Before I begin, let me be clear: I do sneak showers–probably once a week, on average, and our neighbors have assured us that if we ever get too dirty, we can come use their shower. However, due to the fact that our bus does not have a shower, I have learned to maintain good hygiene without letting gallons of water flow over my body.
First, I had to come to terms with why I enjoy showers and baths. It is not because I feel desperate to get clean, in fact, I have never been bothered by going to bed dirty or sticky on camping and backpacking trips, although I have been known to wipe down with a baby wipe on such occasions. However, I am not like my father, who would fill up cumbersome solar shower bags or jump into frigid lakes just to feel clean. Therefore, during my first few months in the bus, I was fairly satisfied with one shower a week. My closest co-worker lived in a trailer at the time, so we both kept our hair up, wore hats, and applied deodorant. It didn’t hurt that our bodies were constantly encased under layers of long underwear and winter clothing.
However, there were times when I knew I simply had to wash up if I wanted to meet basic social standards. Heating water and scrubbing myself from head to toe seemed like a lot of work after a couple decades of effortless bathing options, but I did it anyway and my aversion to the process slowly faded. In fact, I started to notice how much better I felt after a good scrubbing (I had never been much of a scrubber in the shower). Soon, I was taking basin baths because I wanted to feel that lovely clean feeling, not because I had to. Once we installed a hot water heater (see earlier post), bathing became even more attractive.
Showers are now an indulgent event for me, a treat that I look forward to when we visit family or close friends, but I am no longer under the illusion that I take showers because I must clean up. All I need to maintain basic hygiene is hot water, soap, a bowl, a wash cloth, a tooth brush, and tooth paste. Try it for a week, it’s really not so bad.