I'm looking for a more general word or phrase to describe the things like face-washing, tooth-brushing and gargling together.

The word or phrase is to these things as doing sports is to playing basketball, playing football and so on.

Is there such a word or phrase?

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – tchrist
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 10:15

11 Answers 11


'Ablutions' or 'morning ablutions' is the generic term for washing, toothbrushing, showering, bathing, toenail cutting, shaving, hairwashing, nose-hair clipping, and the usual bodily functions.

The fact that the sayings are both in the plural emphasises that there is more than one activity being referred to, not just, say, washing.

The OED says of 'ablute' :

b. intr. To wash oneself; to bathe.

1959 C. MacInnes Absolute Beginners 183 I put on some music and abluted, then made two Nescafés. 2002 Derbyshire Life & Countryside Nov. 128/2 I abluted in a staff loo.., observed the female contingent and then rejoined the march in a bloated Pall Mall.

However, colloquially the term is being taken to mean more than just washing as is witnessed by its use by Tom Ford in a Top Gear piece, written in 2017/2018, where he makes it clear that he includes defecation (he includes a 'hygienic' shovel in his equipment) :

I ponder some more on this the next morning while taking care of my morning ablutions away from camp equipped with a hygenic shovel.

The OED makes it clear that 'ablutions' is :

  1. Frequently humorous (with mock formal tone). The action or an act of washing oneself; personal cleansing; bathing. Now usually in pl.

I take it that the very archaic nature of the expression is being used in humour and also being used euphemistically in that the whole range of bathroom activity is being politely included within a single term.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – tchrist
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 10:15

What about "morning routine" ?

routine: procedure, practice, pattern, drill, regime, regimen, groove

Also, Merriam Webster has as an example for routine:

A brisk walk is part of her morning routine

  • 3
    This seems like a more general term than "morning ablutions", as ablutions seem specific to hygienic practice and this answer uses "a brisk walk" for an example. Even taking Nigel's further example from Top Gear into account, morning ablutions seem more specific in that they're typically localized to the bathroom. Both certainly answer the question in their own way. As had been pointed out by others, "morning routine" may be more common in some contexts even when referring specifically only to morning ablutions. Commented Mar 10, 2018 at 19:48
  • @DarrenRinger But that was not the OP's question I'm looking for a more general word or phrase to describe the things like *face-washing, tooth-brushing and gargling together*.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Dec 7, 2022 at 12:01

Another umbrella term for actions of personal grooming is toilette (pronounced twa-LET) or toilet: "the act or process of dressing or grooming oneself, including bathing and arranging the hair" (Dictionary.com). This sense of the word may be considered old-fashioned; Google Ngrams suggests it was more at home in the 19th century than our own, although it hasn't completely gone out of use. If you need a verb phrase, the idiom is "to make one's toilet(te)."

  • 7
    This one was my first thought.
    – Muzer
    Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 16:22
  • 3
    That's how we say it in french : faire sa toilette Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 19:41
  • 6
    Accurate, but pretty much obsolete. I have never heard an American talk about his "toilette". I only know the word at all because I've seen it in old books.
    – Jay
    Commented Mar 5, 2018 at 2:02
  • 3
    @Jay I use it myself, at least privately (always with the toilette spelling)--but yes, I probably got it from old books. It was the first word that came to mind when I saw the question title, though.
    – DLosc
    Commented Mar 5, 2018 at 6:54
  • 2
    @Jay but how often have you heard one talke about their toilet whether or not they used that term?
    – Jon Hanna
    Commented Mar 5, 2018 at 14:59

If you don't mind a bit of vulgarity, in the US military your morning routine is frequently referred to as "Sh** Shower Shave". Dollar Shaving Club even offers a men's grooming kit by this name.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – tchrist
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 10:15

I personally use "morning rituals" which include waking up, brushing my teeth, doing some morning stretches, praying, having breakfast, and everything I do in a morning routine.

  • 2
    Don't you mean "everything I do in a morning ritual"? ;-)
    – Eric
    Commented Mar 3, 2018 at 22:05
  • 1
    @Eric Haha, yes. A morning ritual. It sounds a bit exotic though.
    – Theo
    Commented Mar 4, 2018 at 6:31

Every day I get up, get ready, and go to work. For me, getting ready consists of eating breakfast, taking a shower, brushing my teeth, and getting dressed. I've heard the word 'ablutions' but to me it sounds quite archaic.

  • 2
    I was doing to use "getting ready for the day", or "getting ready for work". But since your answer contains the core of what I was going to use, I suppose my proper response is to give your answer its first upvote.
    – TOOGAM
    Commented Mar 3, 2018 at 19:15

A bit whimsically, these actions are sometimes referred to as one's morning ablutions (Dictionary.com)

  • So it's used religiously or humorously more likely?
    – Mengfan Ma
    Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 3:46
  • @Mark As the word basically means 'washing', in a religious context, it's used metaphorically. Although it's more often 'ab_so_lution' to avoid confusion.
    – AJFaraday
    Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 10:44
  • 4
    @AJFaraday It's not only used metaphorically in a religious context. Islam requires washing prior to prayer, and I've heard the word "ablutions" used to refer to that. Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 15:50
  • Could you explain why you believe the word is suitable? Perhaps you could cite a definition or usage example that suggests it fits the askers's needs. Commented Mar 6, 2018 at 14:49

The term "personal maintenance" is used in some places although the meaning is wider than just the morning ablutions. I believe the term is used to contrast with terms such as "car maintenance" or "house maintenance" or the maintenance of other equipment.


Youtube "influencers" always call it morning routine, my friends added this term to their regular vocabulary long ago.


Yes, actually: you are doing your toilet. From Merriam-Webster:

2: the act or process of dressing and grooming oneself

This usage was still common relatively recently, though it seems to have disappeared over the past 50 years or so.

("ablutions" would refer specifically to the cleaning part of that morning routine)


For a phrase that covers the entire ritual I would find it unsurprising to hear it referred to as "taking care of personal hygiene" or "morning personal hygiene routine" for collectively all of the things that someone does in the bathroom in the morning when they perform their ablutions.

Note that this would differ from your "morning routine" in that it would normally exclude things such as walking the dog, preparing sandwiches, reading the paper, getting dressed, etc.


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