If you plan on living in your van long-term, then a shower is a must-have. It doesn’t have to be in-built, but you do need a way of keeping clean.
Some RV parks and campgrounds have ablution facilities, but having your own shower will feel much better. Plus, you can customize it to your preferences.
One of the best things about van life is that you can pretty much live anywhere you want – including off the grid.
Boondocking (or dry camping) is a great way to save money and enjoy some peace and quiet. But one of the challenges of boondocking is finding a place to shower.
That’s why we’ve put together this list of van life shower ideas. There are loads of ways to stay clean when living in your van, from solar showers to portable camp showers.
And trust us, being able to shower in your van is a game-changer. Not only will it help you feel more human, but it will also keep you and your van smelling fresh.
So if you’re looking for some inspiration for your van conversion, read on for our favorite van life shower ideas.
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Van Life Shower Ideas For Staying Clean On The Road
If you want to take your van life shower experience up a notch or need some inspiration for your campervan conversion, check out these top ideas!
1. Build An Indoor Shower
An indoor shower is the most private and convenient option, but it comes at a cost. A dedicated bathroom uses a considerable amount of space.
You also need to carry enough water to use your van’s shower as often as you hope to and a sufficiently sized gray tank.
The added moisture that an interior shower can add will mean another problem to solve. Humidity and condensation in a van are already a struggle to manage, and an interior shower only compounds the issue.
You can do things to help alleviate the effects and prevent condensation in your camper. Dehumidifiers can go some way to help too.
Unlike some larger RVs and motorhomes, campervans (or class B RVs) tend not to have enough space for full-sized bathrooms. As a result, the most common onboard van life showers are wet baths or hidden showers with multiple functions.
A wet bath is an all-in-one bathroom solution for your campervan, maximizing the space by incorporating other essential items in one spot.
The toilet, sink, and shower are all in one area. As a result, everything will get wet, so it is important to keep this in mind when building your wet bath to ensure all items can handle moisture.
Most cassette toilets and composting toilets are portable, so you can remove them before you shower. However, whatever campervan toilet option you’ve opted for, you definitely want to avoid shower water seeping into it.
When you’re living in a van, every square inch counts. That’s why hidden showers are such a popular choice for van lifers. By tucking the shower away behind a cabinet or panel, you free up valuable space that can be used for other things when the shower isn’t in use.
Of course, hidden showers come with their own set of challenges. You still need to make sure that the space is well-ventilated to avoid condensation build-up, and you’ll need to have a plan for draining the water. But if you’re up for the challenge, a hidden shower can be a great way to maximize your van’s living space.
We have found a terrific example in a video where the indoor shower area can double up as counter space for a kitchen when not in use as a shower. Check it out for some hidden shower inspo.
2. Solar Shower Bag
A solar shower bag is a great way to take a van life shower, and it’s actually quite simple to use. All you need is some water and a little bit of sun. Securing it to the roof of your van is an ideal way to heat the water.
The solar shower bag heats up the water inside using solar power, and then you can simply hang it up and shower away. It’s a great way to conserve water and save money on your energy bill. Plus, it’s much more eco-friendly than using a traditional shower.
So if you’re looking for a van life shower solution that is both efficient and earth-friendly, a solar shower bag is the way to go.
There are plenty of solar shower bags on the market. Some of the best solar bag showers are well insulated, retaining the solar heat well. They’re made of durable materials and have an on and off switch so you can utilize the water effectively.
And when you’re done, they fold away into a tiny package. So with one of these shower bags, you will always have a shower close on hand and save space by not having a dedicated shower space.
3. Pressure Solar Shower
A pressure solar shower is a great option for van lifers and overlanders.
Most pressure solar showers have a foot pump that keeps the water pressurized for a long continuous flow.
Because they don’t rely on gravity for flow, you don’t have to hang them above your head, so you can place the solar bag on the ground. This makes it easy to shower just about anywhere, especially if you don’t have a roof rack you could hang it from.
The pressure solar shower also comes with a hose and nozzle, so you can easily direct the water where you need it to go. So if you’re looking for an outdoor shower that is easy to use and convenient, a pressure solar shower is a great choice.
Pressurize solar showers are pretty easy to use too. You need to pressurize it first with a few foot pumps, and once it’s primed, it’s good to go. Of course, as you shower, the pressure will begin to drop. Still, it’s easy to maintain pressure without interrupting your shower with one or two pumps on the foot pump as you go.
The continuous flow makes these showers great for washing shampoo out of long hair, and they’re great for washing up dishes too.
4. Road Shower or Awning Shower
Awning showers are a great addition to any van life setup! They attach to the edge of your campervan’s roof and provide a great way to shower while on the go.
Made from solid aluminum, awning showers are super-efficient at heating the water by solar power. They’re also a great way to save space in your van – no more need for a bulky shower stall! Plus, with an awning shower, you can always be sure to have a hot shower, even if the weather is a bit chilly.
If you’re looking for a way to have a shower while van life, there are a few options available. One is to purchase a ready-made awning shower, but these can be pretty pricey.
Another option is to construct your own DIY awning shower from PVC tubes, which can be relatively affordable and easy to do if you’re handy with some tools.
Here’s a walk-around video of a DIY road shower for some hints on building one.
5. Battery-Powered Outdoor Shower
The Ivation Portable Outdoor Shower is the perfect way to get clean while on the road if you want the convenience of an on-demand shower.
This battery-powered shower is basically an immersion pump. You just drop it in a bucket of water, and it pumps water at a steady, consistent flow.
You can recharge the battery easily from any USB socket. You’ve probably installed some USB sockets as part of your van’s electrical installation, so these are ideal. Otherwise, you can use your 12v cigarette lighter socket or a solar generator (a must-have if you haven’t got a robust electrical system).
While you need a bucket to hold the water, collapsible buckets take up little of your van’s storage, so that shouldn’t be a problem. On the other hand, it doesn’t provide a way to get hot water, so if you like a nice hot shower, you’ll need a way to heat it first.
6. Propane Tankless Shower
A propane tankless water heater is an excellent option for camp showers for anyone who loves van life. They can be used indoors or outdoors, but they’re also a fast way to get hot water so you can have a warm shower year-round in all conditions.
Because they don’t need to be connected to your van’s electrical system, propane water heaters are a far better solution for boondocking than electric tankless water heaters.
That said, they use a lot of propane, so frequent users need to have fair sized tanks.
7. Find Public Showers
If you don’t have the most fantastic setup and don’t have a way to take a shower in or beside your van, all is not lost.
Using public showers is such a great alternative. You can find them at truck stops, gas stations, campgrounds, and even some gyms and community centers.
They’re usually clean and provide a great way to get clean without using up all of your water. Plus, they’re usually pretty cheap or even free, so you can save your money for other things. So if you’re looking for a way to take a shower on the road, using public showers is a great option.
What To Do When You Can’t Find a Shower
If you’re in an area where you may not be able to find a public shower or using one of your van shower options isn’t possible, there are some non-shower options that you can use too.
Wet wipes are an option to keep clean if you cannot get to a shower. There are all sorts of wipes that could suit your needs for wiping your body, from travel wipes to specifically designed cleansing wipes.
The best wipes to use are adult-sized ones that will be able to handle more areas of your body. Often you can find wipes with added lotions and antibacterial agents that are better at keeping you feeling fresh.
The downside is that even with adult wipes, you could find they won’t handle dirty areas very well. However, they will usually manage sweaty body parts and freshen you up. Still, they’re far from a permanent solution when it comes to proper cleaning capability. Hairy body parts are also not going to benefit from using wet wipes as they don’t effectively reach the skin.
You will use a considerable amount of wipes for one full-body clean, which could become an expensive solution. Additionally, most wet wipes are not biodegradable, so it’s not an eco-friendly option. If you must go down this route, opt for eco-friendly compostable wipes to address this issue.
While not a long-term solution for cleaning yourself in your van, wet wipes are still great to have on hand should you need a quick waterless solution.
For anyone living the van life, dry shampoo is a must-have product. Not only does it help to keep hair clean and presentable, but it also cuts down on water usage. So when showering isn’t an option, dry shampoo can be a lifesaver.
The best dry shampoos are formulated to absorb oil and sweat, leaving hair feeling fresh and clean. To use this kind of shampoo, simply apply a small amount to the roots of dry hair and massage it into the scalp. Let the powder sit for a few minutes before brushing it out.
Dry shampoo can be used as often as needed, although it’s best to give hair a break to avoid build-up. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when using it.
First, choosing a formula that won’t leave hair feeling heavy or greasy is crucial. Second, avoid any areas with open cuts or scratches, as they can irritate the skin.
Other than that, enjoy fresh-looking hair without worrying about water usage!
Using damp towels for cleaning the body has been around for ages. It’s similar to the wet wipe approach but more eco-friendly.
Here’s how to do a sink wash:
- Fill your sink with warm water and add some soap.
- Use a small towel or body sponge to wash, starting with your face and working your way down.
- Rinse the towel to remove the soap and wipe it off.
- Wash your feet well since they tend to get pretty dirty when living in a van.
This isn’t an elegant solution, but if you’re low on water and can’t get to a shower, it’s a fast way of freshening up. Just make sure to rinse out and dry off your towel well to prevent it from festering.
What About Privacy?
Van life comes with a lot of freedoms. You can pick up and move whenever you want, sleep wherever you please, and take an outdoor shower (in an appropriate place) without anyone giving you a second glance.
However, privacy is still important for van lifers, even when it comes to something as simple as showering. When you live in such close quarters, it’s easy for personal boundaries to become blurred.
An indoor shower will always provide more privacy, but what are you to do if you don’t have that luxury? Unfortunately, outdoor showers don’t offer integral ways of retaining your modesty. But again, there are a few solutions to that.
Rear Door Shower Curtain
A rear door shower curtain is a simple concept where you attach a piece of preferably waterproof material to the rear doors of your van, providing instant privacy.
Rear door shower curtains can be created from a regular shower curtain. Simply sew a few loops of Velcro onto the top corners of a regular shower curtain, and then attach the curtain to the doorframe with the Velcro loops. You can also use a clothesline or rope to tie the curtain in place.
Take a look at this article for more info on how to build a DIY shower curtain for your outside shower.
They don’t provide 100% privacy, but it is definitely good enough to do the job.
Whether you buy or make your own, a rear door shower curtain is a must-have accessory for any campervan owner who loves to camp and shower outdoors!
Pop-Up Privacy Tent
Pop-up privacy tents are ideal for providing privacy while showering outdoors. They can double as a shower cubicle, toilet shelter, or even a dressing room on the beach.
Many pop up privacy tents include pockets inside that offer convenient storage space to keep your belongings safe and dry while showering.
A pop-up privacy shower tent is an instant solution that you can bring out when you need to shower. You can easily fold it away for easy storage. This allows you to use your outdoor shower option with confidence that you will maintain your privacy too.
Well, there you have it! A summary of van life shower ideas that should help you stay clean and comfortable while living on the road. As you can see, there are various ways to take showers while living in a van, so it’s really up to you to figure out what works best for your lifestyle and van size.
Whether you opt for a solar shower, a portable shower, or even just some good old-fashioned hand-washing, the important thing is that you stay clean and healthy while living the van life.