At one point in my life, I showered three times a day. I was living in a subtropical country and it was summer, so I’d take one in the morning, once I came home after being outdoors, and then right before I went to bed. During winter, I’d skip the afternoon shower, but no matter how cold it got, I wouldn’t even consider skipping my morning and night ones.

Then I went to college. Not only did Res Life stick me in the most ghetto dorm on campus, but that dorm used the grungiest communal bathrooms I’d ever seen. Having 150 girls share one bathroom is just asking for nastiness. The pale yellow walls were often splattered with unidentifiable fluids, while the floors were stained with dirt, old bathwater, and lord knows what else. On Friday nights, there would be vomit or excrement on the doors. People would have sex in the showers while you were quietly taking a dump. Worst of all, the bathrooms wouldn’t be cleaned between Fridays and Monday mornings because the cleaning staff took weekends off — and we all know what weekends are like in college.

The dorm was so ghetto, that during the second semester, a pipe in one of the upstairs toilets burst, causing my floor’s bathroom ceiling to collapse. Thankfully, no one was in there when it happened, but our entire floor had to use the communal bathrooms of other floors for a month. As if the bathrooms didn’t have enough people crowding in them already.

During this time, I cut down my showers to once a day. A few times, I even went 36 hours without hopping in, which I would’ve considered disgusting just a few months earlier. Trucking my toiletries to a communal bathroom was so gross and such a hassle (especially having to walk down the hall in a towel while guys stared), that I kept my showers to a bare minimum.

I figured that all girls took at least one shower once every 24 hours, but I was wrong. After moving out of that run-down dorm, I finally got to enjoy nicer bathrooms, but I still limited showers to once a day since I had to split the times with several other girls.

Early on during our time as roommates, I noticed that one girl I lived with took showers only every 4 – 5 days. I didn’t want to bother her about it, since it’s her body and not mine, but I began to grow concerned at how our room would smell. She wouldn’t even shower after coming back from a bar or a club, nor would she wash up during the morning after. Luckily, she wasn’t an especially pungent-smelling person, so it was okay, but it made me think about whether we really NEED showers once a day (for hygiene’s sake) or whether our perceptions of cleanliness are socially determined.

For instance, whenever I visit my family’s home in the Philippines, I notice that my relatives take showers at LEAST twice a day. Most would take them three times a day, and like me, they never consider going more than 24 hours without one. That makes sense, though, as the Philippines is an extremely humid country. You feel a lot grimier after 12 hours without a shower in the Philippines, than after 24 hours without one in frigid New York, where I went to college.

Many of my other friends, however, find it strange that I once habitually took showers twice a day. They’ve told me it’s unhealthy to wash myself so often since I’m scouring away helpful bacteria and opening myself up to cold viruses.

Nowadays, I take showers once or twice a day, depending on the weather and on whether I go out (I always take one before leaving the house). Taking showers might be annoying, but I love feeling clean before starting and ending my day.

How often do you shower — and do you think there’s a standard for how often people should shower? And just for fun, are you a night shower or a morning shower type of person?