A typical stall shower with height-adjustable nozzle.

Badewanne fcm

A combination shower and bathtub.

A shower (or shower-bath) is an area in which one bathes underneath a spray of water.[1] People very commonly use soap and shampoo while showering.

History Edit

The original showers were neither indoor structures nor man-made, but were common natural formations: waterfalls.[2] 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 man 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.[3] 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 rooms used by elites and common citizens alike.[4] 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.[5] The ancient Romans in their love of everything Greek 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, practicing what is today considered good hygiene became a religious taboo and was abandoned almost completely from the late Middle Ages until the Victorian era.[6]

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 great 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.[7] In the early 19th century (probably around 1810, though there is some contradiction among sources), the English Regency Shower was anonymously invented.[8] 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 freestanding 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 until the second half of the 20th century when it all but replaced bathtubs in most western bathrooms.

Types of showers Edit


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. Not only can these harm the intended targets, but also the aggressor’s forces. As a result, field showers are often employed to remove these potentially deadly weapons from a soldier’s body.[9]


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 showersEdit

Rib shower 1

Rib shower

  • Air shower, 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
  • Navy shower, 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, a type of bathing where a humidifying steam generator produces steam that is dispersed around a person's body.
  • Vichy shower, a shower where large quantities of warm water are poured over a spa patron while she/he lies within a shallow (wet) bed, similar to a massage table, but with drainage for the water.
  • Roman shower 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.[10] Emergency showers are designed to deluge continuously at around 30-60 gallons per minute[11] for at least 15 minutes,[12] and should be located at most 10 seconds away from potential users.[13]

Usage Edit

Shower usage in the latter half of the 20th century has skyrocketed. Personal hygiene became a primary concern and bathing everyday or multiple times a day is common among Western cultures.[14] Showering is generally faster than bathing and uses 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 senior citizens because it reduces the risk of injury related to falling.[15] Also, as previously mentioned field showers are used to remove dangerous materials from the clothing and skin of affected parties.

Cultural significance Edit

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 western cultures encourage a daily personal hygiene regimen. Showering has also developed the reputation as a relaxing and generally therapeutic activity.[16]

Installation Edit


The plumbing for a shower being put down

Installation of a shower requires several water transportation pipes. 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 Edit

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 doors, or folding doors, 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, 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 headsEdit

A shower head is a perforated nozzle that distributes the water over a large solid angle. Thus less water can be used to wet the same area. Low flow shower heads can use water more efficiently by aerating the water stream. Some shower heads can be adjusted to spray different patterns of water. Hard water may result in calcium and magnesium 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.



Shower curtains Edit

File:Shower curtain.jpg

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

Shower doors Edit

Shower doors are doors used in bathrooms 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 Edit

Repairing shower stall with grout applicator

Repairing damaged tile in a shower stall with a caulking gun

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 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.

Equipment used in showers Edit

See also Edit

Notes & references Edit

  1. "Shower," Def 3, The Oxford New Desk Dictionary and Thesaurus, 3rd ed. 2009, Print, pg. 772.
  2. "The Stand - Up Bath." - home of great plumbing advice since 1994. Web. 23 Nov. 2009. <>.
  3. James, Peter, and Nick Thorpe. Ancient inventions. New York: Ballantine Books, 1994. Print.
  4. Humphrey, John W., John P. Olsen, and Andrew N. Sherwood. Greek and Roman Technology A Sourcebook. New York: Routledge, 1997. Print.
  5. James, Peter, and Nick Thorpe. Ancient inventions. New York: Ballantine Books, 1994. Print.
  6. Mcneil, Ian, ed. An Encyclopaedia of the History of Technology. New York: Routledge, 1990. Print.
  7. Shove, Elizabeth. Comfort, Cleanliness and Convenience The Social Organization of Normality (New Technologies/New Cultures). New York: Berg, 2004. Print.
  8. "The Stand - Up Bath." - home of great plumbing advice since 1994. Web. 23 Nov. 2009. <>.
  9. Jones, Jerry, "Decontamination shower system revamped (10/29/04)," Vanderbilt University Medical Center, 29 Oct. 2004, Web. 23 Nov. 2009, <>.
  10. "1910.151: Occupational Safety and Health Standards - Medical services and first aid". Regulations (Standards - 29 CFR). Occupational Safety and Health Administration. 18 June 1998. Retrieved 1 June 2010. 
  11. Mayer, Leonard (1995). "Emergency systems". Design and planning of research and clinical laboratory facilities. John Wiley and Sons. p. 155. ISBN 0471306231. 
  12. Vincoli, Jeffrey W. (2000). Lewis' dictionary of occupational and environmental safety and health. CRC Press. p. 343. ISBN 1566703999. 
  13. Brauer, Roger L.B (2006). "Personal protective equipment". Safety and health for engineers. John Wiley and Sons. p. 533. ISBN 0471291897. 
  14. Shove, Elizabeth. Comfort, Cleanliness and Convenience The Social Organization of Normality (New Technologies/New Cultures). New York: Berg, 2004. Print.
  15. Mullick, Abir. "Bathing for Older people with Disabilities." UB School of Architecture and Planning. 2005. Web. 02 Dec. 2009. <>.
  16. Shove, Elizabeth. Comfort, Cleanliness and Convenience The Social Organization of Normality (New Technologies/New Cultures). New York: Berg, 2004. Print.

External links Edit

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