washing dishes at camp
The three-pot method: This is how to wash dishes at a campsite
Wash, rinse, sanitize.
With the three-step dishwashing system, you can finish camp dishes in no time. That means you’re back to having fun faster.
Here’s how to wash dishes at a campsite, courtesy of the Boy Scout Handbook (page 308).
What you’ll need
A dishwashing spot that’s at least 200 feet from any sources of water
Hot water (Pro tip: start heating your wash water before you sit down to eat)
Three plastic tubs
Biodegradable dish soap
A dish brush/scrubber or two
Hot tongs for dipping plates and spoons into the hot rinse
Bleach or sanitizing tablets
Ground cloth, towel, mesh bag or lightweight hammock for air-drying
Before you begin
Get your dishes as clean as you can before placing them into the wash pot. That way you won’t overwhelm Pot 1 with food particles.
Note: This may involve scraping and literally licking your plate clean. At Scout camp, this is perfectly acceptable behavior.
Pot 1: Hot Wash pot
Add a few drops of biodegradable soap to hot water. Your instinct will be to use more soap than you actually need, so use sparingly.
Pot 2: Hot-rinse pot
Fill the pot with clear, hot water.
Pot 3: Cold-rinse pot
Place a few drops of bleach or a sanitizing tablet (like Steramine) into cold water.
After you’re done
Hang or place utensils and dishes to dry
Dispose of soapy wash water 200 feet from any water sources. Filter out food particles, and put those in a plastic bag to throw away. Then spread the water over a wide area.
Also worth noting
Minimizing dishwashing time starts with menu planning. Meals that use one pot and few food-prep utensils will leave less mess afterward.
Scouts should use as few dishes and utensils as possible. One bowl, one mug and one spork will be all you’ll need for most meals.