Wash, sanitize, rinse.
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 BSA Fieldbook (pages 91-92) and the 13th edition 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: 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: Cold-rinse pot
Place a few drops of bleach or a sanitizing tablet (like Steramine) into cold water.
Pot 3: Hot-rinse pot
Fill the final pot with clear, hot 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
- Though the Fieldbook recommends the three-pot order above, other Scouters (and, indeed, my own Troop 1776 growing up) believe in a different order:
- Pot 1: Soapy wash pot
- Pot 2: Hot-rinse pot
- Pot 3: Cold-rinse sanitizing pot
- 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.
- Here’s a look at the Boy Scout Handbook guidance on the subject:
Now it’s your turn
So that’s how to wash dishes at a campsite. What tips or advice can you offer for campsite dishwashing?
Photo via this site, where you can learn to make a holder for your dish tubs.