How to Manage Water Usage in Your RV

by Contributor

After few camping trips in your RV, you probably have realized that fresh water is one of the most important elements of an enjoyable outing. But showering, washing dishes, brushing your teeth, or rinsing your grassy or muddy feet can use a substantial amount of water, especially when it involves a family.

If you are camping for more than a few days where there are no hookups (this is called boondocking), water conservation is of utmost importance. You don't want to run out of water or fill up your holding tanks too quickly. Use the following tips to maximize your RV's freshwater supply.


While waiting for hot water to reach the faucet, catch the cold water in a pitcher or basin. This water can be used for watering pets, cooking, or flushing the toilet. Any water you catch can be used elsewhere, reducing the water you have to haul to camp.


If your toilet cannot be flushed without activating the water valve, install a water cutoff valve in the supply line. This will allow the use of the alternative water recycling methods such as using lake or creek water to flush with.


If your toilet has a sprayer, use it to quickly rinse the toilet instead of holding down the foot pedal.


Most RVers travel with their fresh water tanks pretty low to save weight and conserve fuel, figuring they can fill up when they get to the campground. If you are going to boondock, keep your fresh water full and your gray and black tanks empty. You usually won't find a hose bib out in your BLM or NFS boondocking camp.


Take "Navy" and "GI" showers on alternate days to conserve water.

A Navy shower is: Run the water and wet down. Turn the water off. Lather up. Turn the water on and rinse.

A GI shower is: Wash up out of a small basin with a wash cloth.


For people with long hair, wash your hair in a small plastic tub in the galley sink using one quart of water to wet hair and rinse. Then use about one quart fresh water for the final rinse.


Don't let the water run when brushing your teeth. This can use a few gallons of water if the faucet is left on full. Children are notorious for leaving the water on so teach them to conserve as well.

Try brushing your teeth with water in a small cup and then rinse your mouth with another small cup of fresh water. Younger kids will be rather amused by this and will want to try it out.


Use paper plates and plastic utensils to reduce dish washing.


Use a 5-gallon collapsible fresh water bottle to store extra water.


Use wet wipes for minor boondocking cleaning chores of counters, hands, faces, etc., to conserve water.


Use the restrooms as much as possible in restaurants, service stations, etc., along the way when on the road. When you get to where you're going, use the campground facilities if there are any.

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