shower while camping

How to showering when camping: Everything you need to know

Have you ever wondered how to showering when camping? Growing up, I went camping very little because I wasn’t convinced that not showering was for me. However, as an adult, I have been much more adventurous. After losing my job I decided to start camping more often as it is a very inexpensive way to travel. I started car and tent camping constantly and got lots of helpful tips on how to stay up to date while camping on the trail.

Little can compete with a clean, warm shower after a long day of hiking and exploring nature. While camping showers may not be the most luxurious type of shower, there are plenty of ways to shower and stay cool while camping, even when water is in short supply.

In this post, I share everything you need to know to answer the question “How to shower while camping.” I’ve included tips for saving water, what soap to use, types of shower systems, and more to help even the most campers get started camping and stay camping longer.

Why showering when camping is important


Daily showers aren’t typical when camping, but showering long enough to remove excess dirt and oils is ideal. Douching removes harmful bacteria from the skin, prevents acne, and eliminates odors, helping you feel fresh and sleep better at night.You may not need to shower every day, especially if you’re not sweating or exercising, but daily showers are generally considered a healthy habit.

At the very least, you should rinse it with fresh water every few days to maintain proper hygiene. If fresh water isn’t available, you’ll need to use an alternate method (more on these methods later in this post) to shower to make your camping experience that much more enjoyable.

Best places to shower when camping


If you are not going to camp in a caravan with an integrated shower, you can choose a campsite with a shower. Sure, it will cost more, but it’s probably worth it if you have the budget.

Many developed national parks and campgrounds will include reserve campground showers, while others offer public showers for a fee. Some campsites will allow you to pay for a shower even if you don’t camp with them. Some campgrounds even have community pools, which is another great way to rinse off and cool off after a long day.

Many gyms, YMCAs, truck stops, and travel centers offer public showers when I’m traveling. Most YMCAs charge anywhere from $3 to $8 for a shower. Flying J travel centers charge a bit more ($12-$15), but provide towels and accessories. However, these locations are often along interstate highways or high-traffic residential communities and are not convenient for most campgrounds.

If your camp doesn’t offer showers, you’ll need to find drinking water taps to fill jugs and bags for DIY showers or bring extra water. Read more about the different types of DIY showers later in this post.

Finally, freshwater sources such as lakes and rivers are ideal places for rinsing. When bathing in natural water sources, do not use soap (even biodegradable soap). If you must use soap, fill a pitcher with water and bathe at least 200 feet from the natural water source using your favorite eco-friendly soap.

Some of my favorite brands of natural soaps are:

  • Ethics: Known for solid rods to eliminate plastic waste.
  • Sea to Summit: Your wild wash is gentle on skin, yet powerful enough for fabrics and dishes.
  • Dr. Bronners Pure-Castile Liquid Soap – Create the popular 18-in-1 with a mint scent (my favorite)
  • Camp Suds – Soap concentrate that works on anything washable

Best ways to find showers while camping


When you book a campsite online, most sites offer a search filter, making it easy to find out if your favorite campsite has showers on site or nearby. There are many other campsites and apps that can also help you find campsites with showers.

Here are some of my favorites:

  • Freecampsites.net only free campsites
  • Hipcamp.com (app) – Lots of free and paid camping options posted by hosts
  • iOverlander (application): geared towards car and caravan travel
  • PublicShower.directory – Great for US shower options, organized by city and state.


Warmshowers.com and Couchsurfing.com are two other hospitality/community sites created to help travelers host, but can be used to find free showers. Using both costs a fee, but if you plan to camp for extended periods, it might be worth your while to sleep and shower for free while you make new friends along the way.

How to responsibly shower while camping

showering when camping

Most of us are used to letting the water run until it gets hot and lather with scented soap and shampoo in our daily shower. However, it’s important to be environmentally conscious when bathing in nature, so that toxic chemicals and dirty runoff don’t contaminate nature and water sources any more than they already have.

Proper camping shower guidelines include washing with biodegradable soap at least 200 feet from a campsite and natural water sources.

Some of my favorite brands of natural soaps are:

  • Ethics: Known for solid rods to eliminate plastic waste.
  • Sea to Summit: Your wild wash is gentle on skin, yet powerful enough for fabrics and dishes.
  • Dr. Bronners Pure-Castile Liquid Soap – Create the popular 18-in-1 with a mint scent (my favorite)
  • Camp Suds – Soap concentrate that works on anything washable


If you use a non-biodegradable tissue or disposable wipe, be sure to store and dispose of it properly. Following the Leave No Trace principles is essential to protecting nature and providing a healthy camping environment for everyone to enjoy.

How to conserve water while showering

It’s always a good idea to use as little water as possible when showering, but not an option if you plan to shower while camping. You’ll want to conserve as much fresh water as possible, and there are a number of ways you can do this.

Take a Sponge Bath


Sponge baths are popular when camping because they use the least amount of water. Moisten a sponge or rag with water and some biodegradable soap and use it to “wipe” the dirty leather. Then rinse the cloth or sponge and repeat cleaning and rinsing several times until it feels clean.

Avoid washing your hair


Washing your hair always requires a lot of water, so it’s best to avoid it if you can. However, if washing your hair is necessary, focus first on scrubbing your scalp and letting the biodegradable soapy water flow over your body for “double duty.” If you can’t put the conditioner down, try using a leave-in conditioner to eliminate the need for a second rinse.

Rinse off method


The rinse method is great for campsites with running water faucets, as it uses more water and you may need to refill the shower frequently. The idea of ​​this method is to spray water on the body, turn off the tap, lather, and then rinse.

Types of camp shower systems


Your camping style will decide which shower system is best for you. All designs are portable, but some systems offer more luxury with hot water in tents in complete privacy, while others are simpler with a portable tank and hose.

Showers Bag


Most of them can be heated by the sun and are usually, as the term describes it, a bag filled with water. Solar-heated showers use a material that absorbs the sun’s heat and usually include a hose and spout for the water to flow through. You will want to hang a shower bag from a tree or hook high enough for gravity to push the water through the shower head. These showers can hold up to 5 liters of water and can be easily stored away after use.

Tent showers


These systems are the most luxurious, but they are also the most cumbersome and tedious to set up. Tent showers are great if you’re going to be camping for a long time, but they’re not the best for quick and easy showers on the go. Tent showers typically have a bag or tank system attached within the assembled tent and come with lighting, towel hooks, and floor drain pads.

Privacy curtains are another great option for camping showers. They are not equipped with a shower system, but provide privacy when taking a shower, changing clothes or going to the bathroom.

Tank showers

Most tank showers are portable, come with hoses or pumps, can be heated by batteries, and require little to no installation. They require more storage space when not in use, but are very easy to use and useful for many camping needs.

I prefer tank showers because of their convenience and ability to transform into more than just a shower head. Whether I’m camping or driving, I always carry a rinse kit with me. It makes life so much easier.

Rinse kits are perfect for not only showering, but also for washing hands, rinsing pets, cleaning equipment, and washing dishes. I use the 2 gallon option which, when used sparingly, can last weeks for one person. It comes with a built-in hose and multi-spray nozzle. I use mist mode to save water. Rinse kits make you feel fresh while camping!

Newer models feature either a removable water heater or a built-in battery heater, and the updated design makes it impossible to spill water when sitting upright. It is very easy to use and recharge and now it can be recharged with just a few taps inside.

camping shower

Popular camp shower accessories to consider

There are a few things that make bathing even easier.

  • Frosted floor or bathtub – great when using bag showers so you don’t create a mud pit under you with running water
  • Privacy tent: when the camps are close together. Can be used for changing clothes or as a portable toilet or “Go Anywhere Toilet Kits”.
  • Shower caddy – store all your toiletries in one place
  • Shower Shoes – Like slippers to guard against germs and keep you clean when entering and leaving the shower area.
  • Microfiber towels: They are not the most comfortable and absorbent towels, but when camping their quick drying time is very convenient

Ways to stay fresh without showering when camping


There are few options to stay clean and fresh, even if water is not available.

Cleaning wipes


The most common method is to use a tissue. Many baby wipes come in different sizes, thicknesses, and different levels of moisture. Some brands are all-natural, while others use alcohol and stronger ingredients to cleanse the skin.

It is essential that you do your research and choose a scarf that is right for you. For example, if you use a washcloth to clean your entire body, make sure it’s big and thick enough. I have used ShowerPill extra thick baby wipes and love them. They’re thick, have the perfect moisture level, and come individually wrapped, eliminating dry wipes.

While I love ShowerPill wipes, I will soon be switching to biodegradable wipes. I’ve heard good things about Biodegradable Baby Wipes and Surviveware Combat Wipes.

Directed washing


The easiest way to feel refreshed without using too much water is to focus on cleaning the areas that make you feel the most refreshed. For me, it’s brushing my teeth and washing my face. When I’m camping for months, I always brush my teeth and wash my face twice a day. I feel instantly refreshed, even if a full bathroom isn’t available for days on end.

Camping in colder weather


Camping in colder weather is a great way to avoid sweating, thus avoiding feeling sick. However, if it’s hot and humid outside, little can make up for the sweaty and dirty feeling when walking. Even a shower is no match for heat; Although instantly refreshed, that clean feeling doesn’t last long in sweltering temperatures.

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Whether it’s a rinse kit, body wash, or luxurious camping shower, I hope you head out into the wild knowing there are easy ways to shower while camping. It may take some getting used to, but the rewards of unplugging and getting away from it all are well worth a few days of light bathing!

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