Military Basic Training: Showers, Food, and Haircuts - Operation Military Kids (2023)

Military basic training is either nerve-wrecking or thrilling depending on how you pursue it.

As a result, it helps to understand the guidelines established for basic training showers, food, and haircuts.

Basic training varies slightly depending on the military branch yet all camps exhibit the same mindset: “break you as a person; build you as soldier”.

Consequently, military basic training is an initial culture shock yet most find the living standards not as horrible as anticipated.

Therefore, preparation is critical to surviving basic training and advancing to a military career.

Learn more about the expectations for military basic training showers, food, and haircuts.

Related ArticleHow Hard Is Basic Training In The Military?

Table of Contents

Showers At Military Basic Training

Military Basic Training: Showers, Food, and Haircuts - Operation Military Kids (1)

There are a lot of unwarranted fears with new recruits in terms of the shower situation.

In general, many want to understand the degree of privacy they’ll have in the military.

While group/public showers do exist in the military there are other situations where a private bay with a curtain is granted.

Nevertheless, new recruits need to eventually get accustomed to the process of sharing a public shower.

In the military barracks, everything is communal including the personal space for hygiene.

Thus, recruits often shower together with a unit and are also expected to keep the shower “clean, dry, and ready for inspection”.

Time & Length

Often, drill commanders assign when and how long a unit has to shower.

For example, you may have 1-2 minutes to squeeze in a quick shower in the morning after PT.

Then, more time is generally provided in the evening right before or after “lights out”.

(Video) How to Take a Shower | Boot Camp

In the evening, recruits traditionally have a longer amount of time to bathe and take care of personal hygiene.

Regardless, keep in mind that shower heads are generally limited at basic training and no one likes someone that hogs a bay.

Finally, while most hygiene guidelines are universal across military branches, there is some flexibility with drill instructors.

For example, a new training unit may endure a “shower drill” where they only earn precious seconds in the shower before another recruit is ordered into the water.

It’s common in military branches like the Marine Corps where everything the first couple of weeks in basic training is spent doing “by the numbers”.

Advice for Basic Training Showers

The best advice is to make personal hygiene a priority but find methods to clean and rinse effectively.

It will allow you to maximize time when adjusting to the rigorous of basic training showers.

You’ll be in such a rush to get clean that you’ll hardly notice the public shower element of basic training.

Food At Military Basic Training

Military Basic Training: Showers, Food, and Haircuts - Operation Military Kids (2)

Food is served in basic training at the cafeteria, otherwise affectionately known as the “chow hall” or “mess hall” (depending on branch).

The general consensus is that chow halls are not nearly as bad as some recruits might infer.

Yes, it may not represent your mother’s home cooking but most recruits find the food situation more than adequate.

Military basic training provides a wide variety of food for recruits that need to refuel from the demands of PT.

Even better, standard military procedure now makes it mandatory to allow recruits at least 10 minutes to finish their meals.

Furthermore, military personnel are no longer expected to finish everything on their plate (or get punished).

It’s a tremendous upgrade from the previous control drill instructors had over training recruits in terms of allowing access to food.

Time & Length

Notwithstanding, just like basic training showers, it’s wise not to waste too much time in the mess hall.

Recruits typically only receive 10-15 minutes to finish their courses yet are guaranteed 3 meals per day.

Regardless, make sure not to confuse the chow hall with social hour.

It’s best to keep your face down, focus on eating, and refuel for the next exercise.

Military branches often place some restrictions on recruits such as not being allowed access to soda, snacks, or sweets.

(Video) How Army Cooks Are Trained To Feed 800 Soldiers In The Field | Boot Camp | Insider Business

Be that as it may, most recruits agree that food in the military is not that bad.

Related ArticleWhat Happens After Army Basic Training?

Advice for Military Basic Training Food

Military personnel generally enjoy their meals much more once they complete basic training.

Today, chow halls offer an extensive selection of food including a salad bar, various entrees, and desserts.

There are several other resourceful tips for how to maximize your time in the mess hall.

For example, make every bite you can into a sandwich (quicker way to consume) and incorporate bread, meat, and brown rice as much as possible into a diet.

You should focus on what is going to give you the energy you need without going to the barracks hungry at night.

Lastly, avoid snacking in advance of basic training because its a bad habit that you’ll not have access to in the military.

Military Basic Training: Haircuts

Military Basic Training: Showers, Food, and Haircuts - Operation Military Kids (3)

Haircuts are another crucial element of boot camp along with basic training showers and food.

In a regard, the first haircut is like a rite of passage for new recruits.

For this reason, one of the first tasks is to get a haircut upon arrival at basic training.

Men receive an extremely short haircut that leaves you feeling nearly bald.

However, with that being said, make sure not to arrive to boot camp with a shaved head in advance.


You’ll actually be targeted by the drill instructor and should rather accept the trim as part of the acclimation into the military.

Hair Length in Basic Training

Military Basic Training: Showers, Food, and Haircuts - Operation Military Kids (4)

In fact, military personnel can generally determine how long someone has been in basic training by the length of their hair.

For example, a first-week recruit will look bald while a recruit that is preparing to graduate from basic training will likely have an inch of hair.

Once you endure your first shave, hair standards remain strict by branch, yet still provide much more freedom than during basic training.

Thus, you can expect a haircut at least once per week yet not nearly as much taken off as the first trim.

Of course, everything is entirely different for female recruits.

(Video) What Army Tankers Go Through In Boot Camp | Boot Camp | Business Insider

Women are not required to get a haircut unless they serve in the U.S. Navy.

In fact, many advise that women get a professional cut beforehand because they will likely not be happy with the one the military provides.

Nevertheless, women have separate guidelines they must follow with their hair in order to serve in uniform.

And, since recruits are in uniform at all times, it’s especially important to make yourself aware of expectations during basic training.

Female recruits are expect to wear their hair in such a manner that the hair does not protrude past the bottom of the collar (and not below the eyebrows).

Additionally, women must tie bangs that are grown out long enough into a bun.

Related Article30 Day Workout Plan To Prep For Basic Training

Hair Standards in Military Branches of U.S. Armed Forces

The guidelines may vary slightly by military branch yet remain similar after basic training is completed.

In general, the U.S. Army and Marine Corps are considered to have the strictest restrictions for haircuts.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy are considered fairly lenient (especially for women) in terms of hair regulations after basic training.

The U.S. Armed Forces places other regulations on appearance such as uniform standards.

Moreover, new recruits should also consider the tattoo and piercing policies of each military branch.


Are you considering joining the military?

There is a lot of pride and honor to take from serving in uniform and represent the United States.

Basic training is your introduction into the lifestyle and culture of the U.S. Armed Forces.

While the regulations may vary based on military branch, there are expectations placed on appearance.

Thus, it’s important to make yourself aware of basic training showers, food, and haircuts before arrival.

It will give you an edge over other recruits that may not have as informed or prepared to survive basic training.

Now, the next step is determining which branch of the military is best for you!

  • Author
  • Recent Posts

Rob V.

Rob V. is the founder of While he never actually served in the US Military, he has a passion for writing about military related topics.

Born and raised in Woodbridge, NJ, he graduated from the New Jersey Institute Of Technology with an MBA in eCommerce.His hobbies include beach volleyball, target shooting, and lifting.

Rob is also a Commercially rated pilot and Certified Flight Instructor (CFI), with over 1,500 hours of flight time.

Latest posts by Rob V. (see all)

  • 7 Best .380 Pistols For 2023 - March 7, 2023
  • List Of 9 Army Patches And Their Meanings - March 2, 2023
  • Army Sharpshooter Badge: 6 Things To Know - February 27, 2023
(Video) The chaos and fog of the first night of Marine Corps boot camp

Military Basic Training: Showers, Food, and Haircuts - Operation Military Kids (7)

Boot Camp Food & Showers

4.5 out of 5 (80 Ratings)

There is an adjustment required for new recruits when it comes to standards for basic training showers, food, and military haircuts.

Related Articles You Might Be Interested In:

Affiliate Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you click and purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products I have personally vetted. Learn more.

Share on FacebookTweet on twitterShare on google+Pin to pinterest
(Video) First Day Of Boot Camp – Contraband Room, Barber Shop


Do they cut your hair in basic training? ›

Haircuts are a rite of passage during military basic training. Almost immediately after arrival, your hair will be cut so short that it almost feels like you were shaved bald (guys only). After the initial haircut, you'll get a trim at least once per week during basic training.

Why do they cut your hair in basic training? ›

The official explanation for this practice was field sanitation, to help reduce the risk of spreading hair and/or body lice. In addition to personal hygiene benefits, the military buzz cut has had the following effects: Standardization of military look for troops. Adherence to regulations.

What is the military shower method? ›

A Navy shower (also known as a "combat shower", "military shower", "sea shower", "staggered shower", or "G.I. bath") is a method of showering that allows for significant conservation of water and energy by turning off the flow of water in the middle portion of the shower while lathering.

How long do you get to shower in basic training? ›

Showers are also have to be brief. There are 60 airmen all trying to get a shower in a very limited time. Give yourself 2 minutes. You just need to soap down and rinse off.

How many times do they cut your hair in basic training? ›

Haircut in the Military 101

Recruits get their buzz cuts shortly after arriving at basic military training. Then, throughout the rest of boot camp, recruits get trim cuts once a week.

Can they touch you in basic training? ›

They don't hit or physically assault recruits, ever. They come close, but they never physically hurt or even touch recruits.


1. S.W.A.T. (Special Weapons and Tactics)
(Simple History)
2. What Army Paratroopers Go Through At Airborne School | Boot Camp
(Insider Business)
3. What Army Snipers Go Through At Sniper School | Boot Camp
(Insider Business)
4. SERE: The most feared military training
(Task & Purpose)
5. A Look Inside the USA's Tough Boot Camps for Kids: America's Troubled Teen Industry | Documentary
(Java Discover | Free Global Documentaries & Clips)
6. What New Marine Corps Recruits Go Through In Boot Camp
(Insider Business)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Delena Feil

Last Updated: 02/08/2023

Views: 5595

Rating: 4.4 / 5 (65 voted)

Reviews: 88% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Delena Feil

Birthday: 1998-08-29

Address: 747 Lubowitz Run, Sidmouth, HI 90646-5543

Phone: +99513241752844

Job: Design Supervisor

Hobby: Digital arts, Lacemaking, Air sports, Running, Scouting, Shooting, Puzzles

Introduction: My name is Delena Feil, I am a clean, splendid, calm, fancy, jolly, bright, faithful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.