3 Ways to Wash With a 'Greener' Shower That's Better for the Planet

Thanks to small children banging on your bathroom door, you’ve no doubt perfected the five-minute limit already. But there are other ways to make your daily wash kinder to the planet.

Did you know that showers are actually more efficient than baths—especially with a low-flow showerhead? According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a standard tub requires up to 70 gallons to fill, while showers use 10 to 25 gallons of water. Still, there are ways to make your daily wash even better for the planet. Keep reading to learn how to take a greener shower.

woman shower washing hair soap
Torwai/Getty Images

Turn Down the Temp

Using less hot water expends less energy, period. So instead of steamy showers, aim for warm ones. A cooler temperature is better for skin, anyway. "Hot water strips skin of essential oils needed for proper barrier function," says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., a dermatologist in New York City. "As a general rule, adjust the water temperature so it's similar to that of a heated pool in the summer, rather than a hot tub." And if on chaotic days the most you can manage is the human equivalent of a birdbath (soaping up quickly with a washcloth at the sink), there's a bright side: Every skipped shower saves about 16 gallons of water.

Check Your Fixtures

Buy a showerhead that regulates water flow to 1.8 gallons per minute or less (a good one: Moen Engage Eco-Performance Handshower). Most of us might assume a lower-flow showerhead means an ineffective, low-pressure shower, but in fact, the opposite is true: The holes are smaller, which makes the water come out faster and with more pressure. That's all while reducing water usage by 30 percent on average, says Friday Apaliski, founder of Sustainability Concierge, a company that provides eco home consultations.

Air Out Your Towels

When they dry completely, you'll "cut down on odor-causing bacterial growth and avoid that dreaded wet-towel smell," says Courtenay Hartford, who shares home tips on the blog The Creek Line House. That can mean less laundry in the long run. For a super absorbent option, try the Resorè Body Towel, made with eco-friendly bamboo and Aegean Turkish cotton.

Three Simple Bathing Swaps

These three innovative products have an eco-conscious focus, helping you have greener showers without any hassle.

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Bathing Culture Mind and Body Wash

Bathing Culture mind body wash bottle
Courtesy of Bathing Culture

Suds up with Bathing Culture Mind and Body Wash, a biodegradable soap that's bottled in curbside-collected recycled plastic. The concentrated formula means one dab goes a long way—you'll get about 80 washes out of one 8-ounce bottle.

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Hanni Weighted Razor

Hanni weighted razor shave pillow gel
Courtesy of Hanni

Rather than tossing your plastic razor in the trash once it's dull, try the Hanni Weighted Razor. The blades easily swap out and provide a close, smooth shave—some say even smoother than your typical plastic version (so less shaving overall). Pair it with Shave Pillow gel and you won't even need to use water to defuzz.

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Firsthand Natural Sea Wool Sponge

Firsthand natural sea wool sponge
Courtesy of Firsthand

Give skin gentle exfoliation with the Firsthand Natural Sea Wool Sponge. Unlike plastic loofahs, this hand-harvested scrubber inhibits bacterial growth and is biodegradable. Just rinse it clean after each use, squeeze out excess water, and let it air-dry to lengthen its life.

This article originally appeared in Parents magazine's December 2021 issue as "Green Your Routine: Shower Time." Want more from the magazine? Sign up for a monthly print subscription here

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