How to Wash and Stay Clean when Travelling in a Campervan

How to Wash and Stay Clean When Travelling in a Campervan

Campervan Washing and Showering Options

Living off-grid in a campervan must mean you can’t shower properly and smell right? How many times have van lifers come up against that one eh?! 

For those with a permanent internal shower cubicle in their campervan the solution is simple providing they always have easy access to water and a large capacity for storing water inside or outside of the van. 

For us, we were not prepared to loose valuable living space for a permanent shower and we also planned to be off grid 99% of our time. This meant we wouldn’t always be able to access enough water required to have a full blown, advert worthy, shower. However, we didn’t want to give up on the shower idea altogether. We therefore managed to design a really simple pop-up shower which works as follows:

Setting up the Pop-Up Shower in a Campervan

A.    Attach the shower curtain to magnets onto the ceiling of the van

B.    Place storage container underneath curtain (when not in use stacks neatly inside hiking gear storage container) 

C.     Boil a pan of water, place in sink and mix with cold to get to temperature

D.    Attach  USB powered shower  to ceiling fan and place end in sink or spare small bucket (we use 10 litres)

Pop up shower in a sprinter campervan conversion

Internal pop up shower for self build campervan

It can also be set up outdoors by using the back doors as a shower and curtain hanger. Both options work really well and it literally takes minutes to set up. 

External pop up shower in a self build campervan conversion

Aside from the pop-up shower here are some other ways we manage to easily keep clean and wash every day (yes….believe it or not- wash every day!) 

Alternative Ways to Wash Without a Fixed Shower in a Campervan

1.     Basin wash: We do this every day to wash bodies and hair and it uses very little water. We tend to use the washing up bowl for clean water and an amazingly useful  fold up bowl  for rinsing. 

2.     Public showers: Use showers at gyms, leisure centres, train stations, climbing centres, beach showers and motorway services. All of these are either free or a cheap option for a good shower and if it’s a gym/leisure centre etc you can use the facilities too. Pretty much all motorway services have free to use showers provided for truck drivers which anyone can use. 

3.     Campsite facilities: Ask local campsite owners if you can use their showers and laundry facilities rather than having to pay for a whole nights stay. We have never been told no and they usually just charge around £5 for a shower and you just pay whatever the machines cost for laundry. 

4.     Laundrettes- There are still many available throughout UK & Europe and are a lot cheaper than having to pay for a campsite. We tend to make use of one around once every 2-3 weeks as washing and drying bedding in a van is not easy! Top tip- have 2 sets of bedding so you can eek out the laundrette visits! 

5.     Lakes & Streams: Use open water sources such as lakes and streams. If you are in a hot country then you can have essentially a giant bath using  eco friendly  products of course. If it’s not so hot then you can use the water to wash in the van and hand wash clothes in between laundrette visits. There is a portable wash board device called  Scrubba  which makes hand washing very easy. 

Top tip: carry extra water containers that you fill with stream water that you can use for washing to save your drinking water supplies. 

How to stay clean living off grid in a sprinter campervan conversion

There we have it- how to stay clean and fresh in a campervan travelling off grid without having to spend £100’s on campsites. That’s not to say we are against using campsites- we do spend the odd night on one to give the leisure batteries a good charge whilst at the same time making the most of the facilities. We just generally prefer wild spaces and the freedom to roam.  

If you have any questions following reading this blog or any general van life questions then please do contact us - we are always happy to help. 


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  • Jon Shepherd

    Hi Laura, on clicking your link to the USB shower I see it is the same one that we use for our camper Sylvester. For us, a pop up toilet tent works really well, takes hardy any space when flat. Plus on a sunny day it can be toasty in there :) I like the idea of the shower curtain and storage container though. Better if showering all year round, rather than us summer campers!

  • Janette

    Almost the same as what we use, although we hang the shower curtain from a hula hoop with the hula hoop hooked over stick on hooks, beneath the ceiling vent.
    Our shower is a hand-pumped garden sprayer with a shower head attachment, the pumping pressurises the water.
    We may end up putting a drain in the bottom corner of the stand-in container to make it easier to drain into the portable grey water tank.
    And the container can be used to store the shower curtain and “shower”, win-win.
    Now we just have to work out the composting toilet, more research needed.
    Thankyou for sharing your great idea!!

  • Katie

    Do you have a link to the magnets you use? Thank you.

  • Jason Hadlow

    Genius, you’ve solved my dilemma, already using a usb shower but now I know how to bring it inside, thanks you much xxx


    What a brilliant idea will try this

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