Camping Dishwashing: Tips for Clean Cookware at the Campsite

There’s nothing like cooking at the campsite. Enjoying the great outdoors while preparing a delicious meal: there’s nothing more serene. Just like at home though, with the joys of cooking comes the daunting task of cleaning up afterwards. Unlike at home though, washing dishes at the campsite can be pretty complicated, and if not done right, can be harmful to the environment and severely hamper your good time.

Like any other activity you do while camping, the key to washing dishes while camping is to come prepared with the right supplies. To help you prepare for your next campsite dish washing session, we compiled a comprehensive list of everything you need for a comprehensive camping dishwashing set up. If you come prepared with these supplies, doing dishes at the campsite will be less painful to you, and won’t harm the environment that you’re camping in.


camping dishwashing


What You Need for Washing Dishes at the Campsite

1.  Biodegradable dish soap

If you’re washing dishes at the campsite, biodegradable soap is a necessity for several reasons. Primarily, it is better for the environment than traditional soap. Traditional soaps contain chemicals that are harmful to the environment and, therefore, can have a negative impact on wildlife and plant life. These chemicals can leach into the soil and groundwater, causing damage to the ecosystem and potentially endangering the health of animals and humans who depend on it.

Biodegradable soaps, alternatively, are designed to break down into natural substances that do not harm the environment. This means that you can wash your dishes without having to worry about leaving a lasting impact on the area.

Many campsites are located near bodies of water, such as lakes or rivers. These bodies of water are often used as a source of drinking water for both humans and animals alike, and even small amounts of harmful chemicals can have a major impact on their health. By using biodegradable soap, you can reduce the risk of contaminating these important water sources.

2.  A Water Source

When camping, access to clean water is essential for washing dishes and other personal hygiene needs. There are several types of water sources that can be brought to a campsite to meet these needs, including:

  1. Bottled water: This is the most convenient and readily available water source for camping. Bottled water is easy to transport and is readily available at most outdoor and grocery stores.
  2. Portable water containers: Portable water containers are no doubt good for transporting water, but as far as being dispensers for filling water bottles or even for personal hygiene, their wide nozzles and odd shapes can make it difficult to pour water without being wasteful. 
  3. Portable water filters: Portable water filters are a good option for extracting drinking water from natural lakes and rivers, but it may be alot of work to filter enough water for both hygiene and cooking. It also can be a little sketchy to full rely on water filters for all of your drinking water.
  4. Collapsible water containers: While these are great for transporting water in space efficient way, 
  5. A portable Shower: While there are different types of portable showers, generally, they dispense water through a hose with water pressure, so like your sink at home, you are able to spray water directionally. This can be great for washing dishes as not only can you use pressure to get rid of tough to scrub grime, you can also strictly control how much water you use via the on and off knob.

So you can see that when planning for washing dishes at the campsite, there’s alot to keep in mind. The most important aspects to consider are: your impact on the environment, how to make the most of your water, and how to keep the whole process as sanitary as possible.

While most of the necessities involved with washing dishes at the campsite are relatively self-explanatory, choosing a water source is a little more nuanced. The reason is that, most of the time, you will need water for more than one reason when you’re camping, so to bring water just for washing dishes can be a little redundant. When choosing your water source, it’s best to think about all the potential ways you may use water at the campsite, and what the best option is for meeting all those needs.

So let’s think about this real quick. Other than washing dishes, what are the main reasons you’d need to dispense water at a campsite?

  1. Personal hygiene (showering, brushing teeth, washing hands)
  2. Cooking
  3. Cleaning camping gear and equipment
  4. Cleaning pets
  5. Filling up water bottles and hydration reservoirs
  6. Putting out campfires

So you can see that there’s a lot more than just dishwashing that you need water for at the campsite, so when considering your water source, you'll want to think about whether it is suited to provide water for all of the above activities. 

Now, let’s look at the general options for campsite water to see how many of the above options it could be useful for.

  1. Bottled Water: Bottled water is good for drinking, cooking with and maybe dampening a sponge with, but as far as showering, cleaning pets, and putting out campfires, it’s not very effective. Plus, if you are using a bunch of water bottles, you are creating alot of excess plastic waste.
  2. Portable water containers: While portable water containers are undoubtedly good for transporting water, their large size, often awkward shape and odd nozzles do not make them ideal for pouring out in small amounts which do not make them ideal for showering or cooking.
  3. Portable water filters: While portable water filters are good for collecting more water if you have a nearby source, it’s often hard to filter enough water for something like a shower. It’s also not ideal to rely fully on these for drinking water, unless you know for a fact they work really well.
  4. Collapsible water containers: While these containers are great for transporting water in a compact and space-friendly way, they are not necessarily good for dispensing water. 
  5. A Portable Shower: Due to the fact that portable showers are made for showering, they typically dispense water through a hose that provides pressure and can be controlled and sprayed in an accurate direction. This makes them great for showering, spraying off gear, washing dishes, and hygiene. The fact that you can spray in a certain direction with pressure makes it the best option for almost every camping application.

So you can see that when it comes to choosing a water source for the campsite, a portable shower is the most versatile choice that has the most applications. You can use it for showering, washing off equipment, spraying dishes, dispensing water for cooking and much more. Here’s the thing: not all portable showers are created equal. There’s a few main attributes of portable showers that need to be considered when choosing your portable shower, so let’s go over those. 

washing dishes at the campsite

What to Consider in a Portable Shower
  • Portability - When researching a portable shower, you should consider how easy it is to move around, and whether or not it needs to be propped up in some way. If you’re trying to use it for doing dishes, it should be able to be set on top of a picnic table or a truck bed easily.
  • Capacity - You’ll want to make sure that the portable shower you buy has enough capacity to provide enough water to thoroughly wash your dishes. If you’re working with 1-2 gallons, that may not be enough to clean all your pots, pans and plates properly.
  • Pressurization - You’ll want to make sure that your portable shower provides enough pressure to knock off sticky food and grease. 
  • Heating - If you want to use your portable shower to actually shower, or even wash your hands, you may want to consider whether or not there is options available for heating the water.

So you can see there’s kind of alot to consider when you’re researching your portable shower. If you get the wrong portable shower with bad pressure, you may as well just be pouring water on yourself out of a jug. On the contrary, a good portable shower will be strong enough to knock off the toughest dirt and grime, will have enough capacity to wash a whole bunch of dishes, and will have heating options so that you can take a hot shower whether there’s sun or not.

Why RinseKit is the Best Portable Shower For Washing Dishes at the Campsite

RinseKit is the original portable shower, invented specifically for providing pressurized water off-grid. That makes it not only perfect for showering, but for handwashing and dishwashing as well. Due to its dynamic nature, the RinseKit PRO is the best option for washing dishes at the campsite for the following reasons:

  • Superior Portability - The RinseKit is the most portable shower on the market. That’s because it is fully self-contained: everything, including the water tank, the hose, and the pressurization method are built-in to a convenient cooler sized box. That self-contained shape makes it easy to transport, pack and carry, so you can easily move it to and from water sources, and can set it up anywhere you need to wash your dishes.
  • High Capacity - The RinseKit PRO has 3.5 gallons of capacity, which comes out to around 5 minutes of spraying time. That gives you enough spray to shower, cook and wash your dishes all off one fill
  • Strong, Consistent Pressurization - Other portable showers rely on sources like hand pumps for pressurization, while the RinseKit PRO uses a battery to power a built-in diaphragm water pump. This pressurization method ensures that the RinseKit PRO sprays water at 50 PSI, comparable to your hose at home. You also don’t have to repressurize it, so you won't have to pause midway through washing dishes to repressurize the tank.
  • Heating Options - In case you want hot water to shower or wash your dishes or to shower with, RinseKit has a number of heating options so you can have hot water anywhere. There are both propane and electric heating options available for the PRO, so whether you need instant heat or heat in an hour, you have options.


portable shower for camping


3.  A Sponge

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Washing dishes with no sponge is, well, pretty hard as it is - unless you simply wash your dish off and throw it in the dishwasher. Now imagine being at the campsite with limited water, and trying to clean your dish off with no sponge. It’s a sanitation nightmare.

The biggest benefit of using a sponge to clean dishes at the campsite is that it will help to conserve water. A sponge allows you to use less water to clean your dishes, as it is able to hold onto soapy water for longer periods of time. This not only reduces the amount of water that you need to use, but it can also help to reduce your overall impact on the environment.

A sponge can also help to reduce the amount of waste generated at the campsite. By using a sponge instead of paper towels or disposable cloths, you can reduce the amount of litter generated and help to keep the campsite clean and tidy.

4.  A Collapsible Dish Basin

A collapsible dish basin provides a convenient and designated area for washing dishes. This helps to prevent soapy water and food debris from spreading and making a mess, which can be particularly important when camping in a crowded or shared area.

Secondly, a dish basin helps to conserve water. A basin can be filled with the right amount of water needed for washing dishes, reducing the amount of water that is wasted during the cleaning process. Additionally, the basin can be used to collect and rinse water, making it even more water-efficient.

Thirdly, using a dish basin can also help to reduce the amount of waste generated at the campsite. By washing dishes in a basin, you can reduce the amount of disposable paper towels or cloths that you need, which can help to keep the campsite clean and litter-free.

Finally, a dish basin can also serve as a useful tool for managing greywater. By containing the greywater in a basin, it can be easily carried to a designated greywater disposal area without spilling and making a mess.

5.  A Drying Method

When camping, it's important to have a way to dry dishes after washing them. Here are some options for drying dishes at the campsite:

  • Air-drying: This is the most natural and eco-friendly option for drying dishes at the campsite. Simply place the washed dishes on a clean, dry surface in a well-ventilated area and allow them to air-dry. This method works well in sunny and windy conditions, but may take longer in damp or humid conditions.
  • Camp towels or cloths: Using camp towels or cloths is a good option for drying dishes if you don’t have time for air drying. Camp towels or cloths can be made of absorbent materials such as microfiber or cotton and are designed to be lightweight and compact for camping. Simply wipe the washed dishes dry with a camp towel or cloth, and then hang or store them until ready to use again.
  • Camping dish rack: A camping dish rack is a compact and portable option for drying dishes at the campsite. This type of dish rack can be set up on a table or other surface and provides a convenient place to stack dishes as they air-dry.
  • Drying rack with cover: This is probably the most sanitary option for drying dishes at the campsite. This type of drying rack has a cover that can be placed over the dishes as they air-dry, keeping them clean and protected.

6.  A Trash Bag for Disposing of Food Scraps

You absolutely need to bring a way to dispose of food scraps - whether it’s a trash bag or designated container. A disposal container for food scraps is critical for several reasons:

  • Environmental Protection: Food scraps can attract animals such as bears, raccoons, and other wildlife to the campsite, which can be dangerous for both the animals and campers. In addition, food scraps left in the open can decompose and release harmful chemicals into the environment, affecting local ecosystems.
  • Health and safety: Food scraps can also attract insects such as flies, mosquitoes, and ants, which can spread disease and cause discomfort for campers. Food scraps that are left unrefrigerated for long periods of time can also spoil and become a health hazard if consumed.
  • Litter reduction: Food scraps that are not properly disposed of can contribute to litter and create an unsightly environment for other campers and visitors. Litter can also attract wildlife and make the area less safe for campers.

6.  A Greywater Container

Bringing a greywater container with you to a campsite is important for several reasons:

  • Environmental protection: Greywater, which is wastewater generated from activities such as washing dishes, showering, and laundry, can contain soap, grease, food particles, and other pollutants. When not properly disposed of, these pollutants can seep into the soil and groundwater, contaminating the local environment and affecting plant and animal life.
  • Water conservation: Camping in areas with limited water resources can put a strain on the local water supply. By using a greywater container to collect and store greywater, campers can reduce their demand on the local water supply and help conserve this precious resource.
  • Sanitation: Greywater can also attract insects and other pests, creating a health hazard for campers. By using a greywater container to store greywater, campers can reduce the risk of attracting pests and improve the overall sanitation of the campsite.
  • Convenience: A greywater container can also provide a convenient way to collect and store greywater, making it easier for campers to properly dispose of it when they leave the campsite.

So you can see that, when washing dishes at the campsite there’s alot to consider, including your environmental impact, sanitation and more. However, if you come prepared with the proper equipment, you can make your dishwashing experience much less painful and limit your environmental impact. So if you’re going to do some cooking on your next camping excursion, we hope this blog helps you clean up quickly and efficiently so you can get back to enjoying the great outdoors.