Sunset in the Coconino National Forest, looking northeast toward Sedona, AZ, 4/17/15

Bathing, Brushing, Bathroom

A common question that I am asked is how do I shower while traveling.  The answer is that I usually don't shower, rather I take sponge baths in the back driver-side seat of the Prius.

Once curtains are put up for privacy,
this is where I bathe and brush teeth in the Prius.
I've tried both baby-wipe type products and paper towels, but I've settled on cotton wash cloths with either water or rubbing alchol.  The wash cloths don't rip or fall apart while cleaning myself in such a small space.
For daily bathing -- wash cloths, spray bottle of
plain water, spray bottle of witch hazel solution,
lotion and deodorant.
For cleaning my face andost of my body, I spray plain water then wipe with a clean cloth; repeat until clean. For the stinky parts, I use rubbing alcohol.  I tried witch hazel, a natural astringent, but didn't like how my skin felt afterwards.

My washing order usually follows the same routine -- face, upper body, feet, crotch. If my feet are especially dirty, I'll clean them separately with a paper towel. I wash before bed to keep my night cloths and bedding as clean as possible. And I also wash before dressing in the morning.

In order to accommodate this routine, I bring 20 cotton wash cloths with me because I do laundry every 10 days.

For washing my hair, whether on the road or not, I only use hair conditioner.  Somehow the conditioner does a great job of cleaning and getting the oil out of my hair. I've had this habit for about a decade. On the road, it works good because I only need to bring one product.  Between washings, I use a small amount of corn starch as a dry wash if needed.

To wash my hair I try to find a campground with a shower.  But, when that's not possible, I wash my hair over a bucket.  First I spray it wet with plain water, then rub in the conditioner. Using warmed water, I rinse it over the bucket. My hair usually needs to be washed about every 10 days.
For daily brushing -- SonicCare tooth bush, spray bottle with water,
floss and toothpaste.

I brush my teeth using a SonicCare toothbrush that uses batteries.  To rinse and clean the brush, I spray with plain water.  The spittle is disposed of in a bottle which is later emptied and cleaned.

The Prius is "self-contained." So, that means I have a bathroom (of sorts). I put the curtains are up for privacy.

A laundry detergent bottle is used for pee.
While driving, I try to find public restrooms to use. But, in the middle of the night, I pee in a 32oz yogurt container, then transfer to a 64oz liquid laundry detergent bottle.  A towel is draped on the seat to catch any accidental drips.
Freshette, a female urinary device, used for peeing
standing up (while hiking) or in the bottle (if needed).
The clear tube extends out for use.
When hiking I use a female urinary device called a Freshette that allows me to pee standing up.

For poo -- a 2-gallon bucket with a bag liner (a Double
Doodie liner in this pic) and a Luggable Loo Seat Cover.
When no public restroom is available, I poo using a bucket and a Luggable Loo seat cover. It's a bit awkward, but it works. I line the bucket with a Double Doodie bag (made for human waste), then line that with grocery bags.  The expensive Double Doodie bag acts as a back up in case the plastic bags leak.  After use, the grocery bags are placed in a zip lock sandwich bag.  If I can't throw that away immediately, it's stored in an odor-proof stainless steel canister.   I use rubbing alcohol and hand sanitizer to keep everything clean.

2/1/11, 8/3/17

27 comments:

  1. My dog and I are moving into my chevy blazer and I was going to use a small porta potty I already have. Do you know of any downside to a portapotty vs a bucket and bag? Thanks for sharing. It will help alot I am sure... Done the have a spot rving full time, but never suv no spot full time.... Will be living in Seattle too at least to start out

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  2. Hi Shirley, If you have room for a porta-potty, then it will work. I use a smallish bucket because I have such limited space. The other possible downside of a porta-potty is having to empty it. When you reach the Seattle area, drop me an email ... we can have coffee or something. Suanne

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  3. Good morning Suanne ( from Down Under Australia ... Canberra ). Thanks for sharing all the interesting info. Intend to move around when getting out of the workforce by Christmas 2012. Yours articles are great for my first step. Happy New Year and all the best for 2012.

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  4. Hey Suanne. Long time no see. We met at the RTR last year. Anyway, liked your laundry bottle pee idea. Reminded me of when we used to travel in our truck and used old Nalgene Bottles. We put a funnel on top. Some have the same shape as the freshette but are larger and easier to 'get right' especially when tired and in the dark. Nalgenes were easy to carry into McD in the morning and dump into the toilet and rinse out. We used colored ones and folks didn't know that it wasn't our beverage.

    Safe Travels. Nicole & Darlene

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    1. Hi guys! Good to hear from you ... and thanks for the tips. I hope to see you at Quartzsite again in January ... and to hear about your past year. Happy Trails, Suanne

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  5. What are Nalgene bottles?
    Conditioner will clean your hair? Wow. I am going to try this now and see how it works.
    The spray for your body, witch hazel and rubbing alcohol. I have to experiment with this here at home.
    Thanks again for all the ideas.
    kidiekat

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  6. Nalgene is a brand name for non-toxic plastic bottles typically used for carrying drinking water.

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  7. This is so incredibly helpful! Thanks!!!

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    1. I'm glad you found it helpful. Thanks for checking out my blog.

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  8. You are seriously badass. Just sayin'.

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  9. Someone told me about your site, I am new at this so I appreciate all the detailed info...I have a campervan to travel in that is self contained but after reading and watching your video, where you show your set up..I am really considering using my mini van to travel, what an inspiration you are of simple living....thank you.

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    1. So glad you found my blog helpful. Which ever van you choose to travel in, hope to see you down the road! Suanne

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  10. THANK YOU for the ingenious ideas for making long-term car travel doable! I wish I had a Prius for the air conditioning and heating aspects, but my Corolla will have to do. I'm excited to try the conditioner, body wash sprays, and other ideas at home before I hit the road. Maybe I'll meet you at RTR this year :)

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  11. You are very welcome. I know of someone else who lives out of their Corolla ... so, it's very possible. I'll look forward to seeing how you've set it up at the RTR!

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  12. You're such an inspiration Suanne! I'm now reconsidering the pull behind trailer for your set up.. What's the saying 'start small and start..'
    Take care,

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    1. Sounds like it could work. The best to you as you create your set up!

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  13. Hi! There is another blogger who explains a very similar setup to yours, but she added coir &/or peat moss to the poo to make a simple composting toilet and eliminate smell. She explains it very well, with pictures, here (scroll down the page for the section on Composting Toilet): http://truckcamperdesignandbuild.blogspot.ca/p/first-i.html

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  14. Hi again Suanne. I'm still struggling with the toilet thing. I just saw you in a YouTube video and I thought I heard you say you have a 2 gallon bucket? On this webpage it says 3 gallon. I have a 3 gallon bucket that my likable blue top fits on. It's about 11 inches high and 11 inches in diameter at the top. Do you really have a 2gallon Bucket, and if so where did you find it. Thank you so much for your inspiration and details.

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    1. Hi Scottie, Thanks for catching and reporting that discrepancy on the size of my bucket. It is a 2-gallon bucket; that's what's printed on the bottom. I will correct that information on this page as soon as I can get it to load for editing (currently having problems). I got the bucket from the bakery department at a chain grocery store about 9 years ago. It had cake icing in it. If you can get a 3-gallon bucket to fit in the space for you; I don't see that it matters much what size it is. The best to you in your planning. And I'm so glad you are finding my blog useful. Suanne

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  15. I have burning question that I can't seem to find the answer to on the net. If your 04 prius died tomorrow, which newer prius would you buy next and why? I'm thinking about getting a 2014 model but not sure if the sleeping space has been shortened and if the a/c still works like your 04. I live in Texas so the a/c running on battery is a must.
    Thank You for this blog!

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    1. Hi Leslie, I think my first choice would be a Prius V, second choice would be another liftback. I believe the newer Prius liftbacks are a little longer. And, I also believe that the AC continues to work the same. The best to you in your travels and thanks for checking out my blog. Suanne

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  16. Hi Leslie, I bought the 2014, and it works the same from the AC / heat perspective.. It does take a little getting used to the engine firing up and then stopping.
    and it's plenty long.. check out rusty78609 on youtube, he's 6.2 and has no problem with sleeping in the Gen3 Prius.

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  17. Is it difficult to get up onto the toilet which is placed on the car seat? Isn't that high and I wonder how does one stand up to clean themselves afterwards. I suffer with irritable bowel and am looking for something to use in an emergency if I'm not near a restroom and am on the road. For when I have an attack there is little time. Just wondering about the logistics of access and after the fact. I'm supposing you must move the driver's seat up all the way to be able to perform this task in such a tiny space. Thank you.

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    1. Yes, I move the driver's seat all of the way forward when I'm in the seat behind it. It's not difficult to get onto the toilet. And, because I'm short, it's easy and comfortable to sit on the Luggable Loo lid that is on top of the 2-gallon bucket. If I'm sitting in back already (with the front seat forward), it takes less than a minute to get the toilet out and ready to use. Until I realized I was lactose intolerant (w/IBS) and avoided dairy products, I often would find myself in "emergency" situations.

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  18. Suanne, I will be starting out in a Kia Forte lx, so I will be limited on space, I have downsized my clothing by half, but feel it could be a lot less, can you put a itemized list of the clothing and jackets you take along, you said you do laundry every 10 days. The list would make sure I am not bringing what I don't need. Your help would be greatly appreciated

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    1. Here is my general rule of thumb for going 12 days before doing laundry -- 4 pair of pants and 4 bras (changed about every 3 days), 12 light-weight shirts (mostly short sleeves), 4 button-up shirts (for layering or to wear alone), 12 underpants, 12 pair matching socks. Fleece jacket, heavy coat, rain poncho, rain hat, warm gloves, scarf, stocking cap. 2 loose-fitting dresses for sleeping (can wear in public if needed), heavy hoodie for sleeping in cold. Sun hat. One pair each low cut hiking shoes, Crocks, flip-flops. I use to carry nice clothes, but found I didn't need the. I figure I can get something at a thrift store if an occasion comes up. I also pack/wash -- 24 washcloths, 4 sets of sheets, 1 pillow case, 2 towels, 4 blankets layered to keep me warm in sub-freezing temps. Hope that helps.

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