#946 The first shower you take after not showering for a really long time

Work that lather afro

Sure, the first couple days of not showering have a bit of a dirty-cool, hippieish, roughing-it feel to them. You come into your own, letting the deodorant wash away, the hair get full of scraggly-knots, and the sweat dry into your clothes. If you’re camping, you are at one with nature. If you’re at home, you’re at one with lazy weekend. If you’re traveling, you’re at one with delayed, multiple-stopover international flight.

Either way, you’re at one in your dirty Zen moment. And that’s cool.

But whether it’s a day, two days, or even a week later, it eventually hits you: You need a shower, bad. And you ain’t gonna to get one till you get home. Suddenly, you don’t want to be a hippie no more.

Then you start thinking about it. And you keep thinking about it. You start to notice dirt stains building up on your arms and legs. You smell the thin film of leftover bug spray and sunblock on your skin. You comb a dead earwig out of your hair while collecting sticks for the campfire. Your scalp gets really, really itchy. And let’s be honest: your groin region isn’t in the best shape, either.

Yeah, that’s why the first shower you take after not showering for a while feels so good. You can actually feel the dirt washing off you. The white soap bar turns a bit darker and you use a week’s worth of shampoo as you work your hair into a massive Lather Afro. The shampoo gets in your ears, but you don’t mind. There’s sand in there anyway. Your sunburns and scrapes get washed out. Your tightly wrenched neck gets massaged by the warm water. Your nose gets a good blowing. And you wash all the bits of spider web, campfire ash, and lake algae off your face.

Then finally, you’ve returned.

Fresh, sparkly, and squeaky clean, you’ve completed your soapy metamorphosis back into the old Clean You we remember. Yes, your hair is shining, your skin is soft and streak-free, and your scalp is rehydrated and ready to rock. Plus, let’s be honest: That groin region is now totally…


Wash it away

Photos from: here and here

78 thoughts on “#946 The first shower you take after not showering for a really long time

    1. eeeeeeeeeeww. I don’t mind being dirty, but after shower I want a clean towel and clean clothes.

      1. Yeah, I agree Roze:

        When I go camping, I keep a complete set of clean clothes in the car in a bag and take them, with my ‘smelly’ soap, toothbrush and toothpaste to the shower, get really clean and put the new clothes on and the old clothes in the bag for washing later.

        1. Yeah, I agree. I can’t stand getting back into dirty and/or wet clothes, even though I don’t mind being dirty and/or wet.

  1. I think it’s important to make sure that you have this shower in the morning, just to get the feeling of feeling utterly disgusting even more powerful due to having just slept like…. that.

    1. Except for the fact that sleepingping immediately after getting out of that shower feels a bit like nirvana…

  2. I took a week long bike ride this summer, and sure we showered in high schools and porta-showers. The last day 60 mile ride back to my car, followed by the drive back to my apartment, and finally in to that warm steamy bathroom was beyond Eden. AWESOME.

  3. Went camping in the Wind River Wilderness (WY) for two weeks without a shower. My first shower back…


  4. Two people’s work schedules, two kid’s school schedules = 8 trips/day in one car average. Throw in a 4-year-old who demands feeding every hour and a half and then demands playtime when he isn’t taking one of his five-minute naps… and the endless house/yard work that needs to be done in those five minutes…

    I’m lucky to get in the bathroom for anything but the toilet. By the time I stake out some hygiene time. I’m usually ready for the two-hour-boiled-alive-soak-bath!

    1. I was going to say “That’s a bit OLD to be that needy”….lol…..Although at 4, it’s a whole OTHER type of needy…

    2. Ha ha, I figured it was a 4.5 MONTH old……just wait until 4 years…..at least the baby doesn’t ask the same question over and over again.

  5. The first one’s too much yuck and hard work, and you know there’s no way you possibly got all the dirt off. The SECOND shower after getting really dirty is the best because you can just enjoy the warm water instead of having to scrub meticulously.

  6. Actually the body is designed to take care of itself. I had this debate with my mom when I was at her house the other day. Here Ill prove my point….

    -Think of an animal

    Scent is the strongest memory. I am willing to stake that besides the smell of a wet dog you dont recall any odors (feces and urine doesnt count). So why doesnt your pet cat smell horrible?

    It all comes down to bacteria. We are for the most part 100% covered in micro-organisms all the time. Even if you shower daily. This is called our flora. When you bath you kill off large amounts of that flora which is rapidly repopulated with whatever organisms are able to spread the fastest. Unfortunately the fastest colonizers are ill smelling bacteria that cause foul odor. We then smell ourselves and think “oh no I need a shower bad”

    Whats funny is if we werent to jump to the conclusion that bacteria equal bad we could begin to understand it as a far more complex process of millions of different species competing for the niche that is our dermal surface. We would have a far better understanding of hygiene. Just as in our macro world there are mushrooms and noxious smelling plants there are the micro world equivalent flora which can invade like weeds. The body evolved in a world without cleansing with synthetic chemicals though and is more then equipped to handle this invasion. We have become so dependent on artificial mass extermination of the flori that it takes us a while for our natural defense to kick in.

    I have actually completely given up showing. I do not smell and do not have any external buildup of dead skin. My skin is firm and I look great. Heres my alternative cleaning regime.

    After waking I enter the shower and spray myself down with a rose petal/pumpkin pie spice/vanilla/green tea extract I make myself.

    Before bed I spray down again this using my finger tips to massage the liquid into the skin. After that I apply a thin layer of extra virgin olive oil over my body/face and massage in as well. Do not over apply or youll stain your sheets. I do this about an before bed so it has time to absorb.

    I started this a few months ago because I was feeling sick and everytime I showered Id have this dry chemical soaked feeling. I was remembering an article I read about how our bodies are designed to eat a different diet then what were consuming everyday. We evolved as hunter gatherers and the foods these people(our ancestors) ate are what we became designed for. I started thinking of how many artificial synthetic chemicals we use in bathing. If drinking milk and eating junk food was responsible the “big four” heart attacks/strokes etc then what were all these chemicals in shampoo and soap doing to our skin? I pondered how our ancestors would have used aroma for themselves and remembered something about ancient people using flower petals. I went into my garden and took five or six roses that had or were near blossom through them in a pot of water and boiled it into a tea with a lid to trap in any volatile chemicals thatd escape from evaporation. I also through in a little pumpkin pie spice. I then mixed in a TINY amount of pure vanilla extract after it was done boiling and had cooled. Straining the liquid I couldnt help but love the fragrance. I added some organically grown white tea (no sweetener ofcourse) for its antibacterial effects on many species of bad microbes and viruses.

    In the end Im very happy I switched over to this natural form of cleaning. It allows my body to maintain a healthy flora/ great skin/ amazing hair/ and the best part an attractive scent consisting of natural aphrodisiac aromas found by science to increase sexual desire in men and women.

    If anyone gives this a try write back and tell me how it works for you. Haha since I came up with this I guess we’ll call it the Jet Cleansing Regiment :)

    1. Wow. Just wondering, are you white? And if so, have you noticed a change in your skin tone? I have never heard anything like this in all my life.

    2. wow- I recently started cleaning my hair with tea once a week. Gives it a nice shine and smoothes away all those flyaways. I read somewhere that light coloured tea (lemon, green tea, etc) are best for light coloured hair, and dark tea for brunettes.

      Give rocky mountain soap company a try too- very natural bath products.

      1. I highly recommend you do not go camping in any bear territories as they will be so intrigued by your cleansing regiment you’ll need to “jet the heck out of there or be their next meal!”
        Seriously, if we’re talking camping here, best read “back country Bear Basics”, by Dave Smith and once you’ve learned this for some more pleasurable reading by the camp fire or flash-light, a true life story called, “Grizzlies in Their Backyard”, by Beth Day, about a couple who lived more than thirty years in harmony with the bears at B.C.’s Knight Inlet.
        As for me, when camping, it’s truly fun to not give a safe care , yet after a few days, remarkably ylang ylang rejuvinating to shower!

    3. Do you lick yourself? Because both my dog and cat lick themselves constantly (obviously more so the cat)… they clean with their saliva and tongues… in otherwords, water an moisture… to shower without chemicals does not mean no water…

      Whatever makes you happy, but your theory is a bit flawed.

  7. I used to go camping on an island for a week in canada in july. The only thing I want when the last day comes is a shower! The body starts to fall apart without cleaning. Rashes and pain in the groin, the body takes care of itself my ass!

    1. Agreed!

      On the one hand I see Jet’s point about the harsh chemicals, and I agree. No good can come of them.

      But on the other hand, just because we weren’t cleaning with these chemicals in ancient times, doesn’t mean we weren’t cleaning at all. There were, you know, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, etc.

      It’s one thing to forego the harsh chemicals, but to forego any cleansing whatsoever is just… ew. And the animal example… seriously, have you ever actually smelled a dog or cat that never bathed? Not pleasant.

    1. what about pissing in the shower, though there is clearly a toilet within pissing distance…a good bubble fart in the tub as a kid made for a descent chuckle as well….

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  9. After the final week of trekking in the Himalaya including a gruelling slog to Base Camp with no shower the entire week, I found myself in the nastiest, moldy, spider-infested shower and I loved every moment of it. Shaving a week+ worth of hair and washing everything twice.

    I’ll never forget that shower.


  10. For the last couple of summers me and my friends have gone camping for a couple of days right by the beach. Last summer we all got completely sunburnt due the hours just spent in the water and lying on the sand.
    I’m sure everyone knows the feeling of hot water on sunburn, but after three days stepping into the shower and washing away the salt in my hair and sand in all the crevices was the best thing ever. It seriously was AWESOME!!!
    And also wanna say I love this list

  11. Oh, yeah. tell me about it. I live in India, and we had gone on a week-long trip, to stay in a village without electricity or (much) water. Oh, and it was smack-dab in the middle of a desert. By the end of the week I was covered in an inch of sand, grime, and heaven knows what else. The first shower I had after coming back felt like a rebirth. I kid you not.

  12. Staying at a friends place who I hadn’t seen in a few years, her room was too messy to sleep in so instead we slept in the back room on the floor or outside in a dirty old ute on a tarp. We went swimming in pools, rivers, rolling on grass, sweating bucketloads in the middle of an Australian summer and were never home so never bothered with showers. I never even let my hair down, so when I tried to after bout 5 days it was all stiff and full of dirt and sticks. That’s when we decided we had to finally have a shower. And it was just … BLISS …

  13. I just got back from a week long field excercise with the Army. I only wore two pairs of socks and one pair of underwear for the week… gross maybe, but made this shower the best thing I have ever experienced.
    I was sunburnt, had my feet destroyed by hours of marching, tabbing and patroling, my body covered in all kinds of dirt, grime and that layer of grease that only comes from staying in the same clothes and not washing for ages, along with the dings and cuts from generally soldiering… OH MAN it was good to have that shower.

    I’m now chilled out, feeling great and wide awake. got some clean, soft clothes on and the sun is out.

  14. I was so wondering if this had made the list yet, since I’m still trying to get each item read.

    I usually take a shower every other day (until it gets hot and sticky in the summer). Just last week our water heater crapped out on us on my planned shower day. Had to wait a day to get a new water heater, and then another day to get everything hooked up. I was sooooooo ready for some cleaning, I headed straight to the tub right after work, something I don’t normally do.

    And that shower after camping, I agree, is truly


  15. I work at a camp without running water, so after 14 weeks of not showering I drive the 1000 miles home, then hop in for the longest shower known to man. Yeah, it’s good.

  16. I used to run forty-day back packing trips in the Utah Canyonlands. I once went forty days and forty nights with out bathing. I don’t admit that out loud very often. Most people are horrified by the thought. But, you know what? It really wasn’t that bad. The shower at the end of the trip was goooooooooooooooooood.

  17. if im home or in public i seldom shower and change my clothes as i dont believe in all this hipe about feeling clean as i just love lots of sweat and bacteria on me all the time as its all natural so its very healthy..i haventy had a cold since march of 2006 and no flu since the summer of 1994..ill celebrate allways with my arms up!!!!

  18. I NEVER take showers! Their for losers who like being clean, gross is so much more fun! People may not like me as much, but WHATEVER!

  19. The best shower in my life was after hiking back to base 6 miles at 0300 , following 6 days of field training in NC during Marine training.

  20. One of the best showers of my life was after I got back to summer camp after my first backpacking trip. (I was in high school.) After four days of hiking part of the Appalacian Trail with seven friends and two councelors, with no toilets, no cellphones, and no watches, we entered the eight-stall shower house together and continued to reminice about our adventure as we got clean. Even with the camp’s poor water pressure, I loved every minute of it!

  21. I had major surgery (the first of many) when I was 16 and was unable to shower for three (yes, 3!) weeks. I’m a really clean person so this made me a little nuts. 6 years later, at the age of 22, I still maintain that the first shower I had after that 3 week run is the best thing that will ever happen to me, and better than most sex anyone has ever had. EVER.

  22. I’m a Marine, and I must say there is nothing better that coming through the gate knowing you’re about to get a shower after a few weeks+ without one.

  23. I think everybody likes taking a shower, especially when you haven’t showered for a while. So the first shower after going on camp in the summer, where you haven’t got the facilities to take a shower is a very exiting and relaxing feeling. The feeling you have then, is like heaven. The shower takes extra long. Because you become attracted to the smell of your shampoo. It’s a wonderful feeling.

  24. I just experienced this this evening! I wasn’t able to shower for over a month & I dont see how any of the posters above that say they like or love to be sweaty & filthy & smell like old onions on a cheeseburger for weeks, months, years & forever can not smell themselves & think its ok!? I was stinky, I mean I could smell myself big time lol. My skin looked tanner than it was due to all the dirt, obviously my pits where nasty & my face was just dull with lots of dry built up dead skin. I arrived home today & room a shower that will never be forgotten! When I finally got out I realized I was in there for over 2 hours! I didnt want to get out. Btw That bologna about not needing to wash is bull. It is so bad for you, so bad for your skin & bad for your social life. Maybe people you’re with are just too nice to say it or they are embarrassed for you but YOU DO STINK. Its bad to clog your pores with all that grime. I atleast take a large pack of baby wipes with me when im camping or whatever & cannot bathe. But ya my 2hr power shower felt like heaven tonight.

  25. my mum never lets me bathe wen im sic so after that wen i finnale lather shmpoo in my hair its the best felling eva (of course it takes me45 mins to set it after that)

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  27. I think that being really dirty and being really clean, both are life’s simple pleasures. When I’m dirty I act dirty and get a lot done. When I’m clean I’m more of a spectator. I guess it’s all about who I want to be a that time.

  28. I’ve taken cross country trips on a Greyhound that last close to two days. And after my gallbladder surgery and cesarean I didn’t have the strength to stand much less shower for a couple days. But when I did, oh WOW did those showers feel So GOOD! Well done Neil! LOVE this post.

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