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Shower head in operation
Showers in a swimming pool in Wuppertal
have a shower

The shower (Germanized spelling from French douche , from Latin ductio = "pipe"), synonymous with shower , is used for artificial irrigation of the body with cold or warm water for body care . Originally found mainly in public baths and medical institutions, it is now part of the typical modern bathroom . Smaller apartments in particular often only have a shower cabin and no bathtub . Public showers with separate changing rooms are regularly found in swimming pools and sports halls .

In the western world, showering is primarily used for personal hygiene , but also for well-being and relaxation . Today it often replaces bathing .


A shower installation improvised by French soldiers during the First World War
South Korean and US soldiers at a decontamination demonstration

From the earliest times, the body was cleaned under running water. Showers with water containers or pipes already existed in ancient Greece, sometimes as replicas of natural waterfalls.

In the Naturalis Historia of the Roman writer Pliny , the invention of the shower ( pensiles balineae , "hanging baths") is attributed to a Sergius Orata who is said to have furnished country houses with it in order to increase their value when they are resold.

In France the practice of showering was spread by Jean Pidoux (approx. 1550–1610), personal physician at the French royal court. He became aware of the healing power of the mineral springs in the small town of Pougues (now Pougues-les-Eaux ). In a paper from 1597 he describes the rules to be observed when using the medicinal waters as well as various forms of 'shower'.

It was not until the late 18th century that the view that water was essential for personal hygiene became widespread. For therapeutic purposes, showers (“douche” as well as “fall baths” and “douch baths”) were used in psychiatric hospitals at the beginning of the 19th century. Showers were introduced in 1872 by the physician François Merry Delabost in the Bonne-Nouvelle prison in Rouen , France . Immediately after his experiences were published in 1875, French forces took over the innovation. In the same year showers were used as single cubicles in prisons, barracks and boarding schools and a little later they found their way into public bathing establishments.

The Prussian military paid from 1879 barracks of widebody showers.


Shower cubicle with sliding doors
Garden shower

Essential elements of a shower are the water outlet (today mostly designed as a shower head) and the water fitting to control the flow. In order to limit water consumption , public showers are usually equipped with self- closing fittings with a push button, which only release the water for a certain time.

Showers are often structurally delimited to protect the environment from splashing water or to protect privacy | Establish privacy . Common shapes are shower cubicles with light partition walls or walled shower niches as well as sliding, revolving doors or shower curtains made of textile or foil .

The drainage is usually through a floor drain . To protect the subsurface from moisture, either prefabricated shower trays are used or a structural seal is provided. Shower trays are also known as shower trays . They usually have a drain opening and are available in different sizes, heights and shapes.

Showers are also set up outdoors in gardens, campsites, marinas , open- air swimming pools and on beaches .

When staying in nature, showers are improvised by hanging up a water-filled container.

Mobile showers or ready-made showers stand freely in the room and are used on construction sites, as camping accessories or z. B. as a temporary solution in old apartments without their own bathroom. Complete shower cubicles can also have their own hot water preparation and waste water pump, so that only a cold water connection, a socket and a drainage option are required.

Shower cubicles are usually formed by light shower partitions that can be made of painted sheet metal, plastic or composite material . Transparent partition walls consist of framed or free-standing toughened safety glass (ESG), laminated safety glass (VSG) or impact-resistant plastic . The entrance can be closed by elements that can be rotated or guided in rails or rollers. Shower cubicles are also available with corner entry, free-standing and quarter-round corners. For bathtubs, there are light partition walls as an attachment, which, like shower partitions, are often mounted on an adjacent wall. Sealing lips are used to connect to the shower or bathtub.

Showers without doors are called walk-in showers. Showers with a continuous, watertight design of the floor or with a shower tray at floor level are also referred to as being at ground level or flush with the floor . They are often used when several (communal) showers (e.g. from sports facilities ) share a common procedure, and also increasingly in private households for reasons of convenience, aesthetics or accessibility . The special equipment includes multi-jet shower heads, massage functions and seating.

Floor-level shower with white shower curtain

Shower curtains are often made of PVC , vinyl or environmentally friendly EVA or PEVA film. Textile shower curtains are made from polyester fibers (especially from refined Trevira CS) or, more rarely, from cotton , linen or PET (e.g. from recycled plastic bottles). The lower hem is often weighted down with zinc or lead inserts or the like in order to reduce the draw-in of the curtain by the warm air buoyancy when showering. In the case of the width of the shower curtain, an allowance for the drapery of approx. 15–20% should be taken into account.

The attachment of the shower curtain is done, for. B. by means of rings, loops or eyelets made of metal or plastic on a shower curtain rod or a suspension cable. Cable systems and variable telescopic rods stretch from wall to wall. Shower curtain rods in L, U or circle shape are also supported by ceiling hangers. So that the movement of the curtain is not stopped by the suspension, guide profiles with internal sliding shoes or rollers are used. Roller blinds that can be pulled from roller guides attached above or below are used less often.

Construction planning

For reliable drainage of the water, depending on the evenness of the floor covering, a slope of 1.0 to 3.0% should be provided along and across the drain. When using a hanging shower curtain, the slope behind the curtain should continue by 5 to 10 cm to avoid puddles of water from splashing. There are anti-slip to use flooring.

When planning the bathroom , the location of the water connections and the drain, floor heights, seals and connections, lighting and ventilation are determined. The connections for a heated towel rail may also have to be taken into account. A space-saving toilet bowl or a diagonal installation of the toilet in a corner of the room can create more space for the shower.

The walls should be sealed in the splash water area according to DIN 18534 , coated so that they can be wiped off and the connections should be flexibly grouted . Ceramic tiles with a water-repellent treatment are also available .


According to DIN 18040-1 , when using the shower with a wheelchair or walking aid, the water should be shielded by means of a sliding shower curtain and not by fixed elements. Mobile seating, grab bars, easily accessible storage areas and sufficient freedom of movement, e.g. B. for a second person. The aim is to have a floor space of around 2x2 m.

Physical aspects

Water and energy consumption

After heating the building , the hot water preparation for showering is responsible for the largest proportion of the total energy consumption in most private households . Approx. 15 liters of water flow through a conventional shower head per minute. This means that 75 liters of water are used within five minutes. If you only shower for a few minutes, the energy consumption when bathing is around twice as high as when showering.

Water-saving shower heads can reduce consumption by up to 50%, which reduces a household's CO 2 emissions by around 90 kg CO 2 (8 ... 12%) and energy costs by 100 to 200 euros per year. Water saving showers also reduce the costs of water and sewage.

Moisture build-up

Since a lot of moisture is brought into the room air in closed rooms, especially when showering with warm water, thorough ventilation of the room is necessary after showering. Appropriate room heating has a supportive effect. It is also recommended to wipe the walls of the shower cubicle that are wetted with water with a mop in order to reduce the humidity. The lower the surface temperature of the exterior walls and windows, the more humidity is deposited there. The cooler the room air, the more likely it is to form clouds of water vapor,


Shower in an outdoor pool in Salzburg

When water droplets are atomized, the air becomes negatively charged. This process is colloquially known as waterfall electricity , technically as ball electricity or the Lenard effect .


In regions with calcareous tap water , the formation of limescale deposits can be avoided by wiping off the water droplets with a squeegee after using the shower.

Slow drying due to insufficient ventilation and building materials that are not very permeable to diffusion often lead to the formation of mold stains , black mold or algae growth. The shower curtain should be able to dry out freely after showering and, in particular, should not come into contact with the floor or the tub.

Tenancy law

According to a ruling by the Cologne Regional Court, tenants are in principle allowed to shower at any time of the day, including at night. The court found in 1997: “ A clause in house rules that prohibits bathing and showering at night is ineffective. Personal hygiene is also socially acceptable behavior at night and is part of normal rental use. "

According to a ruling by the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court , however, more than 30 minutes are no longer appropriate for these activities.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. Etymological dictionary of the German language, quoted from [1]
  2. ^ Anton Müller: The insane asylum in the Royal Julius Hospitale in Würzburg and the six and twenty year old medical services at the same. With an appendix of medical histories and section reports. Würzburg 1824, p. 58 f.
  3. Wonders of the Past! Ancient Inventions, Peter James and Nick Thorpe, Ballantine Books, NY, 1994, pp. 460, quoted from ( Memento from May 9, 2008 in the Internet Archive )
  4. Pliny, Naturalis historia 9, 168
  5. La Vertu et usage des fontaines de Pougues en Nyvernois: Et administration de la Douche; Discours qui peut servir from Fontaines de Spa, & autres de pareil goust / Par J [ean] Pidoux, Med. Du Roi, Poictiers: J. Blancher, 1597
  6. Magdalena Frühinsfeld: Anton Müller. First insane doctor at the Juliusspital in Würzburg: life and work. A short outline of the history of psychiatry up to Anton Müller. Medical dissertation Würzburg 1991, p. 9–80 ( Brief outline of the history of psychiatry ) and 81–96 ( History of psychiatry in Würzburg to Anton Müller ), p. 138 f.
  7. François Merry Delabost: Article in Extrait of the Annales d'hygiène publique et de médecine légale , born 1875
  8. David Schmidt from the University of Massachusetts researched the fact that shower curtains roll inwards ("stick to the body") when showering and received the Ig Nobel Prize in 2001 for this . With the help of software for fluid dynamics, he simulated 30 seconds of showering with a curtain. The calculation showed that a stable vortex of air and moisture is created in the shower. Inside this vortex, there is less air pressure, similar to a tornado , so that the curtain is sucked towards the shower jet. In hot showers, the movement, also known as the Bernoullie effect, is intensified by the heat. See the article Low air pressure sucks the shower curtain (world online). The effect is increased in bathrooms with forced ventilation installed inside the shower.
  9. Information accompanying the WDR broadcast "testmarkt" from October 28, 2008 ( Memento from April 6, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  10. Tenants are also allowed to shower or bathe at night - Cologne Regional Court, judgment of April 17, 1997, 1 S 304/96,
  11. Nocturnal showering may only last 30 minutes - Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court, decision of January 25, 1991- 5 Ss (OWi) 411/90 - (OWi) 181/90 I,

Web links

Commons : Shower  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: shower  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations