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A navy shower (also known as a "combat shower", "military shower", "sea shower", "staggered shower", or "G.I. bath") is a method of showering that allows for significant conservation of water and energy by turning off the flow of water in the middle portion of the shower while lathering. Soldiers are sometimes trained to keep the total time of the water flow to under two minutes – using an initial thirty seconds or so to get wet, followed by shutting off the water, using soap and lathering, then rinsing for a minute or less.
Navy showers originated on naval ships, where supplies of fresh water were often scarce. Using this method, crew members were able to stay clean, while conserving their limited water supply. The concept has also been adopted by some other people who wish to conserve water and the energy needed to heat the water, for both environmental and economic reasons. According to the US Department of Energy, water heating is typically the second-largest energy expense in homes (after space heating).
Maritime cruisers often take navy showers when they are not in a port with easy access to fresh water. A ten-minute shower takes as much as 230 liters (60 U.S. gal) of water, while a navy shower usually takes as little as 11 liters (3 U.S. gal); one person can save up to 56,000 liters (15,000 U.S. gal) per year.
In East and Southeast Asia, many people are accustomed to bathing by scooping water out of a large bucket or trough (or some other fairly large water reservoir) with a dipper. This necessitates a lack of a constant flow of water during the soaping-and-lathering period. Therefore, such people see the navy shower as the most natural method to use a shower as it is understood in the West.
Body cleaning during longer space flights is done with little water, at zero gravity. As shown by experience at the previous Salyut space stations, showering in microgravity is quite difficult – preparations and cleanup can take up the better part of a day. There are no showers at the International Space Station; instead, body cleanup depends on special cleansing soap which does not require much rinsing, and towels. Hair cleansing is achieved with a special shampoo that, again, does not require rinsing. Water is recycled through evaporation.
- Saltwater soap, also called sailors' soap
- "Energy Saver: Tips on Saving Money & Energy at Home" (PDF). US Department of Energy. September 2014. Retrieved January 17, 2016.
- "The Conservation Balancing Act: Part II, In the Bathroom" (PDF). University of Florida Institute of Food and Agriculture Services Electronic Data Information Source. 2001. Retrieved 2006-06-29.[dead link]
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- Barrett, Grant (December 23, 2007). "All We Are Saying". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-12-24.
Navy Shower: A very short shower in which you turn off the water while lathering up. This old term is also known as a G.I. bath, but it's new to many in the drought-stricken Southeast. Its antonym is the Hollywood shower, a long, wasteful one.
- "Salyut 6 EO-4". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Retrieved January 17, 2016.
- "How do you shower on ISS? Astronaut's guide to bathing in orbit". RT News. May 6, 2015. Retrieved January 17, 2016.
- "How many astronauts does it take to get a haircut in space? One to wash, a second to style and a third to suck up stray strands". Daily Mail. January 19, 2015. Retrieved January 17, 2016.