How to Shower at College

Learn the do's and dont's of a very public place

still life of soap and pair of flip flops
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Unless you've spent a lot of time at summer camp, there's a good chance you've never enjoyed the dubious pleasures of a shared shower. Dorm showers are a little nicer than camp showers, but while summer campers are children with few concerns about privacy and hygiene, college students are young adults. Standards are higher, and you need to know the unwritten "laws" of college showers.

What College Dorm Showers Are Like

Most dorms have large bathrooms for each hall. If you're in a single-sex dorm you may have two bathrooms on your hall available for your use. If you're in a coed dorm, there are separate bathrooms for each gender (though some very liberal colleges may offer coed bathrooms!). In most dorms, bathrooms include multiple sinks, toilet stalls, mirrors, and separate curtained showers.

If you're living off-campus or in a fraternity house, the situation may be different. You may, for example, need to take turns using a single-user bathroom. Alternatively, you may need to create a bathroom schedule.

The college shower is both a very private and a very public place. Whether you're in a dorm, an off-campus apartment, or even in a situation where you have your own room but share a bathroom with others, it's important to know how things work so no one gets offended or embarrassed. So how can you make sure you know the do's and don'ts of all that surrounds the college shower?

The Do's

  • Do wear shower shoes. You may love every person in your residence hall or Greek house. But feet are feet and dirt is dirt. Wearing shower shoes can actually protect you from infections, so make sure you have an extra, shower-only pair of flip-flops at all times.
  • Do bring a shower caddy. A shower caddy is a hanging bag or container you carry with you from your room to the bathroom and back again. Find one that works for you so you can always have your shampoo, conditioner, razor, and whatever else you need handy.
  • Do bring a towel or robe to wear back to your room. Forgetting your towel can be a nightmare, so hook it onto your shower caddy, or even better, fold it on top so that you never forget one without the other.
  • Do clean your hair out of the drain. You're in a commonly shared place now, so treat it with the respect you'd want from someone else and do a quick swipe to make sure you don't leave your hair for the next person.

The Don'ts

  • Don't take an unreasonable amount of time. Taking a ton of time in the shower may feel nice for you, but it creates a huge backlog of people who need to shower after you. Remember that you're part of a community and keep things short.
  • Don't shower with a "friend." Having, shall we say, "romantic encounters" in the shower is not only disrespectful to others in your hall, it's inappropriate and, perhaps worst of all, pretty darned gross. With all the private spaces that a college offers, take your "friend" somewhere a little nicer and more personal.
  • Don't expect too much privacy. Yes, you'll have your own stall, and most likely it will have doors or a curtain. But you are sharing a bathroom with other folks, so just be patient in knowing there will be people talking, using up the hot water, coming in and out of the bathroom, and overall eliminating the kind of privacy you might be used to back at home.