Tag Archives: hygiene

An Experimental Sponge Bath

Quite a while ago I wrote and posted How Do I Adult: Showering. Some people responded with comments about difficulty in the actual sensation of water hitting them through the shower head. There can be possible solutions to this just by changing the way the water flows through the shower head, but recently I thought it might be worth looking into how sponge baths work.

There seems to be a general assumption out there that sponge baths are either for people who are bedridden or for people who do not have running water, and all of the instructions I could find out there are specifically directed for those groups. I took the information and modified it a bit, since I can move around and do have running water, and did an experiment. Here’s how it went!

The initial set-up wound up being more about what worked best in my bathroom rather than about any limitations my body had. I took a large aluminum mixing bowl, plopped a spoonful of baking soda in it, filled it with hot water, and placed it in the bathroom sink. I put a towel on the floor to stand on in order to catch most of my drips. Then I grabbed a washcloth, dunked it in the bowl to get it wet, and got to scrubbing.

Basically, I would get the washcloth wet, scrub a part of my body, and then re-dunk the wash cloth. This actually was a very quick process and only took a few minutes to scrub my whole body. After that I put the washcloth aside and leaned forward to dunk my head in the water in order to wash my hair. I got my hair nice and wet and combed it to get the baking soda through it.

Next up I dumped the used water down the shower drain and set the bowl aside. I got the water running in the sink again and stuck my head under it to rinse my hair. I also decided that I wanted to soap up the parts of my body that are most prone to being sweaty or smelly – namely, my armpits and my genitals. So I grabbed some soap and quickly soaped up those spots. Then I used my wet washcloth to wipe the soap bath off, wiping and rinsing the washcloth in running water in the sink.

I have read that it is not necessary to rinse after a baking soda bath, but I decided to rinse myself anyway. Keeping the water running in the sink I rinsed out the washcloth I had used, and then lightly rubbed myself down with it much the same way I did to wash myself. I got it nice and wet with the water, wiped down a part of my body, and repeated until I was done.

Now all the was left was final clean up! I dried off with a towel the same way I would after a regular shower. I used the towel on the floor to wipe up any water splatter on the floor, and I rinsed out the bowl I had used for the baking soda bath. Finally, I hung up the towels used and put everything away.

Alternatives

I did things the way that I did mostly because my tub/shower gets cranky when the water is switched from the shower head to the faucet. Another way to do this would be to get into your tub like usual and sit down – either right in the tub or on a shower stool. You could also skip the baking soda entirely and just scrub with water, though you’d probably still want to use soap on armpits and genitals. Yet another option would be to go ahead and soap up entirely. Since you would still have access to running water, you could use a cup to catch water from the faucet and pour it over yourself to rinse. Hopefully that would still allow for a thorough cleaning while avoiding potential sensory difficulties from the shower head.

I imagine there are any number of variations that are possible that I haven’t thought of at all, that could accommodate different people’s needs or bathroom arrangements.

Final Thoughts

Overall I am happy with this experiment. Both my skin and hair feel lovely and soft, and I still felt refreshed and clean once I was done. I am not always very good at showering quickly and especially have difficulty getting water a temperature that I am happy stepping into. This was much faster and water temperature had a lot more flexibility to it since I did not have to stick my whole body into it. Also, it is currently hot and sticky out, and my bathroom is not temperature controlled. Being able to just stand there wet, without anything hot (or even warm) beating against me was quite nice.

The bad part: I still got itchy! So itchy! There are a number of possible explanations I can see for this:

  1. I am prone to itchiness when it is hot and sticky anyway, particularly after a shower. It’s possible that my itchies were just typical post-bathing, hot-weather itches.
  2. I used a harsher washcloth than I usually do. In retrospect, I’m not sure why I did that. Probably something to do with thinking I should “scrub.” That probably made my skin unhappy. In the future, I will stick with my nice, soft, friendly washcloths.
  3. It’s possible I should have rinsed the baking soda better than I did. I am least convinced of those one as the part I rinsed the least (my back) is also a part that is not itchy. However, I may see if I can get my recalcitrant plumbing to cooperate with me and attempt another sponge bath experiment in my tub, so I can rinse with a cup instead of a washcloth.

I currently intend to continue my experiments given how well I think this one went. If it continues to go well, I may even write up a How Do I Adult post about it all. As it is, I do believe it is an experiment I can recommend to other people as worthwhile if showers are difficult for whatever reason.

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How Do I Adult: Tooth Hygiene

Let’s talk about tooth hygiene. Originally this was purely going to be about brushing your teeth, but the more I thought about it the more I realized that I need to include more than simply the mechanics of brushing. So I’m going to go over a few things today that will hopefully make this aspect of being an adult easier. Remember folks – it is ok to need help to learn to adult! There is to be no criticizing or mocking people for wanting assistance.

First things first: Choosing Toothpaste

This might actually be the most important part of this entire write-up. Even among NTs, it is common and normal for people to be incredibly picky about the toothpaste they choose. Adding in possible taste or texture issues to a substance that we are going to be scrubbing around in our mouths can make finding a non-offensive toothpaste incredibly difficult. There is not much I can do to change that, but hopefully going over options and what you can look for will help some.

Before going further, I want to refer you to my How Do I Adult: Making Decisions post. This will hopefully get you started. The primary things I want you to pull from that post for what we are doing here is:

  1. Decide what is important, and do not worry about the rest.
  2. Once you find what you like, just stick with it!

Also, when you are looking for the right toothpaste for you, definitely try to find sample or travel tubes or other small quantities of toothpaste to try, so you don’t wind up investing in lots of full tubes of toothpaste that you can’t stand to use.

However, I am not just going to leave you hanging with nothing else. Now, we move on to the main things to look out for when choosing toothpaste (at least from my point of view); texture and taste.

Texture

Toothpastes actually have a wide variety of textures available, so hopefully if you have issues with texture (like I do), you will still find something that works for you.

First of all, toothpastes tend to be divided up into two big categories of texture – gels and pastes. If you can separate texture from taste, try one of each to see which feels better in your mouth. If you find you distinctly favor one over the other, that’s great! It helps you narrow down what to look for. If both are fine, then you just don’t have to worry about it as you go forward. If both are equally bad, that’s ok too. There are other things you can look into.

Some toothpastes use baking soda in their formulas, which also changes the texture. That would also be something to try.

Now, if having anything goo-like in your mouth is just a non-starter, that’s ok! There are still more options! While not super-common (you may need to buy online), solid teeth-cleaning products also exist. Lush makes a line of tooth tabs, and there are a number of sellers on Etsy, and probably scattered across the internet as well, that make solid teeth-cleaning products. I will expand a bit on how to use them over in the section on the mechanics of cleaning your teeth.

Taste

This one might be tougher if you have issues around taste. Most toothpastes are mint flavored in some way, as we seem to associate mint flavor with pleasant breath. However, these are not the only flavors out there. On this one, there is not much I can tell you besides encouraging you to experiment. Once you know what you need as far as texture, you can look around to try different flavors of toothpaste and find one that is inoffensive. Or maybe even pleasant!

Some things to possibly look for in terms of taste – some toothpastes come in “plain” and don’t have a strong flavor attached. Sulfate-free toothpastes (or other products) will probably also be friendlier to your mouth. Another option is to make your own toothpaste (the internet is awash in recipes) which would let you have a great deal of control over how you flavor it.

Remember – you don’t have to stick with the “standard” options you find in most drug or grocery stores! If those are not working, there are other options! Take a look around and see what you can find.

Now let’s move on to The Mechanics.

First, though, there is one thing I want to make clear. Commercials are lying to you. Ok, obviously this is true, commercials are all about inventing need and convincing you to buy things, but there is something specific here that I am referring to. Commercials and other toothpaste imagery tend to show people putting these big, full, strips of toothpaste on their brushes. That looks pretty for an image, but it is WAY more than you actually need to brush with. In fact, you could easily get away with using only a third of what they sometimes show.

Toothbrush

{Image shows a toothbrush with a small amount of toothpaste on the bristles. This is a far more realistic amount to use to clean your mouth}

The actual mechanics of brushing are pretty straighforward.

  1. Wet your toothbrush. Toothpaste (or whatever you are using) will work better if there is water involved.
  1. Add toothpaste to your brush. Don’t overdo it! Many people say to always squeeze from the bottom, but I lack the manual dexterity for that. Instead, I just go ahead and squeeze from the middle until the toothpaste is at least half gone. Only then do I squeeze it all to the top of the tube, and from then on I squeeze from the bottom of where the toothpaste is. That makes it a lot easier for me.
  1. (optional) Wet your toothbrush again. I do this. Maybe I’m just neurotic.
  1. Start brushing! The big thing here is to remember to brush the ENTIRE surface of your teeth. Personally, I always brush my teeth in the same way every time, so I know I never forget anything. Just remember – brush the outsides of your teeth, the insides, the tops of your lower teeth and the bottoms of your top teeth, reach way back to get your molars or wisdom teeth (if you have them), BEHIND your molars, and all around your gumlines. While you’re at it, also brush the roof of your mouth and your tongue.

I want to mention – I always have to spit halfway through this process. Toothpaste can foam up a lot and become difficult to manage. Just spit out any excess into the sink and continue the cleaning process.

5.  Rinse. You’ll need to rinse both the toothbrush you used, and your mouth. I usually start with my toothbrush, because it’s quick and then I can put it away before I deal with my mouth. Just rinse off any foam or missed toothpaste from the handle and bristles, and put your brush away. Then it’s time to rinse your mouth.

Some people keep a cup in their bathroom specifically for this purpose, other people just cup water in their hands. Do what works best for you. Just put some water in your mouth, swish it around (in both the front and back of your mouth!) and spit it out. Do this several times, until you are no longer spitting out foam along with water.

Many toothpastes will leave your mouth tasting weird for a while and make many foods and beverages taste bad. Personally, I just wait it out – my mouth returns to normal within an hour and I do not find it a terrible inconvenience. If this causes you undue bother, maybe go back to looking for a tasteless or sulfate-free teeth-cleaning product.

If you are using solid tooth tabs (or something along those lines)

Tooth tabs are used slightly differently than toothpaste. Instead of putting it on your toothbrush, stick a tab in your mouth, between your molars, and bite it a couple times. After that, wet your toothbrush, and then continue from step 3 (above).

However, not all solid teeth-cleaning products work this way. The big thing is that since solids are fairly unusual, they will probably come with instructions on how to use them. Just follow the instructions and you should be fine.

The extras

Being thorough with your tooth hygiene means more than regular brushing. It also means regular flossing and mouthwash.

Flossing is for cleaning between your teeth – not just bits of food that got stuck there, but also plaque and such that your brush may have missed. Like toothpaste, you’ll need to find a floss that works for you. Personally, I like floss that is very smooth and easily glides between my teeth.

To floss, break off a length of floss (maybe 18 inches or so), and wind the ends around your middle fingers until there is just a few inches between. I usually wind just a couple of times around my left middle finger, and lots of times around my right. Slide the floss between each of your teeth and move if back and forth a few times to dislodge anything. Ideally go in each between-space twice. When you pull the floss up and out, pull it to the right the first time and the left the second. The idea here is to scrape each side of each tooth with the floss to get it clean.

As plaque or missed bits of food get on the floss, wind it onto one finger and off the next to get to the next few inches of clean floss. Once you are done, wind the floss off your fingers and throw it away.

Compared to all that, mouthwash is pretty easy. Simply put some in your mouth, swish, swish, swish, swish, swish, swish, SO MUCH SWISHING, and finally spit it out into the sink. After that rinse your mouth yet again.

Once you are done, make sure the cap is back on the toothpaste, rinse the sink, and make sure the various things you used are put away where they belong.

Do you have any tips for ways you keep your teeth cleaned? Do you have any ideas for How Do I Adult? Let me know!

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