Water Conservation Tips for your RV

2017 a man charging gas on his RV in Hiawatha, Iowa

It’s something every new RV owner endures at least once. You’ve finally found the perfect camp site, far from the crowds (and a water supply) and you’re happily enjoying your mobile little home at the campsite. Cooking, cleaning, bathing – all the comforts of home. Then it happens – no more water. Not even a trickle. Dry.

Knowing how many gallons your water tank holds and understanding what that means in practice comes with experience. You need to be able to convert the gallons in your tank into how many dish washings, showers, or jugs of KoolAid you can get out of your water tank. For most RV newcomers, it’s not nearly as many as they assume.

How can you avoid running out of water on your next RV trip? One common mistake people make is failing to fill their hot water heater tank at the same time they fill the fresh water tank. If you fill the hot water heater using the water pump when you are at the campsite, it just to moves it from the fresh water tank to the water heater tank, when you could have increased your water capacity by filling the water heater ahead of time.

Once on the road, there are three main areas of the RV where you need to conserve water.

In the kitchen

Never run water down the drain, ever. Catch it and find a secondary use for it.

When doing dishes, don’t rinse with running water – fill a basin and rinse in there. Regardless of what your mother may have told you, the residue of a couple of soap suds on your dishes never killed anyone. Then find a use for the rinse water once the dishes are done.

Never run the water just to let it warm up. Instead, run the water into a pan, heat it up on the stove and then transfer it to wherever you need it.

Bring full water jugs for cooking or drinking water (KoolAid included).


The shower is usually the biggest culprit for unnecessary water usage in a camper. Try to cut back – you’re camping after all. Go for that rugged, rustic look.

If you can’t deal with skipping your daily bath entirely, at least be quick about it. Sponge baths (aka the Navy Shower) are your friend. Another option – use pre-moistened body wipes for sponge baths.

Use dry shampoos to extend the times between hair washing.

If you must shower in the RV, the one of the best ways to save water is get wet, shut the shower off and soap up, and then turn the shower back on to rinse off. Use biodegradable, low suds soap that doesn’t take as long to rinse off.

You may want to consider using a shower bag for a sun shower. Each bag generally holds five gallons and can be used both for its intended purpose – heating water in the sun to shower with outside – and also to carry extra water, provided that you have the weight carrying capacity – 5 gallons weighs 40 pounds.

Toilet usage

One of the great attractions of an RV is having your own bathroom facilities in the unit. But, toilet flushing is also a significant drain on your water resources. While we’re not saying you should never use your toilet, there are several steps you can take to reduce water consumption in this area.

  • Use campground toilets when possible.
  • Always try to reuse water from kitchen or other uses for flushing toilets.
  • Avoid flushing toilet paper where possible. Instead, deposit in a plastic bag and put it in the trash.
  • Wash hands and clean the bathroom with pre-moistened cleaning wipes.
  • And finally, not to be crude or anything, but if it’s yellow let it mellow. You know the rest.

At Ketelsen RV, we offer comprehensive RV education for every unit we sell. If you have any questions, either before or after the sale, or if you’d like to take an RV for a test drive, call or stop and one of our RV experts will be happy to answer all your questions.

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