Gen Z-ers spend the longest time in the shower, new poll reveals. Here's what experts say about our washing habits.

Person taking shower
A new survey reveals Americans' shower habits. (Getty Images)

You might think that some of your shower habits are random. But new data from The Harris Poll reveals that some shower preferences and routines might be indicative of your age.

The older you are, the shorter your shower time likely is, according to findings from the 2,073 Americans surveyed from Feb. 27-29. Gen Z (defined as ages 18 to 27) spends the longest amount of time in the shower, at an average of 21.2 minutes, nearly twice as long as the 12.3 minutes spent on average by baby boomers (60 to 78). For 17% of boomers, their showers are five minutes or less.

Other generational differences exist when it comes to how often a person showers — with Gen X (44 to 59) being the mostly likely to take a daily shower at 69% — and what time of day someone is most likely to wash up, with the youngest pollers being the least likely to have showered by 9 a.m.

“Nearly all Americans shower, but the survey reveals differences about how that is done across segments of the population," Joanna Allenza, director of Harris On-Demand at the Harris Poll tells Yahoo Life of the data. “We were surprised to discover differences in the behaviors and preferences between men and women — like men being more likely to shower in the morning, while women are more likely to shower in the evening — as well as across the generations, such as preferred shower duration decreasing with age, just to name a few.”

But is one generation getting it right versus the others? Is there a proper time of day or duration for showers to maintain good hygiene and skin health? Here’s what experts say.

While members of Gen X are most likely to wash seven days a week, the majority of Americans of any age report taking daily showers. Dr. Michael Jacobs, associate professor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College, says this is typical but not always necessary.

“Most people should be showering every day, but it’s largely based on personal preference,” he tells Yahoo Life. “The skin accumulates bacteria, which can lead to exacerbation of skin rashes, such as eczema and psoriasis, and also possibly increase the risk of more dangerous infections of the skin. Soap and water will decrease the bacteria count.”

Dr. Jinmeng Zhang, a dermatologist, tells Yahoo Life that the frequency of showering often depends on a person’s activity level and environment. “If someone plays sports multiple times a day, then they should shower more than once a day to help remove any sweat, grease and odor. However, if someone lives in a very dry environment and is not overly active, then they can be more conservative, such as showering every other day.”

The time of day that a person showers also varies by age group. While 51% of Gen X-ers say they’ve showered by 9 a.m., 50% of Gen Z-ers report showering after 8 p.m. This could be indicative of when someone’s doing the bulk of their physical activity and then “showering after sweat-inducing exercise or an outdoor activity where dirt and other particles dirty the skin,” says Jacobs.

Timing might not always be tied to a workout. “Others prefer to shower as a wind-down activity before bed,” Jacobs says, but recommends that people who have body acne or eczema rashes are quicker to shower after certain activities in order to avoid breakouts and flare-ups.

According to Zhang, a shower that lasts 10 to 15 minutes is sufficient for getting clean. However, Gen Z-ers and millennials reported longer bathing times than that, on average 21.2 minutes and 18.5 minutes, respectively.

Although longer showers may be necessary for those who spend time washing their hair — which the majority of Gen Z reports doing every other day or a few times a week — showers that last longer than 20 minutes should usually be avoided because “it can be drying to the skin,” says Jacobs. On the other hand, a shower that’s too quick, like the 17% of Boomers who say they take sub-5 minute showers, might not be efficient either. “One may not have adequately washed off any soap or personal product from the skin,” says Zhang.

Despite suggestions that cold showers can be a good way to start the day, the majority of pollers prefer their water to be very warm. Some 19% of Gen Z-ers even enjoy their water to be “as hot as I can tolerate.” Neither expert would recommend that, however.

“Temperature can be a matter of personal preference as long as it isn’t too hot, as this can be harmful to the skin barrier, leading to dry skin symptoms,” says Jacobs. “Lukewarm water, between 98 and 105 degrees Fahrenheit, is typically ideal for bathing.”