How to Clean Pots & Pans Outside When Camping

How to Clean Pots & Pans Outside When CampingPots and pans get dirty while you're camping and need to be washed, just like at home. The big difference is that you're not going to find an automatic dishwasher in the great outdoors. You're also not likely to have enough water to wash dishes the same way you would in your kitchen sink. Following a few basic steps will make your camp dish-washing experience as quick and pleasant as possible.
 

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Water
  • Scouring pad or sponge
  • Digging tool
 
Step 1
Scoop water from a water source, such as a river or stream, into the largest of your your pots and pans. If you're washing a lot of dishes, you may need to fill more than one pot or pan to have enough water.
Step 2
Carry your water-filled pot or pots and any dirty pots or pans and dishes a minimum of 100 feet away from both the water source and your campsite.
Step 3
Dig a hole about a foot across and 5 or 6 inches deep. You can use a stick or rock to do this or, if you brought a digging tool with you such as a small spade or a U-Dig-It, use that.
Step 4
Pour a small amount of water--the minimum you think you can get by with using--from your largest pot into the first pot or pan you're going to wash. Scrub your pots and pans out using a small scouring pad or sponge. If you're camping in an area with horsetail as ground cover, you can also use a handful of silica-rich horsetail as a scouring pad.
Step 5
Dump the dirty water and any solid matter into the hole. Add more water and scrub again, as necessary, until the pot is completely clean.
Step 6
Pour a little more water into the pot, swirl it around to rinse, then dump that water into the hole. Go on to the next pot, pan or dish and wash it in the same manner.
Step 7
Fill the hole back in with the dirt you displaced when you're done washing and rinsing.
 

Tips & Warnings

 
Some campers like to use a small amount of baking soda--which can be stored in a plastic bag to save space--or hydrogen peroxide when cleaning their camp dishes. Soap is not necessary as long as you clean your camp dishes immediately after using them. If you must use soap, choose a product that is biodegradable. If there's no river or stream nearby to use as a water source, you'll have to use a little bit of your drinking water to clean your pots and pans.
 
Some campers like to use a small amount of baking soda--which can be stored in a plastic bag to save space--or hydrogen peroxide when cleaning their camp dishes. Soap is not necessary as long as you clean your camp dishes immediately after using them. If you must use soap, choose a product that is biodegradable.
 
If there's no river or stream nearby to use as a water source, you'll have to use a little bit of your drinking water to clean your pots and pans.

Article Written By Marie Mulrooney

Marie Mulrooney has written professionally since 2001. Her diverse background includes numerous outdoor pursuits, personal training and linguistics. She studied mathematics and contributes regularly to various online publications. Mulrooney's print publication credits include national magazines, poetry awards and long-lived columns about local outdoor adventures.

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