Doing Dishes

When doing dishes in the outdoors without access to a designated sink, I used to wash them with a very small amount of water and biodegradable soup, then carefully rinse with clean water. Afterwards, I carefully disposed of the grey water by spraying it over an area away from the campsite, after removing the bigger solid chunks.

Now I just use a couple of paper towels, sometimes dampened, to wipe everything cleanish and pack them out or burn them if I can. Much less hassle, in my opinion.

What do you do? What’s the proper dish etiquette?

What did you do …
with “the bigger solid chunks” ?

Seems like it would be good fish food

I usually find a sandy beach or shore line and use the wet sand to scrub the dirty dishes and utensils

Jack L

I packed it out with the trash
Is it OK to just throw it in the river?

I recently found some smelly fish corpse on the shore line. Toss it in the river, bury it, leave it where it is?

and fingers or paper towel or isopropyl rubbing alcohol in that order removing increasing grease thicknesses/concentrations.

I’m not a grease eater, use MSR’s

MSR metals resist ‘cling’ and ‘stick’

If you plan for a cathole, cathole near a needy plant, add the food runoff with some local top duff off the soil surface and the paper towel.

The mix will digest into the soil system with local micro worms and bacteria devouring your material then nourishing the plants.

Boiling Water And Scotch Brite Pads
Are my choice. I’ll cut small pieces big enough to do the job. Wipe with paper towels or cloth. Then air dry. As far as the food goes remember raccoons regularly patrol places people frequent. I leave scraps where they can find them and not bother me. In the boonies extra food burns.

If it is biodegradeable…
which it should be if it is your food scraps, I would throw it in the river or ocean.

If it is a tiny little stream I wouldn’t. I would pack it out with the trash

Jack L

Depending on the level of use (and abuse) of a campsite, I think the OP generally has the right idea for low use areas. But I am not sure why there has to be any chunks left over to dispose of. If you plan your meals and prepare them appropriately, there should not be much of anything left over. Cleanup should be quick and easy.

Moderately used sites are actually the toughest to deal with. They can go from moderately used, but still pleasant and inviting, to ugly trash heaps overrun with critters in a hurry if food waste is not properly dealt with. No one wants to see someone else’s food scraps, be it in the firepit, out behind the campsite, or in the water. These are the places where chipmunks and squirrels will chew into everything, not to mention an attractant for bears. It takes very little lingering odor to become a real problem. Bears that are regularly attracted to campsites almost never have a good ending.

When you get efficient with your meal planning and consumption, there should be practically nothing left to throw out. To clean my cookware and bowl I just add a little clean hot water and swish it around. There won’t be much. Send it down the hatch, repeat until clean. You need the liquid intake anyway, why not clean your bowl at the same time? Any residual greasy film can then be wiped out by leaves far from the campsite and scattered wide.

For tougher jobs (or for cooking mistakes), some wet sand and a sump hole dug far from camp or water sources will take care of any inedible degradable scraps that you choose not to carry out. If necessary, a finger dipped in a small bottle of biodegradable soap will give you all the grease cutting power you need.

I’m really not over the top with LNT like some people I have known. It might pay to look over all the different techniques suggested by LNT - there is not just one method for all cases. It just takes a little thought and not much work to keep your possessions and the environment clean, and it is easy to do. Far easier than scrubbing dirty pots with too much unwanted leftover food scraps. And the outdoors is not a zoo where the animals need to be fed or to depend on humans for their next meal. Rangers and state conservation officers would all agree.

is not a good term. Solids, really, like the odd lentil or noodle that may still be left in the bowl and that I thought needed to be carried out if following proper etiquette.

Down the hatch
with the odd lentil or whatever, swish the bowl or pot with a tiny bit of hot water and make it part of your meal. Dish is clean, you are hydrated, no mess.

When I Eat Flies Will Land
On my cookware. Somehow drinking fly puke doesn’t appeal to me.

I have read where some natives believe they should share what they are eating with critters. A lion doesn’t clean up all its scraps.

I’ve washed my pots with sand, which works, but I find the best thing to bring along is a little stainless steel or copper scrubber. They weigh almost nothing, rinse easily and clean out your cookware quite well. Adding a little hot water with a spritz of Dr Bronners soap will kill the grease. Rinse with fresh water.

If you have “chunks” left I see nothing wrong with carrying them a good distance from the campsite and depositing them. The flies will make quick work of them.

Pine needles do a great job of scrubbing and will not kill Teflon. If I have them - paper towels and then burn them in the fire. I hardly ever use soap.

Don’t need a personal bowl if you eat everything off tortillas. Otherwise for ocean camping I stick with sand and scrape with the spatula. I leave the grease on for “seasoning” or maybe a little hot water to cut it down.

Non-ocean camping I’ll scrape and drink whatever is left, or just carry out the rest. Might also dilute non-solid stuff with water and broadcast well away from camp.

I never use soap just hot water. I think keeping your hands clean is more important than anything.

I bring a dog
When done, I let my dog lick the bowls, plates and pots clean. No more dried food stuck to the 'ware and i only have to wash dog-spit off the gear which is easy and uses almost no water.

Plus it saves on carrying dog food.

Great idea!
the dog should be able to take care of any “chunks.” In fact, my dog has had the same idea but I never thought about adopting it as a regular practice, despite the fact that he comes almost every time. I like it!

biograde soap…used lightly, scotchbrite
pad(cut) and boiled water. Agree with any large chunks…a must dig.