If you’re heading out to spend some time in the great outdoors, you need to know how to wash dishes in camp. Eating off dirty dishes in the wildness can make you sick, so knowing the best ways to clean the dishes, pots and pans that you use is essential. You also need to make sure that you are not going to disrupt the ecosystem while you are out there. Here are the basics of how to wash dishes in camp so that you will be prepared when you go camping.

There are several steps: You might be used to just dumping your dishes in the dishwasher at home. When you are washing dishes while camping, the process is a little different. You will need to put the dishes through several stages in order to get them clean. First they need to be soaked, then washed in hot water. Then they need to be rinsed in hot water, and rinsed again with a sanitizing agent, then they can be dried and put away. You will need a large quantity of hot water and several dish tubs to get the dishes clean without running water.

Put on water for washing when you sit down to your meal: It will take a lot of time for water to heat over a fire, especially when you are heating a large amount of water. Fill a large pot or kettle and set it on the fire to heat while you eat. That way after you are done there will be hot water ready to go to wash your dishes in. The water doesn’t have to be boiling hot but the hotter the better. Hot water and a good detergent will help keep you from picking up any nasty food related illnesses when you eat off those dishes again.

Use a small amount of all natural detergent: The soap that you use is going to end up on the ground, soaking into the soil. So it’s essential that you use a chemical free, biodegradable, all natural detergent to clean your dishes. A detergent like Rockin Green is the perfect thing to use to clean your dishes in camp. You only need a tiny bit added to a dish tub of hot water to clean your dishes.

Don’t just dump your dishwater: The tubs of water that you use to do dishes probably have bits of food and debris in them as well as soapy water. You can’t just fling that into the environment. Be a responsible camper. Use a screen or a strainer to strain out the big particles, and bag those in your trash to be taken out and thrown away. Dig a small hole, pour the dishwater into it, and fill the hole back in.