RV water saving tips

12 RV Water-Saving Tips

Updated on January 16th, 2024

Water is essential for life, and this is especially true while camping. On average, an American uses about 9,400 gallons of water each year, which breaks down to roughly 180 gallons per week. This includes both direct and indirect water usage. However, when it comes to RV camping, the constraints of smaller holding tanks and other limitations mean that RVers need to adapt by minimizing their water usage.

In this article, I’ll reveal my RV water-saving tips.

RV Water Needs

To effectively manage water usage while RV camping, it’s a good idea to have a grasp of the RV water system, which includes understanding fresh water storage, wastewater management, and essential system maintenance.

In an RV, water is typically sourced either from an external faucet and hose setup or stored internally in below-floor tanks. This water is then pumped to various fixtures within the RV for use. After use, the water becomes wastewater; water from sinks and showers is categorized as “gray” water and is collected in a designated gray water tank.

RV water needs

Wastewater from the toilets, on the other hand, is directed to the “black” water tank. This differentiation is vital for effective waste management. The RV’s plumbing allows for the gray water to be expelled as needed, which is relatively straightforward.

However, handling black water requires more attention. It’s advisable to wait until the black water tank is about three-quarters full before emptying it. This practice ensures a proper balance between liquids and solids, facilitating easier and more efficient disposal. If the tank is emptied prematurely, you might end up with a tank clogged with solids – a situation best avoided for a hassle-free camping experience. Regular maintenance and understanding of these nuances will ensure a smooth and environmentally friendly RV adventure.

How Much Water You Need

When planning for water usage during camping, several factors come into play, including the type of vehicle you have, the features of your campsite, the duration of your camping trip, and your ability to conserve water.

The capacity for fresh and waste water storage varies significantly depending on the size of your RV. Large motorhomes typically come equipped with more substantial tanks compared to their smaller trailer counterparts. To make informed decisions, it’s essential to refer to your RV’s documentation, which should provide detailed information about the size of all onboard tanks.

RV waste water

Understanding the amenities at your campsite is also important.

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Does the site offer water and sewer connections, or will you be dry camping, meaning you’ll have no external water or sewer hookups?

This knowledge directly impacts how you manage your water supply and waste.

Another important consideration is the length of your camping trip or the interval between opportunities to refill and empty your tanks. The longer you plan to stay without access to water and dump facilities, the more critical water conservation becomes.

Speaking of conservation, it’s wise to acquaint yourself with various water-saving strategies. These can range from simple practices like turning off the tap while brushing your teeth, to more advanced techniques like installing water-efficient fixtures. The methods you choose should align with both the specific requirements of your camping trip and your personal preferences. Remember, some water-saving strategies might be straightforward to implement, while others may require more effort or investment. The key is to find a balance that works for your camping style and needs, ensuring you have enough water without overburdening your system.

12 Water-Saving Tips

Water saving tips
  1. Use public toilets and showers as available.
  2. Cook in coated cookware that is easier to wipe out.
  3. Use paper towels to wipe dirty dishes before washing them.
  4. Use vegetable-based soap or vinegar in a spray bottle to wash dishes to reduce the need for rinsing.
  5. Steam vegetables instead of boiling them to use less water.
  6. When washing and brushing your teeth, turn on the water, wet your hands or brush, and turn off the water before cleaning.
  7. Use wet wipes to clean up between showers.
  8. Install a water-saving shower head (if not already equipped) with an ON/OFF switch.
  9. When showering: rinse, turn off water, lather, rinse again.
  10. Wear short hair, if possible, to reduce water consumption when showering.
  11. If boondocking in a private location, set two 1-liter bottles of water in the sun to warm up for hot water outdoor showers.
  12. Wash clothes at a laundromat, in a hand-operated clothes washer, or in a 5-gallon bucket with a clean toilet plunger.


I hope this article was helpful and a quick read. We only realize how valuable water really is when we run out. See my article on dry camping for more water-saving tips.

How to Conserve Water When Boondocking (Video)

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