Forum Index » General Lightweight Backpacking Discussion » How to wash dishes clean, light, and efficient (microfibre towel, sponege, bandana or soemthing else)?


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Michael K
(chinookhead) - F - M
How to wash dishes clean, light, and efficient (microfibre towel, sponege, bandana or soemthing else)? on 06/24/2012 20:32:41 MDT Print View

What method do you prefer for washing dishes while backpacking (for those who use dishes and not disposable stuff)? A microfibre towel, sponge, bnadana or something else? I can see a sponge becoming unsanitary and stinky (mildew etc.) and microfibre towels are very hard to clean once you get them dirty. What is your suggestion and/or method? I first rinse off as much as possible and then use an implement in order to try to acvoid ?over-going? my cleaning implement.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: How to wash dishes clean, light, and efficient (microfibre towel, sponege, bandana or soemthing else)? on 06/24/2012 20:46:22 MDT Print View

"What method do you prefer for washing dishes while backpacking"

I have gone cold food for many years now, but when I did cook back in the day, I used sand, moss, mud, to scrub my pot and dish clean, followed by a double rinse. Away from water sources of course. Sort of the culinary equivalent of Clelland's TP-less potty protocol. Worked like a charm. Never got sick, never had any bear trouble.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: How to wash dishes clean, light, and efficient (microfibre towel, sponege, bandana or soemthing else)? on 06/24/2012 20:54:27 MDT Print View

For each camp dinner meal, I eat the messiest course first. Then maybe thin soup follows that. Then hot tea follows that. As a result, there is nothing to clean out. Everything goes down the hatch. At the most, I splash in some hot water to my plastic bowl and rub it around.

--B.G.--

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: How to wash dishes clean, light, and efficient (microfibre towel, sponege, bandana or soemthing else)? on 06/24/2012 21:00:56 MDT Print View

Clean water and a finger.

joseph peterson
(sparky) - F

Locale: Southern California
How to wash dishes clean, light, and efficient (microfibre towel, sponege, bandana or soemthing else)? on 06/24/2012 22:52:40 MDT Print View

Sand, a bandana, and water. No soap necessary.

Susan Papuga
(veganaloha) - M

Locale: USA
Re: How to wash dishes clean, light, and efficient (microfibre towel, sponege, bandana or soemthing else)? on 06/25/2012 00:27:41 MDT Print View

Handy wipes and a wee pinch of Dr Bronner's magic soap. They're soft, absorbant, strong enough, multi-use, much lighter than a bandana and disposable.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
"How to wash dishes clean, light, and efficient (microfibre towel, sponege, bandana or soemthing else)?" on 06/25/2012 04:45:30 MDT Print View

That sort-of depends.

A third of a scrubbie lasts all year for me. But, I also do a certain amount of cooking with relativly large amounts of oils (Usually olive oil, vegtable oil or dried butter, ie "parified?" butter.) In a mini bottle about 1/2 full, this is good for three weeks or so. A single drop, sometimes two, on the scrubbie works well enough to cut the oils off the pot, spoon and cup for greasy dinners. Sand is used when available, or, duff along with the scrubbie. After washing, I whip the scrubbie mostly dry, it doesn't pick up any real scents, other than the water and soils in the area.

Often, sand is used, but, in the ADK's it is more often a light gravel, not really well suited to cleaning. Mud with forest duff makes a sticky mess more often than not. However, pine cones and needles have a slightly soapy effect on the pots and pans, it mixes the oils and water. I will dump a large handfull into the pot with some water and scrub it around. I reserve the soap (Dr. Bronners or the like)for final washing to keep critters out of the cookwear. In 40 years, no problems.'Corse, back in the day, I just used my bandana.


Biodegradable soap? Well, most is biodegradable. The problem is that it acts as a fertilizer in waters accilerating algae growth. Then the algae dies off and rots in the water, causing polution that way...more of a secondary effect. A lot of ponds and small lakes in NY are not even named on maps, more of runoff in granite "cups" and fairly high in acid (usually tannins.)(Acid raid has devestated a lot of these smaller sources because they were so acid to begin with.) Wash water("grey" water) is not put back into the source, but scattered over an area away from camp by at least 100'. I believe this was recomended at Baxter Park, Me., too.

In more populated areas, I dig a cat hole to bury the grey water.

John Almond
(FLRider) - F

Locale: The Southeast
Bandanna Use Number 2,753 on 06/25/2012 05:01:54 MDT Print View

The only dishes I wind up having to do (due to FBC methods of cooking) are my spork and "coffee" mug. The spork I usually just lick clean and then run some clean water over. For the mug, I add a tiny amount of Dr. Bronner's unscented soap (I prefer to avoid the scented stuff out in the woods, though the peppermint is nice at home) to the corner of a (clean!) bandanna and scrub the pot. Like, a single drop of Dr. Bronner's. Rinse with potable water, scatter the water away from any water sources, and pack it away.

I usually carry three bandannas with me on a trip: one is used during the day as an all-purpose item (sweat rag, water prefilter, pot grabber, etc.), one is drying on my pack from the previous day, and one is my camp towel for sweat and dirt when I get in for the night. The previous day's all-purpose item gets washed at the end of the day and is used for the "coffee" mug in the morning and then hung on the pack to dry. The camp towel becomes the new all-purpose item, and the dry one goes into my hammock as my camp towel for the next night.

spelt the enigmatic
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
washing up on 06/25/2012 06:57:51 MDT Print View

Right now I am using a small natural sponge and hot water.

Robert Kelly
(QiWiz) - MLife

Locale: UL gear @ QiWiz.net
Re: How to wash dishes clean, light, and efficient (microfibre towel, sponege, bandana or soemthing else)? on 06/25/2012 09:46:35 MDT Print View

Clean water and a finger.

+ 1

Sometimes I also carry a small cloth (1/4 of regular bandana) just to dry my pot and/or cup after I've cleaned it.

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
How to wash clean on 06/25/2012 10:41:57 MDT Print View

The method I use, as has been basically stated above, is to just eat all the food. Right after eating put some water in the bowl, swish it around a bit and gulp it down. Then the finger with a tiny bit of soap and water will finish it off. When I cook, I boil water and then put food in a separate bowl to rehydrate. I never need to clean my pot since I never eat out of it. The only time I would change that is if I were solo hiking. Then I might use my pot to rehydrate or cook my food.

Keith Bassett
(keith_bassett)

Locale: Pacific NW
Dr. Bronners & a micro scrubby on 06/25/2012 14:07:41 MDT Print View

I cut a blue scrub sponge down to about 1/2 x 1 inch to use for this.

I start some water heating, squirt the soap into it, then scrub. Then pour the water into the next receptacle and scrub. Repeat for each pot/bowl/whatever then call it good.

Works well, and I use the same soap to wash my hands when needed.

And that little sponge weighs next to nothing dry. Like 1/2 oz.

Edit: If you go with soap, make sure that you pour it on the ground. It encourages algal growth even if it biodegrades, so you need to keep it out of lakes or streams.

Edited by keith_bassett on 06/25/2012 14:10:29 MDT.

Ken Bennett
(ken_bennett) - F

Locale: southeastern usa
Re: How to wash dishes clean, light, and efficient (microfibre towel, sponege, bandana or soemthing else)? on 06/25/2012 14:47:17 MDT Print View

I make a small scrubby out of a piece of nylon mesh bag, like an onion bag from the grocery store. It scrubs well, shakes dry, doesn't grow nasties, and won't register on my scale. A tiny dropper bottle of dish soap lasts for years, one or two drops at a time to clean my pot and spoon as needed.

Andrew McAlister
(mcalista) - F
RE: "How to wash dishes clean, light, and efficient (microfibre towel, sponege, bandana or soemthing else)?" on 06/26/2012 04:15:37 MDT Print View

Dry grass.