) in the linked study. 

Help treat depression

The hot-to-cold showers described above also help reduce depression by promoting endorphins, stimulating the nervous system, and improving depression symptoms. 

Bath or shower: which is the better one?

Showers are better than baths at cleaning the body given that the water is always running thus taking the dirt away from the body. Baths are better than showers at relaxing the body given that the user sits in the water thus giving the water more time to soothe the body. The other aspects such as the body position and amount of water are subjective as different people use baths and showers differently. 

Choosing between a bath and a shower is a personal choice since it depends on what you have in terms of equipment and time. Better yet, you can use both with showers for quick cleaning of the body and baths for relaxation sessions.

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