Learning how to take an efficient shower can help save water, reduce energy costs, and prevent overdry skin. Dermatologists recommend using lukewarm water to support healthy skin and hair.

You’ve probably been showering since you were a pre-teen. But when was the last time you wondered if you were actually doing it right?

Jumping in a hot shower and washing dirt, oil, and sweat off your body seems like it would be hard to mess up. But there are actually techniques that can make your showers more efficient.

Good hygiene is an essential part of protecting your health, so establishing a solid, consistent showering or bathing routine is pretty important.

This article will cover the basics of how to make the most of the time you spend scrubbing up.

Contrary to what many people believe, you don’t actually have to shower every day. Your skin might look better if you cut back to a few showers per week, especially during the winter months when the air is dry and you aren’t sweating as much.

For others, showering every day is simply a matter of feeling clean and more comfortable.

No matter which of these camps you fall into, it’s important to make sure you clean your entire body in the shower. Here’s how:

  1. Run the water to an ideal temperature. This doesn’t mean that your shower needs to be steaming hot. In fact, dermatologists recommend showering in water that’s lukewarm or slightly warm.
  2. Do a quick rinse to wet your skin before applying any soap.
  3. Using a loofah, washcloth, or just your hands, apply bar soap or bodywash to your body. Start at your neck and shoulders, and work your way down the length of your body. Don’t forget to wash your legs and get between your toes with soap and water.
  4. Rinse off any soapy residue with a little more water to make sure you’re not drying out your skin with scaly soap remnants.
  5. If you’re washing your hair, apply shampoo by squirting a quarter-sized amount into your palm. Lather up, focusing on your scalp as well as the nape of your neck. You don’t need to worry about applying shampoo directly to the ends of your hair, as the shampoo will infuse and cleanse your entire hair strands as you rinse it out.
  6. Next, apply conditioner to soften your strands. Start with a dollop in your palm, and work it through your hair, spreading evenly over each strand and paying special attention to the ends of your hair.
  7. Switch to lukewarm or cool water for the final rinse of your hair and your body. This will help seal conditioner into your hair follicles, encourage blood flow throughout your body, and give you a refreshing jump start as you step out of the shower.

Make sure to towel-dry just a bit before applying any moisturizer to your body. You’ll want to use moisturizing cream right out of the shower for best results because it seals hydration into your skin.

Taking a bath can be a more relaxing way to get your body clean than showering. But not all baths are equal.

Here’s the step-by-step process to follow if you’re taking a bath:

  1. Rinse off! This step is optional, but some people like to take a quick shower to get any dirt off their bodies before they soak in the bathtub.
  2. Do a quick clean of your tub. Use a paper towel or cloth to wipe down the inside of the tub, removing any soap residue or stray hairs that may have gathered.
  3. Fill your tub with lukewarm or slightly warm water. Scalding-hot water will burn your skin, and water that’s even a bit too hot will dry out your skin. You can test the temperature of the water carefully with your hand.
  4. Once you’re in the tub, you can lather your body with soap using a washcloth or a loofah. Be careful not to overexfoliate your skin. It’s best to wash your skin at the beginning of the bath since your skin will get softer as you soak and may be more prone to overexfoliation.
  5. You don’t have to wash your hair every time you take a bath. But if you decide to do so, wash your hair first with shampoo, being careful to get the nape of your neck and your scalp. Use a cupful of water to rinse out the soap, or use a showerhead attachment.
  6. Massage your hair with conditioner, paying special attention to your ends. Use a cupful of water or a showerhead attachment to rinse your hair, ending with a rinse of cool water to seal your hair cuticles.
  7. Once you’re finished in the bath, towel-dry your body, and use a moisturizer right away to seal hydration into your skin.

Whether you choose to shower or bathe, there are some habits to avoid when washing your body:

  • Don’t use water that’s too hot. It might feel relaxing to drench your skin with hot water, but doing it regularly can damage your skin and make it more prone to dryness.
  • Don’t overexfoliate your skin. You don’t need to scrub your skin hard or repeatedly to get dirt and oil off its surface. Overexfoliation leaves your skin prone to damage and dryness.
  • Don’t skip the face wash. It’s fine to get your face wet in the shower, but it may be too sensitive for bodywash. The best way to completely cleanse your face is to use a product that’s made for it. You should also wash your face regularly apart from showers and baths.
  • Don’t forget to replace your loofah. Any loofah, washcloth, or scrubbing sponge should be kept clean and dry when not in use in your shower or bathtub. Bacteria can grow in these bathtime accessories if they’re not dried and stored correctly.

The average American showers for 8 minutes, but most people don’t need to be in the shower for that long.

Once you get used to the steps above, you may notice that you can cut back on the time you spend in the shower. Showering between 5 to 10 minutes is a suitable amount of time to spend soaping up and rinsing off.

Some people swear by showering twice a day: once in the morning, then later in the afternoon or right before bed.

The truth is, you don’t need to shower twice a day to practice good hygiene. Showering too often can even dry out your skin, making it vulnerable to other skin conditions.

If you work out multiple times a day, spend hours outside, or work in the medical profession or as a first responder, showering twice a day might be an important part of keeping your body clean.

But for everyone else, showering or bathing twice a day probably isn’t necessary.

Showering doesn’t have to be complicated. But showering or bathing efficiently can save gallons of water, lower your energy costs, and restore precious time you might have been wasting.

Switch up your shower routine with a bathing technique and hygiene products that work well for your skin type for healthy, glowing skin at the end of every shower.