How to Wash Your Dishes While Camping (2022)

washing fork in camping sink
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    Washing dishes while camping can be difficult, especially if you have a limited water supply. That’s why it’s important to know the proper way to wash your dishes while camping. Washing dishes the wrong way can be dangerous to the environment and other campers, so we will take this time to explain how to accomplish this chore safely and effectively.

    What You’ll Need

    You’ll need a camping sink, sponge or dishcloth, and camping soap to wash your dishes. You can also use a pot scraper or spatula to clear the dishes before adding them to the water and a microfiber towel to dry the dishes when you’re done washing them, but these aren’t required.

    Step One: Fill the Camping Sink with Water

    Using a clean water supply, fill your camping sink with water. You can make the water warm by boiling some clean water and adding it to the cold water in the camping sink.

    Step Two: Add Camping Soap to the Water

    Add camping soap to the water. Camping soap is better to use for cleaning dishes while camping because it is safe for the environment. Camping soap does not contain any kind of antimicrobials, sulfates, or phosphates. These ingredients are harmful to water, animals, and plants in the environment.

    Step Three: Wash the Dishes

    Drop the dishes into the camping sink and wash the dishes using a sponge or dishcloth. Make sure that you get all of the food particles off. If they are stuck on there, you can let the dishes soak for a few hours before washing them.

    Step Four: Rinse the Dishes

    You can rinse the dishes by filling a second camping sink up with clean water or running the dishes under water from another water supply. You never wash or rinse dishes in a bathroom sink or other designated handwashing station while camping. You want to remain at your campsite and stay away from water sources.

    Step Five: Dry the Dishes

    Dry the dishes by using a microfiber towel (optional) or letting them air dry. Once they have dried, pack them away so that they’ll stay clean until the next time you’re ready to cook.

    Make Sure to Clean Up When You’re Done

    When you’re done washing your dishes, you’ll need to dispose of the dirty water. If you use a rinse sink, you can pour the water from the rinse sink into the soapy water. This is called gray water.

    Gray water will need to be disposed of according to the local regulations at your campground. This may require the water to be disposed of in a gray water utility sink or the ground at least 200 feet away from other campers and water sources.


    Washing dishes while camping is similar to washing dishes at home. You will need a water supply, soap, and a sponge or rag to wash the dishes. The main difference comes from disposing of your gray water. Unlike at home, where you can simply drain the water in the sink, gray water at a campground will need to be disposed of in a specific gray water utility sink or on the ground at least 200 feet away from campers and water sources.

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