Thursday, October 18, 2012

How to take a bath

As my great-grandmother, a wise woman, used to say, "You're never too poor to afford soap and water." Bathing is a daily ritual (some people would benefit from making it a twice-daily ritual), and yet based on the sniff test, many people don't know how to take an effective bath. If you wait long enough between baths that you can smell your own body odor, you're waiting too long. Also, deodorant, perfume, cologne and body spray are NEVER substitutes for bathing.

Geeks, nerds, gamers and techies, I'm looking especially hard at you. You folks tend to be unusually intelligent, so I can't understand why many of you reek like rotting poultry. You want to win friends and influence people? Take a freaking bath!

So here's how you do it.

You will need:
  1. A bathtub with a drain stopper.
  2. Several gallons of hot water.
  3. Soap (this can be bar soap or body wash, depending on your preference).
  4. A washcloth, scrubbie, loofah or similar scrubbing implement.
  5. A nail brush (optional).
  6. [Shampoo and conditioner, for those with hair.]
  7. A razor.
  8. A towel.
Put in the drain stopper and run the water. You want your bath water to be as hot as you can comfortably take it; certain body oils and grease will only dissolve in hot water and soap. Test the heat of the water on the inside of your wrist to make sure it isn't unbearable. The tub doesn't have to be completely full, just enough so that you can get thoroughly wet all over. If you like, you can add a squirt of body wash under the tap and get some bubbles in your bath.

Strip.  Get into the tub.  Wet yourself down completely.

Grab your washcloth (or whatever it is) and lather it up with some soap. Start at the top and work your way down: close your eyes and use the cloth to scrub your face (gently), your neck, behind your ears. Rinse and continue with your shoulders and arms, your chest, etc., stopping every now and then to re-lather your washcloth as necessary. Don't be stingy on the soap. Pay special attention to any area where your body parts rub against each other -- your underarms, your crotch, any folds of fat -- because these are areas where body odors are most likely to accumulate. If you're using a large washcloth or a loofah with a handle, you can whip it around behind you and scrub your back (recommended). Once you've gotten all the way down to your toes, rinse off the soap.

If your nails have gunk under them, use the nail brush to get them clean. Scrub the flat surface of your nails, as well as the tips where dirt accumulates. You can scrub your toenails the same way. If you have problems with foot odor (and you're not too ticklish), you can use the nail brush on the soles of your feet to really exfoliate them.

[Squeeze some shampoo into your palm -- about a quarter-sized amount for short hair, maybe twice that for long hair -- rub it between your palms and massage it into your wet hair. DO NOT JUST SMEAR IT OVER THE TOP OF YOUR HEAD AND RINSE IT OUT! Really work it in, right down to your scalp, using your fingertips to massage your head all over. Pay special attention to the area just over your ears and at the nape of your neck. It should take about two minutes in total. When your hair is thoroughly and deeply lathered, rinse it out completely. Follow with about a quarter-sized amount of conditioner, which you should distribute through your hair just like the shampoo. Let it sit for two or three minutes so it has a chance to do its work, then rinse it out.]

Save any shaving for the end of your bath. This will give your skin some time to hydrate, making it easier to get rid of that excess body hair. (Also, it's no fun trying to get clean in a bath full of tiny shaved-off hairs.) You can use shaving cream if you want, but you may not need it; try lathering up with regular soap and see if that does the trick. If you've never shaved before, use a new disposable razor and go a small amount at a time. Don't press hard; just glide the razor over your skin and rinse it out regularly so the razor blades don't clog with hair.

One last rinse, pull the plug, stand up and strip as much excess water from your body [and hair] as possible. Step out of the tub onto the bath mat (you do have a bath mat, right? If not, use an extra towel on the floor), grab the towel and dry yourself off thoroughly -- you don't want to leave wet footprints as you exit the bathroom. [If you have long hair, make sure it's dried off enough that it doesn't drip.]

How to take a shower

Follow the basic instructions for a bath, but stand up, flip the water to the shower head, and don't plug the drain. If you want to save extra water, turn off the spray while you lather up, then turn it back on to rinse off.

Congratulations! You now know how to take a proper bath.

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