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How to Properly Wash Your Body in 6 Simple Steps: A Guide for All Men

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David has been covering men's style and grooming topics for The Adult Man as a writer and photographer since 2020. We asked David to sum himself up in four sentences, and here it is. Serial learner. Aspiring wordsmith. Bourbon enthusiast. Jack of some trades. Read full bio.


Last Updated: Feb 16, 2024
13 min read
How to properly wash your body Black man washing his body with soap
Key Takeaways

It all comes down to several basic rules of thumb: use a product that’s appropriate for your skin and cleaning needs, wash your entire body (even between your toes) once per day, put your loofah or washcloth in a place where it can dry completely, don’t use too much soap, wash with water that isn’t too hot, and stick with showers over baths if you want a proper wash.

For all the things that men are good at, washing their body properly doesn’t always make the list. 

If you’ve had the unpleasant experience of walking through a store and having your nostrils physically assaulted by a pungent odor, 9 times out of 10, you’ll trace the source back to some dude.

To be fair, we’re not completely to blame. One of those things that we happen to be adept at is producing unsavory bodily scents.

Acknowledging this as part of the male experience, though, means that we have a responsibility to keep our stench at bay. 

At one point in ancient history, our pervasive aroma may have been useful in attracting a mate, but no more. In fact, if you’re looking to tell someone, “I don’t want to see you anymore” without actually saying those words, just stop washing.

And no, you can’t just apply a dense mist of Axe body spray or a thick smear of deodorant. 

Besides odor control, washing properly can also help with acne, dry skin, and protect you from disease. Thus, it’s high time we all learned how to properly wash, starting with some recommendations from the experts.

Why It’s Important to Wash Your Body: What the Experts Say

man takes shower modern tiled

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) comes right out and tells us that good body washing practices are essential for preventing the spread of hygiene-related diseases like lice, scabies, diarrhea, and athlete’s foot. 

I often take washing for granted—just another part of the daily routine—but when you think of it as the major barrier between you and a scabies infestation it gains some serious gravitas.

Besides disease prevention, washing your body removes dead skin cells, dirt, bacteria, and excess oil from your skin. Excess skin, dirt, and oil can lead to acne breakouts anywhere on your body, but washing regularly can help keep pesky pimples at bay. 

Washing away this bacteria and dirt can also help prevent fungal infections like ringworm, which typically develop in warm, moist environments like your armpits, groin, or anywhere that sweat is trapped and can’t escape from tight clothing.

So my sweat does not stink

It’s also important to wash your body to meet social and professional standards. Many workplaces and employers require good hygiene practices. 

If you show up to a client meeting smelling like you just rolled around with a few pigs, it’s highly unlikely those clients will want to continue doing business with you, let alone the rest of your team.

Your skin is covered with millions of sweat glands, and when excess bacteria breaks down the sweat these glands excrete, you get foul odors.

So, avoid becoming the office outcast and make sure you wash away that sweat and bacteria on a daily basis. Speaking of which, let’s take a look at the best ways to wash your body.

How to Properly Wash Your Body as a Man in 6 Simple Steps

1. Use a Product that’s Appropriate for your Skin and Cleaning Needs

plastic bottles of body care

The first step to washing your body properly as a man is choosing the right product for your skin. Many off-the-shelf body washes and soaps you can find in retail stores contain harsh chemicals that will technically get you clean, but might also irritate your skin in the process.

To illustrate, imagine your arm is coated in mud and you need to wash it off. If you pour acid on your arm the dirt will be removed, but you’ll probably burn your skin off, too. Technically, you’re clean, but you’re definitely not happy.

As a general rule of thumb, I recommend avoiding body washes and body soaps that contain artificial fragrances, parabens, phthalates, sulfates, or PEGs. Even if you don’t have noticeably sensitive skin, these harsh chemicals can dry your skin, lead to irritation, and even disrupt your body’s hormone production.

Not sure where to find such a well-to-do, chemical-free product?

Award-winning skincare company, Geologie, has just released a line of body washes that smell so good you’ll want to drink them (please don’t).

Geologie Superclean Body Wash
(Get 20% off with code TAM20)

Between the amazing scent and strong lather, the Superclean Body Wash is making me think twice about being a die-hard bar soap user. That said, if Geologie were to ever come out with a bergamot and juniper bar soap, (wink wink, nudge nudge) I’d likely never use another product.

Check Price

The Superclean Body Wash moisturizes your skin as it cleans with a gentle lather, and is dermatologist-tested, vegan, and cruelty-free. 

My favorite scent is the Hana, which is characterized by deep jasmine and clove. These two scents combine for an indulgent, musky, yet fresh scent profile that jettison you to the shores of Maui’s mysterious eastern edge.

I generally steer clear of body washes because of the effort required to get a full-body lather, but Geologie’s Superclean Body Washes have a thicker formulation than most that lathers easily and spreads far.

Best of all, they sell refill pouches of their body wash that use 84% less plastic than traditional packaging. 

If you’ve dealt with sensitive skin, dry skin, or just want a body wash that doesn’t contain weird chemicals, the Superclean Body Wash from Geologie will do you right. 

2. Wash Your Entire Body Once Per Day

handsome man taking shower white

There’s a surprising amount of controversy around what parts of your body to wash and how often you need to wash them. 

It all seems to stem back to several celebrities admitting that they don’t shower every day and sometimes don’t use soap. However,  even before them there have been those who claim the body is self-cleaning and washing too often destroys the skin’s microbiome. 

There are enough opinions from certified professionals on both sides out there to make your head spin, so we’re going to stick with the safe option: wash your entire body once per day. 

closeup handsome asian man taking

Now, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t, at one time, share the popular belief among men that the soap you use to wash your torso trails down your legs and effectively cleans your calves and feet. I’d rather not talk about it.

However, I’ve experienced enough horrific smells wafting up from my feet after wearing shoes all day to have fully embraced the full body scrub, including my calves and feet. 

Also, when I say, “whole body” I mean even where the sun don’t shine. A viral TikTok exposed a surprising number of men who don’t regularly wash the ‘ol third eye, and there’s absolutely no excuse for that. Don’t be that guy, I beg of you.

Think of it this way: if you wash your entire body every day, the worst consequence is dry skin. 

Problem skin

On the other hand, if you opt to not wash your body every day the worst consequence gets hard to pin down, but likely lands somewhere between nose hair-curling body odor and a fungal infection. 

Stick with the safe option of washing your whole body on a daily basis, and make sure you have a body wash or soap that moisturizes as it cleans so you don’t dry your skin or cause irritation. 

Geologie’s Superclean Body Washes are a great choice here, again. If the deep jasmine and clove scent doesn’t interest you, they offer two other scents: Big Sur and Moab.

geologie moab superclean body wash bergamot juniper
Our favorite body wash—the Geologie Superclean Body Wash

Big Sur is characterized by a hefty dose of eucalyptus that brings to mind the misty, towering cliffside forests in California, and Moab smells of bergamot and crisp desert cedar, which brought me back to the open skies and wildflower canyons of the American Southwest.

3. Put Your Loofah or Washcloth in a Place Where It Can Dry Completely

Skin cleansing products

Another surprisingly controversial washing best practice is whether to use just your hands, a loofah, or a washcloth. 

Many sources discourage the use of loofahs and washcloths due to the fact that they can easily breed bacteria after use, and in some cases people have gotten pink eye and staph infections from bacteria-riddled washing tools. 

Thus, these sources generally encourage the use of just clean hands when washing your body. 

That said, the risk of getting an infection from a loofah or washcloth is very low. You can drastically increase your chances of contracting something foul by sharing your washcloth with someone else or washing an open wound with an old loofah, but most of us have the common sense to not do that. 

Soft bath towels on grey background

If you prefer to use a washcloth or loofah because you feel that you can get more clean than using just your hands, go right ahead. 

However, I recommend that you put your loofah or washcloth in a place where it can completely dry afterwards, as this will prevent excessive and dangerous bacteria growth. 

And while you’re at it, swap out the washcloth frequently (experts recommend every day or two) and clean your loofah in a diluted bleach solution at least once per week.

4. Don’t Use Too Much Body Wash or Soap

Handsome man taking shower at home

Since we’ve decided that washing your entire body once per day is a safe bet, be careful to not use too much soap. 

I know, it sounds counterintuitive, but since washing every day can lead to dry skin with the wrong body wash, using too much body wash can only make this issue worse

Experts recommend a less-is-more approach when it comes to using the appropriate amount of body wash. Generally, a quarter-sized amount is sufficient to lather and spread across your whole body, but it depends on the size of your body.

A quarter-size squirt of body wash is a good place to start. Scale up or down as needed, depending on how much body area you have. If you’re partial to bar soap, try to only use as much as is needed to lather across your whole body. 

5. Wash with Water That Isn’t Too Hot

Shower head

In a similar vein to not using too much soap, make sure your shower or bath water isn’t scalding. 

Robert Anolik, a New York dermatologist, recommends tepid and lukewarm water, ideally in a range of 98 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Washing with water that’s too hot can compromise the skin’s protective moisture barrier, which affects the overall look, feel, and health of your skin. This means you’re more prone to acne, dry skin, psoriasis, and other skin ailments.

Afro American man taking shower

Despite the fact that there are few things as relaxing as a hot shower after a long day, it’s not the best for your skin. 

If you’re super attached to washing in water that’s hot enough to burn away your skin’s moisture barrier, I recommend doing that every other day so you can still have the best of both worlds. 

That way, your skin’s protective barrier has more time to recover and you’ll reduce the chance of adverse effects to your skin.

6. Stick with Showers over Baths for Regular Washing

Man taking a bath in bathroom

When it comes to washing properly as a man, you can’t beat a good shower. 

Soap and body wash that’s applied to your skin lifts off dirt, dead skin cells, and excess oil, and then the shower water rinses it off and away down the drain. 

Baths, on the other hand, will also remove this surface dirt and debris from your skin, but then you’re left to stew in the mix of soap and crud you just cleaned off.

Plus, to effectively lather the soap across your body you’d probably have to stand up in the bathtub or find some other way to lift your limbs out of the water. Since you’re standing, you might as well be taking a shower.

Handsome man with bottle of shampoo taking shower

Don’t get me wrong—I love a good bubble bath. But when it comes to washing properly the experts agree that a shower is the cleaner and more efficient option. 

How to Shower Properly

To shower properly, keep in mind steps 1-5 from above, and:

  1. Use the right soap for your skin: Some soaps contain irritating chemicals that can dry out your skin or cause it to break out. Stick to soaps that are free from sulfates, artificial fragrances, parabens, and phthalates. We recommend Geologie’s line of Superclean body washes, which are free from harmful chemicals and smell amazing.
  2. Wash your entire body once per day: There’s lots of debate over whether it’s necessary to wash your body every day, but we’d rather be safe than stinky. Wash your entire body, including the nooks, crannies, crevices, calves, and feet, once per day.
  3. Put your loofah or washcloth in a place where it can dry completely: You don’t have to use a loofah or washcloth to properly clean yourself, but if you do, make sure you hang it in a place where it will completely dry to discourage bacteria growth.
  4. Don’t use too much body wash or soap: Using too much soap can cause your skin to be dried out and become irritated. 
  5. Wash with water that isn’t too hot: Similar to washing with too much soap, washing with water that’s too hot can also dry out your skin and remove the protective skin barrier of healthy, natural oils that keeps your skin nourished and healthy. Experts recommend showering with water that’s between 98 and 105 degrees Fahrenheit.

Shower Up

Now that you have all the tools and knowledge to wash properly, you can kiss that pesky, dry skin and encroaching body odor goodbye forever. 

Even better, when someone asks you if you wash between your toes, you don’t have to answer, “Of course!” and avert your eyes while thinking, “I should really start washing between my toes.”

While you might not shower with as much soap or as much heat, these tips will keep your skin healthy, clean, and nourished. Choosing the right soap for your skin and washing your entire body once per day will keep you fresh and smelling good.

Geologie Superclean Body Wash
(Get 20% off with code TAM20)

Between the amazing scent and strong lather, the Superclean Body Wash is making me think twice about being a die-hard bar soap user. That said, if Geologie were to ever come out with a bergamot and juniper bar soap, (wink wink, nudge nudge) I’d likely never use another product.

Check Price

If you know someone who staunchly believes that their calves and feet will clean themselves, or someone who could benefit from having less body odor, share this article with them! They’ll thank you later.

FAQs

Are baths or showers better for washing your body?

Showers are better than baths for washing your body. The running water in showers rinses away the dirt and oil you lift off with soap, while a bath makes you sit in the gunk you just washed off.

Should you use a washcloth, loofah, or just your hands to wash your body?

You can use any of these to wash your body as long as they’re clean. Washcloths and loofahs need to be hung to dry completely after you use them, or otherwise they’ll breed harmful bacteria. It’s recommended that you swap out or clean your washcloths and loofahs once every few days.

How often should a man wash his body?

At least once per day.

How long should a man be in the shower?

10 to 15 minutes, which is enough time to clean your whole body and won’t cause your skin to become excessively dry.

How do you wash your back without a loofah?

Use a scrubbing bristle brush. Apply soap directly to the head of the bristle brush, then scrub the brush across your back in small circles.