A navy shower (also known as a "combat shower", "military shower", "sea shower" or "staggered shower") is a method of showering that allows for significant conservation of water and energy by turning off water during the "middle" portion. An initial thirty seconds or so are used to get wet, followed by soap and lather without running water, which is then rinsed off in a minute or less. The total time for the water being on is typically under two minutes.
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 idea has been adopted by many people who wish to conserve water and the energy needed to heat the water, for both environmental and economic reasons. After conventional air conditioning and conventional air heating, conventional water heating is the biggest user of energy in the home, according to the US Department of Energy.
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 litres (60 U.S. gallons) of water, while a navy shower usually takes as little as 11 litres (3 U.S. gallons); one person can save 56,000 litres (15,000 U.S. gallons) per year.
In East and Southeast Asia, many people are accustomed to taking their "showers" by scooping water out of a large bucket or trough (or some other fairly large water reservoir) with a dipper. This necessitates a pause in the "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. In the International Space Station, there are no showers; instead, the procedure 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.
- "Energy Conservation in the United States" (PDF). US Department of Energy. 2009.
- "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.
- "Special Document 333: SSC San Diego Guide For Fleet Support Personnel" (TEXT). Systems Center San Diego. 2000. Retrieved 2006-07-01.
- Barrett, Grant (2007-12-23). "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.