How I learned to shower like a European

istockphoto / MiguelMaro

istockphoto / MiguelMaro

It took a trip to Toggenburg to make me realize there was another way.

It had been a – by Swiss standards – a long ride. After arriving at the darling little rustic cabin in the mountains for a delightful weekend of freezing my ass off dashing through the snow, I made my way to the bathroom for a nice hot shower before bed. I scanned the 1960’s era decor and pulled back the lime plastic shower curtain that circled the tub on the inside.

I found the shower head, not poking out above me on the wall in front, but dangling from a shoulder-height holder.

“How am I supposed to get my head under that?”

I stood for about 1 minute, dumbfounded. Then I walked out and found my host.



“How does the shower work?”

Blank stare.


“The shower.”

“Just turn it on.”

“And then?”

Blank stare. Then they realized.

The exchange led to a long after-shower conversation about the “European” way to shower as opposed to the “American” way to shower. Europeans, supposedly – and according to the conversation – take less time in the shower than Americans due to their showering method, if it can be called a method.

We Americans, on the other hand, shower while visualizing ourselves standing under Niagara Falls on a warm summer day while we practice Wagner’s “Ring Cycle.”

I’ve yet to find a study supporting this claim.

Perhaps we shower to relax, while Europeans shower to – wait for it – get clean?

Maybe we have it all wrong.

I blame these folks.

So, how have I re-learned to shower? First, wet yourself all over with the shower head and turn it off. The latter was the weird one for me, as standing wet in a shower was slightly cold and off putting. Then, soap yourself. This actually saves not only water, but product: if you stand under running water while soaping, you’re basically pouring your Kiehl’s Musk Body Wash down the drain.

And that stuff is expensive.

Then, rinse.

Instead of taking 5-10 minutes to shower in the mornings, I now take perhaps 2.  Is it efficient? Yes. Does it save water? Yes.

Do I feel like I’ve lost some diva points?

Well, yes.

Here’s some stuff I use in the shower