Last Update: 10/16/2016

10 Ways to Shower if You Live in a Van

Man who lives in a van down by the river grimaces in cold shower. Vanholio.com
"Cold Shower" by sethdickens (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Lotta wannabe vandwellers worry 'bout how they're gonna wash the stink off. No problem. Easy really. Showers ain't hard to come by down by the river. Here's some options off the top of my head.

10 Vanlife Shower Options


1. Gyms / Fitness Centers


This is a popular option for your urban vandwellers and OTR types frequenting cities. Get you a cheap membership to one of the national gym chains. Then shower as needed. Get a workout, too!

Vanholio don't hang around cities much, so this option's kinda useless for me. But don't let that stop you!

2. Truck Stops


Your big truck stops – T&A, Pilot, Flying J, etc. – usually have showers for the truckers. They're pricey at about $10-12 per shower. Most of the chains have deals for free showers if you buy a lotta gas from them, so look into it.

Pilot's the only chain Vanholio's used, and only twice. But I can report that the showers were clean, fancy even, and Pilot provided soap and towels. At one place, a trucker gave me one of his free showers. I don't know whether he just thought Pilot are fucking shysters at $12 a pop or if I looked desperate. Free is free, so I just said, Thank you! Makes me wonder if you couldn't buy showers at a discount from the truckers direct, say offer $5 for the credit. Most of them have more free showers than they can use anyway.

3. Campgrounds and RV Parks


You don't need to pay for a site. While it ain't exactly kosher, hardly anyone will notice if you use a state, city, or county park campground's shower. This is a great deal if you've got an annual pass to cover the daily entrance. Plus some of your National Forest and BLM campgrounds have showers, though this ain't typical.

Small, private RV parks will often let travelers buy just a shower. The going rate seems to be $5. The laundry facilities are usually more-reasonably priced than a laundromat, too.

Some campgrounds and RV parks have coin-operated showers, which usually run a $1.00 to $1.50 for 4-6 minutes.

4. Swimming


Many a time Vanholio's taken a dip in a lake, river, or creek to clean off. I carry a bathing suit for the purpose, but I suppose you could go au naturale. Don't pollute with soap, though. I just use sand and clay to scrub off.

Sometimes public beaches have free rinse showers. Use them after your dip, or alone if it's too cold to swim.

5. Public Bathrooms


You can always get yourself a sponge / washcloth bath in a public bathroom anywhere. For privacy and stealth, a one-user bathroom is probably best. Don't be an asshole: Wipe up any mess you make.

6. Deodorizing Rinses


Vanholio started using this No-Rinse Body Wash he read about on some vandwelling forum. Works good. It's a deodorizing, moisturizing lotion you just spread on and let dry. I think they come up with it for invalids. It's really good when it's cold out 'cause I can just apply in the van.

I've heard some vanlifers do a similar thing homemade. One gal uses a spray bottle filled with vinegar solution. And there are always cleansing wipes.

7. Friends and Family


Visiting folks for dinner? Ask if they don't mind if you grab a quick shower. Most of your better people will oblige. But don't keep hitting up the same folks too often. You'll wear out your welcome.

8. Portable Showers


Lots of vandwellers have worked out one kind of shower or other. There're commercial products, like camp showers, and even fancier gadgets. One of the most clever ideas I ever heard was using one of those pressure canisters usually used for fertilizer, pesticides, and bug spray. You could even poke poke holes in the bottom of a plastic bucket, fill it up, and hang it from a tree branch.

9. Garden Hose


If you find a hose or can add a hose and spray nozzle to an outdoor tap somewhere, you've got it made. Put on your swimsuit, hose down, soap up, hose down again, and towel down. You're done. For your nethers, just shoot water down into your swimsuit.

10. Car Wash


I never tried this nor ever even heard it being done. But why not go to a self-serve car wash!? I'm talking about the kind where you drive into a bay and use a powerwash gun. Maybe the gun's too long or two high-pressure? Still think it could work in a pinch. Vanholio'd just use the water rinse – no car soap. I'd also probably go at night or sometime there wouldn't be many around.

Between Showers

Also, consider that with daily deodorant; washing your face, pits, and nethers; and changing your clothes regular, you won't need to bathe all that often. Good hygeine is good for you, helps relations, and hides you in plain site from the LEOs.

Hey, Beer Vanholio! He works hard on this blog.

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2 comments:

  1. Some others:

    - I've encountered the laundromats that also had showers.
    - Municipal rec centers/pools will often sell showers or day passes that let you use the showers
    - There's this stuff called no-rinse peri-wash that hospitals use to sponge bathe bedridden patients. Use it like soap on a washcloth, but, as the name implies, you don't need to rinse afterward. It's not loaded with alcohol like hand sanitizer is. I've gone through a gallon of it.
    - Use the shower in a buddy's RV
    - Hot springs. The hot spring at Slab City, for example, is pretty much the community bathtub. There are natural, un-commercialized, free hot springs scattered all over the West on public land
    - Massage parlors. Get a table shower, massage and happy ending
    - Mom & pop motels between a guest checking out and housekeeping doing up the room. It will take some fancy talking and probably a few bucks to cover the cost of water

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    Replies
    1. Why, I think we got a start to "10 More Ways to Shower if You Live in a Van"! :-)

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