Tips for RVing Without a Sewer Hookup

RVing doesn’t have to be about being tied to a campground’s sewer, electric and water whenever you travel—it’s about freedom and exploration! Knowing how to get along without being continually hooked up to sewer services is a key skill that can be mastered with planning, forethought, and proper habits.

RV camping without a sewer hookup is all about water conservation. If you limit yourself to using only the water in your fresh water tank, this will probably be fairly easy because your fresh water tank capacity will never exceed your grey and black tank holding capacity.

Keep in mind that your grey tank will be the first to fill up. All your sink water and shower water goes to your grey tank. Your black tank only holds your toilet waste.

If you have a “city water” connection at your campsite and are planning to connect to it, here are some practical tips to help you conserve water when doing your dishes, showering, and using your toilet.


If you are like 95% of the RVers out there, you will be using your kitchen for making your meals, or at a minimum, making coffee and other drinks. That means dishes. Yes, you can pick up paper plates, cups, and cutlery, but you can’t buy paper pans, paper coffee makers, or paper pots. So, how do you conserve water so you don’t fill up your grey tank?

Wash your dishes outsideYou can use your outside shower, and if you don’t have one, get yourself a water splitter (that way you don’t have to disconnect your RV water hose). Just bring out your dishes, soap, and sponge and get washing. You can use a bucket or tub to transport the dishes and to use as a sink.

Use plastic wrap on plates—We’re sad we didn’t think of this a long time ago. Before placing food on your plates, cover them with plastic cling wrap. When you are done eating, just peel off the wrap and toss. Your plate will still be nice and clean.


If you will be at a campground, there will probably be a bathhouse for you to use. That, of course, will help keep you from filling up your grey tank. What if you are camping somewhere without a bathhouse or just prefer not to use it?

Shower in your RV—Your RV shower has an on-off switch at the shower head. This will allow you to set your water temperature just right, water yourself, turn off the water at the switch, lather up, turn on the water, and rinse. Done! If you have smaller tanks, collect your water in a bucket/tub to keep it from going into your grey tank.

Skip the shower—Yes, you can skip your typical shower and just use wipes. There are many options available, from small personal wipes to towel-sized wipes that are more than enough to get your entire body clean.

Use your Outdoor Shower—If you have an outdoor shower, you can get yourself an outdoor shower enclosure. This will give you all the privacy you need.  

Use the swimming poolWell, you have water, and chlorine… just saying. Go early, go often.

Going to the Toilet

This will use up the least of your water. Keep in mind that you can control how much water you use, so use the least amount needed to do the job. You can also use the bathhouse if there is one at your campground.

Be a little hippie—”If it’s brown flush it down, if it’s yellow, let it mellow.” It will save you from overusing your water and filling up your black tank.

Use a composting toilet—If you think you will be spending a lot of time off grid and without sewer connections, you might want to think about getting a composting toilet. They use absolutely no water and you can potentially combine your black and grey tank to extend your grey water waste tank capacity.

The Honey Wagon

If you aren’t sure how successful you will be at conserving water, you might want to look into getting a portable waste tank, lovingly referred to as The Honey Wagon. This will allow you to empty your grey and black tanks and dump your waste at the dump station. Many of them give you the option to pull it by hand or attach it your tow vehicle hitch and drive it to the dump station. Some campgrounds also offer a honey wagon service. They will empty both your waste tanks for you for a small fee.

The Dump Station

Unless you never use your sink, toilet, or shower, you will have wastewater in one or both of your tanks. When you leave the campground or if you need to dump before you are ready to leave, you will need to visit the dump station. Dump stations are different, but generally have a sewer hatch (with or without a sewer cap) and a water hose for rinsing (non-potable water = water not safe for drinking). You will need to bring your own sewer hose kit and gloves.

RVing without sewer service is absolutely possible—it just requires a little more planning. What tips do you have for RVing without a sewer hookup?

Tips for RVing without a sewer hookup

One comment

  1. How do you shower off-grid without spilling water on the ground, which is no longer acceptable in many places?

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