Vanlife Hygiene

The truth is vanlife is dirty. It’s a constant battle to keep dirt out of the van because of all of our glorious time spent in nature. Plus, we have a dog. Nuff’ said. Woof.


So How do we stay clean?

First, we accept discomfort. Sometimes we just feel grimier than is comfortable, thanks to hot summer days and our super human being ability of perspiration! Hot showers are not a daily part of vanlife. For example, last year I went for one month without a hot shower.

But it is this discomfort in part that fuels our growth…

We are forced to let go of conditioning, discover our true needs, and come up with creative solutions.

We create systems within our tiny living space to meet our true hygienic needs. I say “true” because there’s a lot of misleading information backed by gaggles of advertising dollars influencing our desire for products that we don’t really need.

Also, hygiene for us is a ritual. A time to slow down, get grounded and check in with what we need… a key to balance on the road.

The following are the systems we use. We have multiple systems because our circumstances like time and environment are always shifting. For example, if we are in a Walmart parking lot and need to feel clean, we opt for the good ol’ hippy bath (see below for details). If we are in the wild and near a river, we may choose to fill up our hot shower system and take a glorious shower under the stars. And if we pass a crystal clear glacier lake, well, we get naked and leap.


The vanlife shower systems we use

  • HotWater-Washcloth (aka the hippy bath). Heat up water on the stove, use a wash cloth (cleaning it quickly by pouring boiling water over it) with a few drops of Dr. Bronner’s soap. Wash the body parts that matter, pour more water over the cloth and then again wipe down the bits. End here or keep going until clean.
  • Travel Bidet. This affordable little thing has saved my life hygienically. To use, fill with warm water, take a couple drops of an earth-friendly soap like Dr. Bronners, step outside under the stars, and wash. For me to wash my entire body and hair, it takes about five rounds with a filled bidet. It’s incredible. You can buy the exact one we use here.
  • DIY Shower. Corey made a DIY shower in the beginning of our vanlife that is mounted to our roof. It’s affordable, easy to make, and best of all when it’s hot outside, the water inside actually warms up! Here are our instructions for the DIY vanlife shower.
  • A Real Hot Shower! Sometimes we stay in a campground or visit a friend and enjoy a real hot shower. And currently we are product testing a van shower and hope to share it soon!
  • Ocean, rivers, lakes, waterfalls and lakes. Nothing beats water in its true form. Clean water is essential for all of life here on Earth so we do not use soap in or near a water source.

Vanlife has given us the time and space to cut through our conditioned perception of dirt as bad, while at the same time honoring our hygienic needs. Vanlife unravels the bullshit and helps us re-member what is real. 


A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself.

– Franklin D. Roosevelt


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  • Callen Hearne August 30, 2016  

    Bomber advice. Hippy shower is def on my radar for Walmart nights. Thank fam

    • Emily king September 1, 2016  

      Thanks for reading! Hehe, yup, the Walmart shower is perfect for sticky Walmart nights. Live the dream. Much love!

  • Trudy-Anne September 8, 2016  

    How do you shave your legs? I will be hitting the road in a few months and I have not yet figured out how to pull this off.

    • Emily king September 19, 2016  

      Honestly sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t, depending on convenience. I no longer feel that I need to shave as a societal norm. I shave when it feels good and I have time. Like in a campground or a friend’s shower. There’s a great sense of freedom in perfectly imperfect either way. Cheers to you on your journey!! You will find what works for you!!

  • Tiny November 26, 2016  

    I lived the van life for about 3 or 4 years. I was about 62 or 63 when I started. I learned soooo much from that time. One of the things was not to shave. And in Europe it is considered sexy for women to have body hair everywhere! I can say I am fair haired and complected, so it was noticable, but not unless you really looked at my legs, and I would occassionally underarm shave if I started to get B.O. Didn’t suffer that all the time so maybe due to ill health or something from time to time. I am 70 now and really don’t much care what people think of my outward appearance. It is true that beauty in from within, and anyone worth knowing knows this, if they don’t mark them off as one of the billions of people that just aren’t worth the effort for YOU!

  • Kat January 26, 2017  

    what soap you use?

    • Emily king January 27, 2017  

      Hey Kat! We use and love Dr. Bronners. 🙂