15 Tips for Stretching Your Tanks While Boondocking

Making your epic off-grid camping time last!

Scott & Jaime Sichler Scott & Jaime Sichler  |  09.26.2018

So, you’ve found that perfect boondocking spot. Maybe it’s on an isolated dirt road, perched above a rushing river or sidled up next to a quiet lake. Whatever your perfect spot is, once you’re there, you probably want to stay as long as possible. For us, that generally means stretching our holding tanks.

Here are some of the ways we make the tanks last:

  1. Plan meals that won’t use a lot of water. We tend to eat simply when we’re out and are big fans of the one pot wonder.
  2. Pre-wash produce when you have hook-ups or accessible water to save your fresh water tank, and the usually smaller, gray water tank.
  3. Pre-cook as much as possible to save time and cut down on dish washing.
  4. Make ice ahead of time.
  5. Shower every other day or longer, if you can. (Baby wipes are your friend.)
  6. When you do shower, take Navy showers – get wet, turn off the water, shampoo & soap up, rinse and done.
  7. Take solar outdoor showers, if possible.
  8. Use dry shampoo – great for stretching shower days and absorbing oil.
  9. While brushing your teeth, spit into the trash rather than sink. This helps avoid that gross build up when you’re not running a lot of water down the drain.
  10. Wipe dishes with your napkin to make clean up easier.
  11. Drink out of refillable water jugs rather than the tank. Take those with you when you head to town in case you find water.
  12. Don’t flush every time you pee, or go outside when possible – isn’t that the beauty of boondocking?
  13. Don’t flush paper down the toilet. We picked this up in Central America, staying in hotels with older septic systems where instead of flushing paper down the toilet, it goes into the trash, which is then emptied often. In that same respect, toilet paper is often problematic for sensitive RV plumbing.
  14. Collect cold shower water while you wait for it to get hot. Use that same cold shower water to rinse dishes later.
  15. Wash and rinse dishes in a tub with environmentally friendly soap, and then toss the water outside rather than down the drain and into the tank.

stretch tanks boondocking

Hopefully these suggestions will help you stay in your favorite middle-of-nowhere places even more often! Do you have any other boondocking tips and tricks for stretching your tanks?

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  1. John Posted on 10.25.2018

    I would NOT recommend putting toilet paper in the trash. Central America is not a good example of proper disposal of human waste. Landfills, where the trash goes, could create a health hazard with soiled toilet paper.

  2. Gil Strachan Posted on 10.20.2018

    All very good tips! We winter boondock in sub-zero temperatures with the plumbing winterized, using a 5 gallon aquatainer for dishwashing and toilet rinsing, and bottled water for drinking – all kept inside the heated RV. We put a couple gallons of antifreeze in the black tank, and go on that when we can’t go outside or find another toilet.

  3. Ann Popejoy Posted on 10.20.2018

    I boonie in a Winnie Drop so limited battery. Therefore I limit my use of any trailer lights, battery driven lights when necessary, turn off water pump until need it.

  4. Patti Wiegand Posted on 10.20.2018

    Purchase ‘wash cloth wipes’ in the medical supply section at Walmart. Can even heat them in microwave. Same item as used in hospitals

  5. Bill kracker Posted on 10.20.2018

    We do most of the things to conserve already

  6. Sarah Posted on 10.20.2018

    We keep a spray bottle of dish soap (we use Dawn) and water solution by the toilet. After peeing, we flush then spray the toilet bowl. Cleans it and provides the 1/2″ of liquid odor barrier on top of the valve. Works well! And we save our dish water in a gallon jug to flush down anything more serious. Great system!

  7. Stephen Matweyou Posted on 10.20.2018

    Good basic practices will extend your stay. Good article.