Updated: Mar 25, 2020
When I first started vanlife this is one of the first daily challenges I came across, HOW DO I DO MY DISHES WITH LIMITIED WATER AND A TINY SINK??
At first I mostly resorted to bringing my dishes to my friends' houses, or using public washrooms, but eventually I got tired of hauling all my things back and forth (and also sometimes getting weird looks).
There's got to be a better way. So after some months of trial and error, I've figured out these tips and tricks that made my this daily chore much more manageable.
1. DO THEM RIGHT AWAY
I've learned that it is much easier to do my dishes while I'm cooking and right after I eat, before everything gets dry, crusty, and stuck. For example, chop everything first, and while it's cooking I'll clean the knife and cutting board, while my food is cooking down clean the pot I cooked in, so by the time I'm done my meal I only really have the dish I ate with and one utensil to wash. I also only keep 1-2 of each item, so I need to wash them before having my next meal, saves me space and keeps me on top of my cleaning.
2. USE AS FEW ITEMS AS POSSIBLE
It goes without saying, the less dishes I need to do the better. So I'll do things like air chop (cut without a cutting board when possible, stir with the fork/spoon that I plan on easing with, and eat out of the pan if I can to save a bowl/plate.
3. SPRAY BOTTLES
Spray bottles are life. A lot of water is wasted when rinsing things with running water, when usually I just need a little bit to get the dishes wet. So I'll always have one spray bottle of clean water that I refill, and one bottle with soap to make sure I waste as little water as possible.
4. WIPE THINGS DOWN BEFORE AND AFTER
I save so much water by just wiping off the food bits and soap rather than rinsing them with running water, saving the water for just the final rinse before drying it with a dish towel.
5. EDIBLE WIPES
To save on paper towels and extra scrubbing, a lot of times I will wipe down my pots and plates with the tortillas or bread that is a part of my meal. It's pretty much the less savage version of licking my plates clean.
I hope these tips and tricks helped anyone who does dishes in their vans, or while camping, or just want to save water in general haha. I definitely appreciate that vanlife has gotten me into the habit of doing dishes right away rather than letting them pile up, and I have noticed that this habit continues on even when I visit friends/family. If you want to see this process in action check out the video I posted on my YouTube Channel!