This post may contain affiliate links. This means that if you click an affiliate link and buy something, that website will give me a tiny bit of money to say thanks for sending you to them. There is NO extra cost to you. This applies to Amazon links, as well as others, and as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
One of the questions I’m most often asked is “how do you stay clean while living in a van?”. It’s true, travelling around the US in a van means you’re not exactly the cleanest human being. Our little van (Elvis to those of you who are new) doesn’t have space enough for us to stand up, let alone install a shower.
This wasn’t a problem when we were cruising down the east coast of the States as we’d signed up to Planet Fitness. Planet Fitness is a gym chain that’s all over the USA and costs just $20 a month for the two of us. We’d pop in every couple of days for a quick workout and a much-needed shower. So far, so good. We were pretty clean.
But then we got to south west. We headed away from the coast and in land to Utah, Colorado, Nevada and up the west coast through California, Oregon and Washington. Around here there didn’t seem to be many Planet Fitnesses which left us with a bit of a dilema.
How could I keep myself from looking, feeling (and most probably smelling) disgusting when there wasn’t a shower around? This was made all the worse given that we were hiking in the National Parks quite a lot. (Don’t worry, I did pop into campsites every now and again and pay for a shower).
Over the past three months I’ve developed a few tips and tricks to stay clean while living in a van. If you’re off on a summer camping trip, heading to a festival, or planning your own vanlife road trip then here’s a few things you should know about how to stay clean while living in a van.
Baby wipes aren’t just for babies
Baby wipes definitely aren’t for babies. They’re a life saver on those mornings your eyes feel like they’re stuck together so much that no amount of caffeine will fix it. Grab a pack (or three) and use then to give yourself a baby wipe wash. If it’s good enough for babies, it’s good enough for adults.
Top tip: Go for unscented ones as otherwise you might feel a little sticky.
I haven’t been wearing make up whilst we’ve been travelling but I still have a bottle of Micellar water in our ‘toiletries cupboard’ in the van. I like to use it every now and again to give my face a good clean when it’s feeling dirty. Grab your cotton wool (or put a bit on a baby wipe) and get cleansing! It’s amazing (disgusting) how much dirt comes off…
Perhaps it’s because I’ve been spending a heck of a lot more time outside (which I LOVE) but my face seems to be more dry than usual which makes me feel a bit groggy. Every morning, after I’ve baby wiped my face, I put on some of this moisturiser and feel SO much better.
Never underestimate the power of clean underwear to make you feel like a new person. Make room in your luggage for enough lean underwear and you’ll feel so much better day to day
Whilst I haven’t had dry shampoo with me on this trip (it got taken off me when I tried to get on the underground in China – apparently it’s a fire hazard – and I haven’t bought more), it’s always served me well when I can’t be bothered to wash my hair, or couldn’t at festivals and camping trips.
Plus, it smells so nice.
And if you must shower out the back of your van?
You do need quite a lot of water for this (well, depending on how long a shower you want to take), and it’s never going to be a super warm shower, but it’s a great alternative option.
Simply fill this up wherever you fill up your water bottles, strap it to your roof for maximum sun heat and then drive to your campsite. Once you’re there, shower away!
Want more #vanlife tips & inspiration? Check out these posts
- How to make a stealthy camper van and sleep for free every night!
- My list of essential gear for vanlife
- Tips for parking your van overnight for free in urban areas
- 8 things I learned from living in a van for 5 months (without the ‘finding yourself’ rubbish)
- How to find places to sleep for free when living in a van
- Where to find free water when you live in a van
- Where to shower when you live in a van