Experts call for public baths to return in Brussels

Because of rising costs, experts are calling for a return to public baths in the Belgian capital so that 10% of those lacking access to water have a place to wash themselves.

There was a time when it was possible to bathe in our cities; public washrooms which gave those people who did not have those amenities at home the opportunity to clean themselves and to enjoy the bathing experience.

Over the past few decades, however, public bathing facilities have almost disappeared, leaving sports facilities and mosques among the only places outside of their homes where people can wash.

As a lack of water becomes a problem for some and the cost of utilities at home affects many others, several organisations and groups have called for the return of public baths in Brussels especially.

Today, around 10% of the capital’s population has difficulty accessing water, says Pauline Bacquaert, an expert of water scarcity at the Free University of Brussels. These figures include people who have housing but may be struggling to pay their bills or have problems with their utilities, but also those who do not have housing and need to find places to wash and take care of themselves.

Bacquaert and fellow expert Sophie Richelle have explored the types of places where you can now wash and have concluded that many spaces could be made available to those most in need but are not. Some municipalities are attentive and offer infrastructure, others do nothing at all.

“This issue should be taken into account at the regional level, so as to include all actors in its resolution,” the experts say. “Access to water must be part of the policy to make housing accessible for all.”


#FlandersNewsService |A public bath house in ancient Rome. Roman baths were generally gender restricted, but in some eras mixed bathing was common. After a 19th century work by French artist Emile Levy. © BELGA PHOTO

Get updates in your mailbox

By clicking "Subscribe" I confirm I have read and agree to the Privacy Policy.


Belga News Agency delivers dependable, rapid and high-quality information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from Belgium and abroad to all Belgian media. The information covers all sectors, from politics, economics and finance to social affairs, sports and culture, not to mention entertainment and lifestyle.

Every day, our journalists and press photographers produce hundreds of photos and news stories, dozens of online information items, plus audio and video bulletins, all in both national languages. Since the end of March 2022 English has been added as a language.

For public institutions, businesses and various organisations that need reliable information, Belga News Agency also offers a comprehensive range of corporate services to meet all their communication needs.


Arduinkaai 29 1000 Brussels