Using a Shower in Spain

 The whole detachable showerhead thing once seemed like a hassle to me, but it's become second-nature and even useful!

The whole detachable showerhead thing once seemed like a hassle to me, but it's become second-nature and even useful!

Dear Hilary,

So, this is probably going to sound like the type of topic that does not require explanation, but let me just be honest with you—almost every American who has come to visit me has struggled in some way with the showering situation in Spain, so let me just give you some quick tips to help you have a successful experience (ie. one in which the entire bathroom doesn’t end up soaked):

1.) Detachable showerhead: In Spain, like most of Europe (and potentially most of the world outside the USA), showerheads are generally not fixed to the wall. Sure, you can find exceptions such as in a locker room, hostel, or other shared spaces, but the norm is to have a removable showerhead. Although some of us have these in the States as well, I feel like we may have a different relationship with how to use them.

 Keep in mind that many Spaniards do not shower with this showerhead attached overhead, but will instead hold it in their hand throughout their shower, spraying themselves as needed. While you are completely free to place it in its cradle and shower as you’re probably accustomed to, this is useful to know as many times the showerhead will not be securely placed in its cradle and therefore turning the water on at a ‘normal pace’ will cause it to come alive, unraveling as the water gushes through its hose and consequentially soaks the entire room.

Pro-tip: On a similar note, I find it quite common that the settings on bathtubs (in which you have the option for water to come out of the faucet or showerhead first) are left on the showerhead so be aware if this is not the norm for you. Generally, I would just recommend you remove the showerhead and hold it in your hand as you adjust the temperature before getting in.

2.) Obsession with water usage: Spaniards tend to be conscientious about their water usage as the bills can get expensive. For this reason, don’t be surprised if your host family or housemates have a chat with you about limiting your shower time. A good trick I used was to also turn off the water when I was not using it (ie. lathering my shampoo or shaving my legs). As someone who had always left the water running throughout the entirety of my shower, it was shocking to realize just how unnecessary the water is half of the time! I also started using leave-in conditioner to shorten my shower time even further.

 Unless you're paying your own water bill, baths are probably gonna be out of the question.

Unless you're paying your own water bill, baths are probably gonna be out of the question.

Pro-tip: If you, like me, treasure bath time, be forewarned that your host family or housemates will probably not appreciate this either. I only tried taking a bath one time during my study abroad semester…but was quickly reprimanded.

3.) Lack of shower barriers: I actually don’t find this so common is Spain, but many other countries in Europe tend to have “wet showers” so it still worthwhile for you to know. “Wet showers” are the term used for bathrooms that don’t have a standard, walled-off area to shower. Instead, the floor of the shower is the same as the tile throughout the rest of the bathroom and there may or may not be a shower curtain to separate it. Europeans are just incredibly good at controlling their shower spray (it seems to me!). For those of us who are not so graceful, a squeegee is usually close by.

Pro-tip: One thing that does seem to be standard in Spain is only having one shower curtain. I don’t know if it’s just my family, but I always grew up having one decorative one that hung outside the tub and one plastic one that stayed inside, preventing water from splashing out. I am yet to find anyone here who employs this method, so you’re probably going to want to tuck whatever curtain you find inside the tub or shower barrier (if it’s there!) to avoid making a mess.

Have you experienced any other issues or noticed any other differences when showering in Spain? Be sure to share your stories in the comments!

Sincerely,
Spain