Tuesday, June 6, 2023


Full-time RVing: Getting the best out of your shower

By Russ and Tiña De Maris

Adjusting to the full-time RVing lifestyle includes many different areas of life. One of them is access to hot running water. Sure, you have a water heater in your RV. Typically it’s a six-gallon job, while your old land-based heater was probably 40 or 50 gallons. All is not lost: Most of you won’t be doing piles of laundry, so the biggest adjustment will be showers.

First, think “Navy shower.” You get in the shower, turn on the taps and adjust the temperature. Rinse off. NOW turn the valve on the shower head to turn off the flow of water, without turning off the mixing valves. Soap up, stick shampoo in your hair. Water back on, rinse off. For some this just isn’t satisfying, but with the “necessities” taken care of, now you can flip the valve open and “drain the tank” without fear of running out of hot water with shampoo on your dome.

But there’s something about a longer shower that’s heaven, particularly after a stressful day. A lot of things can affect the heart-warming quality of your shower. Water flow delivered from your rig’s water pump can be “choppy,” ranging from a nice, high-pressure flow at the full-up pressure end, down to a screamingly weak-sister flow, the one you get just before the pump cycles back on. An accumulator tank added to your plumbing supply line can help even out those flows. Or check into an RV park and hook up to “city water,” for a more assured even flow rate.

If showers are an important part of your emotional life, you’ll probably want to ditch the standard factory-equipped shower head. They deliver water, true enough, but one stream doesn’t necessarily fit all. Some swear by shower heads specially marked for RV use: oft cited are the Oxygenics models. We found a lower-priced residential shower head at a big box store worked wonders for the varying moods of shower takers, and without busting the budget.

Some full-timers who have “pilot light” water heaters rarely allow the main burner of their heater to come on. They simply leave the heater set on pilot when in warm climates, and let the pilot light heat the water in the tank. By so doing they reduce the amount of LP used, and don’t suffer the “blowtorch” noise of the main burner popping off anytime day or night. Those with an electronic ignition often simply “turn on” the heater a few minutes before needing water, then shut it off when they’re through.

And from a related “practical showering tips” thought factory. When you’re done with your shower, don’t waste a lot of time letting scum, grime and mold have a chance to catch up with you. Use a little squeegee to wipe down the walls and shower floor. In fact, our appointed “shower attendant” thoroughly wipes down our shower with a towel after shower sessions, making the shower space available for storage, as required. Some RVers swear by doing a final wipe-down with a dryer softener sheet – the theory is they clean away dirt and leave it all fresh. Don’t know – never tried it – we don’t use dryer sheets.



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1 year ago

I refuse to do the navy gig. So if I want a long hot shower I go for the bathhouse. I can do what I need to do and done. If I want a power shower in the morning then I use the RVs shower. I can be done and gone. Otherwise I am having an electric start added to the propane tank. I really want to take a hot shower without a surprise.

Bob p
1 year ago

I installed an electric conversion kit in our 6 gal heater, it heats the water enough take one shower but then it requires about an hour to recover. When we take back to back showers I turn on the gas heater for a fast recovery. It definitely saves money.

1 year ago

We turn the dsi water heater on for 8 minutes then off before showering. Then we don’t have to worry about “mixing”. Gives a pretty even temp shower for about 6 minutes. Plenty for a Navy+ shower.

Last edited 1 year ago by Bill
Liz Winchenbach
6 years ago

Thanks for a good article, I agree – an oxygenics shower head is a must have! I just added a thermostatic faucet to my tiny shower. https://wackypup.blogspot.com/2017/05/no-more-crappy-faucets-installing.html Let me know what you think!

6 years ago

To reduce cleaning and scrubbing in the shower, always use a liquid soap or body wash. They are missing the ingredient that keeps bar soap solid–that’s what accumulates on shower walls, floors, and doors and requires frequent cleaning. I’ve been using only liquid soap for 40 years and have to put a calendar reminder to clean my shower because it never needs more than disinfecting–it NEVER has to be scrubbed. Also, this same hard scum will accumulate in your grey water tank and build up more and more over time.

1 year ago
Reply to  Sherry

Totally agree with your procedure. It has worked for us since 1984..

Steve willey
6 years ago

The best trick to a long hot shower with a six gallon water heater is a low flow shower head. The one I use uses about 1 gallon a minute and makes a decent spray. Using a pressure regulator on your hook-up hose set for lowest convenient pressure helps reduce gallons per minute too. With the low flow shower head (Backwoodssolar.com catalog) I have gotten a 20 minute hot shower. Also helpful was installing a thermostatic type shower control that keeps temperature stable even as hot water begins to decline, and temperature is easily set to stay right each shower through.

Todd M Banks
6 years ago

“Good to know that the Flying J’s have diesel AND gas at the RV pumps.”

I wish this were true of all Flying J’s but it is not the rule. Many and I mean many of them do not have the RV island available. Too many times we have opted for the Chevron, or Exxon station right next to a Flying J, Pilot or Loves just because we could fit in and get out without problems.

Flying J does publish an EXIT guide showing where they are located and in it, they highlight whether or not that particular station has an RV island.

Paul Alton
6 years ago

I go the navy shower one better by using a diluted body wash solution in a spray bottle to lather up before turning on the shower also putting a glob of shampoo/body wash undiluted an rubbing it into my scalp. I turn on the water and adjust it rinsing my arms until the temperature is right and then rinse off the areas I want especially clean. The last thing I do before closing the valve on the shower head is give the shampoo on my head a splash of water. Then with the hose off I lather my hair and use the lather to re-lather those special areas. Then it is time to rinse off all the lather. Takes very little water and gets me clean.

We bought an Oxygenics head a few years ago and tested it against the showerhead wand that came with the rig. The Oxygenics head filled an ice cream pail measurably faster than the original. We took it back to Camping World for a refund.

Myra Johnson
6 years ago

Great article about getting gas while hooked up. Yes we have run into a few of these situations and ended up in a town for an extra week because of a bent axle. Being the navigator, I use Googl maps and the satellite idea, to plan an easy in and out. Good to know that the Flying J’s have diesel AND gas at the RV pumps. Thanks for a informative article.

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