How to stay clean.

Having lived in vans for a few years, I have met many other people living in vans. Most are well presented however occasionally I have met an individual that has very different hygiene standards to the rest of us (and that's their choice) but it begs the question that many people ask how do you stay clean in a van?

Staying clean can be simple like boiling a kettle, filling a bowl of  water and having a strip wash alternatively going to the gym and taking a shower or having a swim at the local pool (followed by a shower). You could also stay at a campsite for a night or two.  You could even build a shower in your van.

That being said I have tried most options and found the benefits and draw backs of each option. Here is what I have found…

In this article:

Cleaning options 

The strip wash.

By far the easiest and low tech option is to have a strip wash inside your van. The benefit is the low cost of boiling a kettle and convenience of not having to get dressed and drive anywhere for a wash plus the time taken is minimal.

The downside to a strip wash is standing or sitting half undressed in a confined space. Then there is the matter of washing your hair and waiting for the kettle to boil for the second rinse.

These irritations feel magnified more so on a cold morning.

Going to the Gym 

As exercise is a part of many peoples weekly routine this is often the preferred choice by  many. It is familiar, convenient and combines two chores in one visit.

The downside is you have to drive there and pay money plus you may have to wait  for a shower. The facilities may not be clean and the gym may be shut when you want a shower.

Go for a swim.

Again a great way to get exercise and get a shower plus you don't feel exhausted and sweaty an hour later.

With the same down sides as the gym (driving and price) there is little difference between them. Maybe a choice between stinging eyes from the chlorine or a sweaty after glow from a work out.

Stay at a campsite. 

This is a great option, not just hot showers available 24/7  but electricity, Wi-Fi, flat ground, a café, a black water drop, launderette, somewhere to pick up mail and even fellow campers to connect with.

The downside is again the drive, the cost, loss of autonomy, potential noisy neighbors and potential poor cleanliness not to mention verruca's (take your flip flops).

Build a shower in your van. 

This is the ultimate in convenience and luxury, your own private hot shower, built to your specification and style making you feel like you are in a house or small hotel.

This would seem the most obvious solution and the best case scenario yet very few people do this. Why you might ask?

Some restrictions are the size of your van, cost, water consumption and knowledge.

There are a number of things to consider when choosing your shower type such as:

Floor space and height of the vehicle.


Heating systems.


Prefabricated or hand built (tiles, plastic?)

Water systems pressurized or un pressurized.

Tank or tankless.


Once you have all the components in place build or buy your prefabricated shower room, test shake the van and test again. When you are satisfied everything fits and works, complete installation. Ensure you leave enough time for sealants to go off then check again. Voila your beautiful shower is ready to be whisked off to a beautiful vista.


Is a shower worth it? It depends on your budget and lifestyle. May be you are a rock climber and you are out in the wilderness for two or three weeks, in which case probably not.

Do you work in an office on an industrial park with no access to a shower? Then yes.

Not sure whether to fit a shower?

We recommend renting a campervan for a week or two with a shower and try for yourself.

 Van life / RV life is often a compromise, only you can make the decision.

How much is an average shower? The most common shower is probably a LPG / propane boiler with a pump, the prices can range from 150 dollars to 800 dollars.

Can I build it myself? This depends on your skill level and abilities, I would say an average person with some knowledge and DIY experience can build it.

Should I be worried about Co2? When installing any gas appliance, expertise and  guidance should be sought and all carbon monoxide should be properly vented outside. Everyone using a campervan, motorhome or RV should always have a working Co2 alarm. 

Related Articles 

Which toilet should I get?   (coming soon)

Where to get water and empty my toilet?    (coming soon)

Should I buy only Eco friendly products?   (coming Soon) 

Further resources.