Ever taken your second shower of the day and wondered: Is this too much?
It is, for most people.
Experts said many people seem to shower too much–you likely don’t need a daily shower, and probably only need to shower once or twice a week.
“I think showering is mostly for aesthetic reasons,” Dr. Elaine Larson, an infectious disease expert and associate dean for research at Columbia University School of Nursing, told Time. “People think they’re showering for hygiene or to be cleaner, but bacteriologically, that’s not the case.”
While showering does remove odor–pertinent for those who hit the gym a lot or do other intense activities or jobs–a similar level of protection from illness can be achieved by washing hands regularly.
Bathing too often also has downsides, including the fact that it dries up skin which opens up gaps for infection-causing germs to slip through.
Dr. C. Brandon Mitchell, assistant professor of dermatology at George Washington University, noted that over-bathing can also strip people’s skin of its natural oils, and can also disrupt the skin’s immune system-supporting bacteria.
“Your body is naturally a well-oiled machine. A daily shower isn’t necessary,” he said, suggesting once or twice a week for most people.
For those who still want to bathe daily, Mitchell says they shouldn’t lather their whole bodies, only hitting areas that produce strong-smelling secretions like armpits and the groin area.