When you’re on the road traveling for days at a time as a truck driver, staying clean can be a challenge.
time to rest, stretch their limbs, eat and hopefully have time to grab a shower during their ten hours off duty.
Given their long distances and the kind of job they do, how do truck drivers shower with the amount of work they do and the schedule they keep.
To folks in the industry it seems funny (and a dumb question), but people are curious. Unless you happen to be a local or maybe a regional driver, being a truck driver does not allow one to pop up at home whenever they feel like getting cleaned up. Obvious if you are a professional truck driver, but not so obvious to everyone else.
How Do Truck Drivers Shower?
Truck drivers typically use showers at truck stops and pay for them with either cash or loyalty points. Commercial motor vehicle (CMV) Drivers also use hotel showers when available or shower at home.
The majority of these drivers end up taking their showers at the truck stops where it can cost a few bucks. However, there are other alternatives for them than just a truck stop, depending on location and sleeper size.
Ways truck drivers can get cleaned up:
- Taking a shower at a truck stop
- Use a portable shower
- Taking a bird bath
Option 1: Truck stop showers
If you choose to take a shower at the truck stop (more here), you will need to go to the cashier and buy a shower. The cashier will issue you a receipt that has a security code on it to help you enter the shower stall.
This receipt will have a customer number that will be announced for you to be able to use the shower.
Not sure when the shower was last cleaned?
It is advisable to use shower shoes as you go in the shower so that you can’t get toe fungus. Especially advisable if you have any open wounds on your feet.
One important thing to remember when you choose this option is that the best time to have a good shower is early in the morning or late at night. In between this time, the truck stops tend to be busy with a lot of people going in and out of the shower area, and you can wait for as long as 30 minutes and sometimes an hour before you are called upon to take your shower.
Once you have the opportunity to take a shower, there is no time limit, but it is not good to take long in the shower, especially when the showers are busy. Chances are it will earn you the stink eye from fellow drivers.
Shower can be spendy after a while but there are opportunities for drivers to get a free shower. Flying J and Pilot truck stops have free shower programs to make sure you ask the cashier for help.
Truck stops that have showers:
- Flying J
- Travel Centers of America
- Love’s travel stops
- Locally owned and operated truck stops and travel centers
Paid and Free showers
Truckers often get the opportunity to get a free shower when they buy fuel, but don’t always have time to shower. If you can make use of the shower, use it while you have it.
Otherwise, see if you can use the free shower at another location (ask the cashier) or give it to a fellow driver.
The cost for a shower will depend on which truck stops you at, but the average is anywhere from around $10 – $17 for each shower – ouch. Which is why finding the free showers is important. Occasionally you can find showers as low as the $5 range, but they are few and far between.
Getting a free shower
- If you stop in a national truck stop chain (Pilot, Flying J, Love’s etc)
- If you stop at independent truck stops and you made a purchase
- If you make a purchase for fuel and repairs
- Loyalty rewards programs
Hygiene items to carry along
Anytime you’re taking a shower in what amounts to a public place, you always want to come prepared.
Here’s a quick list of items to bring with you:
- shower shoes – really a must. Ex-military guys get the importance
- Clean or change of clothes
- Shave cream or razor
- Shampoo, soap
- Body lotion
- Bags to carry things in
Carrying your hygiene items
You’ll want to get a water resistant duffle bag to carry your hygiene items in including your change of clothes. If you’re bringing your own towels, you’ll want a plastic bag to put them in until you can get them to a good place to dry them.
Don’t leave the towels in the bag or they’ll mildew quick, especially in warmer weather.
Inside the truck stop showers
So what are truck stop showers like?
It is essential to know that these showers are not a row of showers like the ones in prisons or schools or even when you were in boot camp.
Typically the showers are individual stalls assigned to one person. Once your inside you should have access to the following:
- Sink with both cold and hot water
- AC outlet
- Some will have a hairdryer
What’s available will depend of course on the specific location you’re at.
Ways of getting a shower at a truck stop
There are various ways in which you can get a shower at the truck stop. Large travel plaza truck stops usually issue the drivers with shower credit, and this is usually done when the driver buys a minimum amount of fuel, sometimes around 50 gallons but it can vary..
Truck drivers are given a time limit in which they can use the shower, and if it expires, the credit will be of no use anymore. If a driver is on a rewards program, the truck driver can also use their reward points to get a shower. It’s worth a mention to not try and use rewards points from one program to another.
Rewards programs usually work by earning credit for purchases. For example, for each dollar spent the driver gets a half credit, credit or whatever the program dictates.
The final way is cash, but we’ve already discussed how pricey that can be. But if you’re on a tight schedule and need to get cleaned up, spending the money is a necessary evil.
Option 2: Using a portable shower
Trucker showers usually keep you for a long time before taking it, and this option is for those people who wouldn’t want to wait in lines for long and waste your off duty time.
You can buy a portable shower kit, known by the name camp shower. The kit allows you to take a shower anywhere you are. The option is ideal for truckers who happened to work in rural areas and those with tight schedules.
The camp showers are found online, at camping supply shops, and even in the department stores. These kits go for $50 to $100. An excellent example of the portable shower is the Nemo Helio Pressure Shower.
Characteristics of Nemo Helio Pressure shower
- 2.9 gallon tank
- 7 foot hose
- It has a foot pump to help you spray yourself
Portable showers are not for every truck driver, because they do take up space and require setup. If you think it might be your thing, there are a lot of options other than the Nemo.
Most camp showers probably won’t get you as clean as taking a full shower, but in the end it will really depend on the size of portable shower your decide to use. There are other portable shower options that are available that have bigger tanks and more features.
Option 3: Taking a bird bath
This method is pretty typical of people who travel on a regular basis (even business travelers) and involves using baby wipes to get yourself cleaned up. If you’re on a tight schedule, it’s the easiest, quickest and cheapest of each of these methods.
The best part?
This can be done right in your sleeper without leaving your truck. Just toss the wipes into the trash. Oh – don’t forget to take the trash out!
Depending on the distance and the time spent away from home, the truck driver will purchase enough wipes to get them by. Usually you can find some good deals on Amazon or Costco or wherever you buy groceries. You’ll want to ensure that you choose antibacterial wipes to help kill some of the germs.
Antibacterial won’t kill Covid per se (its a virus not a bacteria) so you may want to get some hand sanitizer or wipes containing alcohol. If you use wipes or hand sanitizers that contain alcohol don’t put it on sensitive parts!
The bird bath method is effective if you’re just plain busy or too far from home for a real shower. You may also want to look for wipes that don’t have any dyes and unscented.
Winding it up…
For over the road truck drivers it means spending a lot of your time and days away from home. We all like to be clean and look as professional as possible, but constant travel can make that difficult.
With some planning you can find some clever ways to keep yourself clean and hopefully save some money in the process.
If you have the time check out our companion article Can anyone use truck stop showers?