Friday, May 13, 2016

Vandwelling logistics: dishes, showers, clothing, dirt.

Listen: Move Into a Van Now.

When you first move into your van - my brother, my sister - there are aspects you will soon embrace. That is a certain fact. You will not be clean like a baby in a commercial for soap. Nope. Here's how me and Kristin deal with dirt.

Washing dishes:

Usually we wipe out the cooking vessel with one paper towel as soon as we're done. After boiling water or heating soup, one paper towel does a fine job. Get it while it's still warm. Oils and sauces take another paper towel or two. I wipe out most of the residue, and then give the dogs a run at the pot. Once they're done, it's spotless. Then I spray on a solution of Dr. Bronners soap mixed with water, and wipe it clean with one more paper towel. Clean enough to feed the Queen.

I drag out one paper towel for all it's worth, but what we save in water, we use in paper towels. I estimate that this method is still less net-wasteful than dishwashers, running water, and ten-thousand forks.

We have a powerful spray bottle from an auto parts store. Our soap solution is Dr. Bronners diluted heavily. You could drink Dr. Bronners straight, and it's certainly safe to pour trace amounts on the ground. Once we wipe it off our dishes, the job is finished.

Vandwelling showers: not a daily habit.

It's been ten days since we last showered. Hardly a tragedy; nobody knows. You can wipe off with damp paper towels or a wet wipe. Sometimes I help Kristin wash her hair by slowly pouring three liters of water over her head. She has some shampoo that contains no poison, and it's acceptable to not rinse out every trace.

I used to go swimming in a lake or a river to clean off. It's been cold out, so I'm not focused on swimming. Ten days is a stretch, so I'm probably going to get a shower at a KOA. These "kampgrounds" are everywhere, but they are expensive, so I would never actually stay. I drive in, find the shower building, and go in for a hot shower. Some people call this "stealing" but I don't care. Another tree falls in the forest.


I like clothes that excel at being worn many times. I like wool, and other clothing made for hiking and sweat. I like shirts that dry quickly and pack small. Cotton t-shirts begin to stink quickly, so I don't wear standard t-shirts often. I prefer shirts that feel soft like cotton, but claim to "wick" and tout an SPF. I have a shirt by North Face and another by Under Armour. I don't support specific brands, but that's who made what I eventually found for cheap. You can wash them successfully in a sink or a frying pan if that's where you get.

When it's hot outside, I march around in a big blue bathing suit with the netting cut out. It's an old Nike number that I got for a buck. It still had the tags attached.

I wear socks by Wigwam and Darn Tough. I wear these socks over and over and over. You can wash them in a sink: hand soap and squeeze. You can wash them in a river: dunk and wring. Like new.

Thin wool underwear is fantastic, but you can practically go bankrupt just thinking about it.


We have dirt on the floor. We have sand in the carpet. Muddy dogs have touched all of our precious junk. Eventually we will clean everything well. Once every six months, we will hit everything with a firehose or flamethrower.


Anonymous said...

Best cleaning solution, vinegar,liquid bath soap,water. Cleans people & anything else you need. I spritz with it as needed between 10 day shower intervals.great post on van dwelling daily life.
Yep, naptown =:::= Ray

Anonymous said...

Forgot to mention about a 2 gallon bug spray bottle for a pressure shower. Let the sun heat it or heat water on your propane stove. Pump the handle you have pressure. All you need is a little privacy. Boom, nice warm shower.


Pixy Stoneskipper said...

Good point about better shower methods. I suppose this post was more about our personal logistics, and definitely not all the systems that work best. The main point is to not overthink moving into a van. The hurdles are small, and if somebody is on the fence, the positives will almost certainly outweigh the hypothetical negatives.

We are cramped, even in the huge van, and I look forward to a complete overhaul whenever we decide to get back to Pennsylvania. But I'm not in a huge hurry, because in spite of imperfections, we are managing to thrive.

I have to try out that weed sprayer shower idea. It sounds like it would beat the hell out of our Walmart-bought solar shower, which sort of works, but is mostly a pile of junk. It's sloshing around on our dashboard, and we hardly use it.