Does Brushing Your Teeth in the Shower Save Water? A Deeper Dive

We’re all trying to be more mindful of our water usage, and it’s easy to see why. Water is a precious resource, and saving it is a responsible choice for the environment and our wallets. But what about those quick, convenient moments in the shower? Does brushing your teeth while the water runs save you water, or is it just a myth?

To answer this question, we need to consider the facts. Let’s break down the science of water consumption, the various factors that impact our usage, and ultimately, figure out if that quick shower brush is really a water-saving strategy.

The Science Behind Water Consumption

Before diving into the shower-brushing debate, let’s understand the average water usage associated with brushing teeth.

  • Traditional Toothbrushing: The EPA estimates that a typical American uses around 2 gallons of water per minute while brushing their teeth at the sink. This includes the water used to wet the brush, rinse the mouth, and spit.

  • Showering: A standard shower head uses approximately 2.5 gallons of water per minute. However, this can vary significantly depending on the age and efficiency of your shower head.

The Shower-Brush Trade-Off

Now, let’s consider the pros and cons of brushing your teeth in the shower:


  • Convenience: It’s definitely more convenient to brush your teeth while already in the shower, especially if you’re short on time.

  • Potentially Saves Water: If you can brush your teeth with the shower running for a significantly shorter period, then you might actually be saving water.


  • Uncertain Water Savings: You might not be saving water at all. If your shower routine stays the same, brushing in the shower simply adds to your overall water usage.

  • Less Effective Brushing: Brushing your teeth in the shower often means a shorter brushing time, which might not be enough for thorough cleaning. The rush of water can also make it harder to properly brush.

  • Potential for Contamination: Using the same water for brushing and showering might introduce bacteria from your mouth into the water stream, potentially impacting the cleanliness of your shower.

Finding the Right Balance: Smart Water-Saving Strategies

Instead of relying on brushing in the shower as a water-saving strategy, let’s explore some more reliable and effective methods:

1. Upgrade Your Shower Head:

  • Opt for a low-flow shower head. These heads use less water per minute, reducing your overall water consumption during showering.
  • Consider a water-saving shower timer to encourage shorter showers and promote water consciousness.

2. Brush Smarter:

  • Use a Timer: Set a timer for 2 minutes to ensure you’re brushing for the recommended time.
  • Reduce Water Waste: Wet your toothbrush with just a small amount of water, rinse your mouth with a cup of water instead of letting it run, and spit into a sink instead of directly into the water flow.
  • Invest in a Water-Saving Toothbrush: Some electric toothbrushes feature water-saving modes that use less water for rinsing.

The Bottom Line: Is Brushing in the Shower Really Worth It?

The answer depends on your individual habits and shower routines. While it might be convenient, brushing your teeth in the shower isn’t a guaranteed water-saving strategy.

Here’s the truth: If you’re already taking short showers and mindful of water usage, brushing in the shower might not significantly impact your water bill. However, if you tend to linger in the shower or don’t pay much attention to your water consumption, then brushing your teeth in the shower will likely increase your water usage.

Making Water-Wise Choices: Beyond the Shower

Saving water extends beyond the bathroom. Here are some simple tips to be more water-conscious in your daily life:

  • Fix Leaky Faucets: A leaking faucet can waste gallons of water every day.
  • Water Your Lawn Efficiently: Use a watering can instead of a hose, and water in the morning to minimize evaporation.
  • Use a Dishwasher and Washing Machine Efficiently: Only run these appliances when they are full.
  • Consider Water-Saving Appliances: Look for appliances with the WaterSense label, which indicates water-efficient products.

Conclusion: Embrace the Water-Saving Mindset

Ultimately, the key to saving water is to be mindful and make conscious choices in your daily routines. Brushing your teeth in the shower might seem like a quick and easy way to save water, but it’s not always the most effective approach. Focus on upgrading your shower head, brushing your teeth efficiently, and being mindful of your overall water usage. By making small adjustments and adopting a water-saving mindset, you can make a positive impact on the environment and your wallet.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How much water does brushing your teeth outside the shower typically use?

The average person uses about 2 gallons of water per minute while brushing their teeth. This is because most people leave the water running while brushing. However, you can easily reduce this amount by turning the water off while you brush and only turning it back on to rinse your mouth.

By turning the water off while brushing, you can easily reduce your water consumption to less than a gallon per brushing session. This simple change can have a significant impact on your overall water usage.

2. How much water does brushing your teeth in the shower use?

When you brush your teeth in the shower, you’re using the same amount of water you would be using to shower. This can be anywhere from 10 to 20 gallons of water per shower, depending on your showerhead and how long you shower for.

While you may think that you’re saving water by brushing in the shower, you’re actually using more water than you would if you brushed separately.

3. Does it make a difference if I use an eco-friendly showerhead?

Even with an eco-friendly showerhead, you’ll still be using a significant amount of water while showering. This is because the water is constantly running while you brush your teeth.

You’re better off brushing your teeth separately and turning the water off while you brush. This will ensure you’re using the least amount of water possible.

4. What if I only brush my teeth while the shower is running for a short time?

While it may seem like you’re saving water by only running the shower for a short time while you brush, you’re still using more water than if you brushed your teeth separately. The water you’re using to rinse your toothbrush and mouth is unnecessary when you’re already showering.

The best way to conserve water is to brush your teeth separately and turn the water off while you brush.

5. Are there any other benefits to brushing your teeth outside the shower?

Brushing your teeth outside the shower can help you better focus on your brushing routine. You can pay more attention to each tooth and ensure that you’re brushing for the recommended two minutes.

You can also use a timer to make sure you’re brushing for the full two minutes. This is a good habit to get into, whether you’re brushing in the shower or not.

6. What are some ways to save water while showering?

There are several ways to conserve water while showering. You can:

  • Install a low-flow showerhead
  • Take shorter showers
  • Turn off the water while you soap up
  • Use a shower timer

These simple changes can make a big difference in your overall water usage.

7. Are there any risks associated with brushing your teeth in the shower?

While there’s no real health risk associated with brushing your teeth in the shower, there are some potential drawbacks. For example, you might not be able to see as well in the shower, which could lead to you missing some areas of your teeth.

You could also be more likely to drop your toothbrush or toothpaste in the shower. It’s important to be careful when brushing your teeth in the shower and make sure you’re using a secure grip on your toothbrush.

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