Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher Don't Bathe Their Kids Unless They're Dirty

The Hollywood couple opened up on a podcast about how little soap they use.

Kutcher & Kunis
Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis at an LA Lakers game in January 2019.

Getty Images/Allen Berezovsky

Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher have got the world chattering about personal hygiene. In a recent interview with Dax Shepard, host of the Armchair Expert podcast, the Hollywood power couple admitted they don't often wash themselves—or their children—with soap from head to toe. In a hygiene-obsessed society, this announcement came as something of a shock. 

It all started with Kunis describing the problems she's had with her facial skin. Since having kids, she has spent a lot of time and money getting laser treatments and "investing in really expensive estheticians."

Kutcher, her husband, joked in the interview that the laser is probably just removing "all the crazy products that [she] puts on her face," at which point Shepard recommended she stop washing her face with products altogether: "You shouldn't be getting rid of all the natural oil on your skin with a bar of soap every day. It's insane. [Use] water!" 

At that point, he received some surprising support for the notion. Kunis admitted she doesn't use soap on the rest of her body, apart from her face. "I don't wash my body with soap every day."

It turns out Kutcher's not far behind. "I wash my armpits and my crotch daily and nothing else ever. I've got a bar of Lever 2000 that just delivers every time. Nothing else."

The couple takes the same approach with their two young children, 4-year-old son Dimitri and 6-year-old daughter Wyatt, who don't have daily baths. Kunis said, "I wasn't the parent that bathed my newborns, ever." She attributed it partly to growing up without hot water in Ukraine before emigrating to the United States in 1991. This made her disinclined to shower as a child. 

Kutcher agreed, saying kids really only need baths when they're visibly dirty. "If you can see the dirt on them, clean them. Otherwise there's no point." His comment made me think of a quote I read years ago that said, if the bathwater isn't dirty by the end, the day has not been lived to its full potential. 

kid in bubble bath
Getty Images/Bonfanti Diego

Readers might be surprised to learn that the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends children between the ages of 6 and 11 bathe "at least once or twice a week." While that is a suggested minimum, the AAD also says that "children in this age group may not need a daily bath." Getting muddy, playing in a lake, or getting sweaty are good reasons to have one, but otherwise, it's not terrible to let them go longer between scrubbings. (In my opinion, a lake counts as a bathtub.)

A daily bath routine can be helpful for young babies and toddlers to recognize when it's bedtime—a sort of Pavlovian response, in Shepard's words—but once they're old enough to go to sleep more readily, the bath can be removed.

It is good for them, in fact. Too much bathing strips the body and hair of its natural oils, sometimes leading to skin drying out and/or overproduction of new oil. There is also a delicate ecosystem of microbes that exists on the skin, and daily scrubbing with soap washes it away. When forced to repopulate constantly, it can result in a poor balance with more of the smelly microbes, and strong body odor may ensue.

James Hamblin, a medical doctor-turned-writer who has been soap-free for years, has studied the unique relationship between these tiny bugs and our bodies, which we know is complex but not well understood:

"[They have] starring roles in developing our immune systems, protecting us from pathogens (by creating antimicrobial substances and competing with them for space and resources) and lessening the likelihood of autoimmune conditions such as eczema. So, there is a growing awareness that scrubbing them off, along with the natural oils on which they feed, or dousing them with antibacterial products may not be the best idea after all."

Whether or not Kutcher and Kunis have read about Hamblin's grand experiment, they're doing something admirable and smart with their kids and themselves—and more families would do well to copy their approach. 

Kids should be allowed more opportunities to play outside and get dirty as a way of strengthening their immune systems. Parents should be in less of a hurry to sterilize their children and return them to squeaky-clean as soon as there's a speck of dirt. Not only will it make them healthier in the long run, but it's much easier on the parent if all they have to scrub is hands (and maybe a few other things) on a daily basis. 

Give it a try. You may even save money on soap.

View Article Sources
  1. "How Often do Children Need to Take a Bath?" American Academy of Dermatology Association.