Even before I got my trailer and hit the road, I had the idea that I would write posts comparing facets of sticks-and-bricks life to RV life. But then I realized there wasn’t much point in writing about the sticks-and-bricks side of things when everyone already knows it. You know how to do laundry in your house. How to grocery shop. The details of your cleaning routine. Etc, etc. So, the ideas for these posts transitioned into tips and tricks, thoughts and opinions, hacks and how-tos for everyday aspects of RV life. Today, let’s talk an RV shower.

Photo by Ishan @seefromthesky on Unsplash

If an RV has a bath, it looks nothing like this….even though your view out the window might.

Most RVs—big or small—don’t have bathtubs. And nearly all the ones that do have tubs, have much smaller ones than you’d find in a house or an apartment. I haven’t met anyone on the road who takes and RV bath. Everyone takes an RV shower.

Because of the tiny nature of my RV shower, I prefer to shower in campground bathhouses as long as they are clean. I prefer the room they offer my elbows when washing my hair and the room for my head when bending over to wash my legs and feet, as well as the room for drying off. It does mean walking to the bathhouse carrying everything you need. One time, I forgot my towel and didn’t realize it until after I finished showering. I drip dried.

And, there are times, despite the short walk to the bathhouse that I just don’t want to do it. Snow days in Walla Walla come to mind.

One feature on my “must have” list when I was selecting a trailer was a dry bath. I really did not want a wet bath. A wet bath is one tiny room with the shower, toilet and sink. It gets its name, I presume, from the fact that everything gets wet when you shower. In the end, it was one of the things I gave up to get a bunch more stuff I wanted.

So, in my trailer I do have a wet bath.

I’ll be honest, I was worried. But it turned out that showering in a wet bath actually isn’t much different from a dry bath. Just tighter because they are smaller. That means, most of the tips apply to any type of RV shower. Though some are specific to wet baths.

What I’ve Learned So Far

First, in my sticks-and-bricks life, my shower went something like this. Turn on water. Get wet. Wash face. Wash and rinse hair. Condition hair. Wash and rinse body. Rinse conditioner out of hair. One final body rinse. Rinse out shower. Turn off water.

Photo by Kristina Balić on Unsplash

Bar soap is best left for showers in RV campground bathhouses. Not quite so good for an RV shower.

What I found in the RV shower was suds take a long time to drain. I know there are fast-drain upgrades but I discovered a no-cost hack. Simple. Change the order I washed. In an RV shower, now my shower goes in this order. Turn on water. Get wet. Wash and rinse hair. Wash and rinse body. Condition and rinse hair. Wash face. Last all-over body rinse and rinse out shower. Turn off water.

Do you see the difference? Do the sudsy things first. That way the remainder of the shower helps flush the soap down the drain.

My second tip: switch from bar soap to a bath gel or body wash. It does two things. First, the bath gel sudsy break up and go down the drain much faster than bar soap. Second, bath gel doesn’t leave that thick scummy residue like bar soap. And, men, in case you are thinking body wash only comes in flowery, girly smells (Sweet Pea is one of my favorites), it does not. There are great men’s body washes as well.

Photo by Skyler King on Unsplash

Steam in a shower = good. Steam in an RV = bad.

Third tip. After I learned about mold the hard way (and in the process ruined an $800 mattress), I’ve been extra sensitive to moisture in my trailer. Obviously, showering creates steam. And steam is traveling moisture. A little roof fan in my bathroom pulls the air out. I turn it on when I shower. I leave this running for an hour or two afterwards.

Similarly, I open the small window in the bathroom. Except in the very coldest temperatures (like when it was in the teens and 20s in Walla Walla), I will open the window. If the temperature is less than ideal, I shut it immediately after I turn off the water. But if it isn’t bringing in too much cold or hot, I’ll leave it open to help air circulate.

My fourth tip: be sure window blinds are closed. This really isn’t a tip for showering, but it is a tip for not giving your RV neighbors a peep show. It’s an obvious tip. And one that’s dependent on your rig’s layout. But like other obvious things, it can be so obvious you don’t think about it. No thinking about it, that is, until you are coming out of the bathroom to find all the blinds open and you with nothing on.

Fifth, have your towel nearby. Again, maybe obvious. But in a wet bath, you can’t leave the towel in the bathroom or it would get soaked. Without thinking, it’s easy to toss it on the pile of the other things you have to remove from the bathroom before you shower. If you are like me, the bathroom halfway serves as a storage area so it takes several armfuls to prep the shower for turning on the water. I installed a hook just outside the bathroom, a perfect place for the towel. Most of the time I even remember to put the towel on that very handy hook. For drying and storing the towel, however, the towel returns to the bathroom and the hook get re-purposed (usually for a trash bag to hang).

Let me pause here to talk towels. I love big fluffy towels. Who doesn’t? And for my first six months of RV life, I used fluffy towels. But fluffy towels take up a lot of room. Fluff is, well, fluffy. Recently I took a lesson from my backpacker friends and moved to a compact, lightweight, fast-drying towel. I won’t lie. It cannot compare to a fluffy towel. But I traded in 2 minutes of lovely fluffy drying for more storage space. My fluffy towels were the size of a small toaster oven. My back packer towel is the size of a piece of toast. A single piece of toast!

They are a bit pricey ($40 for the beach-size, $25 for the body-size) but people swear they will last 10 years of more. That’s two or three times the life of my fluffy towels. I am pretty sure that, at some point in the future, I’ll be doing an entire post on these toast-size towels.

RV bathroom with a shower curtain in front of door.

My RV shower. The shower curtain is pulled across the doorway so I don’t have to shut the door to shower. The dark image behind the shower curtain is my toast-towel draped across a rod to dry.

Sixth and final tip: a shower curtain. In a wet bath, you really don’t need one. Close the door and everything inside can get wet. But a shower rod across the top of the bathroom door has proven to be one of my most favorite add-ons.

The shower curtain allows me not to shut the door. You wouldn’t think it would make that much difference. But somehow it does. You have more elbow room. An added bonus is more light, if your shower curtain is a light color or thin material. With only a single and very small cabinet in my tiny bathroom, I ended up installing baskets on the inside of the door. So, in my case, I actually do gain three or four inches of room by not shutting the bathroom door.

And as a bonus tip (though not about shower), let me tell you a little trick I use on the shower curtain. Everything about an RV bathroom is tiny, particularly in a wet bath. That means there isn’t room for the shower curtain to wander around free in the space. Three strips of Velcro keep the curtain contained. I put one near the top, one in the middle and one near the bottom. Then push the shower curtain all the way to one side when it’s not in use.

It is important to be sure it has dried completely before pulling it together again. That’s another reason I leave the window open and the overhead fan on for a couple hours after. Everything has a chance to dry.

Do you have any RV showering tips?

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