Water Usage and Conservation – Bathing

Water Usage and Conservation – Bathing

As we saw in Water Usage and Conservation – Analysis,  showers turned out to be the largest water usage activity we do while boondocking.  Showers consume fresh  water and generate grey water creating problems with tank capacity.   When trying to conserve water, how one takes a shower is important.  Where you take the shower can also be a factor in managing grey waste water tanks.  Each RV we have owned over the years has had both inside and outside showers.  Exploring different bathing methods could provide additional shower alternatives.

Lance 850 Camper Wet Bath
Lance 850 Camper Wet Bath

The slide-in truck camper has a wet bath as shown above. A wet bath puts the toilet, sink and shower into the same space so that spray from the shower will make the entire bathroom wet. The shower head is located inside the wet bath on the wall shared with the wardrobe closet. The shower curtain slides in the door opening directly across from the bathroom sink. In the above drawing, the bathroom door is closed.

A dry bath is where the shower curtain closes in the space where the bathtub or shower are.  No spray from the shower should be reaching the floor outside the tub, the toilet or the bathroom sink.  This is the normal type of bathroom you would find in a typical US house.

Inside Shower

Shower Head - Water On/Off
Shower Head – Water On/Off

Shower heads in RVs generally have a valve on the shower head to turn on or off the water flow. In the picture above, the left shower head is off and the right shower head is on. The shower head is detachable from the wall with a hose that runs to the top of the sink’s faucet.

Wet Bath Sink With Shower Hose and Valve
Wet Bath Sink With Shower Hose and Valve

A pull lever on the sink (between the hot and cold water knobs and in front of the hose) diverts water to the shower head.  This setup is similar to a residential bathtub and shower combo except that instead of the tub faucet having a knob to pull to make the water divert to the shower, it is the sink faucet with the knob.

Navy Showers

The basic premise behind Navy Showers is to turn off the water after the hair and body are wet.  Next, the hair and body are soaped up (water is still off) and scrubbed. After scrubbing, the water is only turned on long enough to rinse the body clean of soap.

Hollywood Showers

My preferred way to shower is to just turn on the water and let it run continuously until I’m done with my shower.  My dad, a 22 year Navy veteran from way back called these water wasting showers “Hollywood Showers.”

While staying in Davis Mountains State Park (Davis Mountains State Park Recap), I did Hollywood Showers six mornings and kept track of my water usage.  My average over six days was 9 gallons per Hollywood Shower compared to an average of 2.8 gallons per Navy Shower (Water Usage and Conservation – Analysis) done during a previous trip.


My Navy and Hollywood Showers from the studies I did always included shaving.  In a residential setting, I leave the hot water on full when I shave making it easier to rinse the stubble and shaving cream from the razor.   However, especially during cold weather, the camper’s 6 gallon water heater has trouble keeping up with hot water demand. Running the water continuously for 5 minutes may not be such a good idea.

After Shaving Sink Full of Soapy Water
After Shaving Sink Full of Soapy Water

My solution for shaving is to partially fill the wet bath sink.  When the razor blade needs clearing I just shake the blade in the water until all the junk comes off.  Afterwards, the sink water stays hot long enough for me to use the water for another purpose – getting my washcloth soaped up and ready for scrubbing.

Outside Shower

In totally remote areas where there are few people, waste water tank space can be saved by using the outside shower.  Like the wet bath shower, the outside shower also has a valve on the shower head to turn the flow on or off.  Our previous boondocking locations lacked the privacy necessary for outside nudity so we haven’t done any outside bathing.

Camper's Outside Shower
Camper’s Outside Shower

Bathing Without Water

Last year, while at Big Bend National Park (Big Bend National Park 11/2017 Day 1), we were staying in the Rio Grande Village Campground.  I quickly tired of the showers there and decided to try something new and different.

No Rinse Bathing Wipes
No Rinse Bathing Wipes

Early last year I had a surgical procedure done.  The surgery center provided me with antibacterial antiseptic wipes to use instead of showering.  The surgery center said bathing this way reduces infections.  I had never used wipes like these before and was surprised at how clean they made me feel.

I bought a few packs of No Rinse Bathing Wipes from Amazon before our Big Bend Trip to try out.  The packs come with 8 washcloth sized moist towelettes.  I scrubbed with each towelette until almost dry before switching to another one.  I found that I could clean my whole body with only 4 towelettes if I wasn’t too dirty.

After bathing with the towelettes for 3 days, I discovered that I couldn’t stand my dirty hair and scalp.  The towelettes don’t replace shampoo.  What worked best for me was to shower and wash my hair on day three.  On days one and two, the towelettes work just fine.

Based on my experience with the no rinse bathing wipes, I would use them again.

Hope to see you on the road ahead!

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