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Figuring out where to shower when you live in small space like a campervan can be tricky. But living in a van doesn’t mean you have to be dirty. There are plenty of ways to keep smelling good on the road.
We’ve rounded up the top ways to add a van shower to your rig, whether it’s a shower build out, a solar shower, an indoor shower, an awning shower, or a makeshift shower made out of a weed sprayer.
Table of Contents
Van Life Shower Build-Out Ideas to Shower Inside Your Van
Having an indoor van shower is the ultimate luxury.
1) The centered wet bath
Zach of Van Life Outfitters installed a really cool wet bath in the middle of his Dodge Promaster campervan. It’s a great little room which separates the bed from the living space.
He fit three PVC panels on a plywood frame and added a “disappearing” and self-cleaning door. The floor is completely taken up by the shower plate. On top of it he fitted a cassette toilet. This means you can sit on the closed toilet while showering, which is quite handy. He also installed a mirror and shampoo soap dispenser on the walls.
Being right next to Zach’s bed, this wet bath is super easy to use at night.
Like the look of it? Take a look at Zach of Van Life Outfitters’ DIY wet bath guide here.
2) Scarlet and Seth’s Luxury Van Shower
Scarlet and Seth’s shower is pretty unique. It features Roman clay walls and a skylight to keep the steam (and smells) out. The coolest feature is their hidden composting toilet, though. It sits in a dedicated box located outside the shower room and slides in and out as and when needed. This means the guys don’t have to get the toilet wet at any point.
Their van shower is located just behind the front seats, so you need to step into the room to get to the front of the van. This might sound annoying, but it means that if they leave the door open, the shower box gets a lot of airflow when they drive with the windows down.
Scarlet and Seth don’t use much water to shower – they just wanted an area with added privacy where to go to the toilet and clean up. However, if you like this design, you can add tiles to the walls, add a shower plate and fix the shower head higher up.
3) The Tray/Drawer Shower
Dedicating a whole permanent room to a shower isn’t always possible. If this is your case but you still want an indoor shower, you’ll want to check out this tray/drawer shower. It’s located under the couch, hidden away, so it doesn’t take up any space when not in use. When you want to shower, simply pull the drawer out.
There’s a tub in the tray, which collects the water and directs it into the grey water tank. You can use it as it is for a quick foot wash, or you can hang a waterproof curtain from the ceiling to have a full shower.
The water is provided by the kitchen sink’s retractable faucet. Genius.
4) The Corner Shower
Many van lifers build their shower right in the middle of their van. This creates a separation between the day and night areas, which doesn’t work for everyone. A corner shower allows you to maximize the space available in the van and keep the interior as an open plan, making it look roomier.
James and Sarah, from The World Of Nothing, built their shower at the front of their Mercedes Sprinter, in the corner, just behind the driver’s seat. They created the stall out of ply and PVC panels, so it’s fully waterproof. Inside their wet bath, they fit a cassette toilet, as well as a full shower. The guys even created a custom shower plate out of 2mm rubber wet room flooring, as ceramic plates can be really expensive. The cubicle doesn’t have a door – they use a shower curtain to provide privacy and keep the water in, which works just fine.
5) The Under-counter Shower
The under-counter shower is an alternative to the tray shower. It’s basically a shower kit mounted inside a kitchen cupboard, under the countertop. When not in use, it just sits there, hidden from view. The cupboard opens both inside and outside the van (if you fit the unit near the side sliding door), so you can get clean wherever you like. Use a tray and shower curtain to wash inside or shower al fresco when the weather is nice. This one was made by AppalachianVans.
6) The Pull-out Shower
Here’s another way to have an onboard shower without sacrificing too much space: create a DIY pull-out shower. It’s not super easy to build, but it’s definitely worth it. This ingenious indoor van shower by Bradley Bean consists of one waterproof wall placed on the side of the van and two pull-out side walls made of glass or plastic. These can slide out to increase the size of the shower cubicle. When you’re nice and clean simply push the walls back in.
7) The Outdoor Shower With Full Privacy
Want to shower naked with complete privacy? You can do it at the back of your van, if it has barn doors. Simply hang a shower curtain between the doors and use your favorite shower kit. You can either hook the curtain up at the four corners or reinforce it with some battens, so it stays in place at all times. Adding a mount for the shower head to one of the doors will allow you to shower hands-free.
Want to know more? Check out this handy video.
8) The Kitchen Shower
Did you know you can hide your shower away completely by merging it with your kitchen? This kitchen shower can be set up in front of the galley in seconds. It features a square piece of waterproof flooring with drains at all four corners, a shower curtain track and a shower head bracket mounted to the ceiling, and a retractable kitchen faucet When you need to shower, simply hang up the curtain and faucet. You’ll need to hang the shower curtain up to dry outside the van, but that’s not a huge deal, is it?
9) The Full-width Van Shower
Happy to give up a ton of space to have a big wet bath? Then this van shower idea is perfect for you. It takes up the whole width of the back of your van, so you can shower in great comfort. The walls are all tiled and the floor is made of waterproof material. The composting toilet is not fixed in place, so you can take it out when you shower. This is the biggest van shower stall we’ve ever seen.
10) A Real Bath Tub In A Bus
Ok, this is not a real option for most of us, but we couldn’t not mention it. DoubleDeckerHome managed to fit a full-sized bath tub in their Double Decker. How rad is that? The tub is just plumbed in through the bus floor, which is not tiled. Can you imagine sipping your sundowner in the bath while admiring the landscape from the ample bus windows? We sure can!
Portable Van Showers for Outdoor Showers
If designing and making your own shower room or box sounds like a lot, you can always get a portable shower. It takes up little space and doesn’t require lots of time and effort to build.
Our Top Portable Shower Picks:
- Easy to Store
- Holds 10 liters
- Super lightweight
- Easy to Fill & Mount
- Heating rod option
- Three sizes
- 12-volt charging
1) Solar Shower (What We Use)
We use the Sea to Summit solar shower, which folds down into the size of a deck of cards when not in use, and holds enough water for both of us to shower. We usually end up heating some water up on our propane stove, then adding it to this shower.
We also hang this van life shower from our back hatch or the front mirror to use as a handwashing station. It heats up quickly in direct sunlight, and we often rest it on the hood of our van, loosely connected to the wiper blades.
This is the best van life solar shower we’ve found, even though it’s not perfect and still rips after lots of use. The nozzle also tends to develop a leak. However, replacing a solar shower is inexpensive.
2) Road Shower or Awning Shower
You’ve probably seen those campervans driving around with a long, black PVC-type pipe along the edge of the roof.
You can see how the below Jeep Camper is using an awning shower below:
This van life shower is a pressurized awning shower, which is either DIY or purchased from a company like Yakima.
All you have to do is park your campervan in the sun and wait for the van shower to heat up. It even comes with a stick-on thermometer so you can tell how hot the water is.
If you don’t want to spend the money, you may want to consider building a DIY version of this van life shower. You can see an REI tutorial here.
3) Battery-Powered Outdoor Shower
If you don’t want to stand around and wait for the sun to heat up your van life shower, choose one that uses batteries.
A van shower like the Ivation Portable Outdoor Shower pumps water from a bucket into a nice, steady stream.
This shower comes with a rechargeable lithium battery. You can charge it with your car’s cigarette lighter, using a solar generator or with a wall charger.
A 2-5 hour charge lasts for 60 minutes of use. It also comes with a suction-cup holder for hands-free use.
This portable outdoor shower is really cool because all you have to do is stick it in a bucket of hot water and you have a shower! No waiting hours for sun to warm a solar shower with this van life essential.
This shower's rechargeable pump plugs into your car's cigarette lighter - each charge lasts for one hour of blissful showering.
- Lithium battery is easy to charge
- Up to 10 mins of shower time with a 5-gallon bucket
- Suction-cup for hands free use
- You need a bucket to use this shower, which takes up space in a van
- You have to wait to shower until device is charged
- Some customer service complaints
4) DIY Bug or Weed Sprayer Van Life Shower
You can also use a 2-gallon bug sprayer from Home Depot. It heats up in the sun quickly and delivers nicely-pressurized water.
Some people elect to build a van life shower from a bug or weed sprayer canister. You can even add your own shower hose, shower wand and low-flow showerhead. This is a great affordable van shower option.
- Heats up easily in the sun
- Affordable DIY option
- Takes up more space than a solar shower
- You’ll have to attach shower hose and head
- Some customer service complaints
5) Geyser System’s Portable Shower
This expensive but efficient Geyster System van life shower uses less than 1 gallon of water for 15 minutes of usage. For a hot shower on the road, all you have to do is add 2 liters of cold water and 2 liter of boiling water. Then, you have an instant van shower!
The Geyser System Portable Shower’s pump technology provides a reliable, consistent water flow with no pressurization needed. Charge this small and efficient van life shower with a 12-volt outlet and use it to shower or wash your dishes – it comes with a replaceable scrub sponge.
The Geyster Portable Shower is a compact, efficient van shower that is easy to fit inside your rig. Use it for showering, washing your dog or washing dishes.
- Easy to Use
- Uses less than 1 gallon of water for 15 minutes
- Can be used for showers, dishes, dog washing
- Simple 12-volt charging
- Larger than a folding solar shower
6) RinseKit Portable Shower
RinseKit also make battery-powered pressurized portable showers. Simply charge the 12V lead acid battery, fill the tank with water and you’re ready to go. The battery is extremely long-lasting. The kit gets delivered to you fully charged and will last between 3 and 6 months. Once the power runs out, plug it into a wall or your car charger – it will be fully charged in 4 hours.
The best feature of the RinseKit? It comes with a metal notch behind the shower head, which keeps the nozzle operating hands-free. Attach the shower head somewhere high on your van and you will get the full pressurized shower experience.
7) Install a Tankless Water Heater
If you want a van life shower on demand, you may want to consider installing a tankless water heater in your campervan.
Propane is the logical choice here because heating up water using electricity takes tons of energy. You’d need to be plugged into a campground or have a huge battery bank connected to solar panels. For those reasons, most van lifers go with propane.
You always need to install a tankless propane water heater outside your campervan for safety. The water heater needs to be attached to both a bottle of propane and a bucket of water to work.
The flow rate is lower than a typical shower, but when you’re living the van life, any time of shower feels awesome, right?
A tankless water heater is a popular option for a hot van life shower. You will have to mount this Camplux tankless heater outside your van and carry around a propane tank and container for water.
- Hot water on demand
- Mounted outside so doesn’t take up room inside your van
- You’ll need a large propane canister
- You’ll need a container for water
If you’re not super keen on having a shower in your swimsuit outside your van, you can get a Showertoga. This is a waterproof gown you can slip on to cover your body while having a shower. It’s like a wearable shower curtain.
9) Find Public Showers
If you don’t want to deal with any sort of van life shower, you can rely on public showers.
We’ve done this quite a bit when we didn’t want to set up our solar shower.
Here are some places you can find public showers for showering on the road:
- Truck Stops
- Yoga Studios
- Hot Springs
- Hotel swimming pools with a day pass
- State Parks
- Public Beaches
10) Wet Wipes and Dry Shampoo
Another method van lifers use to stay clean on the road is using wet wipes and dry shampoo.
This really works in a pinch if you can’t take a shower on the road.
We always try to keep these in our van for emergencies.
Do you even need a shower inside your van?
It’s tempting to add a shower without thinking too much about it – we all enjoy staying clean and smelling nice. However, there are benefits and drawbacks to having a shower inside your van.
- you can have a shower in private, naked, whenever you like and stay clean
- no need to look for showering facilities or hidden-away spots
- you won’t need to shower outdoors in the cold during winter and fall
- your van’s resale value is typically higher.
- you will likely have mould and humidity issues
- building it is not straightforward and requires previous experience
- the stall takes up valuable space, which you could use to chill out or store gear
- it’s not a cheap add-on
- having a shower complicates your plumbing – you need to add grey water tanks and a pressurised water system
- showering using a traditional plumbed-in shower head uses a lot of water – will you have enough on board?
If any of the alternative solutions we’ve discussed in this post sounds good to you, consider not installing a permanent indoor shower in your van.
If you’re doing a DIY conversion, you can always add it in later. However, you don’t want to go through the trouble of buying and installing a shower only to discover you never use it.
The Best Van Shower Towel
I used to think microfiber towels were a van life essential but I've totally changed my mind after using these Turkish towels.
The towels are lightweight and way more absorbent than microfiber.
On a recent van camping trip, my partner Tom reached for my Turkish towel way more than his microfiber, so I ended up ordering him one off Amazon! I think this is a van life must have you should definitely add to your list.
You can also use a Turkish towel for picnicking or sitting on the beach.
For an awesome van life shower, you’ll also need a really good towel that dries quickly and folds down tiny.
We used to use microfiber towels, but I hated the way they felt, and they never seemed to work very well.
I discovered something called a Turkish towel when reading some sailing blogs. The Turkish towel is made out of 100% cotton and dries as fast as a microfiber towel.
However, it feels much better on the skin and dries you off faster.
You can also use a Turkish towel for picnics, sitting on the beach, or as a lightweight lap blanket.
Looking for more shower inspiration? Check out this post on off grid shower ideas!