Washing Dishes In An RV: What’s The Best Method For Handwashing?
Washing dishes in an RV is not that much different than handwashing dishes at home. However, in an RV, we’ve got limited space.
When we’re boondocking, we’re trying to conserve water and keep the gray tank from filling up too fast. Once we run out of water or our gray tank is full, we have to pack up camp to get the freshwater tank filled and to empty the gray water tank. No one wants to do that more than they have to.
Conserving water while handwashing dishes can save you from having to run to the dump station to empty your tanks. Over the years, we’ve discovered some hacks for washing dishes in your RV that you might not have heard of. Here’s what we’ve found to be the best way to handwash dishes in your RV.
Assemble your dishwashing tools
You’ll need to get a few things together. Here’s what you’ll need:
- A basin or large mixing bowl that fits in your sink
- A spray bottle containing white vinegar
- A spray bottle containing a teaspoon of biodegradable dishwashing liquid
- A rubber spatula
- A dishcloth or brush
- Paper towel/Swedish dishcloth
1. Start by scraping off all the excess food on your dishes.
It will save time, water, and energy if you begin with dishes that aren’t caked with food. If dishes have soft food on them, you can use a rubber spatula to gently scrape food off into the trash.
2. Spray dishes that have dried-on food with pure white vinegar.
Liberally spray dishes with dried-on food and leave them for five minutes. You’ll probably be surprised at how fast plain old white vinegar softens dried-on food.
3. Line the sink with a basin or the biggest dish you’re washing (such as a large bowl or pot).
Lining the sink with a basin, large bowl, or pot will allow you to capture your dishwater.
4. Wipe any excess food off dishes with a paper towel.
If there is still soft food on your dishes, use a paper towel to wipe them. Save the paper towels you use to burn in the campfire pit later. As an environmentally friendly alternative, you could also use a Swedish dish towel to wipe your dishes.
5. Spray a dish with soapy water.
Spray and rinse one dish at a time.
6. Rinse each dish after washing.
Allow the rinse water to fall into the basin or bowl to be reused or otherwise disposed of.
What to do with the dishwater
Set up a strainer over a small bucket and dump the basin containing the dishwater into the strainer to get all the bits of food out. The dishwater can now be disposed of in one of two ways.
- Use your dishwater to flush the RV toilet
You can use your dishwater to flush the RV toilet instead of using precious freshwater supplies. Since the RV black tank tends to fill up much more slowly than the gray tank, you won’t need to be as worried about filling up your black water tank as you would your gray water tank.
An added bonus is that the dish soap you are adding to your black tanks will actually help clean your black tank when you flush it.
- Dump dishwater in a public toilet
You can collect dishwater in your bucket to dispose of a public toilet at the end of the day, but you can also just dump it one load at a time throughout the day.
There are currently shortages of potable, clean water around the world. With a changing climate, freshwater sources and supplies are declining more rapidly than we’d often like to think. Using less water just makes good sense. When you think about it, the best way to handwash dishes is by using less water, whether or not you need to conserve water at the campsite.
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Lynne lives, travels and works full time in the R-Pod 180 with her 2-pointers, Jolene and Annabelle. Lynne began full-time RVing as an experiment in 2019, but she quickly fell in love with the convenience, freedom and minimalist lifestyle offered by full-time RV living. Lynne is a professional writer and has been a professional dog trainer since 1995. You can read about her travel adventures on her R-Pod Adventure blog, R-podyssey at: http://www.rpodaventure.com