Water is vital to life — including as we camp. The average American directly and indirectly uses about 64,000 gallons a year — 175 gallons a day — of water. Due to the size of holding tanks and other limitations, RVers must learn to reduce water needs while camping. Here are my RV water saving tips.
RV Water Needs
First, make sure you understand RV water systems, including fresh water, waste water, and water system maintenance. They are pretty basic: water comes in to your RV from an outside source (faucet and hose) or is stored inside (in below-floor tanks) and pumped to fixtures. Once used, the waste water from sink(s) and shower goes into the “gray” water tank. Waste water from the toilet(s) goes to the “black” water tank. The RV is connected to a sewer line that allows gray water to dump as needed. Black water should be saved until the tank is 3/4 full before dumping. Otherwise the liquids leave and the solids stay behind, clogging the tank. Not fun.
How much water you need in camping depends on your rig, your campsite, how long you will be camping, and how well you can conserve water. Large motorhomes have larger fresh and waste water tanks than smaller trailers. Your RVs documentation should tell you the size of all tanks. Critical to planning water needs is knowing your campsite. Will it have water and sewer connections or will you be dry camping (no connections)? You also need to consider how long you will be camping — or at least how long between opportunities to add and dump water. Finally, you should be familiar with the variety of ways you can save water while camping. Some will be easy and other not necessary. Choose and use them as appropriate to your camping needs and personal preferences.
Water Saving Tips
- Use public toilets and showers as available.
- Cook in coated cookware that is easier to wipe out.
- Use paper towels to wipe dirty dishes before washing them.
- Use a vegetable-based soap or vinegar in a spray bottle to wash dishes to reduce the need for rinsing.
- Steam vegetables instead of boiling them to use less water.
- When washing and brushing teeth, turn on the water, wet hands or brush, and turn off water before cleaning.
- Use wet wipes to clean up between showers.
- Install a water-saving shower head (if not already equipped) with an ON/OFF switch.
- When showering: rinse, turn off water, lather, rinse again.
- Wear short hair, if possible, to reduce water consumption when showering.
- If boondocking in a private location, set two 1-liter bottles of water in the sun to warm up for hot water outdoor showers.
- Wash clothes at a laundromat, in a hand-operated clothes washer, or in a 5-gallon bucket with a clean toilet plunger.
See my article on Dry Camping for more water saving tips.
>>Dan Ramsey, FrugalRV.com
Travel more – spend less!