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Van Life Hygiene: A Guide to Staying Clean on the Road

This post was updated on September 26th, 2023

When we talk about van life, cleanliness, and hygiene often become hot topics. But living in a van doesn’t have to mean compromising on comfort. In this guide, we’ll tackle the top questions every newbie van lifer has: How do you keep your van clean? Can you maintain daily personal hygiene? How do you deal with laundry? And what are the best portable shower solutions? Rest assured, achieving a hygienic lifestyle on the road is easier than you think, and you don’t need the latest gadgets or a ‘castle on wheels’ to pull it off.

A Comprehensive Guide to Van Cleaning: Basics to Deep-Cleans

Kick off your van life journey on a clean note. Sure, small spaces like vans can make keeping a luxury-level comfort tough, but it’s far from impossible. With the right organization and tools, you can maintain a spick-and-span environment even as you live the nomadic dream.

The Must-Haves: Essential Cleaning Supplies

  • Portable vacuum cleaner (opt for one with wet and dry capabilities)
  • Disinfectant sprays for various surfaces
  • Glass cleaner for windows
  • Fabric cleaner for upholstery

Step 1: Deep Cleaning—It’s Like Spring Cleaning but for Your Van

Don’t skimp on this. At least once in a while, deep-clean your van by:

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  • Disinfecting surfaces you frequently touch
  • Washing removable fabric items like curtains, blankets, and pillows
  • Vacuuming every nook and cranny

Step 2: Daily Maintenance for Long-lasting Cleanliness

Don’t let dirt and clutter accumulate:

  • Dust daily and vacuum as needed, particularly in high-traffic areas
  • Clean the windows regularly to let that sweet sunshine in
  • Keep it fresh—ventilate often to eliminate odors and moisture
  • Use disinfectant sprays on the fabrics, especially if you’re traveling with pets

Bonus: Pet-friendly Cleaning

Traveling with a four-legged co-pilot? A portable vacuum cleaner is worth its weight in gold for tackling pet hair. Specialized pet-friendly fabric cleaners can also keep odors at bay.

Managing Laundry on the Road: A Vanlifer’s Guide

Don’t let your van turn into a closet of despair. Laundry can seem like a daunting chore in a confined space but fret not. With a little planning and the right tools, you can keep your threads fresh without breaking the bank or losing your sanity.

Laundry Essentials for Vanlifers

  • Folding laundry basket for dirty clothes
  • Portable washing machine (if you have the space)
  • Folding bucket for multiple uses
  • Hand-washing detergent

Strategy 1: The Classic Laundromat Run

The staple go-to for vanlifers, laundromats offer washing and drying without taking up space in your van. A folding laundry basket can help you store dirty clothes until it’s time for the laundromat rendezvous.

Strategy 2: The Portable Wash & Quick Fixes

If you don’t have enough dirty clothes to justify a laundromat trip or need a specific item cleaned, consider these options:

  • Portable Washing Machine: Brands like Wonder Wash offer compact solutions.
  • Hand Wash: Heat some water and use hand-washing detergent for a quick fix.
  • Folding Bucket: Perfect for hand-washing and also versatile for other tasks.

Extra Tips

  • Use your folding bucket for more than just laundry—think dishwashing or even a pet bath!
  • Space-saving, multi-purpose items are your friends; invest wisely.

Portable Showers

Sure, van life comes with its share of compromises, but hygiene shouldn’t be one. In a home on wheels, a shower is less a luxury and more a creative endeavor. But worry not! From solar-powered showers to eco-friendly soaps, we’ve got you covered.

Why Portable Showers?

  • Space-saving: No need to cram a permanent shower in your van.
  • Eco-friendly: Use biodegradable soaps for a lesser environmental impact.
  • Privacy: Pair it with a pop-up tent for a discreet setup.

Essential Gear for Your Van’s Shower Suite

stay clean in a van
Portable shower – Photo via author
  • Solar-Powered Shower or Pump: Available in various models, these are your go-to options for a hot or lukewarm shower. Check this out.
  • Pop-Up Privacy Tent: Maintain your modesty in the great outdoors.
  • Biodegradable Soap: Essential for both personal care and cleaning. Trust us, Mother Nature will thank you. Get it here.

Adapt and Conquer: A Vanlifer’s Mantra

Let’s be real—van life means adapting to whatever curveballs the road throws your way. If you don’t have an in-built shower, cold water showers become a quick friend. That’s why many vanlifers prefer warmer climates, especially during winter.

Pro Tips

  • Humidity Control: Less moisture means less mold. It’s not just about comfort; it’s about long-term van health.
  • Eco-Friendly: Opt for reusable and washable items to cut down on waste and save money in the long haul.

Wrapping It Up: The Cleanest End to a Dirty Adventure

We’ve tackled everything from deep cleaning your cozy abode to mastering the art of laundry on the go. Plus, we explored how to set up your portable shower like a pro—even when your van is smaller than your enthusiasm for the open road.


  • Innovation over Comfort: In van life, your resourcefulness is as important as your packing list.
  • Eco-Friendly is the Way: Opting for biodegradable soaps and reusable items isn’t just trendy; it’s responsible.
  • Space is a Luxury: Make every inch count by choosing multi-functional items that simplify life on the road.

So, pack up your biodegradable soap, charge your solar shower, and fold up that laundry basket. Your next adventure awaits, and this time, you’ll hit the road smelling like roses—or at least like someone who knows how to work a solar shower.

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