Bath with rose petals. Bathmat with towel, eucalyptus branches, and woman's feet. You can save water while taking a bath.

You Can Indeed Save Water While Taking A Bath


Are you a bath person or a shower person? Regardless of which one you prefer, both involve a lot of water. But baths always get a bad name when it comes to saving water. Well, I’m here to illuminate you today: you can save water while taking a bath. I know, I sound crazy, but just listen. 

In college, we had these signs up all over our dorm bathrooms promoting showers over baths. If you read those signs, showers apparently save more water. I remember the signs clearly because I was responsible for putting them up as our house Environmental Chair (of course I was). Our college dorms had actual bathtubs, and they were fabulous! Not only did they have individual curtains, but also it seemed like a tub was always free when a shower wasn’t. But those pesky signs always made me feel guilty for wanting to take a bath. 

I’ve never been much of a shower person. In fact, I think I outright refused to take showers until I was about eleven. I still don’t enjoy them, they tend to dehydrate my skin and tend to leave me feeling cold. But because I’m literally a sustainable lifestyle blogger, I wasn’t going to start promoting baths unless I had a good reason to. And people? I found one. 

I did a little experiment. Wanting to see how much water I used when I showered, I put the bath stopper in. At first, I figured it would be a couple inches, just grazing my ankles. But guess what? I was wrong. It was more like grazing my calves! The irony- that’s more water than I use when I take a bath. Like many bathtubs, mine has a hole in it that drains the water out after it reaches a certain height. The shower had the water level nearly going past that drain!

Now, hopefully, you don’t find this gross, but with my skin and hair type (dry and curly), I only bathe a few times per week max. That means my showers tend to be a little longer than the average 5-minute rinse-off. If you only take 5-minute rinse-off showers, you might be saving water versus taking a bath every day. But the average woman in America doesn’t take 5-minute rinse-offs. She takes 10+ minute showers. 

And because women typically to do all this stuff, like shampoo and condition hair, shave, and exfoliate, our showers take longer. When we do all that stuff with the water running, then yeah, we waste a lot of water. There are studies that suggest that the average bath uses 36 gallons of water and the average shower with an old shower head uses 5 gallons per minute. These studies point to how if you only take a five-minute shower, you only use 25 gallons of water. I’m rolling my eyes so hard right now because I cannot, even when I try really hard, shampoo, condition, shave, and exfoliate in five minutes. 

But that got me thinking, could I do all that stuff in the bathtub? Yes. And if I’m not filling the tub up all the way will I save water? Yes.  So why do baths are so bad again? 

To be fair, most women don’t wash their hair or exfoliate, or shave every day. Ok, fine. But, say I took five 5-minute showers per week. That’s 125 gallons of water, compared to three 30-gallon bath fill-ups at 90 gallons of water. Even if I did the full 36-gallon fill-up, I’d still only be at 108 gallons of water. Are you seeing what I’m seeing? 

So yes world, you can save water while taking a bath. Not an up-to-your-eyeballs-in-water bath hot-tub style bath but with a bath, yes. 

I also know that some people don’t enjoy baths because they feel like they’re, “bathing in their own filth.” Are baths dirty? That depends on who you ask. Some experts say yes, some say no. But the line of reasoning that I’ve heard most often is that unless you’re sweating a ton from working out or you’re literally covered in dirt, baths are just as clean as showers

Most of all, I find them nourishing and relaxing. While I bathe, I deep condition my hair, soak in oils and oatmeal, and read. It’s great. Because I don’t use harsh chemicals on my skin and hair products, I don’t find these products coming into contact with my skin to be that much of a problem. I don’t wash my hair until the end, and then I immediately get out. 

How To Save Water While Taking A Bath

First off, to save water while taking a bath, you don’t need to fill the tub all the way up. Enough water to submerge your body is fine. I usually fill mine up about 9-10 inches, and that’s more than enough.  My shower head is detachable so I wash my hair in the bathtub, turning the water off and on as needed. If you don’t have a detachable shower head, before you add your bath products, take a little water out, enough to rinse your hair, and place it in a container next to the bathtub. 

Note that baths don’t do your skin much good if you’re bathing in petrochemicals, so ditch to toxic beauty products and go natural. To soften and moisten your skin, add a spoon full of coconut oil. To tackle oil, add some sea salts, or use a salt scrub. For scent, add just a couple drops of essential oil.

How To Save Water While Showering

Now, if you’re completely in love with showers and you refuse to give them up, putting a simple 5-gallon bucket in your shower, over the drain can help collect spent water that you can use for other projects. We call this, “grey water.” As long as your hair and skin products are biodegradable, you can even use this grey water to water your flowers. You can also stop the water while you shampoo your hair or shave. My wife does this, but I find it horribly, intolerably cold. 

If you want to do the same thing with your bath water, don’t pull the plug when you get out! Just leave the water in the tub and ladle it out with a bucket. 

And now you know. You don’t have to give up your baths to live an eco-friendly lifestyle, you just have to be smart about it. I hope you all have a lovely weekend and have some relaxing bath time- if it’s your thing, of course.

And if you haven’t already, follow me out on Instagram where I like to post even more little tips on how to stay green and still feel like a goddess. All the time. #lifegoals. 

How To Save Water & Still take a bath.

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  • Reese
    January 23, 2018 at 6:57 am

    I’ll confess I’m horrible about taking long showers, thanks for reminding me there are so many ways to do better!!

    • elana
      January 23, 2018 at 3:27 pm

      Me too- which was one reason I switched to baths! And it’s no problem! We all need a reminder sometimes 🙂