Christina and Ben live a minimal and purposeful life that prioritizes adventures. Christina enjoys scenic drives, sunsets and art. Ben is more of a “watch the big game, campfire, bourbon, people person” type of guy. More than anything, they enjoy being together in their Jayco Jay Feather travel trailer and not being tied to one particular location.
How To Conserve Water While RVing
CHRISTINA AND BEN MCMILLAN
Let's start by reviewing how most of us use water on a daily basis...
We use water to flush the toilet, wash dishes, take a shower, brush our teeth, prepare a meal, stay hydrated, rinse our hands, wipe down counters, bath our pets, and the list goes on. The average American uses about 80 gallons of water every day. That’s a lot of water when you consider that most RV freshwater tanks hold between 20 and 100 gallons. Our Jayco Jay Feather has a 40 gallon freshwater tank, and we’ve learned how to make this water last for two adults for over a week.
Knowing how to conserve and maximize your RV’s freshwater supply is critical. You may find yourself in a situation where a full hookup campsite isn’t available, or you may want to expand your camping and try boondocking for multiple days. Either way, these water-saving tips should help you become more self-sufficient and make your freshwater supply last longer.
How To Conserve Water While RVing
Have A Hand Sanitizing Station
We wash our hands a lot—after using the bathroom, before preparing food, after being outside, and many other times throughout the day. To help reduce the number of times you wash your hands and save more water, invest in some hand sanitizers. We have a hand sanitizer dispenser mounted on the wall between our bathroom and our kitchen for easy, convenient access. If you do need to wash your hands inside the RV, make sure you turn off the water while you lather and scrub, and then turn it back on for a final, quick rinse.
Take Shorter Showers With Low-Flow Shower Heads
Have you ever heard of a Navy shower? This simple showering method will save you a ton of water. Get in the shower, turn the water on, quickly get wet, and then turn the water off. While the water is turned off, lather up, wash your hair, shave, and then turn the water back on for a final rinse. Keep in mind that using more soap and shampoo will require more water to rinse, so try to use only the necessary amounts. Another way to help reduce water in the shower is by installing a low-flow shower head. We’ve found the Oxygenics shower head to be one of the best—it is pressurized with air so you still get great water pressure, while only using about half the water of a normal shower head. It also has a toggle shut-off to stop the water flow but keep the temperature constant. This toggle is great for saving water since we don’t have to let the water run until it reaches our desired temperature.
Utilize Wipes and Dry Shampoo
Instead of using soap and water, there are some other ways to get clean in between showers. Makeup wipes are gentle and great for washing your face without any water. Using baby wipes or any pre-moistened body wipes help eliminate the need for a full shower. These are also good for cleaning off bug spray or sunscreen when you’re done for the day. Dry shampoo helps absorb the natural oils in your hair and allow you to go a few extra days without needing to do a full wash. For any wipe or cleaning products, we recommend getting unscented or choosing a scent you won’t get sick of. If you don’t like the smell of whatever you’re using, it may cause you to take a shower sooner than expected!
Wipe and Spray Your Dishes
Whenever we’re finished eating, we always try to wipe our dishes clean with a napkin before we wash them. This helps remove any excess food and allows us to use less water. We prefer to wash our dishes in a large bucket so we can better control the amount of water—once we see the bucket start to fill, we know we’re reaching our water limit. Having water in a bucket also makes it easier to repurpose for other things, like putting out a campfire. When it comes to cleaning pots and pans, this can be harder since food often gets baked or burnt onto the surfaces. We like to spray our pots and pans with dish soap spray and then let them soak for 15 minutes to help dissolve any sticky or greasy residue. Using non-stick griddles or lining pans with foil and parchment paper can also help cut-down on cleaning.
Don’t Drink From the Freshwater Tank
Unless you have a sufficient water filtration system or are in an emergency situation, you shouldn’t drink from your freshwater tanks. Try to keep your freshwater tank for rinsing and cleaning only. We like to bring multiple gallon jugs with us that we reserve just for drinking water. We can also use these jugs as a back-up if our freshwater tank reserves start to get low.
Bring a Propane Fire Pit
Extinguishing your campfire at the end of the night is a must-do, but this sometimes requires a significant amount of water. That’s why we recommend getting a propane fire pit. Not only are they convenient and allowed during most fire bans, but they don’t require any water to be put out and they have a smoke-free design, which means less showers and less laundry to rid yourself of that lingering campfire smell.
Consider Using a Composting Toilet
Our final water-saving tip is to consider installing a composting toilet in your RV’s bathroom. Like the name suggests, a composting toilet works by breaking down human waste into compost, as opposed to using water and plumbing. There is no water or traditional “flushing” involved with a composting toilet, which helps save a significant amount of water. There are usually two compartments or chambers in a composting toilet, one for solids and one for liquids. The solids and liquids don’t mix, helping eliminate sewage and odors. The chamber for liquids needs to be emptied once every 2-3 days. The chamber for solids needs to be emptied every three weeks, or every 60-80 uses. When you empty the chamber for solids, you’re actually just removing soil-like compost material as opposed to waste and excrement. Using and emptying a composting toilet is a lot easier than you might think, and they offer multiple benefits, including saving on water and energy, fewer odors, and eliminating the need for a black tank. And without a black tank, you have more space to add an extra fresh water tank to your rig.
Some of our favorite camping locations have been completely off the grid, with no access to water or sewers. We hope these tips give you the confidence and encouragement to expand your camping opportunities and feel more self-sufficient. With extra water, you won’t feel the need to be reliant on full hookup campsites or worry about cutting your boondocking stay short.
Travel trailers are the most popular type of non-motorized RV. No doubt you’ve seen one pulled down the highway hitched to a car or pickup. Travel trailers come in all sizes including tiny jellybean-shaped models with a chuckwagon kitchen in the rear to the massive house-on-wheels with picture windows and a sliding glass patio door.
Find Your Perfect RV
Whether you're new to the world of RVing or you're ready to narrow your search, we're here to help you sort through it all and find the RV that's right for you. Explore RVs based off of your lifestyle and the features important to you.