I understand camping is about roughing it out, but personal hygiene is also important.
Unfortunately, camping leaves you without the luxury of a home bathroom or hotel amenities, so keeping clean becomes challenging.
Even then, I’ve been camping since I was a kid, and hygiene has never been an issue.
Want to know how?
I’ll share the seven ideas on where I usually shower while camping.
1) Signing up for gym membership for free showers
2) Using campground showers
3) Using free public showers
4) Using state park camp showers
5) Using portable showers
6) Using baby wipes
7) Bathing Au Naturel
In the guide below, I’ll delve deeper into each method, and hopefully, it’ll make your camping experience more hygienic and stay fresh.
1) Gym Membership for Free Camping Showers
Should you find yourself on the road and without anywhere to refresh yourself, consider getting a gym membership.
It’s common for most campers to sign up for a gym membership to get the free perks that come with a gym subscription.
For example, I work at Fit 4 Less gym, and we have all the basics, including free weights, squat racks, cable machines, ellipticals, and treadmills.
In addition, we’ve lockers and change rooms for clean-ups. The change rooms are individual stalls, but they still cover all the bases and even allow you to wash your clothes and everything.
Many gyms hardly care or mind members using their facilities to shower, provided you’ve an active subscription.
Our team doesn’t mind campers lingering around or staying too long, and we always have buses and RVs stopping and using the shower like every day.
Of course, you don’t go telling everyone there that you’re in for the shower. Some members might frown on this.
Another important thing is you need to consider gyms with a national presence. Sign up for the popular gyms that you’d be sure to find in even the remotest locations.
Planet Fitness should be a great option, especially for campers who love boondocking.
With only $10 a month, you get free food twice a week, saving you on some of your camping meals.
It’s also open 24 hours a day, so you can check-in at any time. But more importantly, it’s found in many locations.
Even if it’s not an option, gyms such as LA Fitness, Crunch Fitness, Fitness Connections, Fitness For 10- & 24-Hour Fitness will provide a nice place to shit, take a warm water shower, steam rooms, and a locker to store your things.
And during serious weather inclement, a gym will provide a nice shelter and a place to get out of the rain or sun.
And depending on the gym, you might get lucky to get free WIFI and a place to charge devices, even without a subscription plan.
Overall, gyms provide a convenient way for campers to refresh and shower on the road.
While the gym amenities won’t probably solve all your hygiene issues, they’ll leave you in a better position and cleaner.
2) Campground Shower Facilities
I’ve been sticking to private campgrounds primarily because of the convenient access to the washrooms and camping showers.
Most of the campgrounds in the US have showering facilities and laundry rooms.
Many campground washroom facilities are pay-camping showers, so I usually bring rolls of quarters for this and laundromats.
The permanent restrooms and vacuum flushing toilets, which are fairly clean, run throughout the day and will keep you at ease while camping.
I’m usually a big fan of the campground shower facilities because I don’t like to poop in my RV. Plus, our RV camping shower area is small, and the curtain clings to me.
Instead, I prefer using the shower area for the laundry totes.
I use the campground shower facilities for cooking my aching joints with unlimited water. The hot showers soak for an extended session is therapeutic, but unfortunately, it’s not available in our little class C RV.
And sometimes, depending on the campground, you might get lucky to find a clean place for a warm water shower. But don’t always count on that.
I’d recommend you thoroughly research the available campground sites and check their reviews before committing yourself.
Ideally, the perfect campground shower facility should be clean, open all around the clock, and have good water flow (hot shower).
But keep in mind the campground shower facilities can be busy at particular times, especially during the rush hour, after everyone is done for the day.
I usually avoid the long queues by showing up early or late at night.
3) Public Showers
Free public showers are usually not the most convenient showering idea when camping , but I used them during my extended summer camping trip in Southern California.
The public showers are perfect if you’re not afraid of being judged by other users and looking for a free shower.
But the good thing is a few minutes under the public washrooms can be life-changing, especially after a sweaty day in the wilderness.
Most public showers even have outlets, so you’ll also have places to shower and wash your camping gear and essentials.
I usually frequent the BV laundromat public shower, and I love that there’re separate camping showers for both men and women.
It’s typical of the free public showers and comes with a clothes hook and a bench. Privacy isn’t prioritized because the low walls will allow anyone to peer over.
Safety is also another thing because I’m usually not completely comfortable leaving my valuables in the open.
I usually head to the public bathrooms with the bare minimum, leaving most of my valuables locked in the RV. My showers are also quick.
The good thing is that the hot public showers will do a good job cleaning you.
Some public showers are coin-operated. Ensure you’ve some loose coin change with you.
One thing to keep in mind is depending on the local regulations; the city might close the public bathrooms for the off-season. For example, the washrooms are usually closed on holidays.
Most of the public bathrooms are also not run 24 hours. They usually close by 5 pm and do not open on Sundays.
While they seem to keep functioning most of the time, cleanliness is another matter.
I always cringe to see people using the public showers or private showers barefoot or even using them without cleaning them.
Even if the public workers take time to clean the washrooms, they’re usually not thorough.
I always use a disinfectant spray to clean the washroom, then let the shower run for a bit.
Using crocs should be essential. Never use a public shower bathroom.
Flip-flops or shower sandals protect your feet from fungus and other infections such as athletes’ feet and plantar warts.
Public showers could also be filthy and even littered with traces of human waste, even when they look clean.
Generally, the idea for safe use of the public showers is to find one that is well-maintained. But more importantly, you must also take personal safety precautions, such as wearing crocs and disinfecting the washrooms before use.
Understand that these measures are not unique to public showers but to any public facility.
4) State parks
Most state parks won’t guarantee shower facilities, but a few do have this option.
I’m used to showering at state parks in Texas, and they’ve been a life savior, considering I don’t like showering in my camper van.
Usually, state parks with shower facilities are coin-operated. The token showers are a regular thing in the US, and it helps with the upkeep of the shower block and the hot shower water.
I know the token thing is a bit inconvenient, considering you’ve already paid for the park fee and don’t know beforehand.
It’s even more challenging to use if there’s no attendant t break the twenty-dollar bill for quarters.
Still, it’s an affordable way to clean, making sense.
But I might as well add that state parks in Wisconsin and Iowa are free to use if you walk or bike into the park.
Also, most state park showering facilities are usually not operated at night. The operators often leave at dusk for the night, so if you’re smart, you could shower, charge up, and camp for free.
Finally, ensure you bring biodegradable soap ad shampoos with you.
5) Portable Camp Shower
I’m a big fan of the campground and state park shower facilities, but unfortunately, the quality of some facilities is usually a hit or miss.
Even within the same campground, there’re some nicer shower stalls than others.
We always bring portable shower solutions to avoid all of the inconveniences with public shower facilities.
The portable shower solutions make even more sense, especially with the COVID regulations and everything. It means the showers and other shared facilities are closed or have restricted use.
I’m a big fan of the portable shower, thanks to their convenience and money-saving approach. I find myself bathing more with a portable shower than I would visit the campground showers.
The convenience of the portable showers is also unmatched.
I remember I bought my battery-powered pump in 2015 after waiting for nearly two hours one night after someone waffle stomped in one of the campground showers stalls.
And before then, the showers were so clogged that I was standing in dirty water past my ankles.
Today, I usually carry a small solar camping shower with me if I stay off the beaten paths or car camping. I can always have a shower when I need to.
I simply need to find a branch and tie up the shower and be ready to take a bath.
We’ve also added a Nemo Helio Pressurized Camp Shower, which we love.
It’s one of the best investments we’ve made, and we’ve used it probably more than a hundred times now.
It allows us to get a hot, satisfying camping shower at no extra cost.
The water on the solar showers can also get super-hot on sunny days and hot enough for me to empty some and add cold water to adjust the temperature.
My only concern with the portable water solutions is the inconvenience of filling your camping shower bags with water.
And if the water stations are a bit far, you’ll find the experience challenging.
These camping shower solutions will also require creating a makeshift bathroom, pop-up shower tent, or privacy shelter.
6) Baby Wipes
The showering options are often quite limited if we’re boondocking in an area without a toilet, bathroom, or any washroom facilities.
But not when you’ve wet wipes.
I’m a retired military officer and can tell you that baby wipes are also a thing.
We used them in our ops, and they were good for the touch-up of the smelly bits and as an alternative outdoor shower.
My better half was also iffy about using the wipes at first, but with no running water around, she had to, and the experience was amazing.
Baby wipes, also known as hygiene wipes, are a great way to keep clean and maintain personal hygiene, especially if there’s no running water or conventional washroom facilities.
I love the wet wipes, especially when I head out to pretty dusty places, and I don’t want to get in my sleeping bed while covered in dirt.
The wipes are also amazing and help with foot care. I’ve sensitive skin, and the wipes don’t trigger any allergic reaction or cause unpleasantness.
The trick to using a baby wipe is ensuring you don’t sweat too much while camping. The hygiene wipes will work well to clean up your bits and parts.
I’d also recommend using the non-scented hygiene wipes. I understand the scented options are appealing, but in the wild, the scents will attract black flies, deer flies, mosquitoes, etc.
Most pesky insects love the fruity and sweet scents you typically get from shampoos, soaps, deo, and a baby wipe.
Biodegradable baby wipes should also be your friend. If you’re a responsible camper, it makes sense to invest in baby wipes that won’t harm the environment.
I use the Unscented Dude wipe Camping Shower Wipes. They’re unscented and fortified with Vitamins and other useful essentials such as aloe.
Using these biodegradable wipes feels refreshing, especially when you’re resting for the day and wiping all the dust and dirt from the day.
Plus, they’re huge, and a single wipe allows me to get my whole body clean and leaves my bits feeling great and clean.
I’ve been using these for the longest time and only need washing hair with shampoo and water instead of a full camping shower.
7) Bathing Au Naturel
If you’re camping near a river, creek, stream, hot springs, or lake, take advantage!
Simply take a dip and scrub yourself thoroughly for a clean.
Lake swims are usually my favorite. Swimming is therapeutic, and when you add the cleaning benefits, you enjoy your sessions even more.
However, you first need to ensure that the relevant authorities permit swimming or cleaning in a lake.
If you’re insanely eco-conscious, I’d suggest using biodegradable and environmentally safe soaps and shampoos.
If possible, don’t use these soaps directly in the water streams as the surfactants can seriously harm the critters in the water.
Finally, if you’re bathing in a stream, do it downstream, where you’re collecting your drinking/cooking water.
Camping Shower Accessories
If you plan on using the public camping shower facilities while camping, there’re a few accessories or rather essentials you need to have.
The three main accessories that I never miss packing include:
1) Small towel
Fluffy towels are soft on the skin, but they might not be ideal for camping.
They’re bulky and usually take up a lot of space. They also take time to dry.
Instead, I usually take with me a small microfiber towel. It has nice absorption properties and dries quite fast, so I’ll unlikely deal with mildew or anything.
These towels are also extremely compact for easy storage and great portability.
I’ve seen campers go to the washrooms barefoot, but it’s unsafe and will put you at risk of collecting germs.
Having sandals or flip-flops will save your feet from transferring germs and causing fungal infections.
It’s a simple precaution to save you from infections and the gross environment.
3) Carry your shampoo
Finally, few campgrounds offer bathing shampoo and conditioners.
So, consider bringing your preferred choice of shampoo to your next adventure.
Campground Courtesy: 8 Communal Camping Shower Etiquette Rules to Follow
If you’ve never been anywhere with shared camping showers before, I know you’re wondering whether there’re any rules for it.
Yes, there’re, and some are, unspoken rules you should adhere to. Most of these rules are common sense and obvious.
Some of the guidelines to follow include:
1) It’s always necessary to comply with the bylaws of the governing camping in the recreational areas and nature reserves.
Usually, the laws are there for your safety and to protect the vulnerable flora and fauna.
For example, if your state park restricts washroom usage to 9 pm, understand that you’ll be at risk by visiting past the specified time.
2) A reasonable time limit for showering is 5 to 7 minutes. Yes, fellow campers won’t time you, but don’t just keep them waiting for 30 minutes.
3) Public decency is also important when sharing communal facilities. I’ve heard people have sex in the public camping showers, and I assume most people would prefer it if you didn’t do that.
4) Get used to being on a line, and don’t skip other people. The camping shower queues can get pretty long, especially during the rush hours, so always exercise patience and don’t be a jerk trying to cut everyone else.
The cardinal rule on the pressurized camping showers is usually on a first-come, first-serve basis.
5) It’s also good to respect the campground workers, especially those maintaining the washrooms and everything.
Most campers are usually cleaned every morning, so it’s quite demeaning to go during the cleaning period. You can hold it for a few extra minutes.
6) Leave the washroom stall as you found it. Don’t mess with the washrooms or leave garbage in there. It cases clogging, and it’s gross.
7) Close your camping shower curtain.
On more than one occasion, I’ve found that people don’t close their curtains, and it may open yourself to lot of attention. Leaving your curtain open is different from the curtain peeking open.
8) A camping shower isn’t a toilet.
It’s not cool, and I bet you wouldn’t want someone else doing t before you. So, you shouldn’t do it either.
9) Ladies, please collect your fallen hair and throw it out. Nothing is gross than seeing loose hair everywhere.
Also, don’t take out and leave your used tampons in the washroom. It’s so disgusting!
10) The final one isn’t an etiquette tip but a pro tip.
Always get dressed back at the campsite. It’s more convenient and time-saving than having to bring your clothes/bathing suit, drop them into the ground and get them soaked.
Other than that, using a communal camping facility isn’t any different from the public restroom etiquette.
There’re some things no one should tell you, but again, not everyone has home training.
To sum it up, don’t be a jerk/dick. Don’t be weird, and don’t overthink it.
Not too much more to it.
Wrap Up: 7 Outdoor Shower Ideas When Camping
There you’ve it; you’ve a list of the best places or tent camping shower ideas.
Our list is by no means definitive, but it offers some of the most convenient camping shower ideas for different types of campers.
Other handy camp showering ideas include visiting public swimming pools, recreational centers, truck stops, and national parks for a shower session.
Nevertheless, if you plan to use public restrooms such as campsite bathrooms, suggest planning for your camping shower times.
Secondly, always take safety precautions when using the bathrooms. Also, have situational awareness to keep your valuable from the prying hands.
And finally, having some etiquette and awareness about surroundings will go a long way!