If you’re shopping for a small travel trailer, you’ve likely encountered the infamous wet bath.
A wet bath is a compact all-in-one bathroom design. The shower and toilet (even the sink, if there is one) are all contained within the same room!
Yes, that means that when you take a shower, the toilet gets wet. The whole room is waterproof – walls and floor – just like a regular shower. There’s a big fiberglass or acrylic shower pan surrounded by a waterproof, caulked shower wall.
Here’s an example of a typical RV wet bath, courtesy of Little Guy Trailers.com
Let’s get real for a minute. No one chooses a wet bath because they like it. Wet baths are mostly a necessary evil in tiny trailers because they take up the least amount of real estate.
If you’re shopping for a trailer that weighs less than 4,000 lbs or is less than 20 feet long, you will likely run into a wet bath design.
This includes campers like:
- Molded fiberglass campers
- Mega teardrop travel trailers
- Truck campers
- Class B conversion vans
If you’ve never used a wet bath before, you might be a bit put off. Or confused.
Is an RV wet bath worth it?
Should you opt for a bigger trailer with a conventional dry bath?
This article will help you make a decision whether you can live with the unique pros and cons of an RV wet bath design.
Pros of a Wet Bath
1. Less Floorplan Real Estate
A wet bath can be as small as 24×40 inches! This Lilliputian layout allows RV designers to utilize the leftover space for more valuable real estate, such as twin sleeping beds, convertible dinettes, or extra kitchen space.
2. (Potentially) A Bigger Shower
A wet bath shower isn’t exactly luxurious. But compared to squeezing into a 24-inch neo angle RV shower … well, it could be worse!
3. Room to Sit and Shave
If you prefer sitting while you shower, especially when shaving your legs, you’re in luck! A wet bath comes with a ready-made seating area. For free.
4. Use a Drying Space
If you commonly return from hiking with wet shoes or a drenched backpack, you can hang your wet, smelly gear in the wet bath dry to drip and dry out.
5. Easier to Clean
While this often shows up as a supposed advantage, I disagree. Wet baths aren’t self-cleaning. In fact, they often have more nooks and crannies than a dry bath! And those crannies can quickly develop mold, mildew, and grime, which is far more difficult to clean than dust.
Cons of a Wet Bath
1. A Wet, Clammy Butt
Yup, the toilet usually gets wet when you shower. If you don’t enjoy sitting down on a wet toilet seat, you’ll either need to wipe down the seat or install a toilet seat cover. Or some wet baths have a partition shower curtain to section off the toilet area.
2. One Person at A Time
No matter how friendly you and your partner are, a wet bath is pretty much limited to one person at a time. A dry bath, meanwhile, can be used by two people at a time, depending on your level of comfort.
3. Lack of Acoustic Privacy
Because the entry door to a wet bath doubles as a shower door, it may not completely seal the opening to allow airflow. In that case, you’ll be using the toilet behind a half-open door. Which may make you uncomfortable. Or everyone else uncomfortable, depending on what you ate.
4. Inaccessible Mechanicals
RVs are required to have certain mechanicals, like P traps and waterless trap valves, accessible for replacement. Wet baths typically have out-of-the-way access panels to require these components. You might be spending a lot of time sprawled on your stomach, feeling around dark places!
5. Wet Toilet Paper
Obviously, you’ll store your toilet paper in a waterproof holder. But they don’t always work. Be prepared for soggy toilet paper someday!
6. Has to Be Wiped Down
You generally don’t want to leave a wet bath, well, wet, for long periods of time. Mildew can build up. You need to A) either run the roof fan or B) wipe down the walls. If you’re camping in cold weather and run the roof fan, you’ll quickly exhaust all your warm interior air!
7. Not Tall People-Friendly
Wet baths are almost always shorter than conventional dry baths, especially in the toilet and sink area. If you’re over 6 feet tall, you may find them a challenge! Always walk into a bathroom to test the height. If you’re lucky, you can stand directly below the skylight or roof vent to squeeze in another inch or two.
8. Less Storage
Most wet baths have limited storage: a few soap shelves and maybe a medicine cabinet. In contrast, most dry baths have at least a sink and vanity, plus a laundry closet.
Hot Hints on Living With an RV Wet Bath
- If you hate having wet feet when you step into a wet bath, check out Dri Dek tiles or teak wood mats. These products elevate your soles above the shower floor but still allow for liquid water to pool, drain and dry.
- Upgrade the shower wand. Most stock RV shower wands stink. Look for a low-pressure, high-flow RV shower head with an easy on/off button.
- Use a squeegee rather than a cloth to wipe down the toilet.
- Install a soap, conditioner and shampoo dispenser to eliminate the annoyance of shampoo bottles that just fall on the floor every time you drive!
- Mount plastic adhesive hooks to the shower walls to hold odds and ends.
- Occasionally wash down the shower walls and glass door with Clorox wipes.
- Fun fact: So long as the toilet is properly sealed, you can use a composting toilet inside a wet bath!
- Use microfiber quick-dry towels. They don’t feel as luxurious as regular cotton towels, but they dry 5-10 times faster!
Is an RV Wet Bath Worth It?
Again, the question isn’t “Would you prefer a dry bath or a wet bath?” 99 times out of 100, a dry bath is a more convenient choice.
But in a tiny camper, a wet bath can give you the option of a bigger kitchen prep area, a convertible dinette, a large refrigerator, or other valuable living space.
You also might be wearing the option of a wet bath versus no bath at all, especially if you’re shopping Class B vans or truck campers.
If you’re a closet germophobe, a wet bath beats a public shower – hands down!
If you’re a boondocker, a wet bath beats mucking around with a collapsible shower enclosure and an outdoor shower diverter with a wand that’s two feet too short!
So yes, an RV wet bath is worth it! Some RVers say they hardly even notice the difference. Most say they’d do it again.
And if you don’t like it, there’s always the option of showering at truck stops, public campgrounds, or local gyms.