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22 Water Saving Tips for Caravan and camping

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Water Saving Tips and Tricks

Our fresh water set up

We often free camp and park off grid. With that in mind we have to consider saving water. 

We had an extra 80 litre water-tank fitted when we bought our van. Consequently we have a total of 160 litres when full. This can, if we are frugal, last us 2 weeks.

As I normally say, this is not for everyone, everyone is different!

Some tips might be good for the hard core water savers amongst us.

Washing up:

Depending on what pans and plates are used you can save heaps of water. Consider some of these ideas.

1. Cook one pot meals to cut down on pans.

2. Cook on a Camp Fire or BBQ.

3. Use paper plates and bowls for some meals. If they are still usable kids can draw or make things from them. You can put them on the fire at night (Follow fire restrictions) or bag them up and take them with you.

4. Wipe plates down with a damp paper towel after eating. Get rid of the bulk food. That way it’s easier to wash when you do wash-up. This also stops food bits going down the drain and smelling.

5. If possible, do just one wash at night. One wash will save more water then lots of washes.

6. If you have cooked in a pan or used a large bowl, use this as your sink. Uses less water then your sink and cleans the pan at same time.


One of the biggest water consumers is the shower.

7. When you need a shower wet yourself down then turn off the water. Soap up and apply shampoo. Once your all soaped up, wash off.

8. Use an all in one shampoo and conditioner, saves rinsing twice.

9. Have a good wash in the sink instead. The old flannel comes in very handy. Taking care of your face, your pits and your important bits.

washcloth and nail brush in bowl

10. Don’t have water on full if you don’t need to or buy a water saving shower head.

11. Save the cold water that first comes out of the shower in a jug/container. Use this for cooking or put it back in your tank. You could also use it for your toilet or spray bottle (see toilet tips below)

12. Dry Shampoo is great! It works on my light hair very well. Only a little spray on the roots of greasy hair. You’re then set for a few more days.

Dry shampoo for camping and water saving


13. Don’t flush if you’re only having a pee. Use a spray bottle with water and Thetford Aqua Rinse. Just spray and walk away.


14. Cleaning the inside of your toilet. Water saving here can be achieved with baby wipes. Add a couple of drops of tea tree oil or other antibacterial oil. Always dispose of in the bin not the toilet.

Please see our “10 toilet tips and tricks” here.

Washing Hands:

However much water saving you want to achieve, you still have to clean your hands!

15. Get a pump soap dispenser not a bar of soap. Soap up and scrub away. Turn the tap on very low and rinse off.

16. Wipe hands with wet wipes. Put some tea tree oil or similar antibacterial oil on them. We also carry some in the car for when we empty the cassette toilet.

17. Hand sanitiser is also an option in some circumstances.


18. Wash in the sink or in a bucket outside with a plunger.

DIY washing machine

19. Put a lid on the bucket and leave it in the shower while driving. You let the movement of the van agitate and clean the clothes.

20. You can also buy a manual washing machine.

manual washing machine

21. Use wool wash laundry liquid to wash your clothes. You do not need to rinse your clothes as you do with normal liquids or powder. This is something I didn’t think would work, but it does 😀

wool wash



22. Wet wipes are great for wiping down everything from surfaces, bathrooms to faces. Keep them in a plastic container to keep them fresh.


Bonus tip: Drink beer not water 😉

save water by drinking beer bottles at sunset

Do you have any more water saving tips? share them in the comments below.

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    • Denise Dwyer
    • August 30, 2017

    I purchased a collapsible wash bowl that is smaller than my sink, this sits inside the sink and uses a lot less water when freecamping.

      • Sharon
      • September 1, 2017

      I use soap nuts or soap berries and add a couple of drops of my favorite essential oil no need to rinse.

        • Annie
        • September 3, 2017

        Doo you just throw the nuts into a bucket and alow to wash as you travel ? Also what oil do you use, and is it a neccessity ? TIA

        • SueSue
        • September 1, 2017

        Thanks Sharon,
        I have never heard of these, just had to Google 🙂 Very interesting would love to try them.

      • SueSue
      • August 30, 2017

      Great idea Denise! Those collapsible’s are great. I have only seen the large ones, I will have to keep a look out for the smaller ones 🙂

    • Caroline Chown
    • August 31, 2017

    Instead of using flannels to wash ‘bits and bobs’ we use large baby wipes.

    • Terry
    • August 31, 2017

    When having a shower stand in a bowl use a 12v shower with pump in a bucket, the wife first wet down soap and rinse, you use her water to wet down drop the clothes both of you have been wearing jump up and down very slowly one foot at a time rinse off, after drying wring out
    and rinse with the balance of clean water. Total 6lts


    • Marie
    • August 31, 2017

    Have a bucket with a little water in it for washing hands thru the day, especially handy with ankle biters. Change water when it is dirtier than the hands. Use the dirty bucket water to flush the toilet.

  1. I don’t understand your tip to wash up dishes in the evening. Don’t you have breakfast? We do ALL our dishes in the morning – after breakfast. That’s why we’re often later on the road than most…

      • SueSue
      • September 1, 2017

      Hi juergen,
      We are on the road full time and often stop for a few days or weeks. Therefor we wash our dishes at night.
      As I say in the post everyone is different!
      You make a good point for those that are stopping for one night, after breakfast would be the way to go.

    • Cherie
    • August 31, 2017

    No keen on creating rubbish.
    We need to stop this throw away mindset….our rubbish ends up somewhere….filling the earth with non compostable, non recyclable waste is NOT sustainable!

    Put a little thought into alternatives.

    Perhaps edible bowls/plates like tortillas used in mexican meals is an option.
    Maybe serve a small bun or piece of bread to wipe down the plate at the end of a meal to clean off the scrapings.
    Casserole, thick soup served in a crusty bun.
    More one serve dish meals using torn up pita or similar to dip/pile up and eat individually.

      • SueSue
      • September 1, 2017

      Thanks for your comment Cherie.
      You have some great and tasty ideas!

    • Dave Toseland
    • August 31, 2017

    Sue, hi there, can you please yell me where you got the map from , what a great way to show friends your travels, stay safe thanks Dave

      • SueSue
      • September 2, 2017

      Hi Dave, the map is a wordpress plugin called “google maps easy” It takes a little bit of configuring but not too hard to work out. We tried a couple and found this one the best even as the free version.

    • Kazza
    • September 1, 2017

    Keep a bowl of water in the sink with a drop of detergent (optional) for rinsing coffee/tea cups or glasses etc, items. Then reuse this water for the big wash up adding more detergent and hot water!

      • Pat
      • September 5, 2017

      Great idea will start doing this

      • SueSue
      • September 1, 2017

      Awesome tip! Thanks for that one Kazza 😀

    • Sandy
    • September 2, 2017

    Thanks for your tips Sue, a lot of those things I do at home, I don’t flush after every twinkle. 30 yrs ago, went camping, used the melted block ice from the esky to heat & wash the dishes with. While I’m home, I let the dog lick the plate clean then put it in the dish washer, which I only use once a week lol

      • SueSue
      • September 2, 2017

      I love the ice out of the esky idea Sandy. I wish I would have thought of that when we used to camp.

    • Janine
    • September 3, 2017

    Thanks for all the tips. My husband and I are new to caravaning and I am sure I will use lots of the tips.

    • Meg
    • September 4, 2017

    We use a 4lt garden pressure pump spray for a quick shower when water is limited.. Cut the long arm down to 1/3 to make it easier & drilled out the hole in the end to 2mm.. Wet down, bit of a soap up then spray off..

    • Val
    • September 5, 2017

    If you are camped near water, use this water to flush the toilet, wash clothes in and boil up to do washing up (we keep a separate billy for boiling this water). A cheap spray bottle of water is very effective at washing potatoes after peeling, flushing the loo after No 1s, and rinsing off plates etc.

      • SueSue
      • September 5, 2017

      Great tips Val, thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Liz
    • September 12, 2017

    We carry spare water in plastic collapsable containers in our shower recess, then tip some into a bucket say ⅔ full, boil a kettle and add to bucket to get correct temp, then use a 12 volt shower, one person with a good hairwash uses ¾ of a bucket turning it off while soaping up. Saves using the water in the tank.

      • SueSue
      • September 12, 2017

      Thanks for that tip Liz 🙂

    • Helen
    • September 13, 2017

    we use antibacterial wipes for cleaning, with large ones for the floor. When used I lay them to dry, place in a bag & reuse as paper for lighting our camp fire. No water, no waste!

      • SueSue
      • September 13, 2017

      Thank’s for that tip Helen.
      I was wondering if they would burn in the fire, good to know!

  2. I save the water used to boil the veggies and use it to give the plates, cutlery and the ( usually one other pot) a “pre clean” before actually washing them. That way you use a lot less water than you normally would to clean as there are no food solids to dirty the water. Whilst on the subject of saving, not a water tip but a gas one. I use a three burner stove and cook on the outer two burners. When I cook, I put a third pot with water and a lid on it on the unlit middle burner. The waste heat from cooking then heats my water for washing up, free hot water 🙂 Once I finish cooking, I move the water to sit on the heated support stand over the largest burner I have used, keeps it hot while I eat.

    • SueSue
    • September 14, 2017

    Hi David,
    Firstly sorry your message didn’t show up strait away. It can take longer in some cases.
    Thanks for your tips they are great. I love your idea of using the heat from the turned of gas for warming water.
    Happy travels

      • David B
      • September 15, 2017

      No worries Sue, glad you liked the suggestion.

    • Bernie
    • September 25, 2017

    We have a lot of our meals pre-prepared and then cryovac them. Things like casseroles, curries etc. They are in the freezer unitl we need them.
    When we go to have one for dinner, we boil the water and put the cryovac meal into the pot and let it warm up for us to eat.
    The water that we used to warm the meal is then used for tea or coffee or for washing up. That way we can get 3 uses out of the same amount of water.

      • LazLaz
      • September 25, 2017

      Good tip, thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Ulle
    • February 20, 2018

    My favourite water saving tip is. 2/3 white vinegar and 1/3 dish liquid in a spray bottle, just a small squirt on dishes, pots etc and a light water rinse or if water is very tight, wipe off with a paper towel.

      • SueSue
      • February 20, 2018

      HI Ulle
      I do love cleaning with white vinegar and baking soda. This is a new one for me though. I will have to give it a go.
      Thanks for your tip 😀

    • Blue McKay
    • March 24, 2018

    When free camping we have a 12v camping shower set up in the shower cubicle of the van and a 10 litre water container.
    I find we use a much less water this way and know exactly how much water we are using, also no cold water loss waiting for the hot stuff to arrive.
    When requiring hot water we just fill the kettle out of the container, heat it and return to the container. I find 2l of very hot water blended with 8l of cold is sufficient.
    There are 2 of us and can both have a reasonable shower out of 8 to 10 litres.


      • LazLaz
      • March 24, 2018

      Thanks for sharing Blue 🙂

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