Scrubbing is the act of cleaning a surface, such as a floor, by rubbing the wet surface with a brush and a detergent solution (such as soap and water). Scrubbing is an agressive and potentially abrasive method of cleaning that is usually only used when the surface is heavily soiled.
Scrubbing is also a method to wash one's own body, or another person, e.g. a child, in a bathtub or shower. For this, a bath brush, soap and (usually hot) water is used, and the person being scrubbed is generally naked and wet, possibly already pre-washed. The brush is either immersed in soapy water, or soap is applied to the brush after it has been made wet. To allow lathering, the scrubbing usually takes place above water level and away from the shower jet. Body parts that are usually not scrubbed (being too sensitive) are the head, face, breasts, and the genital area. At the soles of the feet and the toes, scrubbing is often tickling.
The hard bristles of the brush can make a scrubbing a somewhat unpleasant or even painful experience (they scratch the skin and make it turn pink), but in the Victorian era and Edwardian era, vigorous scrubbing was considered the best method to clean the body thoroughly, and so the protests of the scrubbed child were usually ignored.
Scrubbing the body thoroughly with a soaped brush is also an essential element of a visit to a hammam.
In the course of the 19th and 20th century, softer and less abrasive tools such as sponges or washcloths gradually replaced the brushes. Also, modern bath brushes with softer bristles became popular, as scrubbing with these can be quite pleasant.
Scrubbing is also possible without using any brush or instrument, by using a lather-producing gel or soap in which small abrasive particles are embedded (called a facial scrub or body scrub) and the hand.
Scrubbing and punishment
Scrubbing with punitive connotations is sometimes found in spanking literature. For example, it is a recurring theme in the spanking novel The Old Rectory, where the boys are often given a good whole-body scrubbing, followed by a birthday suit spanking (with the hand or the bath brush), for uncleanliness.
Scrubbing and sexuality
Scrubbing (and/or getting scrubbed) can also be an erotic experience, due to the nudity, wetness, lathering, and stimulation of the skin. For spankophiles, the punitive and D/s connotations can be additionally stimulating, and a roleplayed scrubbing (for cleaning and/or for punishment) might be a fun and/or erotic activity, particularly in ageplay.