Worried that hand washing camping dishes is not getting them clean? Below we show you how to set up a proper camping dish washing station.This post was sponsored content when originally published and has since been updated and moved here to Let’s Camp S’more.
When we are camping, my husband does all the cooking and cleaning up afterward. I am not sure how it worked out that way, but I enjoy it. I do not want to be critical of how he does the camp dishwashing, but I worry that the dirty dishes are not getting properly cleaned. He also does the laundry with our DIY Washing Machine.
He uses boiling water to make sure it kills any germs, but then he burns his hands. I did some thinking about how we could avoid burned hands and make sure the dishes are clean, and I remembered the old scout way of doing dishes.
Camping Dish Washing The Right Way
The key to clean dishes is to use three three-wash basins, biodegradable camping dish soap, and a disinfectant. We have detailed this process at the bottom of the post.
A key to making dishes easier to clean is to scrap them as clean as possible right away. Use a rubber spatula to scrape food from dishes into a garbage container. Since friction is an excellent sanitizer (if not the best — surgeons scrub their hands) use a sponge and/or scrub brush repeatedly, especially on forks, spoons, cups, and glasses.
For greasy pans and dishes wipe out with newspaper and then spray with full-strength vinegar and allowed that to sit for 5 to 10 minutes, scrub and rinse, preferably in warm or hot water. For more cleaning power, use baking soda and vinegar together for an all-natural, inexpensive, and minimal environmental impact!
How to Dispose of Dishwater When Camping
It is important to properly dispose of the dirty water created by doing dishes. Many campgrounds have regulations on how they want you to get rid of this water. If no rules are posted, please check with the ranger or camp host.
Some parks have a utility sink marked for dishwater disposal. Please be mindful that doing dishes at that sink might not be allowed. If pouring dirty water on the ground is allowed, please make sure it is at least 100 feet from a water source or body of water.
- camping dish soap
- disinfectant (vinegar or bleach)
- three dishpans
- drying rack
- Heat the water up.
- Set up your camping dishwashing station with the 3 dishpans and a drying rack.
- Fill the first dishpan, which is used for washing with warm water. It should not be scalding.
- We like to put in the water out of the tap and add in some hot water to make a warm. We use a higher temperature if our dishes are really greasy.
- Add a small amount of dish soap to the first pan.
- Fill the second dishpan with hot water to rinse dishes. The water should be warmer than the first pan.
- Fill the third dishpan with water. The temperature of this water doesn't make a difference. It can be a temperature that is comfortable to the touch.
- Add a capful of vinegar or bleach to the third pan. This is the sanitize dishpan.
- Use a rubber spatula to scrape the food from dishes into a garbage container. Use a brush on utensils.
- Wash your dishes by first scrubbing clean with a sponge or scrub brush in the first washtub.
- Rinse the soap off the dishes by dunking them in the rinse tub.
- Sanitize the dishes by dunking them in the third tub.
- Finally, air-dry the dishes in a drying rack.
- First, properly dispose of the dishwater. See notes below for instructions on water disposal.
- Then use the water from the second tub to rinse out the first.
- Finally, use the water from the bleach tub to sanitize the wash and rinse tubs.
This is the proper way to clean up the camping wash basins.
If you are at home, just pour the dishwater down the drain. When camping, dispose of it in a marked utility sink or as stated in campground rules. If pouring on the ground is allowed, make sure it is at least 100 feet from a water source or body of water.