Excerpt from The German Shower, originally posted at The Adventures of Heidi Hefeweizen.
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Let’s talk German showers. Now, I try not to complain about the negative aspects of life abroad because I can be a bit of a wallower, and in reality, the ten months I will spend here are too short to waste sitting on the couch in sweatpants and listening to the Smiths. Plus, there are plenty of good things here that I don’t have at home. That said, bathing in Germany is the pits! Why? Let me outline it for you:
- Apparently it is not standard practice to install fans in bathrooms. In fact, I have yet to encounter a bathroom here with one. Instead, they all have windows that open. Regardless of the season, you will open your window while showering or risk having a dank, black mold-infested bathroom.
- Not only is water a precious resource, but it is expensive in Europe. When you shower here, you turn on the the water, get wet, then turn it off. Lather up, turn the water back on and rinse. (Bonus: During that time when the warm water is not running, a cold breeze is coming in through the open window.)
- Every shower I have used in Germany is either a tiled or glass stall, and there is always a squeegee hanging there. So, before you towel off, you have to squeegee your shower stall to prevent water spots. There’s nothing like doing chores in the nude first thing in the morning to get your day off to a good start!
- Once you can finally exit the shower, you will towel off with the scratchiest towel in the oddest size ever. The towels here are somewhere between a standard American hand towel and bath towel, and have been beaten into submission but a series of washings in scalding hot water, followed by air-drying.
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Thank you, Heidi Hefeweizen, for sharing your post with us!
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When I visited France years ago they didn’t have shower curtains! Water always ran off my elbow and down onto the floor. My teacher finally explained via charades how to shower standing up or that you just sit down on the shower floor (eww.) I like to pride myself as being a more “forward thinking” American (i.e, I don’t think smart cars are lame), but I really like the size and function of our showers! ;)
Absolutely. I agree with you 100%. And it would seem Europeans actually know their showers suck; they just don’t care. :)
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might be because we see it as a appliance to wash our hair & body with. x)
They don’t actually know the showers suck because they don’t see problems with it; it’s their way of life, and it’s just ridiculous to force your beliefs on them. I know this is meant to be humorous, but sometimes it can be just borderline ethnocentric and insensitive.
My 0,02 €
Informative, entertaining and fun! Right up my alley.
If you’d like to write us a guest post as well, that would be awesome!
I live in Jena and I have a fan in the bathroom. : )
Sounds horrific. Water is a precious commodity everywhere in the world these days and we do have water restrictions here in Australia, but water bills are inexpensive compared to electricity, property rates and so on, so there’s certainly no need to turn the shower off momentarily once you’ve got in, then turn it back on again to wash off. I’ll remember to pack an adequately sized bath towel with me if ever I visit Germany!
Sounds good, Luxury! And don’t forget to bring a soft towel. These Germans like to dry themselves with sandpaper. :)
There are no fans in Spain either. I was told the linens in Spain were no good, so I brought my own supply of towels and high thread count bedding. :) Additionally….what is the deal with no screens on the windows?! Seriously?
Anne, I have no clue. I have come to accept these things as simple truths… after a year of acceptance. :)
Thank you for reading and for the comment! Have a great day in Spain!
Sorry, but every single statement is just bull. Fans are bull as you can open the window AFTER having taken a shower. Who told you to be inside the bathroom? Turning the water off is stupid and who ever uses a small towel does not deserve any better. Either I don’t get your special “humor” or you just like to rant about random things and love it so much that you make up things …
To each their own, Smorgasbroed. Guest posts are written by guests.
Have a great day and thank you for reading!
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i would not say it’s stupid to turn the water off.
all that hair washing & conditioning & shaving! & even if it’s just foaming yourself up in some shower gel.. there’s gallons & gallons of drinking water running down the drain because of that. :/
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I love german showers, because you can actually bend the head to make it spray the water ON you…not to the other end of the tub… and the squeegee is not used so much in northern Germany, because the water is very soft and doesn’t leave spots…where I live you better have a machine that softens the water or the water heater looks like it hasn’t been cleaned for weeks after one use of water straight from the faucet. And the shower curtain sticking to your butt while showering is not a nice feeling either. On top of that I rather have a window to open than to have a fan that blows the ‘poop smelling air’ in the hallway (which is connected to the open living room, btw). What I noticed last time I went to the US is that your doors are just not closing and keeping the cold draft outside, where it belongs. Really no fun to watch tv with the heat on full blast and a blanket to stay warm. Our doors are made different and don’t let air in. The explanation I got was “it is not as expensive here to heat the house (compared to Germany)”. Yeah, THAT makes sense… And can somebody (people from the US) explain why the housedoor leads straight into the living room?
To make a long story short…. a lot of stuff in Germany is build different for a good reason. And if I ever have to live in the US I will have to make a lot of modifications to the house I will live in.
Sounds like a plan, Dee! Thank you for reading and commenting!
So, after our good bathes got insulted a german needs to shoot back:
Fans and “AC” (air conditioning) only blow around germs and fungus. The best fresh air is coming in through an open window. To avoid a cold or a stiff neck simply open the window after the shower, not before!
(somebody mentioned the after-opening before ☺)
Water isn’t so horrible expensive here.
But if water is heated up central, it’s often limited.
Easy solution: Get up the earliest!
You’ll have enough warm water and don’t need to put it off while showering. After you’re finished, the cold flood can come.
Yep, that’s reckless…but a cold shower is much healthier. ☺
Personally I prefer it less healthy.
“The early bird catches the worm.”
“Don’t be the early worm!”
The shower head has to be detachable!
American showers are life-threatening.
It’s dangerous to perform a handstand to clean the nether regions!!!
What weirdo has a squeegee hanging in the shower bath??!!
Never heard about that, but learnt a new word.
Yes, with dark tiles these ugly water spots had been a problem. In our family house we had “ox blood” tiles (fancy colour in that time). Our mom was kicking us if we didn’t dry them. But we never used a Squeegee-squeeze!
And for a longer we know now Nanotechnology, don’t we?
Lotus effect…very helpful!
Yes, scratchy towels are a must!
Only uninformed sissies use fabric softener with the artificial “odour of April”. Our towels aren’t only a relief for the environment (chemical pollution). After using a good scratchy towel you don’t need any peeling. Your skin is clean and soft like a baby popo.
Even after the body oil you’re still pleasantly warm.
NOW you can open the window and leave the bath! *wink* ☺
Haw haw! Fantastic comment, Marlies! Thank you!
Scratchy towels make tiny cuts in your skin that bleed and are a great place for germs to grow.
I can not see much of a difference between German and American showers, both of my homes here and in Germany were newer and my German house had all the amenities that my house here has, except central air, which I love and could not do without, I am allergic to humidity. the American bath tubs suck, if you are more than 5.3 ft, in Germany a standard tub is 6 ft, which my US husband who is 6.3 ft likes when we visit Germany ,but that can be remedied here by buying a large whirlpool tub. Windows in a bath are a must, no matter were you are. and if your towel is too small , buy a Badehandtuch and don’t use a Handtuch, that’s what the odd sized things are, hand towels, ours are bigger than the American washcloth they call hand towels,lol
Yes scratchy towels are a must, I dry mine outside when the weather allows it and my American hubby got used to it after 15 years of marriage
the comment that American doors don’t keep the cold out , is not true , unless you live in a cheap rental, and the houses, including mine I know have a front hallway/foyer. ein “Flur ” is a must for every German,lol
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I lived in an apartment on Beethovenstrasse in Kaiserslautern in the early 1970s. The bathtub in that apartment had a hand shower, which I preferred to filling the tub. For one thing, we had to plug 10 pfennig coins into a gas meter outside the bathroom to get gas to heat the water, so the more water one filled the tub with,. the more 10 pfennig coins one had to plug into the meter.
The American who had the apartment before us said the least one could get by with was 50 pfennigs worth of gas per bath, which seemed a bit steep for someone taking daily baths. “Most likely, though, you will need to put in more than that.”
I gradually tried showering with smaller amounts of heated water till I discovered 10 pfennigs’ worth was all I needed. I used the method described elsewhere of wetting myself down, turning off the water and soaping myself up, then finishing the shower with what was left of the water the 10 pfennigs worth of gas heated.
It actually took less than 10 pfennigs worth of gas for a decent shower, so the final heated water till it returned to ice cold was a bonus water massage.
I still use a lot less water to shower than typical American shower takers use, thanks to this practical German training! (I trust I’m adequately clean for my family and friends….! LOL!)
I couldn’t figure out the shower control at a hotel (Maximilian hotel in Speyer) in 2010. I’d turn it on and come back a minute later and the water was still freezing cold. Needless to say I was wide awake every morning when I gave up trying to figure it out. 2015 was different when I stayed at a different hotel (Ramada in Hockenheim). The water was warm almost instantly. Go figure. As a side note: the suite I stayed at in Speyer had a washing machine which I also couldn’t figure out. It seemed like it was a combination washer/dryer but I was only able to use the washer. I ended up drying my clothes on the wall heater.