"Do you have one of those black bag solar showers?"
"You should take some black PVC pipe and mount it on your roof so you can have a solar shower."
"How do you shower?"
I don't have a shower in the van. I don't have a black bag with a solar shower and I have absolutely no plans to instal a large PVC pipe system on the roof of my van.
Staying clean in the van without those things is no big deal! Plus it is already a huge pain in the ass to empty and refill my grey water tanks, I don't want to deal with refilling a pipe that is 4 feet above my head or storing and maintaining a large plastic bag that would eventually mold.
Staying clean in the van is a multifaceted experience.
I combine friends houses, rec centers, gyms, lakes, rivers and other public showers with baby wipes and I'm usually good to go.
I'll break it down for you in a typical 24 hour period.
Morning: I wake up, unbraid my hair (which I did last night to keep it from tangling) and brush my teeth in the sink I have in the van. I have toothpaste and a toothbrush like a normal human being. I put on my naturally fresh deodorant stick and the SPF 15 lotion I buy from Trader Joes. Depending on how sweaty I got in the night (and how humid it is where I am) I baby wipe my body down and throw the wipes in my trash.
Afternoon: If I'm out climbing all day my favorite thing to do after a climb is jump in a lake or a river as a way to cool down. I'll bring my clothes in with me sometimes to give them a quick wash and let them dry on my body or on the van. I DO NOT use soap/conditioner in natural bodies of water, this can be harmful to the ecosystems present there. I just jump in, run my fingers through my hair, scrub my body down, rinse the bits and the pits and then get out and dry off. When I get back to the van I will baby wipe the important parts.
Evening: I don't always shower every day. Sometimes I shower 1 or 2 times a week and the combination of baby wipes and bodies of water is enough to keep me clean. However, if it's shower night (or I'm city dwelling and I need to be a bit cleaner so I don't scare away my clients) I take my bag of toiletries with me to the gym and get my weekly dose of scalding hot water. Then I'll head back to the van, braid my hair and pass out. Boom.
What's in my toiletries bag?
Safety razor and razor blades! Way better for the environment, and you only have to buy one razor ever and then razor blades like once or twice a year.
Crucial to living in a van. They are good for everything from going to the wiping down your counter tops to cleaning your body to removing oil from your engine.
Loofah. Should be self explanatory.
I don't use shampoo, my hair is way too curly for that. When I use shampoo it makes it dry and frizzy. I've spent my life looking for conditioner that works the best with my hair and I've landed on the Pantene Pro V Curl Perfection. But if I can't find it at Grocery Outlet I'll buy anything my Pantene.
Naturally Fresh Deodorant Crystal is some hippie magic that works frighteningly well. I've put this stuff on at 6am, climbed for 10 hours straight, gone out drinking and been up till 3am with friends. After all that time? I smell like nothing. Not flowers or artificial scents, but like nothing nothing. It's magic.
I do my best to buy soap from health food stores that doesn't have packaging. I like bar soap the best because I can store it in a jar and I feel like it lasts longer than liquid soap.
Epilator! This thing is great. I hate shaving my legs, so with this I only have to epilate once every 4 weeks or so. You can epilate more often if you want to, but since the hair grows back soft (not prickly) I don't feel the need to do it that often.
Staying clean is a challenge but not a chore.
If I know I wont be near any bodies of water or civilization for a while (like say, the desert) I know I need to baby wipe more frequently, I need to braid my hair every night, and I need to have a clear distinction between my climbing clothes, my evening campfire clothes and my sleeping clothes. If I'm parked near a river I can get away with a few less visits to the rec center before I become unbearable to myself and those around me. I definitely shower the most when I am in town since that is when I have daily access to a gym.
In general, I have to think about where I am going to shower/bathe during my days, but I'm much more focused on where I'm going to climb next than anything else.