Bathroom Lean

By Ron Pereira Updated on December 9th, 2008

Here’s a fun question for all you male lean thinkers – in order to streamline the morning bathroom practice of showering, shaving, and brushing your teeth – what is the “leanest” way to go about it.

  • Do each one separately.  In other words, take a shower… get out and shave… and then brush your teeth.
  • Combine the tasks.  In other words, shave and brush your teeth while in the shower.  And in order to help with the shaving part let’s assume a small mirror has been attached to the wall.

What do you think?  And more importantly, why do you think it?

  1. Jason

    December 9, 2008 - 9:16 pm

    One could argue that all of them are non value added, so why bother?

    Shaving while in the shower, certainly, that makes sense, however, I’ve found that I get a better shave outside of the shower.

    Brushing my teeth in the shower, no way! Using hot water to brush my teeth is nasty.

    At the worst, it takes me 10 minutes to get ready. I don’t see the point in leaning the process any more than I have (which includes not putting things in the cabinet).

  2. Dwane Lay

    December 10, 2008 - 7:56 am

    Assuming your setup is appropriate for the method chosen (ie razor, toothbrush, toothpaste being stored near the point of use) your time to perform the tasks should not differ greatly. (Two minutes of brushing is two mintues, regardless of where it is done. Unless, of course, you have a quantum shower stall that can bend the laws of time and space. Then it’s more complex, I think.)

    But assuming one follows the conservation methods of shutting of running water while brushing and shaving it would stand to reason there is more waste (running water) if performing those tasks in the shower. Brushing while the shower is running is certainly more wasteful than brushing with the sink off. The same would apply to shaving for most people.

  3. Barry T

    December 10, 2008 - 8:30 am

    You lean thinkers really have nothing better to do with your time, why not help me with my dissertation on “Getting It Right First Time” ? lets face it we will never change this industry everyones in for the quick ride! Thats of course you can do it in the shower whilst carrying out all the other laborious activities now thats what i call TQM.

  4. Chris

    December 10, 2008 - 9:19 am

    The most important thing to remember in reducing the cycle time required to get ready in the morning is that doing your activities in parallel only saves you time if you are not just substituting one activity for another. For example, something can be said if you currently soap up and just stand there before rinsing off. But, if you are already shave between soaping up and shampooing, you are not really gaining anything. On the other hand, you could just shave off your hair so that shampooing is now not necessary – now, that would be a time reduction. All in all, I feel having everything at the point of use will give you more for the money than “brushing your teeth in the shower”; not to mention the waste of water generated while taking the shower in the first place.

  5. Sune Gynthersen

    December 10, 2008 - 9:29 am

    Why not experiment with both, and see if you can gain more insight into the process? For instance, I have no clue which approach has the shortest lead time, but an experiment might generate additional knowledge. Personally I would have concerns about the quality of my shaving and brushing, if I had to do it concurrently with showering.

    I’m wondering if there is a point in realizing the value in smaller batches by doing each task separately. Maybe your wife stops by the bathroom half way through the process, and a completed shave and brush would be perceived as delivered value.

    Thanks for a great site Ron!

  6. Quinn

    December 10, 2008 - 10:52 am

    1.Don’t shave everyday if you can get away with it (and when you do shave, shave at night your wife might appreciate a clean shave before bed ;). I realize some mountain men can’t get away with this, and not all wives prefer a clean shave.

    2. Shower at night before you go to bed that way you don’t take all the dirt and BO from your day into bed with you.

    3. Morning bathroom routine is reduced to brushing teeth and any other grooming.

  7. John G. Sparks

    December 10, 2008 - 12:03 pm

    Since all 3 actions require the use of at least one hand and are difficult to do
    simultaneously, I believe they must be done one at a time. In my case, shaving takes about 10 minutes, brushing my teeth takes about 2 minutes, and showering takes about 5 minutes. If I did all 3 in the shower, then I’d be using 2.5 gallons of water for 17 minutes. Currently I only use that much for 5 minutes because I turn the water on and off as needed while brushing my teeth and shaving, so I’d be wasting a lot of water. I also prefer to shave with hot water, shower with warm water, and brush my teeth with cold water. Doing all 3 in the shower forces me to compromise on 2 of the 3.

    So the bottom line is, do them separately to achieve higher customer
    satisfaction and reduce water usage.

  8. Ed Bankson

    December 10, 2008 - 12:07 pm

    Hey, Barry T. It seems you also have nothing better to do since you read and commented on this post. Personally, I love these types of discussions since they make me think about Lean in a new way. Somehow I doubt your long dissertation would do the same.

  9. Henry Loo

    December 10, 2008 - 12:08 pm

    What about eliminate the entire shaving process by waxing or electrolysis? Not only would it save time but also the time and cost of buying razer, gel, shampoo and all other consumables on a regular basis? As well as using less water and cause less harm to the environment by not discharging soapy chemicals and disposal of sharp razer. It might even improve the outlook of some of the men in question.

  10. Miket

    December 10, 2008 - 5:48 pm

    I brush my teeth after I eat breakfast.

  11. Steve

    December 11, 2008 - 6:19 am

    I tried shaving in the shower and got a tingling sensation that only went away after I stepped out of the shower and turned off the shaver at the power point….
    As Ron said – its only ” a fun question….”….!

  12. Chris

    December 11, 2008 - 8:00 am

    I personally go with the don’t shave as long as you can get away with it veiw mentioned above, but when I do shave I shave first, but don’t rinse my face off until I am in the shower – very minor savings, but least wasteful of water and time.

  13. GrahamC

    December 12, 2008 - 3:31 pm

    Sune Gynthersen has the right idea – Experiment, don’t do the mental guesswork. Trystorm! (but yes, i appreciate it’s for a blog and it’s less interesting if all you did was report back your findings)

    p.s. I use an electric shaver so definitely no shaving in the shower for me!

  14. miket

    December 12, 2008 - 3:35 pm

    My electric shaver is recarbable, your supposed to run it in the sink to clean it out. I think its waterproof.

  15. GrahamC

    December 13, 2008 - 2:59 pm

    One trystorm i’m not too keen to experiment with! But correct, you just challenged my assumptions :>

  16. miket

    December 13, 2008 - 3:22 pm

    A minute of googlefu and i learned razors designed for shower use have o-rings. Dont trystorm with the ac cord attached though! I would lookup the manual for your shavers model number on the manafacturer website and see if it says anythign about water or showers.

  17. miket

    December 13, 2008 - 3:27 pm

    A minute of googlefu and i learned razors designed for shower use have o-rings. The batteries arent that high of a voltage so i doubt you could shock yourself in the event you ruined it. I would lookup the manual for your shavers model number on the manafacturer website and see if it says anything about water or showers.

  18. miket

    December 13, 2008 - 3:27 pm

    er dc cord

  19. Mike

    January 2, 2009 - 10:06 pm

    Brush my teeth? Hmmm…

  20. Bill Spohnholtz

    January 7, 2009 - 12:48 pm

    For me doing them all in the shower was a huge saving since regardless of the amount of “work” remaining after the shower I was going to sit in the shower until the hot water ran out. For me the ultimate saving would be buying a smaller hot water tank.

    Love the blog

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