Monday, September 26, 2022


Boondocking RV bathroom tips: Stay another day (or week) off-grid

When camping without the benefit of hookups, there are tips for every room in your RV that can help extend the amount of time you can spend off-grid before having to come in and reboot.

As I am generally not a fan of staying in RV parks any more than is absolutely necessary, I have accumulated quite a few boondocking tips over the years.

It’s a bummer to discover a great off-grid boondocking spot only to have to leave prematurely because you ran out of water, or because your holding tanks were getting full.  While the 40 to 60 gallons of water your RV tank carries might seem like a lot, you can go through it mighty quickly if you are not careful.

I had one friend who was so obsessed with having enough water, he installed an extra water tank in his truck. While that is always an option, these tips are far simpler, easier, and less expensive.

Of course, if you are camping in a place with public restrooms, showers, or even vault toilets, use those as much as is practical. However, here I’m going to assume those are not options.

RV bathroom tips for maximum boondocking time

  • Collapsible water storage jugs make it easy for you to cart 10 to 20 gallons or more of extra water along without the hassle and expense of installing an extra water tank in the truck like my friend did. Fill up just before heading out to your remote spot. When empty, fold up and store until next time.
  • Easy to install oxygenating showerheads are a game-changer. They provide increased water pressure for a better shower while using FAR less water than traditional showerheads. Be sure to choose one with a switch that lets you shut the water off while you soap up. Oxygenics is a popular brand.
  • This is probably the most common of all RV bathroom tips, but it’s a classic for a reason: take navy showers to conserve water.
  • Beyond the navy shower, turn off the taps and stop the water from running when brushing teeth, scrubbing hands, waiting for hair conditioner to soak in, etc.
  • Collect the water that runs while waiting for hot water to come out of the faucet. Use for cleaning, washing, or for toilet flushing.
  • Using less soap, shampoo, and hair conditioner when showering or washing equals less rinsing, less fresh water used, and less water in the gray tank. Use ONLY what you need to get clean.
  • Pick up an inexpensive solar shower or two and fill them with water just before heading out to your boondocking location. Set the bags out in the sun and you will have hot water for 2-3 extra showers per bag. By showering outside you’ll also save putting extra water down the gray water tank. For those who like privacy, you can pick up a portable shower stall pop-up tent to go with your solar shower.
  • Use a leave-in hair conditioner instead of the usual kind that needs to be rinsed out.
  • Shower less often! It may sound odd to a society conditioned to shower each and every day, but according to no less an authority than Harvard Health, it’s not at all clear that a daily shower accomplishes much. In fact, daily showering might even be detrimental to your health!
  • Rinse-free body wash or bathing wipes can keep your face and body feeling clean and fresh between showers.
  • Dry shampoo can save the need to wash your hair for several days longer than you ordinarily would. Spray on then brush out to clean shiny hair. Not Your Mother’s is my personal favorite brand.
  • Disinfecting cleaning wipes will save you water when cleaning counters, walls, etc.
  • The less toilet paper that goes down the toilet the less water you need for flushing (and the easier your next trip to the dump station will be). I like to keep biodegradable dog poop clean up bags to deposit soiled paper in before throwing in the trash.
  • If you are boondocking out in the middle of nowhere, especially with a big group or family, take a cue from tent campers and use an outdoor camp toilet in addition to your RV’s bathroom. Check this one out. The same pop-up tent you picked up for outdoor showers also makes a good private outdoor bathroom.

Do you have more RV bathroom tips that extend your off-grid boondocking time?  Be sure to drop your favorites in the comments below. Happy boondocking everyone!



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7 months ago

My black and grey tanks are just 12 gal EACH 😂 so we have a rhino portable tank we use for extended stays. Our fresh tank? 😂 21 gallons. Yep! We actually have never used it. I don’t want the hassles of sanitizing the lines etc. So we just bring jugs of water
Then we fill them as needed. We shower using the bucket method in our shower and, I can shower using just a gallon of water. My hair too! We have boondocked for like 10 days straight and still had room in our black and grey tanks. We did a lot of back packing and tent camping, so had a head start. Lol

Raymond Clark
7 months ago

I have thing on my faucet where the aerator would be, you need to touch it to get water flow. Saves turning the handle on and off while brushing or shaving

7 months ago

Really great tips! Fortunately we tent camped for 30 years before buying an RV so I’m used to conserving water. We can easily make it at least a week and maybe 10 days if we really conserve. Of course we bring a lot of extra water as we only have a 51 gallon fresh tank. Our biggest problem is our 29 gallon grey tank. I have to be very careful about how much water goes down the drain. I wash dishes outside after scraping and wiping them almost clean. Additionally, I have a small bucket in the shower to catch a lot of the water. I then use this to flush the toilet or clean something in the RV. It’s a little extra work, but it allows you to stay out a lot longer.

7 months ago

We turn off the water to the toilet and use a 1-gallon garden sprayer to rinse after use. That system takes only a couple ounces per “flush”. Also, we straddle a 5-gallon bucket when navy showering. This catches most of the water, which we then pour into the toilet. We also pour the dish washing water into the toilet. This helps to prevent the “poop pyramid” and reduces the grey tank volume.

7 months ago

We started fulltiming 12 years ago, & I set up our 5th wheel for frequent & extended boondocking, with plenty of solar & batteries. The only remaining problem was water capacity. I had 85 gal fresh, 70 black & 70 grey, but I wanted more fresh water. I contacted the small company that used to make the 45 gal blue water bladder for Camping World. They do a lot of custom work, so I asked them to make me an 85 gal bladder to fit the space in front of my 5th wheel hitch. They also used 50% thicker vinyl than in their standard blue one. I then bought a water pump from Harbor Freight. It’s worked perfectly over 100 times in the last 12 years. When not using it, the bladder folds up compactly & can be stored anywhere. My 5er has a macerator, so I’m able to pump waste up into a waste tote in my truck & haul waste away on the same trip to get fresh water. I can spend months in the Ariona desert & never have to move the rv.

Turnbull’s Travels
7 months ago

A white vinegar/Dawn spray cleans our dishes when boondocking. Obviously, we switch to paper plates which also make good tinder, and try to plan as many meals that call for our cast iron pan as possible…that pan doesn’t take much water to get it clean. And we take advantage of Planet Fitness showers after a workout!

7 months ago

Our coach has 100 gallons of fresh water with holding tanks of 40 gal black and 60 gal gray. We never seem short of black capacity so when we wash dishes we use a large dish pan and then poor the water down the toilet into the black holding tank. Doing this we’re good for an easy two weeks of dry camping.

7 months ago

Even when not boondocking, we have always wiped down our dishes and silverware with our napkins before putting them in the sink. That saves putting crumbs and grease into the gray tank. We also save the rinse water from the previous dishwashing to use as wash water for the next dishwashing. Our dish drainer fits over one of the sinks, so we put the stopper in that sink and pour the rinse water over them when finished washing. Next meal we just switch sinks to wash and rinse. We even heat rinse water in the tea kettle to save on running the faucet until the water gets hot.

7 months ago

We have a small trailer with small tanks. In addition to many of the above tips, we use foaming soaps as much as possible as less water is needed and we use a combo shampoo/conditioner (Pert). In a pinch to extend a stay, a grocery bag can be put in the toilet bowl with the seat over the top to hold it in place, when business is done, tie up the ends tight and put in trash bag in back of truck.

Rolling Coal
7 months ago
Reply to  Ellie

Grocery bags had many uses after getting the groceries home but, but alas….. no more bags!

7 months ago

Use all in one body wash and shampoo. Product for men is easy to find. As a woman, I use the baby wash and shampoo products. Single product with multi purpose saves on water, space and weight.

Theresa Ornoff
7 months ago

Do dishes once a day. In between use a spray bottle with a mixture of dish soap and water to coat the dirty dishes and then they are ready for washing at the end of the day.

7 months ago

Use the outdoor shower and let the gray water soak into the ground. Eliminate the dump station.

7 months ago

Buy a European RV that uses the gray water to flush the toilet. Maybe the people in Elkhart will pick up on that idea in the next few years.

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