When I was in college, myself and a few friends gathered weekly to play D&D together.

One friend had weekly track & field sessions scheduled prior to our meet-ups. Usually, this wasn't an issue, but there were some days where it was very clear that he had not showered before coming over to play.

How can I politely tell a friend they should take a shower?


4 Answers 4


As a track and field college athlete, I know that practices can make scheduling tough. Sometimes it's hard to squeeze in something like dinner, for instance, because practice goes right up until some other event I have to go to. It's tempting to skip something like a shower and just do that later, so I can have more time.

For me, the situation typically goes like this:

  1. I have a hard workout which takes longer than usual.
  2. I need time to stretch, cool down, hydrate, etc.
  3. I have another commitment later that day/evening, soon after practice, and little time in between. Therefore, I cut out some parts of Step 2.
  4. I neglect something. For me, it's typically not something like shower; I might skip a cool down run instead. However, I have skipped showers before.

I suspect that this might be an issue for your friend. If his practice is right before your gaming get-togethers, then he could be struggling with not having enough time to shower, change properly, etc. In other words, I suspect time is an issue - not a lack of personal hygiene. He's doing what I've done, and cutting something out of Step 2. That's not that atrocious; the problem is that he's chosen to cut, among other things, showering.

Some things you could do:

  • Tell your friend that it's okay if they're late because of practice, and that they can take their time. Emphasize that they don't need to rush. For instance:

    Hey, [name], I know that you might be having a hard time having practice right before we game. I want to let you know that you shouldn't feel rushed; take your time between going to practice and hanging out with us. Do whatever you need to do - get changed, rehydrate and get a snack, and shower.

    Mentioning the shower explicitly, come to think of it, might be a good idea. But you don't have to make it the focus of your suggestion.

  • Maybe even move the D&D session back a little to compensate, unless this would adversely affect the rest of the group. Your friend has no control over when his practice ends; is it possible that your schedule is more flexible?

I should justify why I don't think this is an issue of this person choosing to maintain poor personal hygiene. For college athletes, practice and the activities around it are supposed to be as smooth/convenient as possible. Showers, for instance, should be near the locker rooms, and many teams would shower together, especially if the showers are communal. If the friend isn't showering, their teammates would probably point this out before anyone else!

It's possible that your friend is averse to group showers - which is perfectly fine. It might be a cultural issue, or it could simply be personal preference. In that case, they may be even more pressed, because they would then have to shower in their dorms, which could be impractical.

If this is the case, then the problem is again one of time. As I said before, emphasize that they should take the time to ensure that their physical well-being - which should include hygiene - is put first. They might need to reorganize their list of prioritizing in Step 2 - it's as simple as that.


On the days that your friend comes from track & field, you can give him the opportunity to shower in your bathroom using your toiletries - if he has not done so at home. If he takes the offer, all the better - but if he does not, you could mention that hygiene is rather important.

Try to avoid saying "hey man, you smell bad" - as this might give him the wrong idea.


If he's a close friend, just but above board and talk about it. Don't just say "Take a shower". Ask why he is not. Then talk about how to make that situation better. If you are close enough, then somewhat sensitive stuff like this should be OK.

If he is not a close friend, then you have to decide how he will take it. If it's because he is not showering after a practice, the solution might be to move the D&D session later. Or move the session to a different day. Make it a group effort if possible.

If that's not possible, is it possible to "tough it out" and say nothing.

If not, then you have to say something. But don't say "You smell" or any of its derivatives. Say something like the following. "I care about your friendship and that's why I am speaking to you. People will not appreciate you skipping the shower after practice. Please consider that."


Depends on the people involved (gender, friends, strangers, work position, etc), but generally, as in your circumstance, if I'm talking to a friend who is a guy (myself being a guy), I don't mind just telling my friend that he stinks.

If you're not that comfortable with being so direct, hinting at it may give him some ideas:

  1. "I can tell you worked your butt off in track."

  2. "Let me open a window and turn on the fan for ya."

  3. "If you would like us to push our meet-up time back a couple minutes in the future so you have time to freshen up, it's fairly easy to do, just ask."

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.