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Best Camping Cleaning Tips and Etiquette

Looking for some camping cleaning tips? People go camping mostly to get away and to relax. The thought of spending a bunch of time scrubbing out pots and pans is a reminder that they haven’t gotten away from everything, and it’s a chore that isn’t relaxing. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be quite as much of a task as it would appear to be at first.

how to wash dishes on a camping trip
These are the best tips and tricks to clean while camping both the safest and most environmentally friendly way!

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Camping Cleaning Tips

Here at Ruffles and Rain Boots, we love camping and everything that comes with it – except cleaning. But since we know that it’s part of the gig, we’ve found that having a few easy cleaning tips make it a much less painful process.

So, grab your favorite tent and let’s get started!

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Camping Etiquette Cleaning Tips

Cleaning Stuck-On Foods

Part of the problem is that people are often not used to cooking over an open flame, whether that is over a campfire or a camp stove. Foods that are cooked on, stick to the metal of the pots and pans.

Even if the pots and pans are stainless steel, this makes the gunk hard to remove. It does little good in hindsight to realize that the meal should have been cooked a little cooler or stirred a bit more often, once the food is already cooked on.

Note that we aren’t talking about just oily pots and pans. Some water and dish soap can take care of that. The issue is the baked-on gunk.

Between stainless steel and cast iron, stainless is usually easier to clean. Fill the pot or pan with water, and sprinkle the burned-on spots with a liberal amount of salt. Allow it to sit for a half-hour to an hour, heat it up until the water is just hot enough you can get your hands in it, and the baked-on stuff should come off without much difficulty, using a regular scouring pad.

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Do not do this with cast iron, though! Salt has a reaction to cast iron and can cause the rapid formation of rust.

With cast iron, fill the pot or pan with water, add a small amount of dish soap, and bring the water to a low boil. Allow the water to continue boiling for about a half-hour, then remove from the heat and let the water cool to the point where you can handle it. Again, the water loosens the baked-on food, making it much easier to scour the pot or pan.

If some of the food particles remain stubborn, you can also use a bit of sand from the shores of a lake, the banks of a stream or river, or from the beach, for extra scouring power. Just remember that sand is abrasive, so go easy.

You want to remove the cooked-on mess, you don’t want to remove a layer of metal in the process. It also isn’t a good idea to use sand on stainless steel or those pans that have non-stick surfaces, as this can cut into the metal or coating.

A final tip is to put water in the pot or pan as soon as it is empty. This helps prevent the food particles from drying even more, and it helps loosen what is already there.

These tips can also be used at home, though they are especially useful in the camp when you are trying to relax. They are far better than spending a good amount of time scrubbing out those pots and pans.

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How to Clean Plates

Over the years whenever we have gone camping the soap, which I know was packed, was conveniently lost and no one could ever find it during our family camping trips.

I don’t know whether the kids just hid it so they could get out of the dishwasher duties or it just didn’t get packed being conveniently put back into the kitchen sink cupboard. So throughout these years, we had to find an alternative solution to this problem.

The solution came to me by accident and now today I can recommend it to you all.

At washing time all you need to use is either sand or soil instead of soap on the dinner plates and it does work. It’s an amazing process and it gets the plates clean. Leftover salad dressing, tomato sauce, steak oil, all get removed once and for all using this method.

This is how it works: Everyone at the campground finishes their evening meal and then the plates are then collected and taken to the tap.

Once the person on duty to clean arrives at the tap area before the tap is turned on, they reach down and grab a handful of sand or dirt into one of their hands.

overhead view of campfire representing environmental friendly campsite cleaning tips

The sand or dirt is then rubbed onto the dirty plates in a clockwise motion around the plate – do not add any water until the plate is full of sand or dirt. Once the plate has been completely covered please rinse this off immediately with tap water using your other clean hand to swirl any excess sand or dirt off the plate.

Since we discovered that using the environment to clean our plates at our camping trips we don’t take soap along with us anymore.

It’s environmentally friendly as the sand or dirt which you use gets washed right off the plates and goes back to where it originally came from and the plates are reused night after night.

I hope you all will try this just once the next time you go camping and it will all go towards helping save our planet even if it’s just a little bit at a time.

how to wash dishes while camping

Even More Camping Ideas

Getting in the camping mode is so much fun so here are some other camping tips and ideas!

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