Many people who have an interest in RVing have a question in mind from the outset: “Do RVs have showers?” Showering is one of the creature comforts most of us are accustomed to. So, when we consider traveling or living in a recreational vehicle, we naturally want to know about the comforts of home, like showering.
Let’s delve into the question and come clean with some answers! (See what we did there?)
Do RVs Have Showers?
Most contemporary RVs have showers, but not all RV showers are the same. RV showers vary widely in type, size, location, and functionality based on several factors. So, when you ask the question, “Do RVs have showers?” what you really want to know is the type and functionality of a particular RV shower.
Types of RVs That Have Showers
While most small campers and vans don’t have showers, most travel vehicles classified as RVs do. The shower varies significantly, however, depending on the type and size of the vehicle.
➡ If an RV doesn’t have a shower, make sure you have some body wipes with you as an awesome water-free alternative to getting clean!
Let’s start by looking at a Class B motorhome, which uses a van chassis. These popular RVs are small enough to get decent gas mileage while still fitting into a standard parking space. However, a Class B RV’s size begs the question as to whether or not this type of RV could fit a shower.
Some Class B RV’s bathrooms are called a “wet bath”–more on that term later. Suffice it to say that this is a tiny bathroom where all things bathroom-related take place in one small space.
Other Class B motorhomes have a combination bathroom/shower that extends into the aisle, and a curtain forms a circle around the shower. The water drains into the center aisle of the RV!
Class As and many Class C motorhomes have larger bathrooms, as do fifth wheels and toy haulers. These RVs are far more spacious and come with separate showering areas. Many even have bathtubs as well.
How Big Are RV Showers?
The size varies in tandem with the size of the RV itself. A large Class A motorhome may have a shower that’s as large as your home shower, while a wet bath might be the size of a small home closet.
Full RV Bathroom vs RV Wet Bath
A full RV bathroom, such as those found in Class A motorhomes, some Class C RVs, fifth wheels, and toy haulers, will have all or most of the features of a sticks-and-bricks full bathroom. This includes sinks and vanities, a toilet, storage area, and a full-sized shower with or without a tub.
On the other hand, a wet bath tries to fit all of the above into a closet-sized space, which means the entire bathroom gets wet when you shower! All surfaces in a wet bath can get damp without damage.
Some are a single solid molded piece, while others have waterproof-caulked seams and different features that can withstand being wet. Most smaller RVs with a wet bath have a molded piece that’s sometimes called a “shower-toilet combo.”
Where Does Shower Water Go in an RV?
When you shower in most RVs, the water drains into the tank known as the gray tank. The gray tank collects water from the sinks and shower in your RV. Interestingly, there’s at least one small RV, a Rialta, that Winnebago designed to have its tiny shower drain into the black tank.
The Rialta’s innovative bathroom pulls into the RV’s aisle to offer more space, but owners must take care because it drains into the black tank. Draining a shower into the black tank can create a significant and unpleasant problem if the tank gets too full! There are reports of Rialta owners standing in a pool of black water while showering (which kind of defeats the point of showering in the first place)!
This alone is an excellent reason why most RV showers drain into the gray tank.
How Long Do RV Showers Last?
When showering in an RV, avoid the expectation of those long hot showers you may enjoy at home. The amount of time you can shower depends on how and where you’re camping. Generally, though, you should conserve water when showering in an RV, both for the sake of your water tanks and the environment.
If you’re at a campground or RV park where you have full hookups, including a connection to city water, you have more leeway in terms of your showering time (though, you’d better leave your gray tank’s valve open)! A connection to a city water supply lets water continually flow into your RV. Simultaneously, an open gray tank valve lets water flow into the campground’s sewer system instead of filling your tank.
If you are fully hooked up your only limiting factor is going to be your RV water heater which is smaller than in your home. Tanked water heaters vary in size from 6 gallons to 12 gallons. The bigger the tank the longer the showers.
A 6-gallon tank will provide continuous hot water for around 8 minutes while a 12-gallon unit will last 16-20. On-demand hot water units are available too like the Aquago that we use on our RV. In this case, the shower water is instantly hot and lasts as long as we have propane. A 20-minute long shower is completely doable with this type of water heater.
However, if you’re boondocking, you’ll likely need to be far more conservative in terms of how much water you use for a single shower. In this case, consider all your water needs (until you can fill that freshwater tank again), including drinking, cooking, washing hands, and dishes, flushing the toilet, and showering.
Consider all of your water use in conjunction with your fresh water tank size and fill level. You also need to consider the amount of propane or electric power available to heat your water. In general, boondocking calls for a briefer, more conservative shower.
Tips for Showering in an RV
You might think it strange to get tips for showering, something you’ve been doing your whole life! But then, showering in an RV is a little different than at home. Here are some things to keep in mind.
Conserve Water and Tank Space
As we’ve established, when showering in an RV, it’s vital to conserve water and gray tank space. Many RVers have learned to enjoy what many call a “Navy shower,” a term derived from Navy ships’ water-saving techniques.
When taking a Navy shower, you wet down the hair and body, turn off the water while you soap up, and then turn it back on to rinse off. This technique could save up to 95% of the amount of water you’d use in a typical shower, so it’s an excellent and well-established way to conserve water. Less water used means more gray tank space as well!
Some RVs offer outside showers, and while an outdoor shower still uses the precious water supply in your fresh water tank when you’re boondocking, you save gray tank space because showering outdoors bypasses that holding tank completely. If you go this route, remember to use quality biodegradable soap!
If Boondocking, Find Showering Alternatives to Boondock Longer
Many campgrounds have showers for patrons, and many campers prefer to use them, even if they have an RV shower. This not only saves water and gray tank space, but campground showers are usually more spacious.
However, if you’re in a remote location, there are several other alternatives, such as outdoor solar-heated showers. Many travelers also use baby wipes or another type of sponge bath to get clean, understanding that showering is not the only way to bathe!
For other water conservation tips, see this article: 40 RV Boondocking Tips To Make Your Off-Grid Camping Better
Tankless Water Heaters Provide Unlimited Hot Water
One note about heating water for RV showers: If you have access to an unlimited water supply, a tankless water heater is an excellent alternative for heating your shower water, washing dishes, and anything else that calls for hot water. Small tankless water heaters are compact and inexpensive, though you should hire a professional to install yours.
A tankless water heater starts to heat the water as soon as you turn the hot water tap, and it doesn’t stop until you turn off the tap. Tankless units heat the water almost instantly, requiring only about 15 seconds to bring the water to the desired temperature for showering.
Remember, though – if you’re looking for unlimited hot water for your RV, you’ll need an endless water supply, such as your city water hookup at a campground or RV park.
Yes, RVs Have Showers, But…
The answer to the question “Do RVs have showers?” is mildly complicated by the fact that there are so many types of RVs and so many things to consider in terms of physical space, water usage, and tank space.
So the short answer is yes, many RVs have showers, but as you now know, the longer answer is a bit more involved. We hope you’ve come away with a clean understanding of the situation! ?
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Wednesday 17th of March 2021
I have a question regarding water refill regardless if it is for shower or in general. Let say in your case you are boondocking and run out of the water and lets assume that within 5 minutes drive there is a river that you can reach with your vehicle. Is there a way to throw awater house to the river and use sort of pump to refill the tank? What is is your advise in such scenario?
Mortons on the Move
Friday 19th of March 2021
Interesting question. The answer is yes you can do this and in fact we have. I would highly recommend a decent filtration system to keep alge and river bacteria out of the tank. I would also never do this in really murky water with lots of solids. We personally use the dual canister RV water filter store system from this article. https://www.mortonsonthemove.com/how-to-choose-the-best-rv-water-filter-system We use an RV water pump external to the RV that we run off a battery to pump the water but some RV's can reverse the flow and use the internal pump to draw water in. This is a great question and I will add this tip to our RV water hacks article! https://www.mortonsonthemove.com/rv-water-hose-hacks/