How I Survived Communal Dorm Showers

You have finally made it to your college dorm, and your new surrounding environment is drastically different from what you are accustomed to at home.

While you may feel, as a newly independent adult, that you have got this whole dorm situation handled, after the initial fun begins to die down, it will finally occur to you that it is time for your first shower in the communal dorm bathrooms.

Public restrooms are never very fun to use, and the showers in the dorms are no exception. I personally began experiencing anxiety over the dorm showers for weeks before I moved in.

If you are currently confronting the impending transition from the comforts of your large, private, clean bathroom at home to the communal dorm showers with the same dread that I encountered, do not worry any longer. The public dorm showers were nowhere near as repulsive as I had originally imagined, and I promise that you will make it through just as I did.

The key is to make sure you are going in extremely well prepared and equipped with all the correct shower essentials and necessities.  Here are some pointers for what to have ready prior to move-in day and what actions you should take in order to maximize your college dorm shower experience.

1. Portable Shower Caddy

The biggest difference I felt when using communal showers was the fact I was unable to store any of my shampoos and bath products in the actual shower portion of the bathroom. When you use public utilities, you have to consider other people and therefore lose the luxury of sprawling your stuff around as you please.

To make the journey of transporting your shower supplies back and forth between your dorm room and the bathroom as smooth as possible, I would suggest purchasing a portable shower caddy to store all your products in. This way, all of your body washes, conditioners, soaps, etc. are grouped together, so when it is time for a shower you can just grab everything in one swift go, requiring only a single trip.

Portable caddies can come in the form of baskets or bags, and can be made of hard plastic or softer waterproof material. They are available for purchase at many stores such as Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Macy’s.

The shower caddy that I bought for my freshman year in the dorms was made of a plastic material and had a large portion as well as a detachable smaller portion. This added extra convenience because I was able to store my actual shower and bath products in the large portion, but I kept my toothbrush and facial cleansers in the smaller center portion.

This way, when I took a shower I would take the entire caddy, but when I was just going to brush my teeth or wash my face I only needed to detach the smaller caddy.

2. Shower Shoes

Wearing shoes in communal showers probably seems like a no-brainer, but bringing shoes to wear for the shower tends to be a forgotten deed lost among the hassle of packing larger college essentials such as bedding and clothing, especially among some of the males on my floor.

While some people may brush off the concerns and just go in with bare feet, foregoing shoes in public showers is definitely not something I recommend doing because the constant usage by multiple people can cause germ build-up on the shower floors, making it easily possible to contract athlete’s foot or some other type of foot fungus.

I would not suggest going out and spending money on shower shoes, an old pair of flip-flops would do the job perfectly. Just bring whatever sandal or flip-flop you have at home. If you do not want to ruin the shoes you already have, Old Navy is a good place to find very affordable flip-flops to serve your communal shower needs.

3. Shower Tips

Before each shower, I grew into a habit of running the hot water for a few seconds before stepping in. I always felt that letting the water run for a bit would cleanse the shower, preparing it for a new person to use. This step is made me feel substantially more comfortable, but it may just be my inner clean freak acting up.

Most college dorm showers will not have a lot of extra space to maneuver around in. The showers in my building were perhaps about half the size of a normal bathtub, forming a square shape. It did not allow for a lot of walking around in, so instead of placing my entire bulky caddy on the ground of the shower at my feet, I would usually take out my shampoo and conditioner and place it on one of the built in shower shelves, and place my soap and body washes on the other given shelf. I would keep my shower caddy in a reachable spot in the stall outside my shower but right next to the curtain so if I could easily access it if I wanted to use any additional products.

To make college showering even easier, I suggest bringing a nice robe you can throw on to get from your room to the showers, and vice versa. I did not bring a robe, so I usually just roamed the halls with a towel draped over myself. Some people would also bring their clothes into the shower stall and change straight into them in the restroom afterwards. Whenever I showered at night, I would usually bring my pajama t-shirt and shorts in with me to slip into post-shower.

Lastly, I cannot stress the importance of cleaning up after yourself in the shower stall when you are done. Be courteous to your floor-mates and have the common decency to grab a paper towel and pick up all the hair that may be circling the drain. Similarly to how I start my shower, after I am done, I will run the hot water for a little bit again just so it is ready for the next person to use.

Now you are prepared to tackle those communal showers in your college dorm. Just remember, most colleges will employ cleaners on a daily basis. My school had cleaning ladies who cleaned the bathrooms every single morning, so the showers were considerably bearable!

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Ashley Yang

Ashley Yang

Ashley Yang will be entering her junior year at the University of California, Davis in the fall, where she is pursuing a double major in Economics and Communication. Outside of class, she loves to see her friends and family, jam out to T-Swift, make smoothies, and curl up and unwind with a relaxing book. Other interests of hers include ballet and gymnastics, skiing, travel, volunteer work, chick-flick movies, animals, and Christmas.
Ashley Yang

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