Water is probably one of the most limiting factors when it comes to boondocking. If you run out of water and don’t have a way to get more, your trip is going to be cut short and you won’t be able to enjoy your boondocking location for as long. That’s why I’m excited to be sharing these tips for saving water while boondocking!
Quick note, we live and travel in our RV full-time. If you are boondocking in a different kind of vehicle, most of these tips will still apply to you.
There’s two main areas that you can focus on to save the most water. The kitchen and the bathroom.
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Tips for saving water in the kitchen
Naturally, we tend to use a lot of water in the kitchen. Cooking water, washing dishes, cleaning up, drinking water…it’s amazing how fast we can go through it! Here are some kitchen tips we’ve learned for saving water while boondocking.
1 – Use disposable items when you’re able
Using disposable items cuts down on water usage fast! Less items to wash definitely means less water used. We like to use:
- Paper plates
- Paper bowls
- Plastic utensils
- Plastic cups
- Disposable foil sheet pans
Because our RV is our home, we use real plates and silverware on a regular basis, but whenever we’re boondocking we use as many of these disposable items as we possibly can.
It also helps for you to store any leftovers in plastic bags instead of reusable leftover containers (which we usually use when we’re not boondocking).
2 – Rinse/wash dishes after every meal
Inevitably, there’s usually a handful of dishes that we end up using each meal. Usually these are pots and pans and serving utensils.
I try to rinse and/or wash them as soon as possible to avoid food drying and getting stuck on them. Doing this right away saves you water in the long run. If you have a dish that has food stuck in it, rinse your other dishes over it and let it soak for a while. Dawn Powerwash Spray is helpful as well.
3 – Wash your dishes in a bucket
Another thing to keep in mind is that your grey tank can fill up quickly when you’re washing dishes. I like to collect most of the water in my collapsible dish pan.
Rather than dumping the water down the sink, you can either throw it outside or use it to flush your toilet if needed.
4 – Turn off your ice maker
If you have a residential refrigerator with a built in ice-maker, be sure and turn the ice-maker off.
We usually make sure that our ice supply is full before heading out to go boondocking since Tucker likes to use a lot of ice.
5 – Prep as much food in advance as you can
This is one of my favorite tips. If you’re looking for one of the main ways for saving water while boondocking, this is it!
Food prep means a lot of dishes and water to rinse fruits and veggies. I like to do as much of this before we head out boondocking as I can. I usually:
- Prepare/cut up any meat
- Wash and cut any fruits and vegetables
- Put meals together in advance in disposable foil sheet pans ready to cook
- Bake any sweet treats that we may want in advance
Obviously this requires planning your meals out in advance which you will likely want to do anyways if you’re not dry camping within close distance of a grocery store.
6 – Use Lysol wipes to clean up the counters
Normally I use a soapy washrag to clean up the kitchen, but if I’m trying to conserve water then Lysol wipes (or something similar) work great and don’t require any water.
7 – Bring extra water jugs
When we’re going boondocking we usually bring several extra water jugs. We use them for drinking water, making tea, and for the dogs.
We save our water jugs and refill them when we can to use for the dogs, brushing teeth, watering plants, and flushing the toilet.
Tips for saving water in the bathroom
Ok, now that we’ve covered kitchen tips, let’s move on to the bathroom! Definitely another high water usage area in our RV.
8 – Stretch showers out farther than you normally would
Now I’m not saying to go 2 weeks without showering haha! But if you would normally shower every day, try to stretch it to every-other-day, or even every three days.
Dry shampoo and messy buns are a girl’s best friend when boondocking lol! No, but seriously, dry shampoo helps a lot.
You can also use wet wipes to “wash” your body in-between showers. There are even specific wipes made for boondockers. We haven’t personally used them, but I have friends who have used Venture Wipes and loved them!
9 – Take military-style showers
When you do shower, make sure to use the least amount of water possible. Turn the water off whenever you’re not actively using it and shower as quickly as you can. This is one of the main tips for saving water while boondocking.
10 – Use a water-saving shower head
We have an Oxygenics Fury shower head that was made specifically for RVers. It’s designed to save water while increasing water pressure at the same time.
This is one of the items in our list of 11 essential items for boondocking!
11 – Shower together
The saying “Save water, shower together” is actually true, as long as you stay focused haha!
12 – Catch shower water to repurpose
Use a bucket in the bottom of the shower to collect extra water while you’re showering. You can then repurpose this soapy water to use for flushing toilets or washing your hands with later on.
13 – Use a small cup to catch water for shaving
We use a small plastic cup in the shower to catch water to use for shaving. This makes it easy to rinse your razor out without having to use extra water.
14 – Use public bathhouses when they’re available
Sometimes campgrounds without hookups will offer camp bathhouses. Take advantage of these when you can. You’ll be able to take longer showers and you won’t have to worry about filling your gray tank up as fast!
15 – Turn off the water pump when flushing liquids
If you’re only flushing liquids down the toilet, then turn off your water pump to save your freshwater. You can also use your collected shower water to flush anything down the toilet if you are wanting to avoid using freshwater completely. Make sure that you use enough water with toilet paper to avoid any black tank clogs.
How to get more water without leaving your boondocking location
Following these tips will help you save water but eventually, you will run out. We enjoy boondocking for long periods of time so we came up with a solution for getting more water.
You can read all about our system to get water while boondocking in our Complete Guide to Boondocking for Beginners but I’ll add a short breakdown of what we do here as well. We start with our 33-gallon fresh water tank. After that water supply is used we refill water.
We use a water bladder and fill it up at a state park, national park, truck stop, or really anywhere we can find fresh potable water. We fill it up in the bed of our truck and then transport it to wherever our RV is parked.
Tucker then uses a water pump to transfer the water flow through our Clearsource water filter and into our RV. Using this system, along with our solar panels, we are able to extend our boondocking stays quite a bit!
If you are near enough to a body of water like a lake or a river, you can use a Clearsource Nomad to filter safe water directly into your rig!
I hope you’ve found these water saving tips helpful and that they allow you to stay out in nature even longer! Have any other water conservation tips that would help others with saving water while boondocking? Feel free to drop them down in the comments below!