In the course of a day, we consume liters of water for countless reasons in the RV. This could be water used for drinking, cooking, flushing the toilet, or even cleaning. Nevertheless, water conservation is of paramount importance when traveling in your rig (especially when boondocking). Unfortunately, the tanks on our RV’s can only contain so much, and not all campgrounds provide fresh water hookups.
Thats why Phil and I wanted to find all of the best ways to conserve water in an RV. We plan to dry camp often in the RV and want to make sure we’re prepared with the best techniques and equipment.
Why You Should Find Ways To Conserve Water When RVing
There are a number of compelling arguments in favor of water conservation when rving. Primarily because it is often very challenging to get clean water while traveling. We’ve learned its best not to count on finding campsites with water hookups.
While it’s possible that some campgrounds do have running water, sometimes they don’t seem that trustworthy to use when they are so close to the dump stations, if you know what I mean….
That’s why a survival plan should include using only the freshwater in your tank for the duration of your camping vacation or at least until you know you will have access to more water again.
Water tanks in RVs typically hold between 40 and 50 gallons. This may seem like a lot, but remember, the average American uses about 20 gallons of water each day on only one shower.
It’s easy to assume that drinking and showering account for the vast majority of your daily water use, but you might be shocked at how often and in how many other contexts you actually use water.
You probably don’t give much thought to the several times per day that you use water to wash dishes, your hands, or flush the toilet.
So given these hurdles, Phil and I have set out to learn how to conserve water when living in an RV. Here are the tips we learned from our research for ways to conserve water without sacrificing our every day water needs.
1. Use Collapsible Buckets and Jugs
Phil and I always bring a collapsible sink, and extra collapsible water jugs ( we have 5 of them) for when we go boondocking as one of the many ways to conserve water. They sit in the truck for the most part until we are ready to use them. They are each 5 gallons in size and are a huge help at conserving water in the rv.
This helps us save water when we are doing the dishes, cleaning an outdoor item, cleaning Ruby (our pup) or other various things.
We typically put the water jug on the picnic table and the collapsible sink bucket on the seat underneath and it becomes a makeshift kitchen sink! Check the image for reference. We use it for all of our dishes and we never have an issue with running out of RV sink water and filling up our gray water tanks when staying at an RV site with no water hookups.
2. Reduce Shower Times
Of course, showers also account for a significant portion of the water consumed in the RV. As we noted earlier, the average American uses 20 gallons a day showering alone!
It’s a sad truth, but taking a long shower while camping in an RV is a bad idea. Though a nice, long shower might sound appealing, it’s not worth it if you end up without enough water to do anything else.
In an effort to save water, try to limit your showers to no more than 10 minutes. You can even make a fun game out of it if you have trouble getting the family to decrease their shower times. I know Phil is a stand in the shower for 20 more minutes than necessary kinda guy, so I’ll need to get crafty too.
Another option to try is military showering. Only run the water while you’re actually washing up, and turn it off after you’re done. If you want to quickly soak your skin and hair and then rinse them, turn on the water. You should turn off the water when you are using soap or shampoo. The water should only be turned on again to rinse out soap residue at the very end of the washing process.
You should also not waste water at the beginning of the shower while you wait for the water to reach the right temperature. Instead, leave your shower at the right temperature so you can spend as little time as possible waiting. This, in turn, will help you use less water which ultimately is one of the great ways to conserve water.
Skip the Showers
But when you are using your RV, the best ways to help conserve water is to skip the showers, if you can. If you’re camping at a time of year or in a place where it’s not too hot or cold, or if you’re not going to be there for too long, you might not need a shower at all.
Sometimes Phil and I will use the natural spring waters as our shower instead and it makes for a fun experience too!
Obviously if you are are not going to shower, you can still do your RV camping mates and yourself a courtesy but using dry shampoo and baby wipes to freshen up. You could also put a few inches of warm water in a small pot or the sink and clean yourself quickly with a washcloth or a sponge.
3. Use A Low-Flow Shower Head
For those of you who definitely won’t be skipping their shower (like me), having a water-efficient shower head installed is yet another wonderful approach to help cut down on your shower’s water use. These days, you can find a wide selection of low-flow shower heads at any hardware store. It’s a win-win because low-flow shower heads are simple to install and not too expensive to replace.
Just make sure you clean your shower head more frequently to avoid the shower head getting clogged, as this can further restrict the water flow and leave you with a subpar showering experience. There is an on/off switch on some low-flow shower heads. The ability to momentarily turn off the water supply is especially useful for the “military style” shower.
4. Limit Your Toilet Flushes
Somewhat surprisingly, the bathroom accounts for roughly half of the average home’s annual water consumption. The toilet uses significantly more water than showers or baths do. In most houses, the water used by the toilets is the highest of any fixture. An RV like yours and ours is no exception.
One of the most crucial skills for any RV owner to acquire is the ability to properly manage toilet water usage. It’s also a good idea to identify the make and model of your toilet because it may not have your best interest in mind when conserving water.
RV Toilet Types For Ways To Conserve Water
Water consumption is much higher in older models, especially those produced before 1993. Though it may not be cheap, upgrading to a newer, more water-efficient toilet model may be worth it in the long run.
Low-flush and dual-flush options are common in today’s toilets, each of which helps to dramatically lessen the amount of water consumed each time the toilet is flushed. Using this method can drastically and noticeably reduce your water use.
You should avoid flushing as much as possible during RV camping, when possible. You should probably only flush the toilet when absolutely necessary rather than every time you use it; doing so will help save water. However, you may save even more water by flushing your RV toilet with gray water instead of fresh water.
Another idea (not for the faint of heart) is to use a portable outdoor toilet when boondocking in a private location. Phil and I used one when we were camping in Big Bend National Park at a primitive camping spot that was very secluded. You can see our picture of it here, but I can imagine it could help save a lot of water!
We used this portable toilet.
Instead of a flushing toilet or outdoor toilet, you might want to install a composting toilet.
Another, more extreme option is to think about getting rid of your flushing toilet and replacing it with a composting toilet. Composting toilets don’t use any water, so they might be the most environmentally friendly choice that equally helps with saving water.
5. Turn the Faucets Off
Simply making sure you turn off your faucet is a good first step towards conserving water. This may sound like a no-brainer, but think about how often you let the water run without needing to. The most typical offender occurs when you are brushing your teeth.
When I first heard about this tip, I paid attention to Phil’s teeth-brushing habits and noticed he keeps the faucet going the whole time!!! To be honest, I’m sure I do often too. So we made a commitment to always turn the faucets off when we can, whether it’s brushing our teeth, showering, washing our hands, cleaning the dishes and the like.
There’s a cost associated with every drop of water that doesn’t get used and ends up in the toilet or the sink. Furthermore, environmental damage can result from such excessive water use. Turning off the water while brushing your teeth has multiple benefits, including reducing your water bill, helping the environment, and saving you money.
6. Make Extra Use of Gray Water
In this context, “gray water” refers to the water that drains out of an RV’s faucets and showers. Gray water from the shower can be easily collected but using one of the collapsible buckets I mentioned earlier in this article. Make sure you to take the bucket with you in the shower before you turn it on and allow the water to accumulate in the bucket.
This water can then be used to flush the toilet so you don’t have to use the fresh water for it. You can also do this with the water you used to clean the dishes, but be careful as there may be food in it.
Gray water isn’t suitable for cleaning, but it can definitely help you conserve water in the bathroom.
7. Cook With Only One Pot
In the kitchen, a lot of water is also wasted. Water is consumed most heavily during the cooking and cleaning processes. You may save a lot of water by washing your produce in a big bowl instead of under a running faucet as you get started on meal prep.
One Pot Meals
One helpful tactic is to master the art of making meals in a single pot, or better yet, to eat solely foods that don’t need to be cooked at all. You might eat only sandwiches and other foods that can be grilled on the grill while RV camping. While we can’t do this method as full-time rvers, I’m sure other quick trip RV campers can make this a possibility.
One-pot meals are a fantastic option, not just for when you’re on the road in your RV but also for when you go back home. These are common because they are easy to prepare and usually need few resources.
“One-pot dinners” are those in which all the ingredients are cooked together in a single pot. Many people’s go-to meals consist of stews. This minimizes the number of pots and pans you’ll need to wash afterward, as well as the overall number of dishes you’ll use during cooking.
If you are going for just a quick trip and you can avoid washing some of the dishes until you get home, bring some sealable bags with you to put them in too.
8. Use Eco-Friendly Paper Plates
Disposable plates have become increasingly popular as a way to cut down on dishwashing. This is definitely a great option individuals on short RV trips to cut down on dishwashing time. If you are traveling full-time like us, however, you might not benefit as much from this. If you must purchase throwaway plates, be sure they are a sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative to styrofoam and other plastics that will wind up in a landfill.
9. Get Tools To Purify Water From The Local Environment
A water purifier is an essential item for anyone preparing for a natural or man-made disaster. It can also be useful if you spend a significant amount of time in an RV off the grid in the wilderness. With one of these, you can clean water from a natural source to use in your RV.
10. Bring Extra Drinking Water
Be sure to drink lots of water, especially if you’re going to be doing vigorous activity or camping in a hot climate. Bring your own jug of drinkable water, though, so you don’t have to waste the precious freshwater in your tank on drinking.
You should plan to bring at least one, and preferably two, water containers for everyone in your group. This way, you may save the water in your tank and have a refreshing drink on hand whenever you get thirsty.
Bringing one tumbler cup for each person can be a helpful technique, as well. This can be the cup that person uses for the duration of the trip which will significantly reduce the amount of cups being washed each day. Getting yourself a reusable water cup before you head out on your camping trip is perfect because you always have access to cold, refreshing water in the RV or while you’re on the go. Phil and I both use these tumblers.
If you run out of this water, you may always filter the water from the tap. Filtering the water that comes out of the faucet in your RV is a simple and efficient method to have clean, refreshing water whenever you need it. For the sake of cleanliness, you may even install a water filtration system in your RV specifically designed for use with drinking water.
Our Final Thoughts
While traveling, water is just as important as it is at home. With such a small amount of freshwater on hand, it’s crucial that you find ways to reduce your water consumption while still having a comfortable stay in your RV.
Water conservation is a lot less of a hassle than you may imagine. The key is to be conscious of your water usage patterns. Don’t leave water running when you don’t need to, limit your use of the toilet (and the shower, if possible), and recycle your gray water. If you follow these suggestions, the water in your RV tank will last just as long as it would have without them. You should be able to survive without access to potable water for at least three days at a campsite.