How to Wash Dishes While Camping in 8 Steps

girls washing dishes while camping

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Personally, I dislike doing dishes. Now imagine what washing dishes while camping would be like; no proper sink, no kitchen faucets, no dishwasher, and all that. However, it’s a fact that dishes must still be washed if you want to have a clean camping environment.

If you try being dirty and leave unwashed dishes lying about in your tent or just outside the tent, you should expect visits from unwanted animal guests on the campground and you will need to repel bears to stay safe.

That’s why it’s important to learn how to wash dishes while camping. This will go a long way in keeping your tent neat and also reduce the risks of endangering your health.

How to Wash Dishes While Camping

This article will provide you with just the right amount of information you need.

1. Cook Only the Food You Need Now

It’s a fact that cooking at camp could be much more uncomfortable than cooking at home. Because of this reason, you might be tempted to cook lots of food at once so that you won’t have to cook again for some days.

If you’re cooking trout camping and it naturally spoils quickly, or if you don’t have any proper preservation methods or equipment, you must rethink this step.

When you cook more than you can eat or preserve, it will only lead to a high amount of leftovers; and you should already know by now that leftovers attract unwanted animal guests.

2. Use Biodegradable Soap

Regardless of how carefully you dispose of your waste after washing the dishes, some of this waste may still come in contact with some plant life or water source.

This is why you should purchase biodegradable materials for dishwashing. When you’re shopping for camping items, ask for biodegradable soaps. These are better than the conventional chemical-filled soaps.

3. Use Sponges

Sponges are also a great addition to your dishwashing kit. For campers who prefer to scrub their dishes with soap and water, a sponge would be needed.

Just like any other dishwashing item, you should clean the sponge properly after usage and keep it safely with the other utensils. Failure to properly clean the sponge will lead to bacteria growth.

4. Disinfect Dishes

If you would love some extra disinfecting after washing with soap, or if you don’t have any soap left, you can make use of boiling hot water.

The idea behind this is that hot water is great for killing germs and ultimately disinfecting various items. All you have to do is boil some water when you’re ready to clean the dinnerware for camping, and then pour the water in a large enough bowl.

Soak the dishes in the hot water and remove after a short period. Wipe them dry with your absorbent towel.

5. Dry Dishes with a Towel

After you’ve finished washing and rinsing the dishes with fresh water from the RV tank, do you leave them to dry on their own or do you dry with a towel?

The best answer is to dry dishes with an absorbent towel. This will save you the extra time of having to wait while the dishes dry off in open-air.

6. Don’t Wash Your Dishes Near a Lake or River

Another way you could contribute greatly to pollution is by washing dishes inside water sources like lakes, rivers, and the likes.

This is a horrible thing to do. Not only does it threaten the life of organisms and animals in the water, it also reduces the beauty of the campsite. If you’ve already had your fun at camp, make sure you leave the campgrounds as neat and natural as you met it.

If you have greywater from your dishwasher, make sure you throw it somewhere far from water sources.

7. Get Rid of Greywater

After straining out the little food particles and trashing them, you would need to dispose of the greywater from the handwashing station too.

To do this, you have to locate somewhere that’s at a reasonable distance from water sources and major areas of the campground. When you want to pour out the greywater, you have to make sure that you disperse it over a large area.

The idea is to scatter the water over as much area as possible so that it doesn’t get concentrated on just one spot. This would make the disintegration of the greywater faster.

8. Leave No Trace Behind

One of the biggest problems facing Mother Nature is poor waste disposal. This is an issue that’s causing serious problems globally.

So, my question for you is: why would you litter the campground and leave without cleaning? It’s very important for you to clean up your camping area when you’re about to leave the site.

Properly dispose of leftovers, plastic bags and bottles, and remove all cooking utensils that you have used to cook in your tent. Basically, leave no trace behind.

All these steps that have been given contain all the relevant information you need on how to wash dishes while camping easily.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you wash dishes when car camping?

In this situation, you would need a large enough washbasin. Prepare a mixture of warm water and biodegradable soap in the basin and soak the dirty dishes inside. Let the water cool to a skin-friendly temperature by adding some cold water. Proceed to wash the dishes and then spread them out over a dish rack.

How do you wash bottles when camping?

Rinse the insides of the bottle with a little soap and pour it out. Also, wash the body with soap and rinse. Don’t forget to also repeat-rinse the inside of the bottle till it’s clean.

Is it safe to wash dishes in lake water?

Using soap to wash dishes in lake water, especially biodegradable soap, works; although you will need to use a cleaner water source to rinse the dishes.

How do you make dishes without running water?

The answer is dishwashing wipes. These are easy to use, and they also serve scrubbing and washing functions. You would need to rinse the plates after – a minimal amount of water would suffice.


It’s important for every camper to know how to wash dishes while camping as it’s something that you just have to do.

With all the information provided here, you should be able to wash your dishes and properly dispose of the waste at camp.

No matter what you do, you have to make sure that you’re not contributing to environmental pollution. Always follow the “leave no trace principle.”

Whenever you’re done washing, pour the greywater far away from the tents and water sources. Also, strain food particles from greywater before pouring it away.


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