The Frugal Shower

Do you have kids that have morphed into shower queens?  I swear my son is worse than my daughter ever was!  Here’s what I’ve told my kids, and sometimes told them over and over about showering and wasting water!  And guess what, it works pretty well after they’ve had the water turned off on them a few times…


The method  (which is particularly important in hot, humid weather):

  • Brush your hair first – keeping hair out of the drain can lower your plumbing bills, and definitely save a lot of time and expense in trying to remove it from the drain. An efficiently working drain does help to cut down on the bacteria, mold and mildew so prevalent in bathrooms.
  • Turn on the fan. (And if you’ve never done so, at some point check your attic to make sure your fan is directing airflow OUTSIDE the attic and the venting is clear – many older homes vented into the attic itself, which can cause issues.)
  • Turn on water to warm it up if needed. Make certain the shower curtain is sealed down along the faucet side where it meets the side of the shower.
  • Step in and seal the curtain down the side you stepped through. Wet your hair. Take the shampoo and put a quarter sized amount in your hand, massage together and distribute through your hair from top to ends and gently with your fingers massage into your scalp. A very trusted hair dresser told me to ALWAYS use this method – dumping concentrated shampoo on one spot on the top of the head is not good for your hair, and the amount is difficult to measure.
  • Step back into the stream and rinse it off. Repeat if necessary.
  • Turn off the water – the shower should be all nice and hot and steamy by now, keeping you warm. Put a quarter sized amount of conditioner in your palm, work it together and smooth through your hair, avoiding the root area.  Leave it on for a few minutes while you lather up.
  • Using a scrunchie, apply a small amount of body wash to the scrunchie, no more than an inch long. It doesn’t take much. Starting at the top, work your way down. Our family has always subscribed to the notion that because soap is drying, we basically just lather the “important” parts. (Scrunchies really do help lather and distribute the soap, and are very easily sanitized – I do this once a week for everyone when I clean the bathroom.)
  • If you’re going to shave in the shower, now’s the time to do so – no need for shaving cream if you’re already lathered with soap.
  • Turn the shower back on, rinse from top to bottom. Rinse your scrunchie, squeeze it dry and hang on the suction hook provided. (I bought mine at Kinko’s Fed Ex – 6 for dirt cheap – enough hooks to hang our individual scrunchies – each a different color and a few hooks for razors, too.)  Rinse your razor.
  • Turn off the water and give it just a moment to drain off, open up the curtain and step directly onto the mat or floor towel. (We prefer to use a towel – cheaper, doesn’t wear out as easily, easier to wash, easier to dry and we can use it to mop up any errant water on the floor.)
  • Dry off, robe up or get dressed, wrap your hair in the towel, then shake out the shower curtain and leave open at each end to dry. Place mat over the curtain rod to dry. Turn off fan.
  • Hang your towel where you keep it – some of us have hooks in our rooms or bathrooms, some of us use the towel rack, depending on personal preference.
  • I do know some people use a new towel every day – we prefer, in the interest of frugality, to use the same towel for several days. We each have our own towel color, too, so they don’t get mixed up.  I do tend to wash the floor towel more often.
  • When leaving the room, leave the door open.
  • That’s it: Short, simple and sweet.  It really shouldn’t take more than five minutes.

A few more notes on how to take a frugal shower: 

I used to be a diehard soap fan until I figured out that by shopping at CVS and Walgreens and using coupons, I could always get shower gel for free and almost always had to PAY for soap.

The kids seem to like all the variety of body washes I get them because I’m not brand loyal. I’ll take whatever is free, or barring that, really cheap, but I really do like Oil of Olay body wash for me – old skin needs a bit more pampering!

I also find great specials on shampoos and hair products, too, especially those brands like Garnier or Dove that have multiple products. The drug stores will often run specials where you’ll get part of your money back on an Extra Care Buck (CVS) or a Register Reward (Walgreens) when you buy multiple products and if you have multiple coupons, you’ll find great deals. Buy $15.00 of Garnier, get $6.00 back – and then you use coupons on the products you buy!

I clean the shower once a week. I generally run the water for a minute, squirt it down, and then step in and clean it, and take my shower – that messy job is easily done when I’m already inside. (A handheld shower head, mentioned below, makes quick work of this.)

Get a low flow shower head – they put out 2.5 gallons a minute. Regulated by the feds. If your shower head is over 3 years old, you’re probably running 4 gallons a minute.  If you’re taking a 45 minute shower with the new shower head, you’re using 112.5 gallons of water. With an older model, 180 gallons.

The average American uses between 50 and 200 gallons of water a day – and the median number is about 90 gallons.  A long shower uses more water for the shower alone than the average person uses all day – and that’s not frugal or green.

Those long showers are expensive and wasteful.  The average cost of water in the states is $1.50 for a 1,000 gallons.  Pretty cheap, but a 45 minute shower for 30 days using the efficient shower head adds up to $5.06; with the older model, it’s $8.01. A five minute shower adds up to 375 gallons, or about 50 cents. That’s about an extra 50 to 90 dollars a year per person. Most importantly, that’s water you’re heating!

It’s not a HUGE amount of money, but when you’re frugal, you can do a lot with that extra $4.50 to $7.50 a month – here in Minnesota, we can catch a Saturday Matinee for $4.50, or go to the cheap movie for $2.00 a person.  As you can see from my Bargain Meal of the Week, I can make a full dinner for that amount.  It could cover gas or admission to a museum or park, cover admission for a climbing wall or sledding or skating.  It could be a bargain meal out.  I’m just sayin…

But back to showering:

Consider, too, the handheld shower sprayers – they really do make things like rinsing hair (and rinsing babies and toddlers) much quicker and efficient.

Wonder which is more frugal, a bath or a shower? They used to always say shower, but it varies by individuals and their habits – just take a shower with the drain closed. If the water is bath level before you’re done, then you know your shower takes more water.  If the bath isn’t filled yet, then you know, for you, a bath uses more water.

Check out your water heater’s manual: My heater is “smart” and senses water flow. When two faucets are open and running hot water at the same time and begins to produce more hot water, faster. Great idea for always having warm water, especially with multiple people using the shower in the morning. Bad idea if you’re going to turn on your shower, let it warm, and then you turn on your sink tap to brush your teeth, especially if you’re the only one using the shower at that time of day.

So, what am I missing here on taking Frugal Showers? Anyone have any other great ideas on how to make  showering more frugal?