Do Campgrounds Allow Outdoor Showers?

Outdoor shower on camper van

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Camping provides a relaxing escape from the modern world and allows you to get out in nature. One problem with this is that we humans like to be clean at all times. We are accustomed to our conveniences and miss them when we don’t have them. Those of us who travel in RVs often have showers contained within our rigs but what about those who don’t? Are outdoor showers allowed at campgrounds?

Many campgrounds do allow outdoor showers. Some require you to collect wastewater and dispose of it at designated dumping areas while others do not. A portable shower enclosure for privacy along with a portable camping shower provides an ideal setup.

Many campgrounds are equipped with public shower and restroom facilities so you won’t have to worry about it but for those that aren’t, an outdoor shower at your campsite may be the only option. It’s usually not a problem if you are using a system that keeps you out of sight from others and are disposing of your wastewater properly.

It’s important to consider wastewater runoff with respect to you and the next camper. If you are creating a muddy mess by taking a shower next to your camper, it won’t be an ideal situation. The next camper will also inherit the mess you have left behind so be courteous and thoughtful with where you position your shower and what you do with the wastewater.

Taking a shower while camping is different from taking a shower in your home. You are usually only concerned with specific areas of your body during a quick camping shower rather than scrubbing every inch of your body. An outdoor shower gives you a way to keep your private areas clean when other options aren’t available.

Besides a shower, there are several ways to keep yourself clean and stink-free throughout your camping trip. In the rest of this article, I will take a look at the various ways you can shower outdoors, as well as product recommendations for each.

How Do You Shower Outside When Camping?

Showering outdoors and actually keeping clean while camping can be challenging, especially if you don’t come prepared. Your water source and storage, your camping site, shower gear, and even how often you need to shower are some of the things you need to consider.

It’s also likely that your camping trips are in the summer when the temperature and humidity are at their highest. Spending time outdoors, even while showering regularly, can make you sweaty and stinky in no time!

Here are some ways you can shower when camping:

  • Use the public shower facilities at the campground (if equipped) or other places
  • Use a portable gravity or pocket shower
  • Set up a camping shower tent
  • Sponge down
  • Go swimming

Let’s take a better look at these options.

Use the Public Shower Facilities at the Campground or Other Places

If you’re not camping in a remote wilderness, chances are you will come across a campground with public showers. If your campground isn’t equipped with these, you can find showers in other public places such as gyms and beaches. It’s a treat to find a good campground that has clean showers with hot water. Even in the summer, hot water is rejuvenating and makes you feel nice and clean.

If your campground doesn’t offer a shower, you may be able to leave and use other public showering options. Many van lifers and other full-time RVers have memberships to gyms that allow them to shower regularly. You may be able to find one in the vicinity of your campground in this case.

Many people plan their trips around where these locations are so they know there will always be a place to shower and use the facilities.

If you are staying at a campground that offers an indoor shower, be sure to bring biodegradable soap and shampoo. These are sometimes required to prevent contamination in the area.

The Stream2Sea Eco-Friendly 3-in-1 Body Wash is a great choice. It is also ideal for use as shampoo and conditioner.

Use a Portable Gravity or Pocket Shower

A portable gravity shower is a great option for those who want something light, portable, and easy to pack. It is simply a shower tool that you set up above your head. It relies on gravity to pour out water for you as you bathe.

The only downside to this shower tool is that since it doesn’t use pressure to release water, water flow is quite slow. But hey, it can help you manage your water consumption better.

One popular product on the market is this Advanced Elements Summer Solar Shower. The 5-gallon option will allow you to rinse off and wash all areas of concern. It’s an affordable option that is easy to set up, plus it’s so compact it will take up virtually no space in your RV or tent.

If you are in a place where you are required to collect wastewater, you can use a large plastic tub to stand in. It’s quite difficult to catch everything but you should aim to catch the majority of wastewater when you can.

If you are showering directly on the ground, a portable shower deck will help to keep your feet clean. Without it, you’ll likely be standing in the mud or sand and have dirty feet even after you’ve showered.

Set Up a Camping Shower Tent

If you’re in a crowded campsite without an indoor shower, you can’t simply attach a portable shower to your RV and go do your business. To shower in private, set up a shower tent instead. For this, you can use your gravity shower (or any type of outdoor shower that you like) and set it up inside a shower tent.

Try this GigaTent Shower Tent that you can simply pop up and use as a private space for changing, showering, or potty breaks. Since it has a base, you can easily drain out the gray water for proper disposal afterward.

A shower tent is also a great option if you want to experience some of the comforts of your home bathroom while at camp. Instead of using a gravity shower, you can use this rechargeable WADEO Portable Shower that can pump out water just like your shower at home. It’s pressurized and rechargeable, plus it’s easy to set up and store when you’re done.

Sponge Down

If you’re nowhere near a water source and your water tank is almost dry, try sponging down. All you need is a washcloth, castile soap, and a little water. I recommend Dr. Bronner’s Castile Liquid Soap so you don’t just get clean, but do it in a way that won’t contaminate the natural environment.

Simply pour a few drops of castile soap on your washcloth and use that to wipe yourself down. Then, rinse thoroughly with warm water.

However, if in a pinch, you can simply use sanitary wipes to wipe yourself down. Take note to use biodegradable ones, like these Combat Wipes ACTIVE Outdoor Wet Wipes. Not only are they better for the environment, but they’re also really thick, so they make a nice and sturdy substitute for a washcloth.

Go Swimming

When you’re outdoors, what better way to have a bath than out in nature! If you’re camping anywhere near a clean spring, river, or lake, go and have a dip! It sure beats having to scrimp on water in your shower tent. Plus, you’ll be having lots of fun while cleaning yourself.

So, if you don’t want to worry about the availability of bathwater, you can simply opt for campsites that are near bodies of water. However, if you do go for this option, make sure to use only biodegradable shower products. After all, you won’t want to contaminate the water while you have your fun.


Most campgrounds that don’t have indoor showers do allow outdoor showers. However, they are usually pretty strict about allowing them only if gray water will be properly collected and disposed of. You must also do so in privacy rather than stripping nude for all the campground to see.

Also, remember to only use biodegradable bath products so you don’t contribute to contamination or endanger wildlife in the area.

Dan Collins

I consider myself an outdoor enthusiast. I love to travel and go to places that most people don't get a chance to go. I want to see it all and live life to the fullest while I'm alive. My camper van is helping me to do just that. I write about my experiences to help inspire others to do the same.

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