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Ah, the RV wet bath – a topic that elicits strong emotions from both sides – love and hate.
Are we suggesting that we frequently hear fellow RVers exclaiming how they love their RV’s wet bath? No. Have we heard fellow RVers saying that they hate their RV wet bath? Ummm…yes, and indeed we’ve said it ourselves while RVing internationally. HOWEVER…
For all the reasons there are to hate an RV wet bath, there’s a very compelling reason to love the RV wet bath – to REALLY love it – and we’ll share it with you today.
Today’s post is all about the (in)famous RV wet bath. Love it or hate it, some RVers are very happy it exists. While it’s definitely not the right choice for everyone, we can certainly understand why some RVers feel that way. Let’s get to it.
What Does Wet Bath Mean in an RV?
A wet bath is essentially a bathroom space shared by a toilet, shower, and sink. A typical RV bathroom setup you say? Not so fast.
Not to be confused with a “full private bath” where the toilet, sink, and shower are all in the same room, an RV wet bath means they basically are the same room. When we say “shared,” what we really mean is “all-in-one” where showering gets everything wet, including the toilet and sink.
The surface of the entire room is waterproof and able to get wet, and it does.
An RV wet bath takes up a very small amount of space for all that you can do in there. But when that space is used as a shower, everything else in the area gets wet. So yeah – the toilet gets wet as you shower, the sink (if there is one) gets wet, and of course, the floor gets wet, too. Also, anything you have stored in there gets wet (unless you move it before showering). Even the toilet paper roll will get soaked, unless it’s protected by a special retractable cover (which many wet baths include).
Welcome to the RV wet bath, which includes “wet” in its name for a reason!
What’s the Difference Between a Wet Bath and a Dry Bath?
The difference between a wet bath and a dry bath can be as simple as a shower curtain! In fact, it can be anything that separates the shower area from the rest of the RV bathroom. So, if you have a separate shower stall, then you have a dry bath because when you shower, everything doesn’t get wet (i.e. stays dry, hence the name dry bath).
In a wet bath, not only is there NOT a shower stall (other than the entire bathroom itself) but there’s no separate shower tray. This means that the entire bathroom is a shower stall of sorts, with the drain(s) located somewhere on the floor.
So, a wet bath is a compact, all-in-one bathroom constructed entirely of material that can – and does – get wet.
In a dry bath, because the shower and toilet are in separate spaces, your traveling partner could use the toilet while you’re showering. In a wet bath – well – let’s just say you might be able to use the toilet yourself WHILE you’re showering, but this would be a highly undesirable experience. (We’re assuming here – we haven’t tried it, nor do we intend to try it!)
All kidding aside, is a wet bath all that bad? In our opinion, based on considerable personal experience during international travel, yes. It is. That said, fear not wet bath owners and lovers! We do appreciate the finer points of having an RV wet bath and why some people choose them. We promise we’ll get to that!
How Do You Use a Wet Bath in a Camper?
We realize that the experience of using an RV wet bath is hard to explain without including a demonstration. Since we’re personally deprived of the
challenge pleasure of owning a wet bath, we thought we’d allow our friends Chris & Aaron of Irene Iron Fitness to demonstrate on our behalf.
Chris & Aaron have spent a great deal of their RV life in a fuel-efficient Class B RV (they’ve since moved into a larger travel trailer… with a dry bath!). Their Class B had a tiny wet bath which they learned to use efficiently, which really is the key. Let’s have a look at how they did it:
How Do You Dry a Wet Bath?
There are a couple of steps to drying a wet bath after showering, and you’ll want to have a couple of items handy.
First is an item that we use ourselves every day after showering, the shower squeegee.
- Wipes off tiles, mirrors, shower doors and windows
- Flexible blade works on rippled surfaces
A good shower squeegee is actually important to have in any RV shower for a couple of reasons. The first is to remove water from the walls after showering to reduce water spotting and keep it cleaner. The second is to move it toward the drain so that it goes into the gray tank where it belongs instead of pooling on the shower floor, which it can do if you haven’t properly leveled your rig.
It’s also important to remember that moisture is an enemy of RVs, as it can quickly lead to mold and mildew, and all sorts of related problems. The shower squeegee is your friend because it moves accumulated water to its appropriate destination so that the RV itself isn’t left to absorb excess moisture after every shower.
The second item important to the wet bath drying process is a good absorbent microfiber towel. As Chris & Aaron pointed out in their video, in such a tiny space it’s important to use small things, and the drying towel is no exception.
We happen to use these for all sorts of projects around the rig. They’re inexpensive, last a long time, are fairly absorbent, (key for drying a wet bath), and dry quickly.
- Plush, super-soft microfiber cloths, best for cleaning & dusting the kitchen, home, car, bath, glasses and more
- Constructed with 110,000 fibers per square inch, allowing you to clean & dust with or without chemicals or detergents
Any small, absorbent microfiber towel will do, and with the wet bath area being so small, it doesn’t take long to sop up the remaining moisture once you’ve used your squeegee to wipe away most of it.
What Are the Benefits of an RV Wet Bath?
So here’s the thing: When you’re living (temporarily or full-time) in a very small space – let’s say a Class B RV, for example – everything needs to be compact. Space is at an absolute premium. There are many people who live and travel in a camper van or small travel trailer who don’t have any sort of bathroom at all. Having a wet bath may require some maneuvering and a little extra work, but having a bathroom in your RV is always convenient and sometimes essential.
So the main benefit of having a wet bath is really that you have a bathroom at all. It’s small, taking up less of the living space, and that’s okay. The wet bath has a few jobs to do and it fulfills them. You can brush your teeth, use your own private toilet, and you can shower.
Having the ability to shower, even in a small RV, is a tremendous benefit – and it’s the reason why many RVers love their wet baths. And we get it – we really do.
We’re avid hikers. Just for example, one of our favorite hikes in Zion National Park is Angels Landing (which we just did again last week)! It’s a 5-mile round-trip with 1,500′ elevation gain, a serious set of switchbacks, and chains to the summit. You may have caught one of our many Angels Landing hikes in season 3, episode 5 of The RVers, which was filmed just one year ago.
We can’t imagine coming home to our rig and being unable to grab a shower before dinner after a hike like that – or any other strenuous hike for that matter. So – while a wet bath may not be ideal, it’s something, and active RVers are always grateful for any opportunity to shower, even if it’s in a tiny space and the toilet gets wet!
What Are the Drawbacks of an RV Wet Bath?
The small size of a wet bath makes it more difficult to maneuver, of course, and everything in the wet bath is tiny. Perhaps the most obvious drawback is that everything gets wet, including the floor.
And if someone is showering, another someone can’t use the toilet. We assume this would only be an issue on occasion, and not for long, since no one showers in a wet bath for too long.
And finally, if you happen to be claustrophobic, a wet bath might not be for you. That or the need for a larger space to accommodate a larger person makes wet baths more difficult to use, for sure.
So, Do RV Wet Baths Suck?
We’ve RVed with a wet bath before, so we’ve had some experience. This was in a rental RV in Australia and, compared with the large open bathroom we’re accustomed to in our 43-foot Class A motorhome, we didn’t particularly like the experience because it was kind of a pain in the neck (and the elbows… and the shoulders… and pretty much everything else). Maybe the worst part was having to dry the floor… or deal with wet feet during a night-time bathroom visit.
But again – we’re active guys (and it was VERY hot & humid in Australia while we were there) and we were exceedingly appreciative of the fact that we had a shower in our small rental RV. Of course we took advantage of campground shower facilities whenever they were available. But we’re big boondockers, so that wasn’t always an option.
So, while using an RV wet bath may suck in comparison to a large shower, and a toilet and floor that stay dry, it can be a real luxury to have access to private facilties, regardless of limitations.
Incidentally, we have friends with an older model Roadtrek Class B RV that has a shower in the aisle! Doors open up on either side of the “shower area” protecting the rest of the rig, there’s a drain in the floor of the aisle, and a shower curtain is pulled all the way around the showering person to create a little aisle “shower stall.”
This is different from a wet bath because only the floor gets wet, but is another alternative to either a dry bath or a wet bath… a kind of hybrid. The toilet doesn’t get wet, but the floor does. We have to add here that our friends have told us that they don’t use the shower very often, if at all. But many avid Roadtrekkers do and are perfectly happy for the opportunity.)
Let’s face it — any RV with any kind of bathroom is an awesome thing to have. Some are just more comfortable and more convenient than others. But anything that helps us get out and travel to experience nature and the world around us is a big win!
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Even though we're handy RVers, we're not professional technicians. So although we're happy with the techniques and products we use, you should be sure to confirm that all methods and materials are compatible with your equipment and abilities. Regardless of what we recommend, consult a professional if you're unsure about working on your RV. Any task you perform or product you purchase based on any information we provide is strictly at your own risk.