Advantages of a Shower vs Sponge Bath vs Walk-in Tub

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Advantages of a shower vs sponge bath vs walk-in tub

When a mobility issue prevents an individual from being able to comfortably perform their activities of daily living, it can be as deflating to his or her emotional state as much as it is to his or her physical strength. In our previous blogs, we discussed the fact that bathing – one of those all-important everyday tasks – becomes one of the most difficult activities to perform when mobility is hindered. We also noted that some of the suggested mobility solutions tended to present more problems than they did actual solutions.

When a loved one endures a debilitating injury or illness, his or her life undergoes some significant changes. Not the least of which is facing difficulty with bathing. Bathing is no small matter, as most of us consider it a vital daily task. So what happens when someone with a major mobility issue is unable to bathe himself/herself? Generally speaking, this is when sponge baths become part of daily life.

Sponge Bath

Especially during one’s elongated hospital stay, a sponge bath can become part of a regular routine. That is also known as a bed bath. This type of bathing technique is pretty much what it sounds like. It entails a caregiver using a wet sponge to cleanse all areas of the body of a person who is confined to a bed. Needless to say, this doesn’t exactly provide the ideal bathing experience for the person with a mobility issue.

Walk-in Tubs

The sponge bath, as we pointed out, eliminates privacy and just doesn’t give the type of thorough and refreshing clean that a shower with running water can provide. As a result, walk-in tubs are often recommended for seniors and those who have difficulty walking. Walk-in tubs, however, don’t exactly address many of the problems had by those with mobility issues either. That’s why there are many advantages of showers with running water over walk-in tubs.


As you can imagine, an actual shower that uses running water is far more preferred. Quite simply, it can’t be beaten in the world of bathing. For those with mobility issues, a running shower is a far better solution than a sponge bath or a walk-in tub. To reiterate, there is just no comparison for a number of reasons. Truthfully, there are several advantages of showers with running water over sponge baths and walk-in tubs. Here are some of the reasons:

1. Showers Provide a Much Better Clean

Showers provide a much better clean - shower bay

It should probably go without saying that when an individual has the opportunity to bathe under running water, he/she is going to get cleaner than if he/she was confined to a bed. Lathering up with soap or body wash and having it completely rinsed off under the running water provides a fresh and revitalized feeling that a damp sponge simply cannot provide. Lovers of personal hygiene simply won’t settle for anything less.

2. Showers Allow You to Properly Wash Your Hair

Showers allow you to properly wash your hair -shower bay

Many people who have experienced sponge baths complain that they don’t get a full clean. And that’s partly because of the infrequency of shampooing that takes place. As mentioned earlier, there’s nothing like running water to get the suds adequately rinsed from your body. This goes double for our hair. During a sponge bath, a recipient is a lot less likely to get proper shampoo for his or her hair.

3. Showers Provide Ample Privacy

Shower bay 1- santa cruz, ca

Everyone knows that a shower is an intimate experience. For the most part, it’s an activity that people prefer to do in privacy. A sponge bath not only eliminates privacy because of the requirement of a caregiver, but it can also be a violating experience. The unpleasantness associated with having someone else bathe you –especially if that person is a stranger –can cause one not to wish to bathe at all.

4. Showers Prevent You from Getting Cold While Waiting for a Tub to Fill and Drain

Old lady enjoying shower

One of the most glaring disadvantages of a walk-in tub is that a user must enter it and shut the door before turning on the water. This means that he or she must sit there and wait for the tub to fill. This can be incredibly inconvenient if it takes time to:

  1. Get the water to be the right temperature and
  2. Get the water to fill the tub to avoid being cold.

Naturally, waiting for the bath to drain also presents a user with the potential to get chilly. One must sit there dripping wet while the tub drains before he or she can open the door and exit. That’s not exactly a comfortable situation. Occupational therapist and founder of pointed out that the process to both fill and drain a walk-in tub can take up to ten minutes each! She goes so far as to suggest that buying a walk-in tub could be your “biggest mistake.”

5. Showers Allow You to Submerge in Water for a Complete Clean

Advantages of a shower vs sponge bath vs walk-in tub 1

Arguably, walk-in bathtubs should be renamed “sit-in bathtubs.” This is because that is precisely what a user must do while bathing. However, sitting upright in a bathtub isn’t exactly the same as being relaxed and reclined the way one would be when lying down in a traditional bathtub. More importantly, traditional bathtubs allow users to submerge themselves in water.

The ability to have water cleanse your entire body is also a great benefit of a shower with running water. However, as Bonecutter mentions, with walk-in tubs, “if you are of an average or above-average height, there is a good chance that only the lower half of your body will be fully submerged. So if you envision warm water soothing your aching back, neck, and shoulders, you are likely to be left feeling sorely disappointed.”

6. Showers are Safer for Individuals Who Are Unable to Walk

Showers are safer for individuals who are unable to walk

By their very name, in fact, walk-in tubs imply that a user can adequately walk. Bonecutter notes that “in fact, you need to be able to walk fairly steadily, as many walk-in tubs still have a step
you must raise your feet over, a narrow doorway to pass through, and a door to contend with while you’re entering and exiting. If you are someone who relies on a walker for stability, then this is likely to be more stepping and maneuvering than you will feel safe and comfortable doing.”

If you are a wheelchair user, you will also run into issues with the walk-in tub. There is no access for you to stay safely seated in your wheelchair and roll in. You will be forced to do a scary and risky step from your wheelchair to the walk-in tub. This can become even more dangerous transferring out of the walk-in tub because the tub will be wet and slippery and increasing the chances for a slip or fall.

Why Our Customers Love Their Shower Bay?

At Forward Day, we’ve found that one of the top reasons that our customers have for being interested in our Shower Bay portable shower is because of the dignity that they are bound to restore in their users. It’s important to remember that when facing a mobility issue, an individual endures both physical and emotional hardships. Regaining independence and self-confidence through the use of an actual shower, we’ve found, is one of the top benefits of taking advantage of the Shower Bay.

Advantages of a shower vs sponge baths

Unlike a bed bath and walk-in tubs, the Shower Bay offers a legitimate shower experience that allows users to enjoy thorough cleans. As well they provide additional safety as users can roll their shower wheelchairs directly in and out of the portable showers. This eliminates the risk of slipping and falling either during the shower or during a transfer from a wheelchair to a traditional tub. Shower can be enjoyed in a relaxing environment with one’s dignity fully intact.

It’s time to make unpleasant sponge baths things of the past! If you have any questions about how our Shower Bay portable showers can help with that, please don’t hesitate to contact us to ask them. Give us a call at 1-877-223-8999 or email us at

First Published on: Feb 20, 2017

Updated: Mar 31, 2023

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