The RVers’ Guide To Cleaning Dishes With Limited Water Supply
Washing dishes is an inevitable chore, but not everyone enjoys it. This is especially true for those spending time in an RV, where water supply is often limited. In such cases, it’s essential to explore alternative ways to wash dishes while conserving water.
Luckily, campers and RVers have been dealing with this problem for years, and they have come up with several innovative ways to overcome the issue. Below, we have listed some different methods for how to clean dishes in your RV or campground.
Depending on your water capacity and preferences, some of these approaches may be better than others. Keep this list in mind next time you’re rolling up your sleeves to clean your dishes though! There may be a more water-efficient strategy you could use instead.
Use your RV dishwasher
When it comes to conserving water while washing dishes, one of the easiest alternatives to hand washing is using a dishwasher! This modern invention has been a time and effort saver in many kitchens, including those in newer RVs, which may include a built-in dishwasher.
Even though it may sound strange, using a dishwasher can actually save water in the end. If you were to hand wash dishes (and keep the faucet running), you will use about one gallon of water every 30 seconds. This may seem small at first, but it will quickly build up.
Obviously, there are ways to reduce this, such as filling the sink with water and using this as a tub to scrub and rinse dishes. However, in general, a dishwasher will use less water to clean the same amount of dishes.
If you have a dishwasher built into your RV, that’s great! Use it to save water and lighten your workload. However, lots of people don’t have this appliance pre-installed. If this is the case, you can always buy a countertop dishwasher like the Farberware Countertop Dishwasher. This model comes with its own water tank and offers several wash cycles.
Using a dishwasher is an easy way to save water and reduce stress during your travels. If this is a viable option for you, try it out!
Spray and dry dishes
Another low-water method you can use is the spray and dry technique. All you need is a pair of spray bottles, a water-tight container, dish soap (or vinegar), lemon juice, and a bit of water.
Begin by filling one spray bottle with a mixture of 20% dish soap or vinegar and 80% water. Shake it well so that these fluids are thoroughly mixed. Wipe as much excess food off your dishes as possible, then spray them down with the cleaning mixture.
Place these soapy dishes into the watertight container and let them sit for five minutes. Preferably, this container should have a lid so the soap doesn’t dry on the dishes. After the soap has had time to sit, take the dishes out and give them one more spray with the cleaning mixture. This will help loosen any scraps and prepare them for the final steps.
Wipe off the dishes with a clean cloth and prepare your second spray bottle. Fill this bottle up with a mixture of 10% lemon juice and 90% water. Lightly spray the dishes with this combination and let them air dry for at least 10 minutes. If they’re completely dry by this point, they’re ready to reuse in the future. If they’re still wet, wipe them down one final time.
The combination of water and lemon juice will help kill any remaining bacteria, as well as eliminate any soapy residue that remains on the surface. You don’t want your dishes to taste like soap when you’re done!
If you prefer more of a wash and soak approach, you can always try the two-bin method for conserving water. You’ll still be able to save water, but this technique is quite similar to washing dishes by hand.
To start with, you’ll need two watertight bins. These could be buckets, plastic storage bins, or anything else that will hold water. Collapsible sink basins are a great option if you want to conserve space.
Fill both bins with clean water and add a bit of dish soap to one of them. Stir the water up until you form suds. Keep the other bin clear because you’ll use this to rinse the dishes at the end.
Soak the dishes in the soapy water and scrub them with a sponge or washcloth. Once you’re satisfied, flick off the majority of the suds and dunk the dishes in the bin of clean water. Then, you can set them out to air dry or wipe them down with a clean towel.
Once you’re done, you can dispose of the water in the bins. It’s a good idea to use an environmentally-friendly soap when you clean so that you can easily dispose of the water if you’re at a campsite. Find a good dump station or drain if you can.
Try waterless dishwashing methods
If conserving water is a top priority, there are methods to clean your dishes with minimal water usage. These techniques may be less effective than the options mentioned earlier, but they’re still worth considering. After all, every drop saved counts!
Baby wipes are a great way to keep your dishes clean if you don’t have access to water. These are designed to be gentle, so they won’t damage your dishes. They also won’t leave any chemicals behind (at least not ones that you need to worry about ingesting).
Use a rag or towel to get the majority of your food off the plates and finish up with a couple of baby wipes. These are also handy to keep around the campsite if you need to clean your hands or other items.
Although it sounds strange, you can use wood ash to clean your dishes. You’ll need a tiny bit of water for this approach, but this shouldn’t be hard to come by. Simply gather up some wood ash and mix in a bit of water. Stir them together until they form a paste.
Rub this mixture onto your dishes and wipe it off with a clean towel afterward. The wood ash is a bit abrasive, so it can remove food scraps that are stuck to the surface.
As long as it’s fresh, wood ash is also fairly sanitary because the heat of the fire kills bacteria that might have been on the wood. If you create a campfire, save some of the ashes for future use.
If you use ashes to clean your dishes, you don’t need to worry much about the residue that’s left behind. This technique might leave a bit of an aftertaste on the dishes, but it does a decent job at cleaning them.
As a last resort, this method can be useful! Plus, you only need a tiny bit of water to create the ash paste, so it’s perfect if you need to save water.
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