What are the most relaxing bath ideas? I just finished a month-long investigation. It all started because I felt I was short on “me time.” Of course, whenever I got some me-time I headed for the bathtub. But I wanted to make the absolute most of it. At last, the results are in!
Presenting the most blissful ways to bathe that go beyond the usual bath bombs and soft music! In this ultimate guide to relaxing bath ideas, I’ll tell the secrets for each of these incredibly calming, restorative bath ideas. Test them out until you find the ones that relax you to the max. (And if you’re looking to relax in the bath with your significant other, check out my top 10 Romantic Bath Ideas.)
The ideas below involve bountiful bubbles, deep breaths, skin soothers, sips while you soak, and playful fun in the tub.
1. Bathe in Champagne
There’s nothing ordinary about Champagne. Unlike regular wine that’s made from one kind of grape, Champagne is made from three types of grapes: two kinds of black grapes and one type of white grapes.
The great news is that you don’t need to fill your tub with 350 bottles like Marilyn Monroe reportedly did. (She must have had an extra-large tub to hold all that glittery gold liquid.)
Also, you don’t need to spend 25,000 GBP to take a Dom Pérignon bath. (This is what visitors to the Cadogan Hotel in London did in 2012 to mark the hotel’s 125th anniversary.)
Instead, you can benefit by adding these simple ingredients to your bath:
- 1 cup of Champagne
- 1 cup of Epsom Salts
- ½ cup melted coconut oil (microwave for 20 seconds)
- 6 drops of essential rose oil, if available
Simply mix the ingredients well and pour into your warm bathwater.
The champagne bath will help cleanse your pores, Epsom salts will reduce soreness and muscle tension, and the coconut oil will moisturize your skin. The rose scent can help relieve stress.
2. Splash in the World’s Bubbliest Bubble Bath
The secret to the world’s bubbliest bubble bath is knowing a little bubble science. Here’s the lesson: Bubbles are made up of air, soap and water.
Without the soap, you could have a water bubble, but a water bubble will disappear in seconds.
It’s the rainbow sheen on the oily soap bubble that fascinates us, and it’s the way soap bubbles float and fly and pop that thrills us.
According to Scienceline.org:
Like a balloon, a bubble is a thin layer of stretchy film around a pocket of air. Unlike a balloon, the bubble is made of liquid.
With that in mind, to create the largest bubble possible, our challenge becomes to get as much air flowing into our soapy water mixture. Here are some pointers for how to make the World’s Bubbliest Bubble Bath:
- Start with a few inches of water in the tub.
- Pick a higher-end bubble bath product. Better ingredients are more likely to yield bigger, better bubbles.
- Put the bubble bath directly under the bath faucet. Let the water pressure fill the soap with pockets of air.
You can also try using jets if you have these on your tub or a soap spinner device like in the video above.
3. Dissolve Your Ouchies with a Jacuzzi Bath Mat
A jacuzzi bath mat is a long mat with suction cups under it. You attach it to the bottom of your bathtub and connect an air hose that blows bubbles into your tub, massaging your back in the process. Some of these even come with a built-in heater. (Read about my favorite jacuzzi bath mat here.)
But beware of the tremendous bubbleocity!
If you add bubble bath while using an underwater bubble massager, then proceed with caution. Try half the recommended amount, as the air generated by the massager may exceed the bubble quotient that can be held in your tub.
If the bottom of your tub is textured, you might have problems attaching the suction cups and in that case, you’ll want to try an alternative. In this case, you might choose to turn your regular old bathtub into a Jacuzzi? You can get DIY kits and install jets in a regular bathtub, and in this Bathtubber post, we tell you exactly how to transform your standard tub into a whirlpool.
Using the jacuzzi bath mat is one of my favorite ways to relax in the bath.
4. Order a Bath Subscription Box
What could be better than a regular infusion of soothing, fun bath products to reduce stress? Probably not too much.
Sign up for a quarterly or monthly subscription, and get a box full of 6-10 goodies, including bath bombs, sugar scrubs, bubble bars, bubble bath and more. Getting a bath subscription box is committing to your regular self-care. And as everyone (or at least Oprah) says, when you care for yourself, you’re in a much better position to take care of others.
5. Get Bathroom Plants to Breathe Better in the Tub
Plants give us oxygen to breathe. What better way to create healthy air for deep breathing in the bathtub than to choose a little greenery for your bathroom?
A famous 1989 NASA study found that plants can actually reduce toxins in the air. Some scientists claim this is not reproduced by houseplants, because in a home there is so much outdoor air constantly swirling inside, clearing out the detoxifying effect.
Yet stop and think about it: Is your bathroom is more like a spaceship than an open-plan living room? Exactly.
And that’s why it’s time to get thee to a nursery.
But many people are intimidated by the idea of bathroom plants. “Ha!” they say. “My bathroom has no natural light.” Or “My bathroom is so small!”
Don’t let these fears stop you.
Whether you’ve got no natural light or an abundance—whether your bathroom is tiny or huge—in my post 23 Best Plants for Your Bathroom, you’ll be able to identify the perfect plant for your bathroom.
6. Practice Bathtub Meditation
The idea of meditation is to quiet your mind and be fully in the present. Focus on your breath. What better place to do this than in a bathtub?
Of course, you don’t want to meditate in the tub if you’re sleepy, but remember, meditation is about awareness.
Many people have trouble meditating due to back pain or other discomfort they feel when sitting in the typical lotus position. Bathtub meditation is different. You can lie down if it makes you feel better. The idea is to get comfortable and focus on the breath.
There are other benefits of meditating in the bathtub instead of dry land. For one thing, it’s easier to escape technology in the bathroom—the beeps and pings that can disrupt a sitting meditation practice.
There is a type of breathing called alternate nostril breathing that is great for helping beginner mediators keep the concentration on the breath. It’s a great way to practice bathtub meditation. You can read all about how to do alternate nostril breathing in this post on Bathtub Meditation.
7. Make DIY Aromatherapy Bath Scrubs
I love body scrubs. They are one of my favorite relaxing bath ideas. There’s something rejuvenating about peeling away the dead layer to reveal something new and alive beneath it.
Plus, bath salts smell good.
Once I figured out how to make them myself—and how incredibly easy it is—I never bought them again. Most people don’t realize how simple it is to make a pretty jar of salt scrubs. (As a result, salt scrubs make an excellent homemade gift, something easy to make in bulk, too.)
The Basic Salt Scrub Formula
First, understand the basic formula:
What’s fun about salt scrubs is that anything goes—and everything works.
A Closer Look at Ingredients
Let’s break down the basic formula now:
Salt – Use 2 cups. Try Epsom salts for relief from muscle aches or Himalayan Pink Salt to reduce inflammation. (Himalayan Pink Salt takes longer to dissolve in your bath.)
Soap Dye (Optional) – If you want to color your salts, add 6 drops of soap dye or 1 Tablespoon mica, which is a dry powdered coloring for soaps. There are all-natural soap dyes available, too. Once you add the color, mix well with your hands.
Essential Oil – This is for the aromatherapeutic effects. Generally 4-6 drops will work well, diluted in 1 Tbsp of carrier oil. That said, read the label on your bottle. Don’t add more than is recommended for one bath. If you do and you have sensitive skin, the oil can irritate you. Mix well. Patch test essential oils on your skin before using.
Some of my favorite essential oils include:
- Ylang-Ylang for Calm
- Lavender for Relaxation
- Rose for Peace and Restoration
Carrier Oil – A carrier oil is a less potent plant or seed-based oil. It helps disperse the essential oil and reduce any irritation caused by the potency of essential oils. Carrier oils include coconut oil, sweet almond oil, jojoba oil and hemp seed oil.
Extras – You’ve already got your basic bath scrubs made. Now you can have fun adding extras like 1-2 Tablespoons of your favorite massage oil. Try melted shea butter or melted coconut oil for moisturizing purposes. You can also add a few teaspoons of dried flower petals, dried herbs like fennel or turmeric, or lemon or orange zest.
Holiday DIY Salt Scrub Recipe
I’m thinking of giving this as holiday gifts. It looks so festive!
Here’s the DIY recipe:
- 2 c Epsom salt
- 25-30 drops red soap dye
- 10 drops frankincense essential oil
- 1 Tbsp castor oil
- ½ c fresh rosemary sprigs (separated from the stalk)
Orange Lavender DIY Bath Scrub Recipe
Here’s another go-to bath scrub recipe:
- 2 c Epsom Salt
- 25-30 drops purple soap dye
- 10 drops lavender essential oil
- 2 Tbsp melted coconut oil
- 4 Tbsp Orange Zest
Wrapping Your Bath Scrubs
Be sure to store your bath scrub in an airtight container or a mason jar.
If you’re giving this as a gift, put a little square of fabric over the lid of the mason jar lid. Next, put on a rubber band to secure it. Then wrap with a ribbon. So cute! So thoughtful!
8. Steep Yourself in Herbal Tea
Many of us find drinking tea to be a soothing, nourishing ritual.
But why confine tea to oral consumption, when soaking in it is definitely a relaxing bath idea. Those wonderful herbs are good for your skin and mood, too. The scent of peppermint, for example, is known to calm people. Chamomile soothes. Lavender de-stresses.
You may be tempted to use the tea from your cabinet, but I’ve tried that and it didn’t work. The bags disintegrated. (Well, I did try dunking them in the bathwater quite a bit.) But still, even 4 or 5 bags didn’t give any scent in all that water.
But necessity is the mother of invention. I started doing a bit of surgery on my poofs that I buy for a dollar at the drugstore. I just cut out a little section, because it’s perfect for the homemade tea bags I make for my bath. (And it takes about a minute to make them.)
Part your poofy thing, and you’ll see it’s bunched in the middle with string. Cut one small section out. This will be a square of mesh fabric that you will fill with dried flowers, cloves, shredded ginger, mint leaves or whatever else.
Put in a very generous handful to get the full aromatherapeutic benefit. Tie your bag with a string. (I cut the string off my bath poof if I don’t have any in the house.) Then dunk your teabag in your tub water several times. Also, give it a very gentle squeeze in the bathwater. Then let it steep, while you soak.
What’s fun about bathing in tea is that you can combine varieties to find a combination that suits you best. I like rose petals with cloves.
Find your happy tea bath and enjoy!
9. Apply a Moisturizing Facial Mask While You Soak
There are so many great moisturizing facial masks you can buy. But if you want to whip up something from scratch and spend next to nothing, try this:
Just keep some plain yogurt in the fridge. When you feel like moisturizing in the bathtub, mix a few drops of your favorite essential oil in with a ¼ cup of yogurt and 2 Tbsp raw honey. Then get in the tub.
This will protect your skin from drying out. At the end of your bath, rinse off the mask and then pat your skin with cool water to close the pores. Moisturize with any cream as you normally would.
For excellent suggestions about how to hydrate skin in the tub, check out my conversation with medical aesthetician Ann Webb. She’s got a line of skincare products you may have seen at Whole Foods, and she is a super genius when it comes to all things skin. She also shares her favorite DIY mask in this post.
10. Use a Bath Pillow
Using a bath pillow can take your bathing experience to the next level of comfort—especially if you have neck or back pain. Try a bath pillow like the Gorilla Grip Spa Bath Pillow from Amazon (pictured above). It has 7 suction cups that attach to any smooth-surfaced tub (or Jacuzzi) so it won’t slide around. Plus it’s easy to keep clean and comes in white, grey pale pink and pale blue.
11. Try an Ayurvedic Oil Bath with a Partner
Ayurvedic medicine is an alternate system to Western medicine that was developed in India 3,000 years ago. The foundation of ayurveda is that body, mind and spirit must be in perfect balance in order to achieve peace, well-being and ideal health.
Oil baths are common practice in some areas of Southern India today. The idea is to use oil to draw out the “heat” or “pitta” from the body. Heat is the imbalance created by ingesting unhealthy foods, excess alcohol or tobacco.
By massaging oil into our scalps and across our bodies, ayurvedic healers believe that the heat will be released from the body.
Although castor oil is typically used for oil baths in India, the Indians have a special formula to remove the sticky substance from their hair after the bath. In the US and elsewhere, adherents of the oil bath often prefer to use almond oil, which is easier to wash off.
To begin an oil bath, you don’t actually get in the bathtub. And though you can do this alone, it may be easier and more fun with a partner. You’ll massage the oil into the scalp and body. Then follow with a soapy bath to wash off the oil—and your excess heat!
This video above from the Times of India shows exactly how to do it.
Note: Some people say that menstruating women should avoid this practice.
12. Detoxify Your Skin—and Whole Body!—with a Detox Bath
Take a detox bath and eliminate toxins like pollutants, chemicals and heavy metals by sweating it all out!
Research shows that sweating is one of the most effective ways to cleanse the body of these poisons that we all ingest through pesticides, shampoos, conditioners, etc. Removing them from our system helps our bodies function much more efficiently. Over time, a detox bath can make you feel healthier, less stressed and more energetic. For much more on how to take a detox bath, watch the video above and read this post.
13. Dissolve Some Moisturizing Bath Cubes
Unlike bath bombs, bath cubes slowly dissolve into the water as you soak. Their main purpose is to hydrate your skin.
A word of caution: Since bath cubes are made mostly of oils and butters, don’t use too many at once. You don’t want the bottom of your tub to become too slippery. And even if you only use 2 or 3 at a time, you should still take care getting in and out of the tub when you use bath cubes.
That said, they are sooo worth it! My skin still feels amazing 24 hours after I use them.
Basic Bath Cube Recipe
The basic idea is to melt down your favorite oil or butter. Then add a few drops of essential oil and any extras like dried flower petals or herbs.
Pour the mixture into an old ice cube tray or silicone soap molds and allow to harden in the freezer for 20-30 minutes.
Once your tub is full, drop a few bath cubes into the water. Then get in and savor!
Here’s my super simple, go-to bath cube recipe:
- Put ½ c coconut oil into glass dish and microwave 30 seconds.
- Add 10 drops rose essential oil.
- Put a few dried rose petals on the bottom of each section of an ice cube tray.
- Pour the oil into a liquid measuring cup to make it easier to pour into the ice cube tray. Once full, move the tray into the freezer for 20 minutes.
Flamingo Bath Cubes
I found these little flamingo-shaped soap molds at the craft store. I think they’re so cute, so I’m using them for my bath cubes.
Since they’re shaped like flamingos, I wanted to make my cubes pink, so I added a little pink soap dye.
Here’s the DIY recipe:
- Melt 8 oz of coconut oil for 20 seconds in the microwave
- 10 drops pink soap dye
- 10 drops lavender essential oil
Mix well. This is easier said than done. It’s tricky to add liquid soap dye to oil. It separates. When I mixed the oil and color with a spoon, no luck.
But when I used my finger and mixed really vigorously, I did get some of the color to mix. But there were still pink spots of dye throughout.
Then pour the mixture into your mold. Freeze for 20 minutes.
Drop several into your tub.
Important: You’ll need to leave any leftover bath cubes in a sealed plastic container in the freezer. If you leave them at room temperature, they’ll melt.
14. Drink a Cherry Spritzer
You might be wondering why a cherry spritzer makes the list of relaxing bath ideas. But did you know that tart cherry juice is rich in melatonin? Yeah, the same melatonin you can get as a supplement to help you sleep. Since we’re trying to max our relax, let’s work some tart cherry juice into the routine.
That said, I don’t like anything too tart, so I add some Xylitol sweetener. But each to her own.
It’s a simple recipe:
- ½ cup tart cherry juice
- ½ cup seltzer water
- 1 tsp Xylitol (or whatever sweetener you prefer.)
Stir well. Garnish with mint.
Now here’s the key: Pour the cherry spritzer into your favorite glass. You know the one! The glass that you usually only take out for company.
You are telling yourself that you’re worth the extra effort. Trust me, you are.
I like to use a yellow glass that I inherited from my beloved grandmother. It’s definitely only for special occasions—and special people!
Next, place this “only for special occasions and special people” glass on the ledge of your bathtub.
Sip as you soak, and enjoy the one and only you!
15. Lick (Adult Only) Lemonade Mint Popsicles
I’ll never forget when my high school friend had the crazy idea. It was definitely well below zero. We lived in a suburb of Boston. My friend Jodi said we should get a gallon of ice cream, then sit outside and eat it right out of the tub.
Did I mention I hate cold? (Did I mention that I now live in Texas?!)
Anyway, it’s when we step outside our comfort zones that we create the memories we’ll never forget. And this is a memory I still treasure.
If you’re someone who doesn’t like to get too hot in the tub, this idea is for you. Make alcoholic lemonade mint popsicles. Let them get drippy in the tub (and enjoy that you can wash any mess right off!).
Here’s the recipe:
- 1 cup lemonade
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint
- ¼ c vodka (Optional)
Pour into popsicle molds. The first time I made these, I used 1/2 cup vodka to 1 cup lemonade. It was too strong for me, but that said, it was definitely the most relaxing bath idea on the list. Now I’ve cut the proportion of vodka to lemonade, and it tastes a lot better.
Even though these popsicles are delicious, try to refrain from eating them unless you’re in the tub. This way, you will definitely max your relax.
16. Color on the Walls With Bathtub Crayons
Have you noticed the trend in adult coloring books? There’s a reason for this. Repetitive tasks allow us to enter a meditative state. When we’re focused on the present moment, our anxieties seem to vanish.
The impact of adult coloring on stress reduction is backed up by science.
With that established, why shouldn’t you color in the bathtub. Color on the bathroom walls! Go ahead. It’s playful, fun and stress-reducing.
But don’t use regular crayons, of course! You’ll need bathtub crayons. These are easy enough to make.
Here’s what you need:
- A brick of white or clear glycerin soap from the craft store or two bars of white glycerin soap (not Ivory – it’s made with whipped air and won’t melt the right way). You’ll use 3 squares from the brick to make 1 soap crayon, or 1/2 a bar of soap.
- A silicone soap mold in any shapes you’d like for your crayons.
- Liquid soap dyes.
- Small bowls, one for each color crayon you want to make.
- Spoons, one for each color crayon you’ll make.
- One microwave-safe bowl.
- Access to microwave.
And here are the steps:
- Place your silicone mold on a tray that will fit in the freezer, like the one from your toaster oven.
- Chop up your soap.
- Melt the chopped soap for 30-60 seconds in a microwave-safe dish.
- Pour soap into liquid measuring cup. And from there, separate melted soap into small bowls – one for each color crayon you want to make. (The spout of the measuring cup makes it easier to get into the small bowls.)
- Mix in about 10 drops of liquid soap dye into each small bowl.
- Put one small bowl back into the microwave for 15 seconds, and then pour contents into a liquid measuring cup.
- Pour from the liquid from the measuring cup into your mold.
- Wash out the measuring cup, so you’re ready to work on the next color crayon.
- Now repeat the steps for each colored crayon you want to make.
17. Delight in an Underwater Light Show
Get submersible, LED lights to drop in the tub. Then turn out the overheads and enjoy the show! Some come with a remote that lets you choose the colors, while you soak. Others have suction cups or magnets that will attach the lights to the bottom of the bathtub.
18. Play With Rubber Duckies
Laughter can reduce stress and increase healing. By adding a rubber ducky—or several!—to your tub, you might just get some giggles.
Why not rub-a-dub-dub with a toy that you love?
19. Find Your Bliss in a Flotation Tank
You may be able to find a flotation tank (also called a ‘sensory deprivation tank’ or a ‘float pod’) in a city near you. When you go to a high-quality place, the experience can be otherworldly!
When I went to a floatation tank, I floated and floated and floated….and really, I lost track of time.
Eventually, the music turned off and a voice piped in through the speaker to gently alert me that the flotation tank would soon open. The cover popped open, and I stepped out into the dim light of the room. I put my bathrobe back on and then went to shower off.
There may be huge mental and physical health benefits to floating. Read my post Can a Float Pod Make You Happier? The answer is fascinating!
20. Make a Watercolor Bath
What is it that’s so peaceful about watercolors? Why did most of us only use them when we were young?
Now you can capture that soothing, serene feeling of watercolors again: This time in the bathtub.
Make your own masterpiece using soap dyes. (You can find organic soap dyes, too.) Here’s my work of art:
Fill your tub and have 5 colors ready to go. Put in a few drops of each color and watch the show! Then get in, of course, and enjoy mixing the colors.
Super fun and exhilarating!
21. Dunk Yourself in a Whipped Cocoa Bath
In 2004, someone at Hershey Entertainment & Resorts was granted a patent for an invention called the Whipped Cocoa Bath. The patent application describes the Whipped Cocoa Bath like this:
“A scented spa bath additive that when added to a spa produces the visual and sensual effects of sitting in a large cocoa bath. The additive is added to the hot water of a spa to produce a chocolate scent and a foaming sensation to provide the user with the sensation of sitting in a hot cocoa bath.”
Today the “Whipped Cocoa Bath” is a signature treatment available at The Spa at The Hotel Hershey. The website describes it like this:
“Settle into our foaming chocolate milk bath for a soothing and softening signature Hershey experience. Milk will soften and renew the skin while you indulge in this chocolate experience.”
While it may be hard to get to Hershey Pennsylvania to test it out, you can try this special bath at home. Here’s the DIY Whipped Cocoa Bath recipe.
Remember, bathing has so many benefits from stress reduction to cramp relief. Baths can bring us peace of mind and nourish our souls, so make the time to soak. You deserve it!
For more bath ideas, see How to Take the World’s Most Perfect Bath.