Pantry Ingredient Bath Recipes, Because You’ve Got Time To Kill & A Tub To Fill

In his 2018 Netflix special Kid Gorgeous, my favorite comedian John Mulaney does a bit on “the old days” that feels oddly prescient: 

“They used to do weird, slow, leisurely activities in the old days ‘cause they didn’t have enough to do, so they had to fill the day. Back then you woke up and you were like ‘oh god, it’s the old days, I’ve gotta wear all those layers, we gotta think of some weird slow activities to fill the time’– and they did.

Extreme Kristen Bell as Eleanor Shellstrop realization voice: this is the old days. 

Somehow, in a strange confluence of pandemic-related events, we find ourselves here in 2020 with days full of hours that need filling, and the weirder or slower the activity, the better. People are baking with such a fervor that grocery stores everywhere have been depleted of flour and yeast. Jigsaw puzzles have become a popular activity for not-so-wild Saturday nights. On my Instagram feed this morning alone, I saw evidence of completed embroidery projects, a burgeoning tomato garden, a work-in-progress sourdough starter, and the talisman of our times, yet another loaf of banana bread being pulled out from yet another oven.

Since we are all collectively turning to the most leisurely paced ways to pass our time, I believe it’s only a matter of time before another deliberate and old-fashioned habit comes newly back in vogue– baths

Like so many of the other lost arts we’ve recently rediscovered, the art of drawing a bath is languid and intentional and significantly less efficient than its other comparable options. But just as baking your own bread provides a comfort that buying loaves in the store could never hope to match, so too does the bath tub hold a soothing edge over the shower’s ruthless economy. 

A study by Yale University suggests that warm baths have real mental health benefits like decreasing anxiety and staving off loneliness, because the brain associates physical warmth with psychological comfort. This is in addition to proven positive physical effects like improved circulation, relieved muscle aches and tension, sore throats soothed by the steam, and softer skin. 

Now that I’ve made the case for the ritual of taking baths, and probably raised your suspicions that I’m in the pocket of Big Faucet, it’s time for the practical stuff– recipes for creating your own unique bath experience. 

I’m mindful of the fact that now is not the easiest time to drop by Lush or any other popular purveyer of fine bubble baths, so all of these are inspired by a book I’ve had on my shelf forever, The Bath Gourmet by Rhonda Van, which makes use of ingredients you likely already have on hand. Plenty of cooking blogs are now advancing the craft of “pantry cooking” so in that spirit, allow me to introduce you to “pantry bathing.” It may involve fewer iridescent rainbow bubbles, but, remember, it’s the old days now, and we’ve gotta get creative if we’re gonna pass all this time. 

A simple, restorative herbal bath that is the equivalent of making yourself a cup of tea to bring a moment of peace to your day, except instead of drinking the tea, you luxuriate in it. 


  • One cup of your favorite fresh herbs (ie. rosemary, mint, sage, etc.) 
  • ¼ cup of Epsom salt


Add all herbs to a pot of water and cover. Bring to a boil and simmer for ten minutes. Allow the mixture to cool slightly, then strain to remove the herbs but retain the herbal-scented water. Pour the water into a warm tub and add Epsom salt.

Bonus: Read a book that gives off similar English garden vibes– anything by Jane Austen will suffice. 

A soothing combination for both your skin and your soul, this is aspirational levels of decadent pampering. 


  • ¼ cup dried lavender
  • ⅓ cup of cornstarch
  • 4 cups of milk
  • 2 tablespoons of honey 


Boil the lavender for five minues in a pot of water. Allow to cool, then strain, keeping the water. Add cornstatch while your bath runs, whisking to ensure no lumps form. Pour the lavender scented water into the bath, then add the milk, also under the running water. Pour the honey on your hand, then put your hand under the faucet, letting the honey dissolve.

Bonus: Allegedly, Cleopatra used to take baths of milk and honey. To give your bath even more royal flair, play a record from the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. 

My briefest, slightest brush with internet fame came from a random tweet in which I espoused the mysterious healing properties of banana peels, so I feel extraordinarily qualified to recommend using them in your baths. If you don’t use the bananas themselves as the base for yet another one of those ubiquitous loaves, you can mash them up with a few tablespoons of milk and give yourself a matching homemade facial. 


  • Two banana peels
  • One cup of uncooked oatmeal 


Bring four cups of water to a boil, then add your banana peels and cover. Boil for seven minutes, then remove from the heat and allow to cool. Pour uncooked oatmeal into a knee-high nylon sock. Hold the neck of the sock over the faucet and run a bath, filtering the water through the oatmeal. When the bathtub is nearly full, remove the sock and tye a knot to make an oatmeal ball. Discard the banana peels and add banana scented water to running bath. Use your oatmeal ball as an exfoiliating sponge. 

Bonus: incorporate this bath into your bedtime routine, and get yourself into a sleepier state of mind by trying out the Headspace meditation app, and one of their many free “sleepcasts”. 

I’ve never really understood the appeal of mud baths, but a chocolate bath is an entirely different story. 


  • Three cups of milk
  • Three tablespoons of instant hot chocolate powder 
  • One tablespoon of vanilla
  • 1 shot of rum 


Add your hot chocolate powder to a medium bowl. Bring your milk to a simmer on the stove, then pour over the hot chocolate powder, whisking until smooth. Add your hot chocolate mixture to a warm running bath. Add the cornstarch under the running faucet, whisking to ensure no lumps. Add the vanilla and the rum. 

Bonus: What goes better with chocolate than peanut butter? As in, a batch of these cocoa brownies with salted peanut butter frosting

Since our opportunities for travel are severely limited right now, substitute this sensory escape for an actual tropical vacation. 


  • One can of coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons of baking soda
  • 1/12 cups of pineapple juice
  • 1 shot of rum 


Pour the can of coconut milk into a running bath. Add the baking soda, then the pineapple juice, and finally the shot of rum. 

Bonus: watch Too Hot To Handle on Netflix, because if you can’t be on a beach, at least you can smell like a beach and watch other people misbehave on a beach.

2 thoughts on “Pantry Ingredient Bath Recipes, Because You’ve Got Time To Kill & A Tub To Fill

    1. I’ll have to work on a translation of these recipes for the shower lol– not sure about the pina colada one or the hot chocolate, but surely the herbal ones could be modified. I hope your move goes smoothly and that it isn’t especially complicated by everything that’s going on.


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