Your DIY Guide to Building an Outdoor RV Shower

When camping in your RV, having a shower included inside your travel trailer or mobile home can be a godsend. With these models and floor plans, you can have the convenience of a restroom, whether it's a full-sized model or a dry shower, it's nice to have the comfort of cleanliness and privacy at the ready, whenever you may want them.

However, not everyone's RV will come with a complete bathroom, and, even then, the idea of an outdoor RV shower may seem more appealing. And while many models come with outdoor shower stalls included, and there are a plethora of options you can purchase and install out there, this guide is for RVers who enjoy some DIY time and want to learn how to build an outdoor RV shower on their own.

Why Might You Want an Outdoor RV Shower?

For some, the prospect of taking a shower outdoors (especially at a campground) may be a bit much for them. Even so, plenty of RVers with indoor restrooms like their outdoor models. So why might you find yourself interested in building one?

For starters, the most obvious reason is that not all RVs have indoor showers—and even when they do, it can impact the RV price. On an extended camping trip, that kind of environment can turn unappealing fast. Building an outdoor shower area then gives everyone camping with you a way to stay clean.

Outdoor shower stalls are also helpful for preventing your gray water tank from filling up too quickly. Any wastewater will sink into the ground instead of taking up space in your storage tanks, allowing for long gaps of time between emptying your resources—excellent for dry campers and those who enjoy setting up shop in the wilderness.

A final benefit to consider is that an outdoor RV shower can be suitable for washing off dirt, sand, and other messes without needing to trek inside your travel trailer. Cutting down on the internal mess makes for a nice plus, even for those who have indoor shower areas. Some RVers also use their outdoor showers for other quick water tasks, such as rinsing down dishes.

Additionally, by building your own, you get an inexpensive alternative to buying a potentially costly outdoor shower kit, which can be a strain when already handling the expenses of motorhome prices.

What You Need to Get Started

You have numerous options when it comes to learning how to build an outdoor RV shower, but we're going to focus on a simple PVC pipe structure—something that any RVer of any level of experience can put together on their own. To build this frame, you'll need:

  • Several lengths of PVC pipe (approximately fifty-six feet)
  • A saw to cut with
  • Eight three-way elbow tarps
  • A shower curtain
  • Shower wings
  • Garden filter fabric

Take note that, aside from this basic setup, you're free to make any modifications to this design you like for your comfort and convenience. After you get the frame in place, the amenities are a matter of preference.

How to Build an Outdoor RV Shower

Consider these steps when building your outdoor RV shower.

Cut Your PVC Pipes

The PVC pipe pieces are going to serve as the base for your outdoor RV shower, and you're going to need several parts to assemble later. For this design you'll need:

  • Eight PVC lengths at four feet long for the top and bottom frames
  • Four PVC lengths at six feet long for the side supports

If you want or need your shower frame to be taller, you can lengthen the supports to gain more height, though you'll want to keep in mind the height of your shower curtain to help ensure privacy. For most people, six feet tall is more than enough.

Likewise, you can adjust the top and bottom frames to get more area out of your shower, but you'll want to ensure that the customized sizes are identical for both sets of rectangles for the sake of stability. If you don't feel confident, stick to our outlined measurements, or keep some spare PVC on hand.

Assemble Top and Bottom Frames

Using your four-foot lengths of PVC pipe, you want to start to put the pieces together. Beginning with one frame, use the three-way elbow tarps to form a square, ensuring that all of the third elbows face the same direction so you can more easily complete one of the next steps. If you notice any uneven ends, you can make adjustments now before continuing.

Attach the Shower Curtains

With the base frames put together, pick one to be the top and line it with your shower rings. From there, you can hook on the curtains, making sure that they hang down in the same direction as the third hole of the elbow tarps.

As an alternative to purchasing shower curtains, you can use plastic sheets, attaching them to the frame with a utility cord for a less expensive option. Again, it's a matter of how much convenience you want for yourself.

Finish Putting Together the Frame

With your shower curtain in place, you can then finish putting the pieces together. Attach the six-foot lengths of PVC pipe into the empty third joints of your elbow tarps, and then you'll have your basic outdoor RV shower setup. Just put it next to your RV, attach a water line to a shower hose, and then you can wash up as you like.

Set Up the Garden Filter Fabric

Since our frame doesn't have a bottom to keep you from potentially stepping into mud or other wet ground, we recommend using garden filter fabric. You can prevent issues by paying attention to where you set up your shower, yes, but it's always nice to have a safeguard in place.

Garden filter fabric will let the water from your shower to run out without allowing mud and dirt come up towards you—a nice bonus since the point of a shower is to get clean. If you want to take on another DIY project, you can learn how to build a shower base.

Though simple, this outdoor shower stall is inexpensive, lightweight, and doesn't take up much space when disassembled for storage, making it a good fit for the occasionally tight-budgeted RV life. You can also use this PVC model in other situations, which is nice if you like to rent your RVs for camping. And that's one option for how to build an outdoor RV shower!

Extra Tips and Tricks for Building Your Outdoor RV Shower Space

These tips make building an outdoor shower easier.

Effectively Cutting PVC Pipe

While PVC pipe isn't one of the most challenging materials to cut, there are still ways to do it effectively. For best results, measure out the length of pipe you need, then mark out a line on the side to indicate where to cut. To ensure that all your pieces come out the same, you can also use one successfully cut pipe as a guide for the others.

When cutting, a handsaw or hacksaw will do plenty to get the job done—though the handheld option may take a bit more elbow grease. Be sure to follow proper safety precautions, such as inspecting your saw and wearing eye and hand protection.

Build a Second Structure as a Changing Room

While it's nice to have an enclosed shower area, you'll likely want somewhere dry to both store your towels, clothes, and other items. You can accomplish this by simply building a second structure to have next to the first, or you can build a conjoined structure that takes fewer overall pieces (reducing assembly time and how much storage space you need).

Purchase a Magnetic Shelf

Since this frame doesn't have much in the way of places to set up racks, you can get a magnetic shelf to hold your soaps and shampoos. More than likely, you'll find a spot on the side of your RV where the container can stick whenever you need it.

Attaching an Outdoor Shower Frame to Your Luggage Rack

If you have an outdoor luggage rack, you can skip building the full support frame and instead make a top section with the shower curtain attached. Alternatively, you don't even need PVC pipe and can use a hula hoop as your support. When connected to your luggage rack securely, it works just as well as a fully built stall. If you want to use this option, consider your choices when looking at RVs for sale.