Study of the Day: A Plea to Men Who Stop Showering

There are a growing number of people who refuse to bathe themselves. This is not OK.

A 2009 poll from a tissue manufacturer revealed that 41 percent of British men and 33 percent of women don’t shower every day. A further 12 percent only shower once or twice a week. Other research found that more than half of British teenagers don’t shower every day.

And it isn’t some Euro-centric phenomenon.

Last Friday, The New York Times ran a piece about the increasing number of Americans who are foregoing the daily shower. There aren’t any numbers to document this, but, as the author puts it, “Most people would no sooner disclose they had not showered in days than admit infidelity.”

There are women who wipe their armpits with lemon slices and clean up with baby wipes after a mid-day run. Thankfully, none of the men profiled went so far as to wipe fruit on their underarms, but many have stopped using deodorant and showering daily. Supposedly, it helps the body maintain natural oils and germs. A man featured in the Guardian only showers twice a week out of a concern for the environment. He maintains he’s “as clean as everyone else.”

Sure you are.

I understand people not washing their hair ever day or giving up deodorant, but not showering? Maybe women can get away with it, but not men. We’re hairy and we sweat a lot. It’s part of what makes us men. And when we sweat, we smell. A spray of Axe or a swipe of Old Spice won’t cover that up.

A number of the men profiled said that no one comments on their stench. Well, that’s because they didn’t want to be rude. Just because they’re not saying anything, doesn’t mean they don’t smell it. Sure, maybe it’s convenient for you to skip daily showers or try to maintain that trendy unkempt look, but it’s not fair to anyone who has to be within a 100-foot radius of your rancid odor.

As man, you have a fundamental obligation not to smell like a dirty cow. So please shower. There are surely other ways we can save the environment without stinking up the world.


About Ryan O'Hanlon

Ryan O'Hanlon is the managing editor of the Good Men Project. He used to play soccer and go to college. He's still trying to get over it. You can follow him on Twitter @rwohan.


  1. Aris you are so very right, chemistry, is a major factor. Some dont mix, some do, mix the wrong ones and boom. people are walking chemical factories.

    I love the small of my man, ala natural, mix that with Polo and he is gonna get some LOL

  2. Maybe a leading cause of divorce is soap. When people meet, their true scent is masked by products. As they settle into married life and skip the occasional shower, they discover each other’s natural scent. This leads to the realisation that their natural chemistries are actually incompatible as they cannot stand how each other truly smells.

    Of course they cannot admit that is the reason as doing so would mean denouncing the social norms they had so wholeheartedly subscribed to. Before you know it, the rational reasons for separation appear.

    But we all know the truth: the divorce rates went up as the products which mask natural scents proliferated.

  3. I personally find the smell of my own armpits sexually exciting. After about 8 to 24 hours (I don’t wear underarm deoderant), sniffing my pits gets me excited, then I masturbate! I love it!

  4. What a bizarre and ridiculous article! If you don’t like the smell put a clamp on your nose.

  5. nottoosmellyguy says:

    I work from home, so I often go well beyond 24 hours without showering. If all you’re doing is sitting at a computer, watching TV, etc., you don’t really work up too much of a sweat. I schedule my showers around my exercise. If I know I’m playing basketball in the evening, why shower in the morning? I think we Americans are a little obsessed with our showers. And there probably is some sense to the argument that all this hot water and soap is bad for your skin.

  6. Not every man is like you, and not every man sweats every day. It’s a waste of water, waste of soap, and waste of money and time. And do you have any basis for doubting what the doctor said in the jezebel article? Yes, you should pay attention, have some courtesy, and not stink, but people are different, their lives are different, and their climates are different — Why would 24 hours be the magic point when you need to wash?

    Shower when you need it, and stop judging all the people that don’t need it every day.

  7. George Carlin said it best (didn’t he always say it best?), “All you really need to wash is four key areas: armpits, asshole, crotch, and teeth! Got that? The hooker’s bath. Armpits, asshole, crotch, and teeth.”

  8. Agreed, we live in an environment where it’s necessary to “grease the wheels of society.” Unless not bathing is a precursor to a “New Hermits” movement, I hope the trend (if it is a trend – I think lazy guys have found reasons to avoid bathing for millenia, so I think it’s just fodder for journalists) corrects itself.

    I understand soap isn’t the best stuff for us, but water most certainly is, and water is available pretty much every day.

  9. People have taken sponge baths for generations: it uses about 1/10th the water, and if you’re not covered in filth (which needs to get washed down the drain), you get as clean as you would with a shower. I challenge anyone to notice the difference in odor. If you do take showers every day, I recommend the Navy shower: turn off the water as you’re applying soap, then only run water to rinse. It saves a lot of water. If you live in one of the many U.S. cities verging on a water shortage, you’ll be doing your community some good.

    Slate calls this a “bogus trend,” by the way.

    • By the way, you don’t use an actual sponge for a “sponge bath.” You use a clean washcloth. The Slate article refers to it as a “sink shower.”

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