Last updated on May 28th, 2023 at 01:46 am
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RVs come in all shapes and sizes and so do their bathrooms! While you can find a bathroom in just about every possible size of RV from the tiny teardrop trailer to the massive Class A motorbus, there’s obviously going to be a lot of variations between them. One of the biggest, and most fundamental distinctions, is the difference between a wet bath and a dry bath.
So what’s the difference between a wet bath and a dry bath?
RV dry baths have a separate shower, sink, and toilet, with only the shower getting wet. Dry baths are familiar, and what you’d expect to see in traditional houses and larger RVs. RV wet baths are great space-savers, and instead, have a combined toilet and shower, with the entire area designed to get wet.
While you might have a gut reaction to one or the other, let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of each, so you can make an informed decision as to whether a wet bath or a dry bath is best for your RV needs!
What Is A Wet Bath In An RV?
A wet bath in an RV combines the shower, sink, and toilet into one stall-style space that’s designed to get wet. So when you take a shower everything will end up getting wet- the toilet, mirror, sink, walls, and everything else! It’s honestly a cool design and this style of bathroom is actually pretty popular in smaller homes and apartments in Europe.
But there are some downsides.
Because wet baths are designed to get completely wet it usually means they have a lot less storage compared to the traditional dry bath. In most cases, you wouldn’t want to store something in a space that’s getting drenched every day and it can be difficult to create a storage space that won’t let at least some water in.
But the biggest benefit of a wet bath is the space! By not having to worry about splitting the shower from the toilet and sink, manufacturers can really save on space. That extra space can be used elsewhere in the RV and a wet bath is a staple of any smaller RV.
In some cases, the space-saving goes even further and manufacturers will even combine the shower and the sink. So instead of having a separate shower head, the sink extends to a wall mount and becomes your shower. It’s hard to beat that level of space-saving efficiency!
Wet baths can be found in some Class C RVs but they’re much more common in Class Bs and travel trailers. The smaller the RV, the more likely you’ll see a wet bath since even the smallest RVs can still fit a shower and toilet if they make use of a wet bath.
What Are The Pros Of An RV Wet Bath?
I always think it’s worth looking at both the pros and cons before making any final decisions, therefore, exploring both the up and downsides of RV wet baths should help bring you the clarity you need. Wet baths are awesome in a number of ways, and if you don’t mind dealing with a wetroom in your rig, they might tick all the boxes for you.
Very efficient in terms of space since every inch of your bathroom is functional. That leaves more room for other parts of the RV like the kitchen or bedroom. Or just allows you to have a very small RV overall!
In many cases, you end up with a larger shower since the entire bathroom is the shower. While this isn’t the case in really small RVs, if you’ve got a Class C with a wet bath there’s a good chance you’ll end up with a relatively large shower.
No dusting is required! While you still need to clean your bathroom, you certainly don’t need to worry about any dust build-up since the entire bathroom is getting rinsed down with every shower
What Are The Cons Of An RV Wet Bath?
There are plenty of benefits to owning an RV with a wet bath, but there are also some downsides worth considering too, especially if it’s not just you traveling around in your rig.
Everything Gets Wet
This means you need to take special precautions for keeping your toilet paper dry or anything else that you don’t want to get soaked. This might not seem like a big deal at first but it can get old fast. Consider that if you or someone else needs to use a restroom within an hour of showering that everything in the bathroom will be wet!
Less Storage Space
There’s typically less storage space available since it takes a lot more effort to keep things dry in storage when the entire bathroom is getting wet. So while you’re saving space with a small bathroom you might lose it in other space!
Not Ideal For Sharing
If you’re used to sharing a bathroom as part of the morning routine, a wet bath might not be ideal. This is especially true for couples who might be used to sharing a bathroom during the morning routine.
What Is A Dry Bath In An RV?
A dry bath in an RV keeps the shower, toilet, and sink all completely separate. In most cases, it’s exactly what you’d expect to see in your home, but the RV version will obviously be a lot smaller. In some rigs, the shower is across the hall so it’s more separate than a traditional bathroom.
Dry baths in RVs usually have plenty of storage and construction that’s in line with the rest of the RV. All the usual amenities like toilet paper holders are exactly where you’d expect them to be. While this might seem like the obvious choice, there are certainly some downsides.
The biggest problem is space. There’s only so much room in an RV and if you’re trying to go small having a separate shower and toilet can seem like a luxury. Unless you’re going for a giant Class A RV, living in a motorhome is all about space efficiency and a wet bath is the clear winner there.
Still, you’ve got to be happy in your RV, and having the familiar layout of a dry bath can really improve the quality of life on the road!
In most cases, you’ll see a dry bath in Class C RVs but as you get into travel trailers or Class B rigs, you’ll start to see more and more wet baths.
What Are The Pros Of An RV Dry Bath?
I naturally lean more towards the dry bath RV option as I like having an organized space that’s just as comforting as a bathroom in a traditional house. Since RVs aren’t the most attractive rigs and can actually be quite ugly, I like having a dedicated space I can use easily, and keep looking nice as not everything will get wet.
Simple To Use
Dry baths are simple, familiar, and almost the same as what you’re already used to, just on a smaller scale. RV living already requires a lot of adaptations and some folks will be relieved to have a more familiar bathroom.
It’s possible for a second person to enter the bathroom while you’re showering. Again, this makes your RV feel like a normal home, and couples that are used to sharing a bathroom during a morning routine will likely prefer a dry bath – me and my partner do!
Most dry baths have plenty of storage space which makes up for the extra space it takes up. I like having my toiletries neatly stored away, as I live full-time on the road and want my rig to be as convenient as possible.
Everything Doesn’t Get Soaked
One of the biggest benefits of dry baths in an RV is the fact that I don’t have to stress about everything getting wet! I worry about leaks a lot, and I don’t think I’m the only RVer out there who is a little wary of water inside their rig! I like that I don’t have these concerns with an RV dry bath, but I always like to pressure test my rig from time to time to check for leaks all around.
What Are The Cons Of An RV Dry Bath?
Like most things, there are a few cons to consider with RV dry baths when compared to wet baths. Some of these may not bother you at all, but it’s worth thinking about your needs for the future if you plan to move into your rig full-time.
Not As Space-Saving
RV dry baths are not nearly as space-efficient when compared to wet baths. A wet bath will always win if space is the primary concern, but it’s down to personal preference whether you want enhanced comfort with your bathroom or a space-efficient alternative.
Usually, RVs with dry baths are more expensive but it’s not always the fault of the bathroom. RVs with a dry bath are usually larger, and this also helps bump the overall price up considerably. The expense may be worth it if you want a more traditional bathroom situation, but traveling around the country is expensive, so it’s worth taking the time to consider both options carefully!
More Cleaning Required
There’s going to be more cleaning and general upkeep required with a dry bath since it’s not getting a daily hose down as a wet bath might. This does mean a bit more time will need to be set aside to keep the bathroom squeaky clean, but also means you won’t have to deal with a sodden bathroom every time someone takes a shower.
Wet Bath Vs Dry Bath: Which Is Better For Your Next RV?
At the end of the day, which bath you choose for your next RV is going to come down to personal preference. If your number one priority is to go as small as possible while still having a shower and toilet then the clear choice is going to be a wet bath. They really are a staple of the smaller RVs and for good reason.
But if you want to try your hand at RV living while having to change as little as possible then a dry bath is a clear choice. I find it useful to hear from other RVers about their experiences and any regrets they have when I’m making decisions with my rig. That’s why this video from a full-time couple talking about life with a wet bath in their Class B RV is worth a watch!
As you can see in the video, there are ups and downs to having a wet bath in a rig, but this couple seems to have it all figured out!
So, which do I think is the better option?
The bathroom setup in my rig is actually pretty basic. We have a 12V rechargeable shower that’s portable, so we submerge the pump in a bucket of water and shower outside, which allows us to create more interior space without the need for a full bathroom space.
As for our toilet, we have a composting one, housed in a pallet wood frame that you can see in the picture below. We made a wooden ‘lid’ that gets removed when we need to use the toilet and acts as an additional seating area when it’s not in use! We chose a composting toilet as our specific one is waterless, so we can keep our water usage to a minimum and camp off-grid for longer.
It’s also far less hassle than many cassette toilets we’ve used before, offering ultimate convenience while we’re out on the road. It’s still best practice, however, to avoid flushing items like wipes and tampons down RV toilets to prevent blockages and clogs.
Our current bathroom setup doesn’t really fit into a dry bath or wet bath category, but as any vanlifer will tell you – a van is never finished, so who knows what we might change in our rig in the future!? Out of both options, I think we’d be better suited to a dry bath, as we’re both the same, in that we don’t really want to soak an entire area of our rig if we can help it.
I also enjoy having a separate space for a toilet and a shower so both can be used at the same time, without interfering with each other. I’ve used a wet bathroom in an RV before, and as there were a few of us on board, it was a nightmare trying to juggle several people needing the toilet or a shower, and I’d rather not repeat that with my partner and me!
Can You Use A Composting Toilet In A Wet Bath?
When you’re looking at your next RV, you want to make sure you’re looking at all variables including the type of toilet you can use. While most wet baths will feature a plastic toilet you can use porcelain but the bigger question that a lot of folks ask is whether or you you can use a composting toilet with a wet bath.
It obviously presents some challenges since you don’t want your composting toilet filling up with water every time you shower. Not only will this cause major management problems it can also disrupt the composting process if too much water is added.
Can You Convert A Wet Bath Into A Dry?
While it’s possible to convert a decent-sized wet bath into a dry bath it’s not something I’d recommend since it’s going to be a far from perfect solution. While it’s not too difficult to figure out how to get a shower curtain inside the bathroom the big problem is going to be the drain.
Most drains are going to be more toward the center of the bathroom to allow for easy drainage. So even if you’re able to section off a portion of the bathroom into a designated shower, you’re still going to have a very wet bathroom floor to get the correct drainage.
But if your drain lines up with your separate shower vision it might be possible. And if you don’t want to mess with mounting a shower yourself you can pick up a shower seperater like this one on Amazon. That uses a few suction cups to keep everything in place which means it can easily be moved and repurposed to outdoor use if needed.
When it comes to choosing between a wet and dry bath there are more than a few pros and cons to each. You’re going to have to decide what’s most important to you and how much space you really want in your bathroom. For me, a dry bath is ideal as I don’t want to worry about making an entire area in my small rig wet – a wet bath just doesn’t suit my partner and me at all!
But if space is a priority, there’s no denying a wet bath is a great space-saving solution. I feel like wet baths are a better option for solo travelers as it can be frustrating when several people are on board the RV and the bathroom area is always wet!
I’d love to hear from you! What style of bathroom do you prefer and why?