A shower is an area in which one bathes underneath a spray of water
Water is a chemical substance with the chemical formula H2O. A water molecule contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms connected by covalent bonds. Water is a liquid at ambient conditions, but it often co-exists on Earth with its solid state, ice, and gaseous state . Water also exists in a...



The original showers were neither indoor structures nor man-made, but were common natural formations: waterfalls. The falling water rinsed the bathers completely clean and was more efficient than bathing in a traditional basin, which required manual transport of both fresh and waste water. Ancient people began to reproduce these natural phenomena by pouring jugs of water, often very cold, over themselves after washing. There has been evidence of early upper class Egyptian and Mesopotamians having indoor shower rooms where servants would bathe them in the privacy of their own homes. However, these were a far cry from modern shower facilities; they had only rudimentary drainage systems and water was carried, not pumped, into the room.

The first group of people to have showers that would be recognizable to a modern person were the ancient Greeks. Their aqueducts and sewage systems made of lead pipes allowed water to be pumped both into and out of large communal shower
Communal shower
Communal showers are a group of single showers put together in one room/area. They are often used in changerooms, prisons, and army barracks for personal hygiene....

 rooms used by elites and common citizens alike. These rooms have been discovered at the site of the city Pergamum and can also be found represented in pottery of the era. The depictions are very similar to modern locker room shower, and even included bars to hang up clothing. The ancient Romans also followed this convention; their famous bathhouses can be found all around the Mediterranean and as far out as modern day England. The Romans not only had these showers, but also believed in bathing multiple times a week, if not every day. After the fall of the Roman Empire and the rise of Christianity, practising what is today considered good hygiene became a religious taboo and was abandoned almost completely from the late Middle Ages until the Victorian era.

The advanced water and sewage systems developed by the Greeks and Romans quickly broke down and fell out of use after the fall of their empires. It was not until the 19th century that a system nearly as complex or reliable as the Greek and Roman sewers was rebuilt. The first showers in the modern era were self-contained units where water could be reused several times. In the early 19th century (probably around 1810, though there is some contradiction among sources), the English Regency Shower was anonymously invented. The original design was over ten feet tall, and was made of several metal pipes painted to look like bamboo. On the top of the unit was a basin connected to these pipes. The water was pumped through a nozzle and over the occupant's shoulders before being collected and pumped back into the basin. This prototype went through several renovations including hand pumped models, models with several sprayers, and those with interchangeable nozzles. The reinvention of reliable indoor plumbing around 1850
allowed the free-standing showers to be connected to a running water source, making them easier to use. In addition the increase in access to heated water made bathing more comfortable and popular. Even with the new improvements in their design, the shower remained less popular than the bath in industrialised countries until the second half of the 20th century.


Following in the tradition of ancient Greece, many modern athletic and aquatic facilities are equipped with showers. These can be in the form of individual stalls equipped with curtains to maintain privacy or of group shower rooms much like those pictured on ancient Greek pottery. The latter is generally a large open room with several nozzles, or shower heads, either installed directly into the walls of the room or on posts throughout the space.

In addition to washing after vigorous exercise, a variety of shower has been brought into use by governments and their military forces around the world; this is called the field shower. Modern weapons used in battle often have dangerous after effects including caustic chemicals, deadly biological agents, and radioactive materials, which can harm not only the intended targets but also the aggressor’s forces. Field showers therefore are often employed to remove these potentially deadly substances from a soldier’s body.


Despite the innovations in plumbing and water treatment, the domestic shower is much the same as it was in the late 19th century. The two most commonly found types of showers are the stall shower and the shower/bathtub. The former is solely a shower shielded by a glass door for privacy and to contain any stray water droplets. The latter can be used to take a bath or a shower and is shielded by a sliding shower curtain again for privacy and water containment. Though most domestic units have a single overhead nozzle, more elaborate multi-head showers can be found in custom bathrooms.

Other types of showers

  • Air shower
    Air shower (room)
    The term air shower can refer to the specialized antechamber which is passed through before entering a cleanroom in order to blow off excess dust particles from cleanroom personnel before they enter, to minimize contamination...

    , a type of bathing where high pressure air is used to blow off excess dust particles from cleanroom personnel.
  • Electric shower, a shower stall device to locally heat shower water with electrical power.
  • Field shower
    Field shower
    A field shower is equipment used to provide sanitation and decontamination facilities to military personnel, equipment and vehicles using various liquids, including water in the field of operations...

  • Navy shower
    Navy shower
    A navy shower is a method of showering that allows for significant conservation of water and energy by turning off water during the "middle" portion. An initial thirty seconds or so are used to get wet, followed by soap and lather, which is then rinsed off in a minute or less...

    , a method of showering that allows for significant conservation of water and energy.
  • Power shower, a shower stall device to locally increase the water pressure available to the shower head by means of an electric pump.
  • Steam shower
    Steam shower
    A steam shower is a type of bathing where a humidifying steam generator produces water vapor that is dispersed around a person's body. A steam shower is essentially a steam room that offers the typical features of a bathroom shower...

    , a type of bathing where a humidifying steam generator produces steam that is dispersed around a person's body.
  • Vichy shower
    Vichy shower
    A Vichy shower is a kind of shower in which large quantities of warm water are poured over a spa patron while he or she lies in a shallow wet bed, similar to a massage table, but with drainage for the water....

    , a shower where large quantities of warm water are poured over a spa patron while the user lies within a shallow (wet) bed, similar to a massage table, but with drainage for the water.
  • Roman shower
    Roman shower
    A Roman shower is a type of architecturally designed shower stall that does not require a door or curtain.These showers are often used as handicapped-accessible showers in hotels. They may also be known as "roll-in showers"....

     an architecturally designed type of shower that does not require a door or curtain.
  • Emergency showers are installed in laboratories and other facilities that use hazardous chemicals, and are required by law in the United States. Emergency showers are designed to deluge continuously at around 30-60 gallons per minute for at least 15 minutes, and should be located at most 10 seconds away from potential users.


Shower usage in the latter half of the 20th century has skyrocketed. Personal hygiene became a primary concern, and bathing every day or multiple times a day is common among Western cultures. Showering is generally faster than bathing and can use less water.
This quick and efficient concept explains its popularity as it fits in with the fast-paced lifestyles of modern people. In addition, showering, as opposed to taking a bath, is recommended for older people because it reduces the risk of injury related to falling.

Cultural significance

Showering is mostly part of a daily routine primarily to promote cleanliness and prevent odour, disease and infection. Advances in science and medicine in the 19th century began to realize the benefit of regular bathing to an individual's health. As a result, most modern cultures encourage a daily personal hygiene regimen. Showering has also developed the reputation as a relaxing and generally therapeutic activity.

Scottish shower

A Scottish shower consists in alternating application of hot and cold water during a shower session. In the most reduced form, it may consist only of one alternation, that is, applying cold water after a usual hot water shower. It is thought that the alternation of heat and cold improves blood circulation, that is beneficial for instance in rheumatic disorders. The application of cold after heat is well documented in the sauna article section: Health risks and benefits/with cold exposure.


Installation of a shower requires several water transportation pipes
Plumbing is the system of pipes and drains installed in a building for the distribution of potable drinking water and the removal of waterborne wastes, and the skilled trade of working with pipes, tubing and plumbing fixtures in such systems. A plumber is someone who installs or repairs piping...

. These include the pipe for hot water, cold water, and the drainage pipe.

There are many specific types of showers that can be installed. These include, complete shower units which are all encompassing showers that include the pan, walls, and often the shower head, as well and pieced together units in which you buy the pan, shower head and doors all separately. It is almost always better to ask a certified professional to do the installation of a complete shower if you are not familiar with it.

Structure and design

Designs for shower facilities vary by location and purpose. There are free-standing showers, but also showers which are integrated into a bathtub. Showers are separated from the surrounding area through watertight curtains (shower curtain), sliding door
Sliding door
A sliding door is a type of door which opens horizontally by sliding, whereby the door is either mounted on or suspended from a track. Types of sliding doors include pocket doors, Arcadia doors, and bypass doors...

s, or folding door
Folding door
A folding door is a type of door which opens by folding back in sections. They are usually to be found indoors. Folding doors were already known by the Romans as excavations in Pompeii have revealed....

s, in order to protect the space from spraying water. Showers with a level entry wet room are becoming very popular, especially due to improvements in waterproofing systems and prefabricated components. Best practice requires a waterproofing material to cover the walls and floor of the shower area that are then covered with tile, or in some countries with a sheet material like vinyl.

Places such as a swimming pool
Swimming pool
A swimming pool, swimming bath, wading pool, or simply a pool, is a container filled with water intended for swimming or water-based recreation. There are many standard sizes; the largest is the Olympic-size swimming pool...

, a locker room, or a military facility, have multiple showers. There may be communal shower rooms without divisions, or shower stalls (typically open at the top.)

Shower heads

A shower head is a perforated nozzle
A nozzle is a device designed to control the direction or characteristics of a fluid flow as it exits an enclosed chamber or pipe via an orifice....

 that distributes the water over a large solid angle
Solid angle
The solid angle, Ω, is the two-dimensional angle in three-dimensional space that an object subtends at a point. It is a measure of how large that object appears to an observer looking from that point...

 at point of use, generally overhead of the bather. Thus less water than full immersion can be used to wet the same area. All residential and most commercial shower heads sold in the USA must flow less than or equal to 9.5 liters per minute (2.5 gallons per minute) per the Department of Energy ruling 10 CFR 430. Low flow shower heads, less than or equal 7.6 liters per minute (2.0 gallon per minute), can use water more efficiently by aerating the water stream, altering nozzles through advanced flow principles or by high speed oscillation of the spray stream. USEPA administrates a voluntary water saving program WaterSense, which can certify low flow shower heads. Some shower heads can be adjusted to spray different patterns of water, such as massage, gentle spray, strong spray, and intermittent pulse or combination modes. Hard water
Hard water
Hard water is water that has high mineral content . Hard water has high concentrations of Ca2+ and Mg2+ ions. Hard water is generally not harmful to one's health but can pose serious problems in industrial settings, where water hardness is monitored to avoid costly breakdowns in boilers, cooling...

 may result in calcium
Calcium is the chemical element with the symbol Ca and atomic number 20. It has an atomic mass of 40.078 amu. Calcium is a soft gray alkaline earth metal, and is the fifth-most-abundant element by mass in the Earth's crust...

 and magnesium
Magnesium is a chemical element with the symbol Mg, atomic number 12, and common oxidation number +2. It is an alkaline earth metal and the eighth most abundant element in the Earth's crust and ninth in the known universe as a whole...

 deposits clogging the head, reducing the flow and changing the spray pattern. For descaling, various acidic chemicals or brushes can be used or some heads have rubber-like jets that can be manually descaled. A homemade remedy is to immerse it in a solution of water and vinegar for a while, since the vinegar is able to dissolve limescale.

In contrast to the USA, luxury/therapeutic showers that use over 40 litres of water per minute are sold worldwide and are increasingly common as the world population ages and people's disposable income increases.

Shower curtains

Shower curtains are curtain
A curtain is a piece of cloth intended to block or obscure light, or drafts, or water in the case of a shower curtain. Curtains hung over a doorway are known as portières...

s used in bathtub
A bath , bathtub , or tub is a large container for holding water in which a person may bathe . Most modern bathtubs are made of acrylic or fiberglass, but alternatives are available in enamel over steel or cast iron, and occasionally waterproof finished wood...

s with a shower or shower enclosures. They are usually made from vinyl, cloth or plastic. The shower curtain has two main purposes: to provide privacy and to prevent water from flooding or spraying into the bathroom. Shower curtains usually surround the bath inside the tub or shower area, and are held up with railings or curtain rod
Curtain rod
A curtain rail or traverse rod is a device used to suspend curtains, usually above windows or along the edges of showers, though also wherever curtains might be used. When found in bathrooms, curtain rods tend to be telescopic and self-fixing, while curtain rods in other areas of the home are often...

s on the ceiling. To accommodate the different types of bathtub shapes, railings can come in different sizes and are flexible in their design. Some people use two shower curtains: one that is inside the tub, which is mainly functional or decorative as well, and an outer shower curtain, which is purely decorative.

Shower doors

Shower doors are door
A door is a movable structure used to open and close off an entrance, typically consisting of a panel that swings on hinges or that slides or rotates inside of a space....

s used in bathroom
A bathroom is a room for bathing in containing a bathtub and/or a shower and optionally a toilet, a sink/hand basin/wash basin and possibly also a bidet....

s that help keep water inside a shower or bathtub and are great alternatives to shower curtains. They are available in many different styles such as framed or frameless, sliding or swing. They are usually constructed of aluminum, clear glass, plexi-glass or tempered glass. Shower doors can come in many different hardware finishes and glass patterns that can match other bathroom hardware such as faucets and shower heads. There are also shower doors that are in a neo angle design for use on shower pans that have the neo design as well. The design of the shower pan is extremely important as the shower door must be the type required for the pan in order to work.

Wet rooms

A wet room is a shower within a bathroom with a barrier-free floor, level with its surroundings. This structure consists of two phases of construction:
  • Phase 1: Structural, which consists of a gradient or slope, an outlet hole, and a foul air trap connecting the floor to the waste pipes.
  • Phase 2: Waterproofing. Best practice would suggest multiple layers of defense. Grout
    Grout is a construction material used to embed rebars in masonry walls, connect sections of pre-cast concrete, fill voids, and seal joints . Grout is generally composed of a mixture of water, cement, sand, often color tint, and sometimes fine gravel...

     is used to fill gaps between tiles, but this material is generally porous. Tiles are generally waterproof, so larger surface areas of grout are less waterproof. Thus small mosaic tiles offer less of a defense than large format tiles. This means sub-tile waterproofing is important when tiles are being used.

In building a wet room it is easier to build the slope all in one direction. This allows for larger format tile and fewer grout joints but a channel drain is needed instead of a round or square drain. Grout and tile setting materials are not waterproof for the most part. It is a good idea to have a fail safe drain in the bathroom outside of the wet zone for these curbless showers or wet rooms. In Australia and some European markets, but not in UK or North America, this second emergency drain is required by the plumbing codes.

Equipment used in showers

  • Pressure balanced valve, a device to provide constant shower water pressure and prevent temperature fluctuations.
  • Sharko Shower
    Sharko Shower
    The Charko douche is a French-designed device widely used in the practice of medicine in the former Soviet Union.-Device:...

    , a tethered shower head used for massage.
  • Shower cap
    Shower cap
    A shower cap is a cap worn while showering or bathing, to protect hair from becoming wet.Many are produced by joining two layers of fabric together in order to make the shower cap not only waterproof but aesthetic also. However, simpler ones are purely made from one layer of a waterproof material,...

    , a cap worn while showering or bathing, to protect hair from becoming wet.
  • Shower radio
    Shower radio
    A shower radio is a battery-powered radio that is waterproofed to allow it to be used in a bathroom or other wet environment. Some versions also include a CD player and/or a clock. Shower radios generally lack headphone jacks and AC adapter ports, which could short out or electrocute the user...

    , a radio that is waterproofed to allow it to be used in a bathroom or other wet environment.
  • Sunshower
    Sunshower (commercial product)
    Several commercial products share the name Sunshower.Made by outdoors equipment producer Stearns Inc., the "Sun Shower" is an insulated bag that uses solar energy to heat water held within. Once heated, the user can take a shower, using the attached tubing and nozzle. Models vary, with different...

    , a device to locally heat shower water with solar power.
  • Soap
    In chemistry, soap is a salt of a fatty acid.IUPAC. "" Compendium of Chemical Terminology, 2nd ed. . Compiled by A. D. McNaught and A. Wilkinson. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford . XML on-line corrected version: created by M. Nic, J. Jirat, B. Kosata; updates compiled by A. Jenkins. ISBN...

  • Shampoo
    Shampoo is a hair care product used for the removal of oils, dirt, skin particles, dandruff, environmental pollutants and other contaminant particles that gradually build up in hair...

  • Washing mitt
    Washing mitt
    A washing mitt is a piece of terry cloth, shaped like a pouch that the hand fits in. It is being used as an aid in washing the body, for example, to apply soap to the body, and to remove the soap with a rinsed out washing mitt. It can also be used to freshen up the face...

    , a tool for applying soap to the body.
  • Water heat recycling units to reclaim much of the waste water's heat and recycle it to the shower head and minimize heat lost to the drain

See also

  • Bathing
    Bathing is the washing or cleansing of the body in a fluid, usually water or an aqueous solution. It may be practised for personal hygiene, religious ritual or therapeutic purposes or as a recreational activity....

  • Bathroom
    A bathroom is a room for bathing in containing a bathtub and/or a shower and optionally a toilet, a sink/hand basin/wash basin and possibly also a bidet....

  • Navy shower
    Navy shower
    A navy shower is a method of showering that allows for significant conservation of water and energy by turning off water during the "middle" portion. An initial thirty seconds or so are used to get wet, followed by soap and lather, which is then rinsed off in a minute or less...

  • Solar heated shower
    Solar water heating
    Solar water heating or solar hot water systems comprise several innovations and many mature renewable energy technologies that have been well established for many years...

  • Steam Shower
    Steam shower
    A steam shower is a type of bathing where a humidifying steam generator produces water vapor that is dispersed around a person's body. A steam shower is essentially a steam room that offers the typical features of a bathroom shower...

  • Transfer bench
    Transfer bench
    A transfer bench, is a bath safety mobility device which the user sits on to get into a bathtub. The user usually sits on the bench, which straddles the side of the tub, and gradually slides from the outside to the inside of the tub...

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