Difference between Taking a Bath and Shower

Key Difference: Taking a bath refers to soaking the body in a large tub filled with water to clean oneself. Taking a shower refers to standing under a spray of water to clean oneself.

The terminology behind taking a bath or taking a shower might confuse some people, specially people from most places in the world that do not have the luxury of having both. Hence, the may use the terms interchangeably without realizing what those terms actually mean.

The phrase ‘taking a bath’ comes from the traditional word ‘to bathe’, which means to ‘wash by immersing one's body in water.’ While in the olden day people bathed in bodies of water, such as seas, rivers, lakes, etc. Eventually people didn’t have access to them, so they evented public baths, and then eventually the bathtub for privacy, and also hygiene, as it is generally not a great idea to share the same bath with hundreds of people carrying millions of bacteria. Bathtubs were originally made from wood, but today, are typically made from ceramic or plaster. So, the phrase taking a bath typically refers to this. Basically, it mean to clean oneself by soaking in a tub full of water.

However, with the advent of indoor plumbing came the shower. The shower is a device which sprays water from a spout under which a person can clean themselves. The water is continuously drained off. The shower is named as such due to its original meaning of ‘brief and usually light fall of rain, hail, sleet, or snow,’ as the water sprayed from the show tends to look like rain. 

Each one has its own benefits. The bath is good for soaking one’s body in warm water. Hence, it is more relaxing and time consuming. The shower is generally quicker, and more efficient for cleaning oneself, as the dirt and grime tends to drain off with the water, whereas in the bath the dirt, grime, and soap tend to collect in the water, which may not feel clean after a bit.

Generally speaking, taking a bath usually tends to use more water than a shower.  However, the actual consumption depends on a number of factors, such as the size of the bathtub, and the duration of the shower. A standard sized bathtub holds about 42 gallons (159 liters) of water; however, it is rarely filled to the top during a bath as space is left for the body to submerge. So, let’s take into consideration that a tub uses about 30 gallons (113.56 liters) of water.

Now, a standard shower tends to uses about 2.5 gallons (9.46 liters) of water a minute. Taking into consideration of an average 10 minute shower, it would use a total of 25 gallons (94.64 liters) of water. There are also low-flow showerheads available in the market that tend to use less water, about 2 gallons (7.57 liters) of water a minute.

Additionally, many people prefer to rinse off with a quick shower after a bath because lying in the same water that has been polluted with the dirt from the water does not feel clean to them. Hence, these people tend to take a bath to soak their body and then a quick rinse to wash of the residual soap and grime.

Comparison between Taking a Bath and Shower:                 


Taking a Bath



Wash by immersing one's body in water.

A large container for water, used for immersing and washing the body.

A cubicle or bath in which a person stands under a spray of water to wash.

The apparatus in a shower that produces the spray of water.


Typically uses a Bathtub or similar structure

Typically, a standing shower


To clean the body

To clean the body


Usually sitting or partially lying down in the water

Typically standing up

Time duration

Typically longer

Typically shorter as compared to a bath


Tends to be more comforting as it involves soaking the body in warm water

Is generally considered to be less comforting than a bath, as only the part under water is warm.


Stationary water in a container

Continuous flow of water

Water consumption

Generally uses more water

Generally uses less water

Reference: Oxford Dictionaries (Bathe, Bath, Shower), The Sacramento Bee, Bath and Body
Image Courtesy: phlmetropolis.com, ultimate-choice-bathrooms.co.uk

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