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SocietyJanuary 21, 2020

This one shower trick won’t change your life but do it anyway


It’ll improve your life a tiny, tiny bit. What more do you want?

This shower trick won’t change your life. If you do it correctly and consistently, it won’t even improve your life enough to mention it at a barbecue. In fact, if you don’t do this trick, your life will simply stay exactly as it is and you will never regret not doing it.

But you should still do it.

Wipe down your body with your hands after you have a shower, before you grab your towel.

That’s it. That’s the trick.

Before you step out of the shower and onto your bath mat, use the palms of your hands to wipe the excess drops of water off your limbs. It requires no equipment and will take up to 2.4 seconds total. It’s not healthier for you and it’s not, as far as I’m aware, any better or worse for the environment than just not doing it. What it does is remove a random amount of water (it varies, depending on the hairiness of the person) from the surface of your body. Water that will therefore not be absorbed by your towel or bath mat five seconds later.

The order of the limbs is up to the individual. I have fallen naturally into a left arm, right arm, left leg, right leg, chest, stomach routine. It shouldn’t need to be said but I’ll say it anyway: all wipes are a single, downward motion. One hand for each arm, two hands for the rest.

If you have long hair, the wipedown should happen after the first wringing out of the hair. And if you don’t wring out your hair after a shower or, god forbid, you wring it out on the bath mat, then I have no words for you. You need an intervention.

The post-shower wipedown is now an automatic motion for me, but it’s rarely discussed. A scientific survey* (*tweet) revealed an even split among the population* (*my followers), with half the respondents believing everyone did it and the other half having never heard of it before. Of those who believed in the art of removing surface water from the skin before towelling, shaking was an alternative to the wipedown. But the end goal was the same: reduce towel and mat dampness.

You might think you’ve clocked it when you chime in that actually you don’t need to worry about your bath mat’s dampness because you towel off inside the shower. To that I say, cursed. The shower is the wet world, the rest of the bathroom is the dry world. You’re telling me you pick the one instrument designed to stay dry as long as possible, and you take it inside the wet world? Again I say, cursed.

But I digress. Some respondents, including many colleagues of mine, tried the wipedown recently and the general consensus was that it was “underwhelming”. Of course it’s underwhelming, you’re literally wiping your body with your hands for two seconds. What else did you think would happen?

I never promised – and I would never promise – anything but the tiniest improvement in towel and bath mat dryness as a result of the wipedown. But isn’t that enough? Every drop of water you wipe off your body is one less drop that is absorbed by your towel or your mat. It means drier towels, faster dry times, and a drier body. It also means a slightly nicer mat experience for the person showering after you. It may be barely noticeable but it’s an improvement.

For 16 years of my life I did not do the wipedown. It never once occurred to me to do it until someone (I don’t remember who) mentioned it and I tried it out. Since then, I can’t not do it. To not do it would feel the same as walking into a building out of the rain and not wiping my shoes on the doormat. Or washing my hands in public and not shaking them a few times before placing them under the dryer. None of these things magically dry anything, but they naturally help a little.

We’re approaching the end of January, which means there are a lot of people reaching the end of their motivation in regards to their lofty new year resolutions. Resolutions are the big tricks, the ones we want to master because they’ll improve our lives by 30, 40, 50%. But they’re also hard to do, and take time, money, perseverance. There are so many life hacks that really do change your life, and most of them I don’t even attempt to do. But the wipedown I can manage. Something easy and small that improves, ever so slightly, an otherwise mundane daily task. There are thousands of tricks like the wipedown that, alone, will change your life as much as a single grain of sand changes a beach. But it all adds up.

Not everything has to transform your life. Wiping your body down with your hands before you step out of the shower certainly won’t, but it will improve it just a little. And isn’t that the point of all this?

Keep going!