How Do You Shower in a Van Life?

In recent years, the allure of van life has captured the imagination of adventurers, minimalists, and those seeking a life less ordinary. The freedom to roam, the opportunity to embrace the open road, and the chance to curate a life on wheels have propelled van life into a movement. However, amid the enchantment of life on the move, there’s one fundamental question that stands as a testament to practicality and comfort: How do you shower in a van life?

How Do You Shower in a Van Life?

How Do You Shower in a Van Life?

Van life is more than a trend; it’s a lifestyle that celebrates independence and resourcefulness. While living in a van offers unparalleled freedom, the need for a functional shower system is undeniable. Hygiene and comfort are not luxuries; they are essentials that elevate the van life experience.

This article embarks on a journey into the world of van life showers, where creativity meets necessity. Whether you’re a seasoned van lifer looking to enhance your shower setup or someone contemplating the leap into this nomadic lifestyle, our mission is clear: to provide you with comprehensive guidance on mastering the art of showering in a van life setup. Join us as we explore the types of shower systems, installation tips, maintenance tricks, and the joys of staying fresh and clean while embracing the van life adventure.

Types of Van Life Shower Systems

When it comes to showering in a van, versatility is key. There are several types of shower systems that van lifers commonly embrace, each with its own unique set of advantages and considerations:

1. Campervan Showers:

  • Campervan showers are built-in systems that come with many RVs and camper vans.
  • These showers typically include a compact shower stall, water heater, and plumbing.
  • Pros:
    • Convenience: Built-in showers offer ease of use and can be integrated into your van’s layout.
    • Hot Water: Many campervan showers come with water heaters, allowing for warm showers.
  • Cons:
    • Space: The shower stall takes up valuable interior space, limiting living and storage areas.
    • Installation: Retrofitting a campervan shower can be complex and costly.

2. Portable Showers:

  • Portable showers are standalone units that can be set up both inside and outside the van.
  • They consist of a water reservoir, a pump, and a showerhead.
  • Pros:
    • Flexibility: Portable showers can be used in various settings, including outdoor adventures.
    • Minimal Space: They don’t occupy permanent space in the van when not in use.
  • Cons:
    • Water Supply: Portable showers require a water source, which may need to be replenished regularly.
    • Temperature Control: Achieving hot water may require additional heating solutions.

3. DIY Shower Setups:

  • DIY enthusiasts often craft their shower systems tailored to their van’s layout and needs.
  • These setups can range from rudimentary bucket showers to more sophisticated custom designs.
  • Pros:
    • Customization: DIY solutions can be personalized to fit your specific preferences and available space.
    • Cost-Effective: Many DIY options are budget-friendly and can be created from readily available materials.
  • Cons:
    • Complexity: Designing and building a DIY shower may require advanced skills and tools.
    • Maintenance: DIY systems may need regular upkeep and can be prone to leaks if not well-constructed.

Each type of van life shower system has its merits, and the choice depends on your priorities and lifestyle. Whether you opt for the convenience of a campervan shower, the flexibility of a portable shower, or the creativity of a DIY setup, the goal remains the same: to enjoy refreshing showers on your van life journey.

Installing a Van Life Shower

Installing a shower system in your van is a transformative step in elevating your van life experience. Whether you’ve chosen a campervan shower, a portable shower, or a DIY setup, here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get started:

1. Select Your Shower System:

  • Choose the type of shower system that aligns with your van’s layout, your water supply capabilities, and your budget.

2. Plan the Location:

  • Determine where in your van the shower will be situated. Consider factors like space, accessibility, and proximity to a water source.

3. Gather Materials and Tools:

  • Collect all the necessary materials and tools based on your chosen shower system. This may include plumbing fittings, hoses, a water pump, and a showerhead.

4. Safety Precautions:

  • Prioritize safety by turning off any electrical or gas systems in your van before beginning installation.
  • Wear appropriate safety gear, especially if you’re working with tools or chemicals.

5. Install Plumbing and Water Supply:

  • For built-in campervan showers, connect the plumbing to your water tank and water heater, ensuring proper fittings and sealing.
  • Portable showers may require attaching the water pump to a water source or reservoir.
  • DIY setups involve crafting the plumbing system as per your design, which should be securely connected to the water source.

6. Create a Shower Enclosure:

  • For built-in showers, construct a shower stall or enclosure using waterproof materials.
  • Portable showers can be set up inside your van or outside with privacy tents.
  • DIY setups should have a designated shower area with waterproofing measures in place.

7. Install Drainage:

  • Ensure proper drainage to prevent water accumulation inside your van. This is critical for built-in and DIY systems.
  • Portable showers can be set up over a suitable drain or collection container.

8. Test the System:

  • Before your first shower, thoroughly test the system for leaks, proper water flow, and temperature control.

9. Regular Maintenance:

  • Regardless of your chosen system, conduct regular checks and maintenance to keep it in optimal condition.
  • Clean showerheads and screens, inspect hoses for wear, and address any issues promptly.

10. Seek Professional Help if Needed: – If you’re uncertain about any aspect of installation, consider consulting a professional plumber or van conversion specialist for guidance or assistance.

With careful planning and attention to detail, installing a van life shower system can be a rewarding DIY project. However, if you’re not confident in your abilities, it’s wise to seek professional help to ensure a safe and functional shower setup in your van. Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or prefer a professional touch, the result is a mobile oasis that adds immeasurable comfort and convenience to your van life adventures.

Maintaining Your Van Life Shower

Maintaining your van life shower system is essential to keep it functioning smoothly and to prolong its lifespan. Here are some routine maintenance tasks to ensure cleanliness and longevity:

1. Cleaning:

  • Regularly clean the shower area, including walls, floors, and fixtures, to prevent mold and mildew.
  • Pay attention to the showerhead, as mineral buildup can affect water flow. Soak it in vinegar to remove deposits.

2. Drain Maintenance:

  • Keep the shower drain free of debris and hair to prevent clogs.
  • Consider using drain strainers to catch larger particles.

3. Sealing and Caulking:

  • Inspect and replace any damaged seals or caulking around the shower enclosure to prevent leaks.

4. Water Quality:

  • Be mindful of the water source’s quality, especially if you’re using natural water bodies. Consider using a filter to remove impurities.

5. Ventilation:

  • Ensure proper ventilation to prevent moisture buildup, which can lead to mold and odors.

6. Inspect Plumbing:

  • Periodically check all plumbing connections for leaks. Tighten fittings if necessary.

Tips for Efficient Showering

Efficient showering in a van life setup is not just about saving water; it’s also about optimizing your comfort. Here are some practical tips for van lifers:

1. Water Conservation:

  • Use a low-flow showerhead to reduce water consumption while maintaining adequate pressure.
  • Consider installing a water-saving faucet aerator to further reduce water use.
  • Turn off the water when you’re lathering or shampooing to conserve water.

2. Temperature Control:

  • If your van has a water heater, make sure it’s set to a comfortable temperature to avoid scalding.
  • Consider installing a thermostatic mixing valve to regulate water temperature.

3. Use a Shower Timer:

  • Set a timer for your showers to avoid spending too much time in the shower, which can deplete your water supply.

4. Wet Wipes and Sponge Baths:

  • On days when a full shower isn’t necessary, use wet wipes or a damp cloth for a quick refresh.

5. Outdoor Showers:

  • When possible, take advantage of outdoor showers at campgrounds or natural water bodies to conserve your van’s water supply.

6. Water Recycling:

  • Consider collecting shower water runoff in a container for reuse, such as flushing the toilet or watering plants.

By implementing these tips for efficient showering and maintaining your van life shower system regularly, you can enjoy refreshing showers while minimizing water consumption and prolonging the life of your equipment. These practices contribute to a more sustainable and comfortable van life experience.

Alternative Methods for Showering

While having a dedicated shower system in your van is convenient, there may be times when your primary setup is unavailable or inadequate. In such cases, van lifers can explore alternative methods for staying fresh on the road:

1. Public Facilities:

  • Many towns and cities provide public restrooms with shower facilities. These can be a lifesaver when you’re in urban areas.
  • Truck stops and travel centers often offer pay-per-use showers that are clean and well-maintained.

2. Gym Memberships:

  • Joining a gym with nationwide locations can grant you access to showers and fitness facilities during your travels.
  • Some gyms even offer specialized van lifer memberships with flexible terms.

3. Natural Outdoor Showers:

  • When you’re in nature-rich locations, take advantage of natural outdoor showers like waterfalls, rivers, or lakes.
  • Ensure you’re following Leave No Trace principles and local regulations when using natural water bodies.

4. Portable Camping Showers:

  • Portable camping showers are compact and can be filled with water from various sources, including rivers or lakes.
  • They provide a simple solution for outdoor showering when traditional facilities are scarce.

Safety Considerations

Showering in a confined space like a van requires special attention to safety to prevent accidents and maintain a healthy environment:

1. Ventilation:

  • Proper ventilation is crucial to prevent moisture buildup, which can lead to mold and mildew. Consider installing fans or vents in your van’s shower area.

2. Water Heating Safety:

  • If your van has a water heater, ensure it’s installed correctly and maintained to avoid the risk of scalding or gas leaks.
  • Consider using a carbon monoxide detector to monitor air quality.

3. Moisture Management:

  • Use moisture-absorbing materials in your van to control humidity levels and prevent moisture-related issues.
  • Regularly inspect and address any signs of water damage.

4. Slip-Resistant Surfaces:

  • Install slip-resistant mats or surfaces in your shower area to reduce the risk of slipping and falling.

5. Privacy:

  • Ensure you have a privacy curtain or enclosure for your shower to maintain modesty and avoid unwanted exposure.

By following these safety considerations and exploring alternative showering methods when needed, you can maintain a safe and comfortable showering experience in your van life adventures. Prioritizing safety not only enhances your well-being but also allows you to fully enjoy the freedom of the van life lifestyle.

Cost Analysis

Understanding the costs associated with different van life shower systems is essential for budget-conscious nomads. Here’s a breakdown of the initial investment and ongoing operational costs:

1. Campervan Showers:

  • Initial Investment: Campervan showers often come as part of an RV or camper van package, so the initial cost is factored into the vehicle purchase.
  • Ongoing Costs: These showers primarily incur operational costs related to water heating. This can vary depending on your water source and heating method.

2. Portable Showers:

  • Initial Investment: Portable shower systems are relatively affordable, with prices ranging from $20 to $100, depending on features and quality.
  • Ongoing Costs: Operational costs are minimal, primarily covering water and propane for heating if needed. Portable showers are cost-effective in the long run.

3. DIY Shower Setups:

  • Initial Investment: DIY shower setups offer flexibility but can vary widely in cost. Costs depend on the materials you choose and any specialized equipment.
  • Ongoing Costs: Similar to portable showers, DIY setups have minimal ongoing costs, mainly related to water and heating.

Long-Term Savings:

  • Investing in a dedicated shower system can lead to long-term savings compared to using paid public facilities.
  • Portable and DIY setups are budget-friendly options that can pay for themselves quickly in reduced facility fees.


In the realm of van life, a functional shower system is more than just a luxury; it’s a gateway to comfort and hygiene on the open road. As we conclude this journey through the world of van life showers, a few key takeaways stand tall:

A well-chosen shower system can transform your van into a haven of freshness, offering not just a practical solution but also a touch of luxury on your nomadic adventures.

The diverse options available, from campervan showers to portable setups and creative DIY solutions, cater to varying budgets and preferences. Consider your specific needs, budget, and space constraints when making your choice.

While van life may present certain initial investments, the long-term savings, both in terms of money and convenience, are undeniable. The freedom to shower at your own pace and in your preferred location adds immeasurable value to your van life experience.

As you embark on your van life journey or seek to upgrade your current setup, we encourage you to explore your options, make informed decisions, and embrace the adventure with a functional shower system that keeps you refreshed and ready for whatever the open road has in store. Showering in a van life setup isn’t just a practical necessity; it’s a celebration of freedom and self-sufficiency that defines the spirit of van life itself.

Take a look at our other van life articles here.

Written by doc cotton

Meet Doc Cotton, your go-to founder of NowShack and a goto for all things adventurous and outdoorsy. With an unwavering passion for van life and a deep connection to the great outdoors, Doc is your trusted guide to exploring the world off the beaten path.

Doc's journey began with a fascination for the freedom and simplicity that van life offers. From there, it was a natural progression to spend countless hours prepping and converting vans into cozy, mobile homes on wheels. Whether it's turning an old van into a comfortable living space or sharing tips on the best gear for outdoor adventures, Doc has you covered.

But Doc Cotton is not just about life on the road; he's also a dedicated student of survival skills. Always eager to learn and share, Doc's insights into wilderness survival and bushcraft are invaluable for anyone looking to connect with nature on a deeper level.