How To Clean Dishes While Camping Without Water? [6 Effective Ways]

Camping can be so much fun, with a lot of greenery, beautiful sceneries, and nature unfolding right in front of you. However, one of the not-so-fun parts of the camping is having to do your dishes, especially when you’re short of water.

If you’re running out of water supply while camping, you might be confused about what to do with your dishes. You couldn’t possibly sacrifice drinking water or taking a bath because you want to wash your dishes. 

So, how do you clean your dishes when you don’t have water to spare?

Campers have found their way through such situations, and you can too. Here are a few ways to clean your dishes without water.


6 Effective Ways to Clean Dishes While Camping Without Water

There are several methods and materials to clean your dishes, although the level of cleanliness you can achieve would depend on how well these materials can clean your plate, and of course, what you eat with the plates.

We brought you 6 effective ways you can follow to clean dishes without water while camping.

1. Baby Wipes

How to clean dishes using Baby wipes while camping

 Baby wipes are great for cleaning up your plates, cups, bowls, and utensils. They are also easy to carry around and don’t take up much space in your backpack. 

Ensure that you eat up as much food on your plate as possible and throw away whatever particles might remain on the plate or place it in a paper towel. You can also throw the food particles in a hole in the ground and bury them.

Then, wipe your dish clean with baby wipes. You might need to use multiple wipes depending on the size of the plate or cup you’re using.

Wipe the plates and cups as thoroughly as possible using circular motions. You should press down on the plate as you clean because the more pressure you add, the more saturation to clean up your plate easier.

Don’t drop the plate once it appears to be clean. Instead, use another wipe to wipe the plate again one last time before returning it to where it should be.

For cups, you’ll have to go round the interior several times with the first wipe and then use another wipe to clean from the bottom up. You can clean your pots with the same method as the plates, while the spoons are the easiest to wipe back and forth.

It is best to use unscented baby wipes because the added scent might make your plate smell weird and be difficult to use again.

2. Alcohol Wipes 

Use Alcohol wipes to clean dishes while camping while camping

Alcohol wipes or alcohol-based sanitizing wipes have a similar function to baby wipes, but some people prefer them because of their disinfecting effect. They are easy to carry around, and they will clean and disinfect your dishes at the same time.

Due to the alcohol content of the wipes, you can be sure that using them will remove or kill any germs on your dishes. 

Use the alcohol wipes the same way you would use the baby wipes and ensure to wipe the entire plate clean, inside first then outside.

It is important to not leave moisture behind when drying either your plates or pots because moisture can support the growth and multiplication of bacteria.

3. Bandanna or Dry Towel

How to clean dishes using a bandanna or towel while camping without water

Although this isn’t the healthiest and most sanitary approach, when you’re stranded with no wipes or water, you might have to settle for a clean bandanna or towel.

If you’re using a cloth, you’ll have to depend on scrubbing the plate, cup, or pot vigorously with your cloth as that can help both to clean the plate and remove germs. 

With enough pressure and the absence of moisture that could breed bacteria, using a dry towel or bandanna can be quite hygienic after all.

To clean your dishes using a bandanna or dry cloth, begin by removing excess food particles and disposing of them. Then, wipe the plate vigorously with the bandanna or towel.

You should use one side of the cloth for the initial wiping, and then use another clean end to wipe your dishes the second time.

Using force is important because the heat brought about by that friction will dry the plate faster and avoid the growth of bacteria.

4. Foliage and Grass

Cleaning dishes using moist grass or foliage while camping without water

Nature provides campers and hikers with its own wipes that can clean your dishes when there’s no water. However, you must be careful to avoid using a poisonous plant to clean your dishes.

So, carefully look for moist grass or foliage to clean your dishes. Get a handful of the grass and use it to wipe food particles off your dishes. Focus the plant on the areas that have food residue and scrub hard to get all the particles off if necessary.

If you can’t lay your hands on good old grass, you can use leaves, pine needles, and pine cones to clean your dishes.

5. Morning Dew

Morning Dew to clean dishes when there is no water while camping

Even if you don’t have water, you can look to nature for just about enough amount of moisture in the form of dew that you can wash your plate with.

You can get morning dew in one of two ways; either by getting moisture collected on branches and leaves every morning or by leaving your dishes out overnight to collect dew.

If you’re getting dew from plants and trees, you will need a container to collect the dew.

When you have the container, go on to locate branches and leaves that have collected dew and cut them off from their trees. Store them in the container and allow the dew to flow into the container.

You can use the dew collected to wash your dishes and then dry them with a piece of cloth. You can also allow the dishes to air dry and then pack them.

6. Wood Ash 

How to clean dishes using wood ash while camping without water

The tricky thing about this method is that you really can’t do it without water. However, you need just a tiny amount of water, which might not be impossible to get. You can even collect dew to make up enough for this process or use a little amount of your drinking water. 

Ash is very safe for cleaning, despite its dirty appearance, and can even sterilize your dishes when you make it into a paste with a small quantity of water and wash your dishes with it.

The first step is to get wood ash from your cooking fire. Then, place the ash into a bowl or pot and add very little water (about the quantity needed to make a paste).

Use the paste as soap and scrub your dishes. Then, use some more water to rinse or wipe the plate clean with a towel.

Few More Tips to Clean Your Dishes Without Water

Apart from the above methods to clean your dishes properly, there are some other not-so-effective methods you can still try, especially in peculiar situations. They include:

  • Use bread to clean up leftover food, sauce, or soup on a plate
  • Use your fingers to wipe your plate in the absence of a clean rag or cloth
  • Pour a tiny amount of water into the dirty dish to turn its content into a soup that you can either drink or throw away.

Final Words:

Now you know that not having water doesn’t mean you can’t clean your dishes while camping. Although the methods above might not be the most pleasant, especially if you’re used to using soap and water all the time, you have to make do with what you find around you to wash your dishes.

If you find that you cannot cope with any of these methods of washing your dishes without water when on a camping trip, you can choose to pack paper plates and plastic utensils that you can throw away after use.

However, remember that paper products are not the best for the environment, but they might suffice in an emergency. 

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