Nothing beats a meal cooked over an open fire and eaten outdoors, but how do you deal with clean-up? Dirty dishes and scraps of food are sure to attract pests if not attended to. Rinsing your cook ware in the creek will leave an unsightly mess on the stream bed and you risk contracting beaver fever if you eat your next meal from contaminated dishes. A more organized approach to this camp chore is called for.
We generally hang a bucket or kettle over the fire to heat water for dishes. If we have plenty of water, we use two buckets; one for soapy water and dirty dishes, another for clean, hot rinse water.
When water is scarce, a damp, soapy sponge is used to clean the dishes and the rinse water is used sparingly and saved to for the dirty dishes next meal. Silverware is stacked in a dirty cook pot and a cup is used to dip rinse water over a dirty plate, draining into the pot and used to scrub the forks and spoons clean, working through the cups, plates, utensils and cook pots.
During the rainy season, runoff is collected from the lean-to into buckets for cleaning up. Water drawn from a stream or lake is thoroughly boiled before using.
Dirty dishwater is drained around the edges of the campfire where ash will filter it and heat from the fire can dry it out or it is discarded into a grease pit far enough away from camp not to draw flies.
Washing the dishes needn’t be an unpleasant experience. And it is an excellent opportunity to get your hands warm and really clean!