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Here’s How to Install a Shower in Your Van and a Few Extra Ideas for Washing Up.

This post was updated on April 20th, 2024

If there’s one thing that’s a problem for people living or traveling long term in a van it’s the lack of a shower.

Even in most RV’s you’re limited to 6 gallons of hot water, making the old Navy shower (get wet, soap up, and rinse off) the norm for life on the road.

I’ve tried installing a shower in my van a few different ways. I’ll be the first to tell you, space is cramped and you’ll give up a lot of floor room for a shower. But it can be done.

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I used the following items in my first attempt at an in-van shower:

You can hook it up to a water faucet, eliminating the need for the water pump, or you can plumb in a fresh water tank if you prefer your supply to be on board.

You shouldn’t have too much trouble piecing together all the components.

Here’s an example of a sink drain kit installed in the bottom of my plastic concrete mixing tub.

Concerete mixing tub with sink drain kit

I placed the tub in the forward part of the van, but this setup didn’t work so well. The biggest problem to onboard showers in a standard van is that you’ll need to be sitting down to use them.

Shower inside a van camper

I’ll admit I got frustrated after a few attempts at using this shower. The space is just too cramped.

Another option would be to install the tankless water heater in the rear of the van, and take your shower outdoors when no one is around.Van shower with tankless water heater

Some Ideas for Outdoor Showering

A better solution would be to use the shower setup outside your van.

An inexpensive shower tent along with a propane-powered heater will let you take downright luxurious showers without feeling cramped in your van. One popular brand is Zodi camp showers.

Zodi Camp Shower

Zodi provides a variety of portable shower solutions. You can heat about 60 gallons of water with each bottle of propane, giving you plenty of days of showering in one charge.

If you don’t want to shell out $100-$200 for a propane powered heater, and you’re comfortable taking quick showers without a lot of water pressure, you might be interested in a simple battery powered shower.

Battery powered portable shower

This battery powered shower by Ring Automotive in the UK runs off of four D cell batteries (not included) or via your van’s 12 V cigarette lighter.

The hose is about six feet long, and it comes with a suction cup device that will hold the shower head firmly in place on a glass surface.

Here’s a video showing you how easy it is to use this portable shower.

A final option if you’re camping mostly in warmer climates is a Coleman camp shower.

Coleman Camp Shower

You just hang it in the sun and hope you get clean enough before the five gallons of water run out.

Coleman also makes their own Hot Water On Demand portable heater.

This video shows how the Coleman system works:


You have many options when it comes to creating a workable shower for your mobile life.

With a few easy to find parts and a little engineering, it’s possible to install a semi-permanent shower inside your van.

If you don’t want to go that route, you could hook up a tankless water heater to the inside of your van’s back door for a quick outside wash.

Or if you spend most of your time in the Southwest United States, maybe you can get by with just a simple solar shower.

Whatever your circumstances, taking a shower in or near your van isn’t such a big deal.


3 thoughts on “Here’s How to Install a Shower in Your Van and a Few Extra Ideas for Washing Up.”

  1. Hi there! I love your article here. I am a traveler who’s strongly considering full time van dwelling for a year to see the world a little more. Your shower concept is amazing. My partner and I were just discussing methods of showering while out on the road. To have ANY form of a shower ”indoors” would make a huge difference here. I don’t mind the small accommodations if a method exists. Great share. I will be bookmarking your website as you have very useful tips. Cheers to van dwelling/living on the road.


  2. Hi
    Thanks for this great article, but most of those ideas are bit too water-consuming and expensive. During long trips or stealth camping in the city, conserving water and reducing amount of wastes is the key.
    There is a cheap and easy solution: go to dollar store and buy small bowl and 2 liter (0.5 gallon) pressure sprayer like this one:–Capacity/dp/B00AMRS4MC/ref=sr_1_17?ie=UTF8&qid=1412750037&sr=8-17&keywords=pressure+sprayer. Then, just before taking a shower heat about 0.5 gallon of water in the kettle to the temperature you like, fill the bowl and sprayer, pump a few times and voila – you are ready. Then use navy technique as above: spray a bit to get wet, soap using sponge and warm water from the bowl and then rinse off with sprayer.
    Pressurized water is much more efficient than plain one and has much better ‘overall experience’ – you feel cleaner and better refreshed. And it is so water efficient that it’s not unusual to have some water left in the sprayer after taking the shower.
    If you feel it hard to maneuver the sprayer, you can consider choosing one with wand and hose, but it’s hard to find such small one. You can buy 1 or 2 gallon sized easily, but remember that it needs far more pumping to pressurize.
    Hope this helps 🙂

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