How to Conserve Water When RV Camping

Feb 21, 2022 | Maintenance & Mods

How to Conserve Water When RV Camping

Whether you’re dry camping, boondocking, or in a winterized rig, these tips for conserving water will come in handy during your RV travels.

By Amy Rekart

Photo: Amy Rekart

Conserving water while RVing, especially when dry camping or boondocking is an essential skill to learn. There are several ways to conserve water, and over time you’ll learn what works best for you and your family. The goal is to make your fresh water, gray water, and black water tanks last the length of your stay. 

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The size of your RV tanks, the number of people camping, and the length of your stay will determine how much water you need to conserve. Unless you always have access to full hookups (water, sewer, and power), you’ll likely need to conserve water at some point during your RV travels. These tips are also helpful if you are camping in a winterized rig.

Tips for Conserving Water While RVing

Whether you stay at a campground with partial or no hookups or boondock for extended periods, these tips will help you save water while RVing.  

Limit Water Usage 

Dishes

Doing dishes with limited water can be a tedious task, but it’s worth it to extend the length of your trip. Turn the water off as much as possible while washing and rinsing. Even better, fill a dish tub with only the amount of water needed to wash your dishes. Then, use a spray bottle to rinse the soapy water from the dishes into the sink. 

Sink in the kitchen area of an RV.
Our sink setup in the RV with a behind-the-sink shelf that was custom-made for us. | Photo: Amy Rekart

Flushing Toilets and Handwashing

Your black tank requires water to break down waste properly, so don’t eliminate it completely. Avoid filling the bowl with excess water and only use the amount needed. Or, if you plan to boondock often, replace your standard RV toilet with a composting toilet, which doesn’t use water. 

Related Everything You Need to Know About RV Toilets and Black Tanks

Instead of washing your hands with soap and water every time, consider using hand sanitizer to save water when appropriate.

Reuse Water

If you need to be extremely conservative, you can reuse your gray water. Use dirty dishwater or shower water to pour into the toilet when using the bathroom instead of using your fresh water supply. 

Purchase Additional Water Jugs or Bladders 

Use water jugs for drinking water or to refill your fresh water tank. We keep two 7-gallon jugs in our tow vehicle and refill them when we get supplies. 

Invest in a Water Filter 

When camping near a lake, stream, or river, get extra water by using a filter. There are simple, gravity-fed camping filters or specific RV filters that can produce several clean gallons of water quickly. 

Related The Best Water Filters for Your RV

Conserving Water While Showering and Alternatives 

When dry camping or boondocking, be mindful of your shower routine. Your best bet is to take quick showers. If you have long hair, avoid washing it every day if possible. Much like doing the dishes, it takes some practice to use less water when showering. 

Interior of an RV while boondocking in California.
This Bureau of Land Management site in California allowed us to stay 14 days and we conserved enough water to make our tanks last the entire time. | Photo: Amy Rekart

Install a Showerhead With a Water Shut-Off Mechanism

These types of showerheads turn the water flow off with the click of a button. If you plan to dry camp or boondock often, replacing your RV showerhead is a simple, effective, and inexpensive way to save water. Essentially, you turn the water off when lathering and back on for a quick rinse. 

Take Sponge Baths

If you need to be more extreme with water conservation, you can take a “sponge bath” instead of showering as needed. You can also buy towel-sized wet wipes, which are designed for body-washing on the road. 

Use Campground Showers

When dry camping at a campground or camping with partial hookups, use the campground bathhouse facilities. This way you can take a long, hot shower without using your fresh water or needing to fill your gray tank.

Get a Gym Membership 

Consider purchasing a membership to a gym chain, like Planet Fitness or Anytime Fitness, with locations around the U.S. to use when on the road or when campground facilities aren’t available. Many full-timers, especially those who travel in vans or Class Bs, utilize this tip. If you’re considering this option, select a gym with locations in the areas you’ll be traveling and account for it in your monthly budget.  

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Amy Rekart

Amy, along with her husband Matthew, are the couple behind Carpe Diem Campers. They travel in their Cruiser RV Stryker toy hauler with their two dogs and two cats. Amy works remotely teaching physical education and health. In her free time, she and her husband are exploring the outdoors, visiting small towns, and finding the best breweries around.

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