6 Ways To Save Water When Dry Camping
Each winter, the southwestern deserts get packed with winter snowbird RVers dry camping for the first time. Many will try hard to save water in remote areas, but most will be surprised to see just how quickly their precious resource disappears.
There are many ways to save water when dry camping. If you want to avoid running out of water when living off your holding tanks, these water conservation tips will keep your fresh water tank full longer.
“When dry camping, the longer you can conserve water the longer you can stay out there. It’s a compromise between convenience and conservation.” – iRV2 Member Raytronix.
It’s not hard to save water when you ditch RV hookups. Below are a few simple lifestyle adjustments to start with:
1. Invest in a water-saving RV shower nozzle
The best RV shower in my experience is the Oxygenics Body Spa. The nozzle is the most ideal, single dry camping investment we’ve ever made. It helps save water when dry camping because of its unique design. It literally boosts the size of water droplets flowing through the device.
As a result, you get a wider spray pattern that helps you lather and rinse faster. It also has a SmartPause feature, enabling you turn turn the flow of water off while soaping up. I’ve had mine for over two years and it’s solid as ever.
If you find yourself experiencing the infamous cold/hot water blast when you turn the water back on, check out this article for the fix to that water blast problem.
2. Recycle RV gray water
Many RVers will tell you they save water when dry camping by recycling gray water. They save nightly dishwashing water in a container and reuse for toilet flushing.
USI-RV previously made an RV gray water recycling kit, however it has since been discontinued. RVers can still pick up their useful book to learn more about what is needed for a DIY approach.
3. Stock up on paper products
Eco-minded RVers find that RV dry camping is a trade-off. Water can be used to rinse reusable dishes, or for more important things like cooking.
Unfortunately, when you try to save water when dry camping, one of the best ways to do that is to eat off paper plates and pre-wash cooking implements with paper towels. Also, you can burn them in a campfire and avoid sending it to the landfill.
4. Wash dishes with low-suds soap
Make your own low-suds soap by mixing a few drops of biodegradable dish washing soap with water in a spray bottle. Instead of filling a sink with dish water, just spray the mixture onto pre-washed dishes.
5. Get used to bird baths
RV dry camping isn’t for the squeamish. But when you’re without hookups you can stay clean. Scent-free body wipes help you pre-wash before ever running water through your shower nozzle.
6. Use a waterless shampoo
There are useful dry camping hair tips when you need to save water. Dry shampoo serves RVers as it keeps hair oil-free and feeling clean in between shampoos. You can achieve the same thing by rubbing a small amount of cornstarch into your scalp and brushing it through.
These are just a few ways you can save water when dry camping. Every RVer has their own tips and tricks. What are yours? Let us know in the comments below, on Facebook, or on iRV2 Forums.
See also: How To Determine Your Daily Water Usage
Rene Agredano and her husband, Jim Nelson, became full-time RVers in 2007 and have been touring the country ever since. In her blog, Rene chronicles the ins and outs of the full-timing life and brings readers along to meet the fascinating people and amazing places they visit on the road. Her road trip adventures are chronicled in her blog at LiveWorkDream.com.
Dan Schechter says
Save your used paper towels and napkins, and use them to pre-wipe greasy pots and pans. You use much less water by pre-wiping.
Also, shower with a dilute solution of Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap — it rinses off really easily.
Water is also scarce on Navy ships. Practice five minute Navy showers. Quick rinse / wet down, water off or pause, soap up and shampoo, water on for quick final rinse!
Jan Beckham says
Unless we have gone on an all day hike, we don’t normally get gross every day. Adult bathing wipes work very well. They can be purchased at Walgreens or Walmart. This saves water for those “all day hike” days and the wipes can be burned in the camp fire.
Keep a 3 gal collapsible container in your run-around vehicle and stock up whenever you are near a tap. Great for a trickling hand-washing station outside the RV
Mike Beaulieu says
The wife and I have gone 5 days on a freshwater tank without even trying, we could do 10 with more effort after which we would be glad to head out anyway. We use a plastic Rubbermaid container to wash our dishes in. If you wipe the dishes first with your paper napkin before you toss the napkin, you can remove a lot of the food from the plate before you wash it. Sometimes we don’t need to dump the water as it not all that dirty, keep it for another dish wash. We use the water afterwards to flush the toilet. We wash by hand as well, navy shower every other day. There are many ways to minimize water usage, you just have to think about it.
Linda Venable says
OMG! Those wet wipes are so full of harmful chemicals, they are the LAST thing I would ever use on my skin. There are better ways. Not so sure about what I’m talking about? Google endocrine disruptors and antibacterial wet wipes. And remember that your skin is the largest organ of your body.Yes, we dry camp. We use the highest quality microfiber in a body cloth that is reusable and washable. Think Norwex.
Great advice, thanks for the healthy tip!
Unscented baby wipes, nothing but distilled water. Add your own natural soap if needed – a few drops of Dr. Bonners in a spray bottle, spray your dirty bits, wipe off soap with the baby wipe.
Huggies brand has strong fabric. The wipes are a little small but as my husband says that’s ok, it’s a “spit bath” not a leisurely soak in the hot tub. Pack of 64 is inexpensive, lasts us 20-40 days (depends on climate).
No alcohol, no parabans, no phenoxyethanol, no MIT. Good enough for us.
Diane Shaffer says
You are so right on this! Norwex has so many cloths to choose from and all are anti-bac because of the threads woven inside. Great for bodies! Great for kitchen cleaning without harsh cleaners! Take care of your face with something else, cream or oil based soaps/wipes.
Linda Venable says
While I agree with most of these, I draw the line at using chemically laden body wipes on my skin. Remember, skin is the largest organ of the body, and that stuff soaks into your blood stream. I simply use a damp high quality microfiber cloth that contains an antibac agent to keep it from getting stinky. Rinse after use, and hang it up to dry for next time. You can dry camp without potentially damaging your health! We do!
So you think the antibacterial chemical isn’t getting on your skin and hence isn’t getting into your bloodstream? Think again!
Dempsey James says
Excellent advise. In the US Marine Corps you are taught to bathe with a helmet full of water while in harm’s way. Try it, you can do it.
Dominic Benecasa says
Couldnt copy and paste an ad but there is s a listing on Ebay for 5 gallon water containers with a filter and showerhead. I bought two. They’re blue “jerrycans” called Lifesaver 20,000 ltr portable water containers
Rock hound says
i think conserving water is a lot of mind set my wife and i do a lot of boon docking we cant afford to run to the park camps so we explore boon docking
we dont even fill our tank’s i bought a crop spraying tank from tractor supply 15gal i modify it to hook to my city water on my RV it’s powered by my truck 12V we can see how much we are using at all times and we use it sparingly and we buy bottled water for drinking we all so jump in a lake or two when ever posable we get organic soap that docent harm the water we dont even have hard plates we use paper thats our camp fire we have had friends come with us and they use stirfome plates i subjected not to use them if your going to cook marshmallows over the flames it help but some people never get it!! so it’s kinda a mind set thing i think
I’ve never boondocked but hope someday to try it and I thought of the water issue and showers what about one of those Coleman solar shower they come in different sizes at least you know how much your using and possibly placing in the grey tank if you decide to shower inside? just a thought you think this would work.
Savvy Andy. says
For dishwashing and general body washing I use spray bottles; one filled with clean water and one with lightly soaped water to cut through and residual grease..Dawn works well for both purposes. Wipe off plates first with paper towels, spritz plates with soapy water, scrub if needed, spritz with the clean water and air or paper dry. It’s amazing how many dishes/utensils can be washed with just one water fill-up.