The Necessity of Mobile Shower Units for the Homeless

When people imagine a homeless person, they usually think of unshaven and have not showered for weeks. They imagine them wearing torn clothes, and they may feel the same person looks dirty all the time.

This is a false stereotype because many people live on the streets that do have access to wash.


How can they get access to showers? 

How they were kept clean would vary depending on the day and where they were situated. Often they prefer free or low-cost options.

Homeless shelter

mobile showers for the homeless

Homeless people most often take a shower at shelters. This is because these places have everything they need- they can use the bathroom, take a shower, do laundry, and even eat some food.

Showering at the shelter can be different depending on the shelter. Some shelters offer private showers and individual stalls, while others only provide group showers that you have to wait in line for.

Not all homeless shelters are the same; different shelters will have different policies and restrictions. Some shelters will let you use the shower facilities for a limited time and then ask you to leave, while others require that you stay for an entire evening as a guest.


Practically all public beaches have showers. No rules are stating that you can’t use public showers if you’re homeless. You have to be respectful when out in public and using these showers.

It’s always best to keep your clothes on unless you are in an appropriate situation. There’s a chance that someone who doesn’t understand the context may think that you’re being attacked and call the police.

If you plan to use them, it might be a good idea to buy a bathing suit, bikini, or swim trunks. You could keep these in your backpack, wear them under your clothes to avoid looking out of place, and then duck into the nearest bathroom to change. Afterward, head to the beach or pool to enjoy some time away from the world.

Make sure to put all your wet clothes into a plastic bag before changing them back into your regular clothes.


mobile showers for the homeless

There are lots of campgrounds that have showers. State parks are famous for this, but there are also private spots that offer these too. Lots of folks take for granted just how much tax money goes into the management of them all.

Also, in North America, if you’re looking to camp on BLM land, be sure to do your research and look for any camps that might be nearby. These sites are usually elementary and not as well-maintained as those in serviced state parks or RV campsites.

If you happen to find a gym with showers nearby, this can be very convenient because you could even stay the night there. Don’t be discouraged by this distance. BLM land is generally situated far from civilization, but that doesn’t preclude it from being a possibility for you.

Public bathroom sinks

When you end up on the streets without a home, the shower will be one of the biggest problems you will face. The city has many different options, but it will take you a few days to find them. It won’t be easy at that point when your body is reacting strongly due to various hygiene factors.

It will become clear that you will need to find some way to clean yourself. You will need to shower at some point, but you feel nervous about it, you can use the bathroom sinks instead, and even baby wipes for now.

Find a public toilet with just one sink that only one person can use at a time for a “birdbath.” Just be mindful that most baby wipes and wet wipes do not have alcohol, but some are with it.

Washing your skin with any soap or body wash, having dry skin because the weather is harsh, spending long periods without scrubbing oneself clean can all contribute to increased skin dryness. Alcoholic drinks are also known to irritate the skin and make it drier.

Another great tip is that I never use wet wipes on your face because I feared the other ingredients might flush away all the essential sebums.

Gyms and the YCMA

mobile showers for the homeless

I thought about how to improve the showering experience, and I remembered the gym. Similarly, you could use the YMCA for showering. It may be cheaper than other gyms, with monthly membership fees around $40 (~$1.30 per day). You can also use their Wi-Fi internet when your online data is running out.

The rivers

Many homeless people use rivers to clean themselves. This is particularly common outside the USA in other parts of the world. Before doing this, you’ll always want to make sure that the river is not a polluted one. Do research as much as you can first.

The quality of our waterways has deteriorated significantly over the years, with an influx in contaminants and wildlife. Keep in mind that some of these microbes can make you seriously ill.

Portable showers

Portable showers have been a lifesaver for some people, as they can help those with limited showering facilities. They’re the size of a 5-gallon jug and have a hose leading from an insulated water bucket or bag.

Typically, you fill the bucket with water and then spray it all over your body from a hose. They’re easy to pack up & carry with you – just put the hose in your backpack! If you want to bathe like at home, though, try grabbing a nearby pot of soup for this next step.

Many homeless people who have these devices find a place to quickly fill them up with water, such as a fixture or even water refill stations near grocery stores. If you do this, try to find one that has bottled and non-bottled water, and in case it’s not fresh, don’t forget your bottle of water.

These small portable showers are often called camping showers, and the more expensive ones should be around 15-30 dollars. These products work best for homeless people who want to stay in rural areas for camping.


Many churches and mosques offer free showers for the homeless. Just make sure you’re not overdoing it.

For several reasons, churches and mosques offer free showers for homeless people.

    • Churches and mosques provide a community to the homeless by giving them a place to go and feel safe and an opportunity to interact with others in the same situation.
    • Churches often have kitchens where they make food for those in need to offer showers as an extension of that service.
    • Individuals from both churches and mosques might want to help the homeless because many people from these religions adhere strongly to scripture that instructs them to care for those less fortunate than themselves.

What organization provides mobile shower units?

Mobile shower units can be an effective solution to the problem of hygiene for the homeless. They are provided by organizations such as below:

The Hope Tank

mobile showers for the homeless

In November 2017, Emmanuel and Adrienne Threatt launched “The Hope Tank,” a mobile hygiene service vehicle. Inside the tank are a fully-equipped bathroom with two doors and three sets of washers and dryers.

For the Waystation setup, two generators are required and propane for heating water & drying clothes. We visit these beautiful communities every other Saturday of the month.

It started with donors like Hope Vibes receiving $50,000 in grants from United Way. Donors offered items like hygiene products, blankets & socks.

Alumni Rebekah Peterson shared why she volunteers at Real Life. “I come out here where Real Life Center because I’ve been in situations where I didn’t have permanent housing,” Peterson shared.

Hope Vibes is always looking to expand on its success. They are currently preparing to launch the ‘Solar Sinks Project,’ which will place touchless, solar-powered hand washing stations throughout the city.

The Borgen Project


It is headquartered in Tacoma, WA. The Borgen Project fights extreme poverty and access to basic sanitation.

The right to water and sanitation was pronounced as a human right in 2010, but it can be challenging for some to use it. They encourage people to join the movement and make sure all people have access to clean water.

Orange Sky Laundry

mobile showers for the homeless

Orange Sky Laundry is providing mobile showers to the homeless in Australia and New Zealand. With 21 mobile shower vans, they can clean about 15-20 loads of laundry and provide 20 showers every day.

They have big plans for the future. They are working hard to keep their friends off the streets by providing items they need so that they can become a part of the community again.

Lava Mae


Lava Mae is a nonprofit organization that provides mobile showers & toilets for homeless people in the San Francisco area. Since 2014, they’ve helped to create 163 similar programs in 190 communities across the world.

Lava Mae has provided more than 30,000 homeless people in California with 78,000 showers. They get to keep what they need for their next shower–shampoo, soap, towels & socks.

Iglesia Ancla (Anchor Church)


Those who are homeless face many challenges. For example, Fernando, a homeless man, has not had a shower in 14 years. Homeless individuals who sleep outdoors and those with substance abuse problems may find it challenging to access showers.

A church in Tijuana is dedicating itself to the less fortunate and aims to help them with a mobile shower service. They launched the project in August 2018.

Curch’s member took an old cargo van and transformed it into a mobile public restroom with three bathrooms, a shower, mirror, toilet, and sink.

Pope Francis Center, Detroit

mobile showers for the homeless

The last time Deonta Talley was able to shower was about two months ago. The mobile showers opened Thursday at the Pope Francis Center, 438 St. Antoine. They are there to meet the homeless community’s needs amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. The center, housed at Saints Peter and Paul Jesuit Church, offers meals for homeless people in addition to medical care.

The center downtown closed its showers for fear of catching the coronavirus. However, you can enjoy two hot meals served six days a week. Portable toilets are available 24/7 to help you continue supporting your lifestyle. 

The city has opened additional shelters to accommodate the homeless with the virus. They provide isolation for thirteen people who were confirmed to have coronavirus, but eighteen others are waiting on test results. Two more homeless people are awaiting tests.

The local homeless center hosted 20 people who needed to shower within the first 10 minutes of opening. Ferris, who sleeps down by the river, was served recently.

Birmingham City Nonprofit


When support is lagging for a cause, it is essential to remain persistent in the face of adversity. Sometimes, it can be easy to try and give up when things are not going your way, but you should never succumb to setbacks.

In response to the announcement of Liberty 24/7, Robbin’s quoted saying, “This is not a luxury. People in the streets don’t have access to hot water.” This project will make it possible for them to take care of their needs.

With each mobile shower unit having its toilet & sink, you can promote cleanliness and lead to self-sufficiency. The idea for this came in October 2018.

Having difficulty with raising the money to reach the deadline? You’re not alone. All of us can be encouraged by COVID’s success, and by April 2020, we might see a GoFundMe account from Robbins.

Taking a new drive to make your neighborhood a safer & friendlier place starts with you. In May, Robbins stepped her efforts up and began working on the unit’s schedule. She wants people to trust him and his team of seven volunteers by going out into the downtown area.

“This is just basic human decency. Everybody deserves the right to bathe in private for themselves and feel good about themselves. It allows people a sense of dignity.”

Humanity Showers

mobile showers for the homeless

The founder of Humanity Showers has been so famous that he’s expanding his mission to include hiring people. “Dignity goes beyond a shower,” said Jordan, a 30-year-old from Vista, California. He’s the president of the nonprofit.

Verdin launched its first two-stall mobile shower in 2019 and since has expanded the program. While it is one of the newest mobile shower programs in the county, it already has the largest fleet.

“COVID changed what we were doing,” he said about the increase in demand. “Before, it would just be people you’d see on the street.” Last year, the number of people using Humanity Showers increased from 15 or 20 a day to 30 or 50. This included people who work but live in their cars and needed a place to wash up.

Verdin’s program has expanded quickly since 2014, thanks to the contributions of volunteers and donors. It now has 3 locations (Oceanside, CA), providing about 150 showers a week. Once a week, they attach six stalls to their truck and head over to Oceanside’s Union Church.

He pays four homeless people $20-50 for a few hours to do his helper work, and their lives improve. With the money he pays them, they can take care of their hygiene needs, replace old clothes with new ones, and have more food if they have nothing. “They go into the bathroom, take a shower and walk out feeling refreshed. It’s for people to leave smiling,” she says. There’s been a lot of volunteer support as well from chefs like Sunny Soto, who come on Wednesdays to prepare hot meals for guests.”


LAHSA is continuing to fund mobile shower services for homeless residents. Individual shower rooms are set up in trailers, enabling people to take hot showers in private.

The county first became involved in February 2019 after Supervisors Kathryn Barger, and Hilda Solis sought and received approval for a pilot program. After six months, the Supervisors authorized spending up to $200,000 to expand the mobile shower service.

As a result, the team behind The Shower of Hope, who previously operated in unincorporated East Pasadena and provided showers, was contracted to provide them five days a week and in various parts of the city and county.

LAHSA’s mobile shower program has been a massive benefit for people experiencing homelessness. They can now access a basic service outside of a fixed location. In addition, outreach teams have been able to help those who may not have otherwise connected with the supportive services LAHSA offers.

LAHSA has released an RFP for a mobile shower provider to take over Shower of Hope’s contract old June 30, 2020.

HOPE South Florida


HOPE South Florida‘s Mobile Shower Unit is the first of its kind in Broward County and lets homeless people take a shower, wash off clothes and shoes, and receive information about health care.

The 29.5-foot-long, air-conditioned, heated trailer has six private showers, six baths, and six changing rooms.

Showering Love

mobile showers for the homeless

Unfortunately, permanent public indoor showers for the homeless in South Florida do not exist. Jeane Lewis, who once was homeless, created the nonprofit Showering Love.

“What we owe to each other all we’ve been blessed with,” Lewis said. Patricia Jackson has been carrying the baby in her womb for five months and is next in line for a charity shower.

Camillus House is unique in that it provides mobile showers for the homeless. After, everyone receives a bag with basic toiletries, clean underwear, and socks. There’s also a pantry stocked with clothes to wear.

Showering Love doesn’t have the resources or funding to provide showers across Palm Beach, Broward & Miami-Dade counties. As a result of our partnering with buses, more than 8,000 showers have been provided.

“Our bus usually costs about $1,000 to set up for a few hours. Nonprofits operate a few other mobile showers, but they’re usually only open one to three days per week.”

Ryan Jackson, whose wife is pregnant, said he thinks they should put more effort into helping people experiencing homelessness. Showering Love offers showers across Florida by working with other nonprofits.

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