Community showers seem daunting and terrifying. (However, I live in an apartment now. Check out the tour here.) Remember that scene in Pitch Perfect where a girl rips open the shower curtain while someone else is in there showering? That’s literally my worst fear. While they can seem absolutely impossible, they don’t have to be awful if you remember a few important tricks. I’ve been using a community bathroom for almost a year now and it has become just a part of my normal routine.
First, I want to explain to non-college students, or those who have never lived in a dorm with a community bathroom, exactly how they work. Some dorms on my campus have bathrooms that have to be unlocked with a specific key that only people on the floor have; mine does not lock. It’s just like a regular public bathroom, but with some showers in the back!
Community bathrooms are generally set up the same, with one area containing regular toilet stalls and sinks, just like in any public bathroom. Another area contains all the showers. The number of showers depends on how many residents share that bathroom, but each shower will be in its own stall. All the ones I’ve seen have a shower area and a changing area that’s separated by another curtain. So, you have two curtains (or in some cases, doors) separating you from the outside world.
It’s totally normal. Honestly, no one is totally comfortable with the community showers at first and it can take some getting to use to, but after a while it’ll just feel regular!
To help along with having a totally regular community shower experience, let’s talk about some supplies that you’ll need!
Supplies for Community Showers
First of all, I recommend you make a Target registry so you can add items to a list all in one place. You can easily share this list with people trying to shop for you, and you can see when items go on sale! You can quickly do that here!
You literally have to have shower shoes to survive a community bathroom. First of all, bacteria and fungus love to grow in warm, moist environments, like the shower (gross, but true!). Plus, you’re in the bathroom. Walking barefoot on the bathroom just seems…icky. You never know who did what in the shower before you, so protect your feet from whatever could be on the floor! A cheap pair of flip flops, like my favorite from Target, which you can find here: Target Flip Flops. Don’t worry, you can still wash your feet when they’re in the flip flops.
This is purely for convenience. Think about all the stuff you have in your shower. Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, face soap, razor, wash cloth… That’s a ton of stuff! Okay, now try to imagine carrying all that stuff in your hands to the bathroom and then setting it all straight down onto the dirty floor. I don’t think so! There are so many different varieties of shower caddies, but I love mine because it has a separate bin that slides out for when I only need a few things! You can find it here. Add these items to your registry!
Nothing is worse than walking back from the shower wearing just a towel and making eye contact with that creepy boy from the first floor. It’s cringey, awkward, and leaves you feeling exposed. The best way to combat that is with a huge fluffy robe! You can find a good one here, from Target! It’s so soft and cozy, plus it literally covers everything from your neck to your shins.
So now that we know what we need, let’s get to some tips and tricks to surviving the showers.
Tips & Tricks for Community Showers
Don’t forget your towel.
Just don’t do it. It’s awkward and cold and you have to walk back dripping wet in your robe. Try a command hook by your door… you’ll see your towel when you leave and you’ll have a good place for it to dry!
Wear your robe there.
I know some people who don’t feel comfortable walking in the hallway in just a robe, but it’s honestly just way more convenient! If you wear your clothes there, you also have to bring whatever you’re changing into after. That’s a lot to carry! Plus, you have to worry about your clothes not getting wet while you shower, and you have to get dressed so soon after showering. I’m never dry that quick! Save yourself the trouble and just wear your robe to and from the bathroom and keep your clothes in your room!
Try out all the showers.
This is a brilliant tip and you certainly have to try it. For an entire month, I thought the showers in my dorm just had terrible water pressure. I always used the shower in the furthest back corner, but one day it was taken… so I tried a different one and BAM. Water pressure! It was amazing. So, test out all the showers! I discovered that some get hotter than others, have different water pressure, and drain differently! There’s no harm in rotating around until you find the one that you’re most comfortable in.
Utilize a separate caddy.
Like I said before, I love my shower caddy because of the way a separate, smaller bin pulls right out! In this bin, I keep face soap, my tooth brush and toothpaste, and a washcloth. I use those things in the shower (yes, brush your teeth in the shower! It saves time and water, and it’s so convenient! Seriously just try it), but I also use them in the morning or night when I don’t shower. I just pull the little caddy out and take it down the hallway with me to the bathroom. And it’s still there in the big caddy for when I shower!
Store your caddy correctly.
If you simply place a towel under your caddy and switch it out every once and a while, you don’t have to worry about water dripping or making a mess. This is a simple trick I never would’ve thought of until my mom did it!
Inspect before committing.
Before stepping into the stall and de-robing, glance around the shower to make sure it’s clean. The worst experience of my life was when I had already gotten in and started shampooing my hair and noticed the giant clump of curly black hair swirling around the floor. It was terrible and disgusting and I was sad and stuck. So, learn from my mistake and always just glance over the shower before getting in!
If the shower grosses you out, don’t spend a long time in there! Wash your face while your conditioner is sitting. Don’t dillydally; do what you need to do and get out! However, once I get into my shower groove I totally forget about being in a semi-public place.
Shower at abnormal times.
If you’re a little worried about other people being in there while you shower (which you shouldn’t be! It’s totally fine and normally; everyone’s in the same situation), try to shower at abnormal times. Most people shower either earlier in the morning or around ten at night, so if I’m trying to avoid people and have a flexible schedule, I’ll shower in the afternoon or the middle of the night.
On the issue of shaving…
Just shave your legs like normal. It can be kind of weird adjusting to a smaller shower stall if you’re used to a larger tub shower. Figure out whatever is comfortable for you. You can try using a stool, bending over, or propping your leg up on the wall. Just find the way that works! I have a friend who has an electric shaver, which could be worth looking into if you don’t want to worry about shaving your legs in the shower. Again, everyone else is going to figuring it out and trying to do the same thing!
Unspoken Rules of Community Showers
Look before entering.
This should go without saying, but don’t rip open a shower curtain because it doesn’t seem like someone is in there! Check and always err on the side of caution. That can just end embarrassingly for everyone.
Some people are more shy or self-conscious than others, so it’s probably best not to initiate conversations while people are in their towels. Be polite, of course. Smile, wave, say hello, but don’t try to keep someone while they’re undressed and soaking wet!
Singing is okay!
For me, I normally enjoy it while other people are singing when I’m in the shower. You have to enjoy your shower, so if singing is what you like to do, go for it. It’s normal.
Don’t be gross.
If I could leave you with one piece of wisdom, this would be it. I know sometimes crazy things happen, and a mess arises. Do the best you can to clean it before the cleaning crew arrives. However, don’t be that girl who dyes her hair in the shower and laves purple dye EVERYWHERE. Likewise, do your best to keep your clumps at bay and bodily fluids out. Do what you can to keep a space you all have to use in good condition!
So there you go! That’s everything I know about community showers in those maybe-not-so terrible community bathrooms. Some are better than others, but they’re all totally bearable.
How do you feel about community bathrooms? Do you have any tricks?