Bathing and Cleaning

One of the most common things that people wonder about van living is how to bath and clean. There are a variety of options depending on your personal needs and where you’re at. I’ll cover a few of the options and you can decide on the system that works for you.



√ State Parks- Although many state parks have shower facilities they usually cost between $2 and $6 and often times you’ll need to pay a fee of $5 to $10 just to enter the park.  Not a bad option if you can afford it but definitely not the most cost effective, especially if you there is more than one person needing to shower.

√ Public Pools and Community Centers- Most large towns have a public pool or community center.  These are generally great places to shower except that often they can are priced from $5 to $8 per person.  Make sure to inquire about “shower only” rates. Many times you can use the showers for just a dollar or two if you ask the clerk at the front desk. If they only offer a full priced day pass make sure you get your monies worth by using the pool, hot tub and even sauna if they have one.  Nothing feels better than a good hot tub soak after a week of hiking or mountain biking.

√ YMCA- Yes, most YMCA facilities have pools and showers and are open to the general public for a fee.  Just call ahead to make sure that there isn’t a designated time for the public.

√ Truck Stops-  While this might sound unappealing, truck stops often have the cleanest and best facilities for you to shower.  They keep their rates competitive and you can usually find one along any major interstate.

√ Campgrounds-  Many developed campgrounds have shower facilities as well.  Campgrounds will require that you pay for a night of camping before they allow you to use their shower facilities.  Campgrounds with shower facilities can run anywhere from $12 to $40 a night for a simple camp site.  For most people this is a bit expensive but it is a viable option in areas with no other place to get a shower.

√ Solar Shower- You can purchase a solar shower from a sporting goods store for about $20.  To use a solar shower you just fill it with water and set it in the sun to heat the water. Solar showers can be a little tricky to use if you don’t have a private space. many people build a simple shower curtain so they can use them anywhere.  You can always shower in your bathing suit too, it’s better than nothing. One other drawback of solar showers is that they limit when you can take a warm shower because the water inside cools fairly rapidly.

√ Laundromats- You can find laundromats that have showers as well.  The quality can be hit or miss but it is nice to be able to accomplish showering and washing your clothes in one stop.

Cleaning Dishes and Washing Clothes

√ Cleaning Dishes- It is best to use a small tub and wash dishes often with a very light soap and water mixture.  Use natural soaps because sometimes it is difficult to rinse your dishes well.  You can also use a wet cloth or paper towel to clean dishes that are only lightly soiled.

√ Cleaning Pots and Pans- Use well oiled pans to avoid food sticking. Make sure that you’re not cooking at extremely hot temperatures to avoid burning food to the pan. As soon as you take your food out of the pan put a shallow layer of water in the pan.  If you do this while the pan is still hot, food that is stuck will come off very easily. It’s always easier to clean pans and dishes shortly after you use them.  Once they sit around for a while they become hard to clean.  Do yourself a favor and don’t procrastinate.

√ Laundry- Of course it’s easiest to take your clothes to a laundromat to clean them but it’s pretty expensive.  To save money at the laundromat you can always skip the dryer and hang your clothes to dry at you campsite. Another method is to get a 5 gallon bucket with a tight fitting lid.  Put your clothes in the bucket, add water and natural soap  and close the lid tightly.  As you drive the clothes are continuously agitated in the water and will come out sparkling clean.  Just rinse and hang. ***

***Note- Please do not dump soap or soapy water directly into lakes, streams, rivers or any other natural water source.  Respect the wilderness and wash yourself, your dishes and your clothes at least 200 feet from open water.


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