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Doing the dishes when camping


March 8, 2014

In many Ontario parks, there is no dish washing room or station, but there are many warnings against washing your dishes. You are generally not supposed to wash your dishes in the washrooms or at the outdoor water taps which supply cold water throughout the campground.

So you might have trouble figuring out how you are supposed to do the dishes. Here’s how:


Bring this from home:

1. It’s helpful if you bring a water basin for just this purpose. While travelling you can pack your cooking gear in there, so it wouldn’t take too much room. If you didn’t bring a basin, just use your biggest cooking pot.

2. Camping soap. This soap has less chemicals. This is important, because you will be throwing your wash water into nature.

3. Wash cloth or sponge.


At the campsite:

4. Fill up your water vessel at the water tap (cold) or in the washroom. In the washroom the sinks are usually shallow, so it’s pretty difficult to get much water into a big vessel. Bring this to your site.

5. If you have cold water and wish to do a thorough clean, then warm up some water. Warm water will make it easier to clean up any grease. It’s ok to wash your dishes with cold water. (I work with a lot of germophobes, so I feel like I’m really taking a brave stance by saying that.) Exposing yourself to some germs strengthens your immunity ;)

6. Separate some clean water into another container. You will use this for rinsing. If you only have 1 clean container, do your washing in one of your dirty pots.

7. Scrape the food bits from your dishes into your garbage diligently. Once you wash the food residue off your dishes, you will throw the water into the bushes near your site. If you have lots of food in there, you will attract animals. Have you ever attracted raccoons to your site before? They do not give up easily. Shooing them away will become your entertainment for the rest of the night.

8. Wash dishes in your basin using camp soap. Start with less dirty items, such as utensils and cups and work up to dirtier dishes. If you have old solidified grease in a frying pan, it may help to heat it up again and drain the liquid fat into garbage (or fire pit) and then wash. If you need to scrub and aren’t properly equipped, use nature’s tools – grab a squirrel. Just kidding of course, get some leaves or pine cones. True confession: when a frying pan is only greasy, with no food bits stuck to it, I just wipe the oil off with a paper towel. And it’s ready for the next batch!

9. Rinse dishes in previously prepared clean water.

10. Now you’re going to have to juggle a little to not get the newly clean dishes dirty again, but I’m sure you can figure that out!

11. Throw your wash water into nearby bushes. Aim away from the tent.


I see that this came out to a lot of steps. In a future post I will combine these into only 3 steps so it wouldn’t sound as complicated ;)



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Author: Kajtek S