What is a Slipper Bath?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 15 October 2019
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A slipper bath is a bathtub which is slightly deeper on one end than on the other. It is also possible to find a double slipper bath, where the sides along both ends of the bathtub are raised and the middle is slightly lower. Many people associate slipper baths with Victorian novels, but they continue to be produced and used today. Several major manufacturers of tubs offer slipper baths in their lines, and it is also possible to purchase restored vintage baths from specialty companies.

A classic slipper bath is oblong in shape, and from the side it actually looks vaguely like a slipper. Typically, the taps are located at the shallower end, encouraging the bather to use the higher walled deep end as a lounging support. Depending on a person's size, he or she may be able to lie down in the bath, or sit up, using the gently sloping back as a support.

In the Victorian era, indoor plumbing was just starting to be introduced, and it was not uncommon to find homes with no hot running water. Slipper baths could be filled from large ewers of water hauled up from pans in the kitchen, or their taps could take advantage of interior plumbing, when it was available. Such baths are typically designed as freestanding units, often with small feet to keep the floor as dry as possible.


In addition to being used as a soaking tub, slipper baths can also be turned into showers. In this case, a frame can be erected around the tub to support a showerhead and a curtain to minimize splashing. This technique is used in many old-fashioned homes which have splendid antique tubs which the residents want to maintain. Typically a valve is installed to allow people to chose between tub and shower options.

The material of choice for a slipper bath was traditionally enameled cast iron. It is possible to find modern baths made from materials like copper and porcelain, and sometimes even specially treated wood. In all cases, when seeking out a slipper bath, look for one which is made from strong, durable materials, and be prepared to pay a special fee for the movement and installation of the tub, since good materials are often very heavy, making the bath harder for workmen to handle.


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