Ablutophobia – Fear of Washing

Ablutophobia is the irrational and persistent fear of washing or bathing. This is considered a specific situational phobia where patients suffer extreme anxiety when exposed to the process of bathing. This condition is very common in women and children, then men. These people known that their fear is irrational, but find it hard to control their emotions and physical reactions during exposure.



There are many symptoms that ablutophobia sufferers will experience. These can happen when they are exposed to bathing or just at the thought of being exposed to bathing. Let's take a look at what these are.

  • Feelings of dread, terror, and panic

  • Rapid heart beat

  • Trembling

  • Excessive sweating

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Inability to speak

  • Nausea

  • Dizziness

These sufferers will take extreme measures to avoid ever having to bath. Most don't even realize how much of their life they spend making decisions based off of avoiding their fear.

It's common for these people to experience shame. In many cultures cleanliness is heavily valued, and these sufferers will feel they are being mocked or teased by those around them.


Just as with most other phobias, Ablutophobia is caused by generally three reasons. Let's take a look at what these are.

Personal Direct Exposure

This is by far the most common reason that people develop a phobia. They had a traumatic event that happened in their past, usually in childhood, that made them feel scared and terror. Now everytime they are faced with the same situation they relive that bad experience in their mind.

Observational Exposure

This is similar to personal direct, however it varies in the form that the phobia sufferer didn't personally experience the event. In this case they rather witnessed someone close to them go through a traumatic event that created a major distress for that person. Now the sufferer believes that when they are faced with the same situation the person close to them was, they will experience that major distress as well.

Information Exposure

This is not based on a traumatic event. This cause is developed via a mixture of instructions learned throughout life. For example, your parents always told you that you could drown in the bath tube if you fill it too full. Now you connect drowning with taking a bath in your mind. So now everytime you are faced with taking a bath you become extremely anxious and have feelings that you are going to drown.


There are a few different treatment methods that work effectively to cure a number of different phobia. Let's take a deeper look at these options.

Desensitization Therapy

This is a very effective method for treating ablutophobia. This method uses a combination of relaxation techniques and visualization to overpower a person's fear. This is typically done in a controlled environment, like a therapist's office.

The phobia sufferer will be instructed to visualize a situation, in this case bathing, that makes them feel uncomfortable. During this time anxiety will set in and the therapist will coach the sufferer on how to decrease their anxiety level. Overtime through repeat desensitization the sufferer will be able to control their anxious reactions to their fear.

Exposure Therapy

In this method that phobia sufferer will actually be exposed to the thing that they fear. This works to reprogram a sufferer's thoughts about a situation. In the case of ablutophobia the sufferer will be exposed to bathing and will be shown that there is no danger in doing so. By physically seeing the lack of danger from the situation the phobia sufferer will be able to change their subconscious reactions to bathing.

Self-Help Programs

For those individuals who are not yet ready to speak to a licensed therapist a great self-help program can get them on the way to overpowering their fear. There are many out there that can help you reprogram the way you see your fears.