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Staying clean when you live in a van can be…difficult. Most conversion vans do not have a built-in shower and even the ones that do aren’t typically used regularly. This means that you need to have another option for showering and staying clean when you are on the road. As a vanlifer there are also going to be days…even weeks when a real shower is not available to you. This means you need to figure out the best way to stay clean so you don’t completely stink up the van. It’s not as gross as you think when you are out in the desert or in the forest you are hours away from civilization and it would cost time and money to go back into town just for a shower. So instead, utilize these vanlife hygiene tips to help you stay clean on the road. 

1. Join a Gym 

My first vanlife hygiene tip for staying clean on the road is to join a gym. Joining a cheap nationwide gym is one of the most popular ways in vanlife to shower regularly. Gyms like Planet Fitness cost around $24 a month and are nationwide. They are available in most towns and the bonus is that you also have a free unlimited guest pass. So if you have a partner or a friend you can get them in for free! Not to mention you have a place to get some exercise! 

Pro Tip: When you do shower use a body scrub or a Korean washcloth to make sure and get nice and clean!

2. Buy an Outdoor Shower 

An outdoor shower is a great way to shower when you aren’t in town or near civilization. There are several kinds of outdoor showers from a bucket and a hose to a solar shower that is set up through your roof rack. I also have a vanlife shower guide to break it down even further. For now here are a few options to for showering outdoors:

3. Utilize Dry Shampoo

Although we have found a pretty constant place to shower in vanlife there are going to be times when your gym isn’t in the area or you don’t want to drive all the way from your campsite back into town which can be hours away. You learn to go longer in between showers and dry shampoo is a great way to combat greasy hair.

Pro Tip: Use the shampoo before you need it, apply at night, and don’t apply directly to your scalp. My favorite is the Bumble and Bumble as it is a powder and lasts forever. Make sure and purchase the one that is meant for your hair color as well.

4. Take a Dry Shower

Ok so it’s not exactly a dry shower but there are ways to get the dirt off of you without an actual running stream of water. Here is how to take a dry shower:

  • Baby Wipes: Baby wipes are a great way to clean in-between showers. Wipe down the err important areas from your armpits, feet, to private areas and you will much fresher than before. 
  • Wash Cloth and Soap: Another great option is to use a washcloth, some water, and soap like Dr. Bonners. It’s doesn’t need to be fully washed off but it will help you get a bit cleaner than before. 
  • Bucket Bath: If you’re really in need of getting clean then put a few cups of water into a bucket or container that you have handy and wash off with a washcloth and Dr. Bonners. It’s similar to the above method but you’d need to be outside and you are using more water. With this method, you could technically wash your hair!

5. Keep Your Van Clean 

A way to stay clean is to keep your surroundings clean. This means keeping your van from getting filthy! Wiping down your counters and sweeping your floors will go a long way when you are out in the desert or in the wilderness. Also try not to use harsh chemicals, instead use natural cleaning supplies such as Dr. Bonners, Method, or even apple cider vinegar. I know when I clean with harsh chemicals I usually immediately want to hop into the shower, using a natural cleaner will help prevent that. 

6. Keep Your Blankets Clean 

Speaking of keeping your van clean, don’t forget to wash your blankets and laundry! Utilize laundry mats whenever possible and wash your sheets, blankets, and towels. There is nothing worse than going to bed in dirty sheets. Even if you are able to shower, you are going to feel dirty after sleeping in dirty sheets and blankets all night! Not to mention having clean clothes will keep you smelling fresh longer as well!

7. Clean Your Toilet 

If you have opted for an indoor vanlife toilet then apart of vanlife hygiene is to make sure it isn’t smelly! Clean out your toilet whenever possible. Also, try to utilize public bathrooms when possible so you don’t have to worry about your toilet stinking up the van!


Whether your shower is built-in or at the gym I hope these vanlife hygiene tips help you to stay fresh and clean on the road! Are there any vanlife hygiene tips that I have missed? Let me know below in the comments!

2 comments

Reply

Wow, those are really great tips. I will save this post for later, cause at the moment I’m researching the best van to buy. Thanks for sharing

Have a great day,
Brie
Liam recently posted…Aquabliss Sf100 Vs Sf220: Which Is the BestMy Profile

Reply

So glad to be able to help! What kind of van are you thinking about getting?

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