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Thursday, July 17, 2014

How Germany Changed Me in the Bathroom


When you move to a new country, there are certain changes that you expect. The food at the grocery store will be different. The shows on TV will be different. The way people talk on the street will be different. Still, there are always some little things that surprise you. That is why I have decided to start a new little series called "How Germany Changed Me..."

Since this idea came to me as I was taking a shower one day, we will start in the bathroom. From personal care products to hygiene habits, here are some parts of my bathroom routine that changed since I moved to Germany.

1. Deodorant

At least 90 percent of the deodorant selection in U.S. stores is solid deodorants. So, it was only natural that I used these stick deodorants my entire life. Once I came to Germany, however, I realized that the deodorant selection looked quite different. Instead of 90 percent solid deodorants, German stores offer 90 percent spray deodorants.


Although the sticks are still available here, I figured I would just do as the Germans do and purchased spray deodorants. After using spray deodorant for about one year now, I can honestly say that I do not really have much of an opinion on the matter. Deodorant is deodorant, and they all seem to work fine.

2. Tampons

I can still remember the first time I learned that most Germans use tampons without applicators. It was in 2011, when I came to study abroad in Germany during my senior year of college. I was with one of my American friends, and she told me she went shopping for tampons the day before. She was really confused by how small the boxes were for the number of tampons it claimed were inside. She purchased a box anyways and was shocked to realize they did not have applicators when she got home.


So, when my time of the month came a few weeks later, I decided to dive right in and do as the Germans do once again. I figure these tampons produce less waste, take up less room in a purse, and I really like them overall. The most popular brand of non-applicator tampons is o.b., which is a German company that literally stands for "without pad" (ohne Binde). This brand is sold in the U.S. as well, so I continued to use non-applicator tampons even when I moved back to the U.S. in 2012.

3. Hanging Towels

What do you do with a wet towel after the shower? Unless you are lucky enough to own a towel rack (we're not), you hang it on a hook. If you are American, you probably hang it on the hook like this:


At least, I always did. Since moving to Germany, however, I realized that Germans, being the masters of efficiency that they are, found a better way to hang towels. 


All towels in Germany have a loop tag on one end of the towel (do the towels in the U.S. have that too?), and the Germans hang their towels with this tag. This allows the towel to hang much straighter, and thereby, dry faster. Genius!

4. Epilating

I actually did not first learn about epilating in Germany, but rather from a French roommate that I had during my senior year of college. She said that she had always used an epilator to remove the hair on her legs, and actually showed me how she did it. Basically, the epilator's rotating head of tweezers grabs the hairs and rips them out very quickly. After watching her do this, I was both horrified and intrigued. So, I bought one for myself.


As far as I can tell, epilators are quite popular throughout Europe. Though they are also sold in the U.S., they are not nearly as common. I do not use my epilator very regularly, mostly due to pure laziness. I do like it, however, and suggest it for anyone that is willing to go through a little bit of pain in order to shave their legs less frequently.

5. Showering

I already touched on this a little bit in my German bathroom tour, but moving to Germany has also had an effect on the way I shower. 


The biggest difference is due to the handheld shower head. These are quite rare in the U.S., but seem to be the norm in Germany. Although I do keep it mounted on the wall throughout most of the shower, I do take it in my hand when I rinse off my legs and feet.

Have any of your personal hygiene habits changed after a move to a new place?

5 comments:

  1. This is so cool! I never thought about all these little differences and honestly, I thought tampons without applicators, handheld shower heads and epilators are totally normal - I'm so German! :D Anyway it's so interesting to compare cultures not by means of food or mentality but by bathroom culture! Like you're in France and see a bidet for the first time in your life and think it's for washing your feet :D I heard that in the US you can find paper toilet covers everywhere? I think that's what we need in most public restrooms at train stations in Germany too!

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  2. Great post - interesting way to look at changes expat life brings.

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  3. Van B we do have toilet covers in most public restrooms but when in doubt take good old toilet paper and make your own :-p

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  4. The demands for hygiene can be very different. At Zeiler, we believe hygiene is comfort, Visits us at #waschraumhygiene http://www.zeiler-matten.de/waschraum/waschraum-spender

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