Bathhouses (sometimes bathing cubicles or bathing shelters) are places where people can go to wash themselves, their children, and sometimes clothes as well. They are often necessary for privacy in crowded situations.
- Female-bathing cubicles should be included in a screened courtyard design with toilets or constructed separately.
- Ensure adequate space and provisions for female menstrual needs e.g. cleaning, drying or disposal of sanitary napkins.
- If there is no piped water system the bathing cubicles should be close to the water points so that people do not have to transport water long distances for bathing.
- There should be 1 bathing cubicle for every 50 people (this ratio could be increased to 1:100 in a first phase emergency).
- At least 1 bathing cubicle out of every 20 people should be constructed for people with specific needs (including extra space for a carer to help a disabled person bathe).
- Women are more likely to be bathing children whilst they bathe and so will need more time. To avoid excess queues for female bathing facilities there should be more (2:1 female: male) units for women, and they should be clearly marked.
- Adequate drainage for the wastewater should be provided. Slabs and floors should be provided with grease traps and a 1% slope towards drainage to prevent stagnant water.
- Every cubicle should have a door and, where possible, it should be a solid door so that door catches can be installed; this is especially important for communal bathing facilities.
- Bathhouse construction should also be accompanied by hygiene promotion, for example on stopping public defecation in the communal bathing space.
- Bathhouses should be segregated by sex and should be clearly marked. In communities where men bathe outside or at the water point, construction of bathhouses for men may not be necessary. However, in such conditions, consider additional water points.
- Where people wash their clothes while bathing space for washing clothes needs to be considered while designing bathhouses.