11 Things You Need To Know About Showering In an RV

We’re going to come right out and say it: showering in an RV is nothing like showering in a house, and there are a lot of things you should know about it. 

If you don’t know the ins and outs of showering in an RV, you could be in for a miserable RV shower experience.

In this article, we’ve compiled 11 important things you should know about showering in an RV, followed by some quick FAQ. 

This list will help you get the most out of your RV shower… Let’s dive in!

Is Showering in an RV Like Showering in a House?

No, showering in an RV is nothing like showering in a house… except for the whole “getting wet and getting clean” part. Learning how to have a great RV shower is an art, because showering in an RV can be complicated!

There are a lot of things you have to keep in mind like the size of your hot water tank, how much room is in your gray tank, how much fresh water you have, etc etc. 

Here are 11 things you need to know about showering in an RV, followed by some important FAQs!

1. Hot Water is Limited… Very Limited

Most RV water heaters only hold and heat 6 gallons of water at a time… And that’s not very much water at all. Some RVs have 10 gallon water heaters and others have tankless – but those aren’t as common. 

If you have the standard 6 gallon hot water tank, you will need to get used to military showers. This means you get wet then turn the water off to soap up. Turn it back on to rinse off and then turn it off to condition, etc. 

This saves your hot water, but it can make you feel freezing in the shower! This isn’t a fun or comfortable showering experience. However, there are things you can do to make showering in an RV better, like swapping out your water heater to a tankless (on-demand) water heater. 

2. Tankless Isn’t Always Better

You might be thinking “I’ll just swap out my 6 gallon RV water heater for a tankless RV water heater for unlimited hot water” – and at first thought, that seems like a great idea.

Except it’s not always a great idea depending on how you like to RV. 

If you plan to be hooked up to fresh water and sewer at a campground all the time, then go for it. A tankless RV water heater is an excellent choice for this situation. 

However, if you plan to travel and camp in areas without fresh water and/or sewer hookups, a tankless water heater might not be the best choice, and here’s why. 

First, on-demand water heaters rarely give water “on demand” – you have to let it run for a little bit first, and that’s a lot of precious water wasted waiting for it to heat up. 

Second, having unlimited hot water can be a bad thing if you don’t have hookups. Your RV only holds a limited amount of freshwater. And your gray tank will fill up very fast!

3. Swap Your RV Shower Head ASAP

Stock RV shower heads usually look like this – plastic, cheap, and inefficient.

Have you seen the shower head that comes stock in your RV? It’s the most pathetic shower head you’ll ever see. 

And if you’re planning on swapping out your RV shower head for a residential shower head, DON’T. 

Most residential shower heads are water-saving, but they’re not water-saving enough for an RV. 

Thousands of RVers swear by Oxygenics shower heads, and here’s why. 

  • They increase your shower water pressure. 
  • They have a water regulator, which prolongs your hot water even if you don’t shut the shower off. 
  • They look way nicer than the plastic stock shower heads that come in RVs. 

Swapping out your RV shower head for an Oxygenics shower head will allow you to take longer, hotter showers in your RV. 

Oxygenics Fury RV Shower Head

showering in an RV oxygenics fury shower head

  • Better RV shower water pressure
  • Makes your hot water last longer
  • 5 different spray settings
  • Shut off button on handle to pause water flow when needed

4. You Will Become Really Mindful About Water: Both Fresh and Dirty!

There’s nothing like living in an RV to make you mindful about your water consumption and waste production on a daily basis. 

When living in sticks and bricks, we don’t really have a need to think about how much water we are using when we shower, brush our teeth, or do our dishes. 

Showering in an RV will quickly make you realize how much water you go through, and how fast you go through it. Especially if your hot water heater only holds 6 gallons!

5. You Have To Turn On Your Water Heater First

One thing about showering in an RV that’s much different than a sticks and bricks is the fact that you have to turn on your water heater before you take a shower. 

And depending on the size of your RV water heater, you may need to wait 45 minutes to an hour before showering. A 6 gallon RV water heater will take around 30 to 45 minutes to fully heat up. A 10 gallon water heater can take even longer. 

But if you have a tankless water heater, you won’t need to wait long at all. 

6. You Don’t Need Hookups To Shower In Your RV

If your RV has a shower, then it’s a self contained RV. This just means that your RV is fully self-sufficient. 

RVs have fresh water tanks, water heaters, and black and gray water holding tanks to hold the waste water. 

So you don’t actually need to be hooked up to anything to take a shower in your RV… You can take a shower in your RV in the middle of the desert or even in a Walmart parking lot. 

7. Want To Shower In Your RV While Boondocking? Try These Ideas

A lot of RVers love boondocking which is a type of camping out in the wilderness without any hookups. And if that’s you, you’ll have to learn how to adapt with your showers in order to make your water supply last as long as possible. 

There’s nothing more annoying than being set up at a campsite for 2 weeks only to realize your gray tank is full 3 days in!

Here are a few ideas for showering regularly while boondocking. 

  • Employ the military showering technique of turning the water off and on to save water. 
  • Stand in a bucket or large tote while showering to catch your shower water. Then use your shower water for flushing your toilet and save space in your gray tank.
  • Swap your RV toilet out for a composting toilet and use this gate valve addition to use your black tank for extra gray water storage. 
  • Shower outside! 

8. There Are Different Types of RV Showers

There are 3 different kinds of RV showers, and only two of them are inside.

Dry Bath

A “dry bath” is a standard bathroom where the shower is separated from the toilet and sink. 

Wet Bath

A “wet bath” is a type of RV bathroom where everything is designed to get wet – the toilet, the sink, the mirror, the walls, etc. Smaller RVs have wet baths because it allows you to still get the benefit of having a shower in your RV bathroom without taking up more space.

Outdoor RV Shower

Many RVs these days come with a showerhead and faucet on the exterior of the rig. You can set up a shower curtain and use this outdoor shower to shower in the great outdoors! Just make sure you aren’t nude around other people or in public… You could probably get in trouble for that! If you’re at a campground, you can shower with a bathing suit on.

9. A Showermiser Is Your Best Friend While Showering In an RV

A Showermiser is a piece of equipment for your RV shower that allows you to turn on the water and let it heat up without actually letting any water go down the drain. 

It has a shut-off valve that stops the flow of fresh water out of the shower head, instead sending it back to the fresh water tank until the water is hot. 

A huge benefit of this is that you can flip the Showermiser switch while you’re showering to lather up and turn off the water, but it’ll stay hot for when you’re ready to rinse off. 

Many newer RVs these days come with Showermisers pre-installed, but you can also DIY it if you really want to. It’s a detailed installation process, but it’s definitely worth it.

10. RV Shower Stalls Can Be Tiny

showering in an RV in a tiny RV shower stall

Some RVs have decent sized showers, and others have tiny little shower stalls that are really hard to get anything done in. 

It’s one thing to look at an RV shower and recognize that it’s tiny, but it’s another thing altogether to actually shower in one. 

If you’re tall or wide, the size of your RV shower truly does matter.

11. Campground And Truck Stop Showers Will Feel Like a Luxury

Don’t get us wrong: showering in an RV can be great and refreshing and warm and cozy… Once you learn how to do it! And every RV shower is different. 

If you want a break from showering in your RV and want endless hot water and great water pressure, try taking a shower or two at a campground, gym, or truck stop. 

Campgrounds and gyms have free showers if you’re camping there or if you’re a member. Otherwise they’ll charge a small fee. 

Truck stop showers cost between $12 – $15 and they usually don’t have a time limit. In our experience, they’re always so clean and nice, too!

FAQ About Showering in an RV: 

Let’s dive into some of the biggest questions about showering in an RV. 

How long can you shower in an RV? 

If you have a 6 gallon RV water heater, your RV hot water will last for a 5 to 10 minute long shower of continuous water flow. If you shut the water off between soaping up and rinsing, it will last even longer! The length of your RV shower also depends on how much fresh water you have and how full your gray tank is.

Where does the shower water go in an RV? 

The shower water in your RV flows down the drain into your RV gray tank. If you are hooked up at a campground, your RV shower water will flow down through the gray tank into the sewer hookup on the ground at your campsite. The gray tank is a waste water holding tank that holds waste water from your RV sinks and RV shower. 

Can you shower in an RV while driving?

Although it is possible to shower in an RV while someone is driving, it is not wise or recommended. This can lead to serious injuries or worse. 

Can you shave your legs in an RV shower? 

Yes, but shaving your legs in an RV shower can be tricky, depending on the size of the shower. Most RV shower stalls do not have anywhere to prop your foot up for shaving your legs. A stool can be helpful for shaving your legs in your RV shower.

Do you have to have full hookups to take a shower in an RV?

No, you do not have to have any kind of hookups to take a shower in an RV. All that’s required is water in your fresh water tank, and empty space in your gray water tank. Propane in your RV propane tank for hot water is nice, but if you don’t have propane you can still take a cold shower!

Related: RV Plumbing System Basics: Diagrams and How it all works

RVing Headquarters Team

RVing Headquarters is operated by long-time RV enthusiasts with over 8 years of RV industry expertise and full-time and part-time RV ownership experience. From motorhomes to trailers and campervans, we've done it all. Our Mission: to inspire, educate, and entertain anyone who is interested in the RV lifestyle.

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