Washing dishes (during an emergency)

(Survival Manual/4. Shelter issues/Washing dishes)

A.  How to Wash Dishes in Cold Water
eHow, by Patricia Loofbourrow
We’re used to hot water, dishwashers and other modern conveniences. But what about when the power goes out? In many area of the Midwest, ice storms cause power outages, sometimes for weeks. Hurricanes in the south or earthquakes in the west can lead to power outages as well.
For those who live in all-electric homes, losing power for more than a few days leaves you with a stack of dirty, greasy dishes to deal with, and unless you’re ready to spend all day heating water, you’ll soon be asking “How do I wash dishes in cold water?”
Here’s how.
An additional benefit to using this method is that it uses minimal water, so if your water supply is low (for example, whatever the disaster is has disrupted water supplies as well) you won’t waste a lot of water on washing dishes.
Be prepared!

Instructions: things you’ll need:
__•  water
__•  dish soap or bar soap
__•  sponge or dishrag
__•  a dish pan
__•  dish drainer (you can also use the rack on your dishwasher for a drainer if need be)

1.  Place dishes in the empty dish pan.
2.  Stacking the dishes neatly in the dish pan will help you get as many in as you can. Keep sharp items (like sharp knives) out of the dishpan; place these on the counter and wash them separately.
3.  Place a small amount of dish soap on the sponge or dishrag (between a dime and a nickel sized spot). If using bar soap, rub the damp bar with the sponge or dishrag a couple of times.
4.  Pick out silverware and scrub them with the sponge or dishrag one at a time until they are clean (no grease or stuck-on food), laying them on the counter with soap still on them. When you have a good handful of silverware (or you have cleaned all of them), pick up the entire bunch and rinse them under a slow stream of water over the dish pan so the soapy water falls into the dish pan.
5.  When you have rinsed all the soap off the silverware, turn the water off and place the silverware into your dish drainer.
6.  Take the bottom plate from the stack of plates in the dish pan and soap it until it is clean.
7.  Turn on a slow stream of water and rinse the plate, then turn off the water and put the plate in the dish drainer. Repeat step 7 for each plate in the dish pan until either all the plates are clean or the dish pan is full of water.
8.  You may notice that the dishes are easier to clean as you go along, because the soapy water soaks off any stuck-on food as the plates sit in it.
9.   This is called greywater, and is still useful if you need it.
10.  When the dish pan is full of water, take out any remaining plates and put them to the side. Dump the dish pan water into your garden, use to flush your toilet, pour it onto your compost bin, or pour down the sink if there is nowhere you need the water.
Note: Use the next method if hot to b oiling water is available.


B.  Washing Dishes in a Camp/Emergency situation. Hot water available.
Most campers are environmentally conscious and prefer to stick with reusable rather than disposable kitchen items but give in to the throwaways because washing dishes while camping seems like such a daunting or impossible task.
So here is the easy step-by-step camping dishwashing process that we faithfully use to wash dishes when we are camping. We use this method on both our family camping trips as well as our scouting trips where everyone brings a mess kit and there are no throwaway plates, cups, or utensils used.

What Equipment Do You Need?
When setting up our camping dishwashing station, first we start with the equipment list. We keep all of things packed in our kitchen box…except for the water, the dirty dishes, and the human of course!
__•  Paper Towels
__•  Your Favorite Dish soap
__•  A Dishcloth/Sponge & Scrubby
__•  Tongs
__•  Three Dish pans
__•  Hot Water
__•  Cool Water
__•  A splash of bleach or sanitizing tablets (optional)
__•  Dirty Dishes

Step 1:  Heat The Water
Immediately after dinner is ready, we put two or three pots of water to boil on the stove while we are eating. Actually, we put two…and then do the third one afterwards because that is what works for us with the equipment we have. One pot will be in the largest cooking pot we have, for the other we use our coffeepot.

Step 2: Wipe The Plates
After dinner…and this is the only place we use disposable paper good item…everyone takes a paper towel and wipes their plate and silverware clean of any food particles. This can be done with one paper towel and it is an important step to help to keep the food particles out of the washtub. We put the paper towels in the fire ring to be burned later during our campfire.

Step 3: Set Up The Wash Tubs
Now it is time to get the three tubs out. You can work from left to right, or right to left, whichever works best for you.
I will call them A, B, and C to make it easy to follow along with the directions. I usually fill the tubs only halfway or a little more…not to the top.
These are just cheap ordinary rectangular dish tubs you can get at Wal-Mart. They easily nest inside each other and you can put a bunch of your kitchen stuff inside the top one for storage.

Step 4: Prepare the tubs
•  Tub A is for washing. We put a few squirts of dish soap in here, then fill the tub halfway with regular water. You should be using an environmentally safe, biodegradable soap such as Campsuds or one of the Dr. Bronner’s natural soaps. When the hot water is ready, we add some to warm this tub up. This is a personal preference. I like the water to be warm when I am washing the dishes while my husband likes cool water (which feels yucky to me!).
•  Tub B is the rinsing tub and gets just plain water in it. We fill the tub 1/3 of the way with cool water, and the rest (about 2/3) with hot water.
•  Tub C is for sterilization. This is a very important part of your camping dishwashing station…don’t skip it!!! Some people like to use sterilization tablets, some put a few drops of bleach in the tub (health safety standards recommend 1 teaspoon of bleach for every 2 gallons of water)…but we use only pure boiling hot water. This is extremely hot and you will need tongs to pull the dishes out of this tub.

Step 5: The Washing Process
•  Using a paper towel, thoroughly wipe any food residue off of the plates. You want as little food as possible to be in the tub when washing. One paper towel is good for wiping several plates.
•  Start with the cleanest dishes first, leaving the dirtiest dishes, usually the pots and pans and mixing bowls, for last.
•  The first dishes to be washed will be placed in Tub A with the soapy water and dishcloth or sponge, just like you do in a sink.
•  After washing, the dishes come out of Tub A and into Tub B where you agitate a little to rinse off the soap.
•  Now the dishes get moved from Tub B, the rinsing tub, to Tub C, sterilization. Be careful when you put the dishes in so you don’t splash the hot water on yourself!
•  Let the dishes sit a few minutes in the boiling water (Tub C) while you go back to Tub A and wash some more dirty dishes….put these washed dishes in Tub B to rinse, and while they are in there, with the tongs take the clean, sterilized dishes out of Tub C.
•  Spread some paper towels, or use a portable dish drainer if you like, and let them drip dry upside down (we do spread out paper towels for this which we reuse all weekend)

And that is it! Now in writing this, it sounds like a complicated procedure, partly because I really broke down the steps into baby steps to make sure I was explaining it well. But really, camping dishwashing is very simple and easy to do. Your dishes are done in no time at all…and with a lot less water than you use at home!

6.  Dumping The Water
Now it is time to clean up the camping dishwashing area! The method that we use to dispose of the dishwater also sounds a little complicated….but it is not at all…and it is done this way to wash out and clean up your dish tubs without using any more water than you already used for the dishes!
•  First dump out the water in Tub A. This was the washing water with the soap…and will be the dirtiest of the three tubs (See the ‘minimal impact’ method of dumping your water, discussed in the next section.)
•  Now…dump the rinse water from Tub B into the empty Tub A (this gives Tub A a rinse with cleaner water that you already have).
•  Now…dump the boiling water (it won’t be boiling hot anymore) from Tub C into Tub B. So now Tub C is empty and clean and you are done with it. Turn it upside down with your other clean dishes to dry.
•  So now you have water in only Tub A and Tub B. Go ahead and dump the water from Tub A again.
•  Now pour the hot water from Tub B into Tub A so Tub B is clean and empty, and Tub A is getting its final rinse with the batch of hot rinse water. Put Tub B upside down with the clean dishes to dry.
•  Finally, dispose of the water in Tub A and turn it over to dry…and you are done! And your dishes are done too!

This is the method I learned 12 years ago when I was a Cub Scout mom and leader….and we have used it on every family campout and Boy Scout training and troop campout I have been on. We always set up a three-tub camping dishwashing station…and the dishes come out clean and, most importantly, sanitary.


C.  Some Rules For Your Camp/Emergency Dishwashing Station
As campers we love nature and its beauty and try to do the best we can to promote Leave No Trace camping, or camping that does as little damage as possible to the environment.
There are many debates as to whether soapy camping dishwashing, is more harmful to the environment than using paper and plastic disposables.
All of the research I have done points to camping dishwashing with reusable plates, pots, silverware, and cups, as being the preferred method…but here are some important steps you should take when washing your dishes at your campsite to make sure you protect the area so many can enjoy it in the future as well.
__•  If possible, use small quantities of biodegradable soap.
__•  Make sure you wash and dispose of the waste water at least 100 feet from any water source. Never pour it into a river or lake, or any water source as this will contaminate the water!
__•  If possible, dig a small hole to pour the water into, to allow the ground to filter the water and return it back to the water source in its own natural way. If you can’t dig a hole, spread it over the ground to encourage natural filtration.

During campouts, I have seen people washing their dishes/pots/pans under a running spigot on their site. This is not an acceptable practice of camping dishwashing for several reasons. First, the running water is a huge waste of excess water! Second, the water is not being dispersed of properly to encourage natural filtration.
Using the ‘three-pan method’ for camping dishwashing takes a few extra steps than using a running spigot, but it is proper camping technique, sanitary for the environment…and for you, your family, and our dishes!

D.  How to Use Clorox Bleach in Water Treatments
November 19, 2010, eHow.com, by Cricket Webber
In an emergency, purified water is essential.
The most thorough way to purify water is to boil it, but in an emergency this is not always possible. If you have no way to boil contaminated water, you can use Clorox bleach instead. Bleach is an inexpensive and highly effective disinfectant. You can use bleach to clean all sorts of surfaces, and it is used to keep laundry disinfected and clean. Common household bleach breaks down to salt and water after it has performed its disinfecting task. Never drink undiluted bleach, but you can use it to safely purify water in an emergency situation. The purified water can be used for drinking, cooking or washing dishes.
1.  Pour the water you want to purify into a clean container. If the water has a cloudy appearance, filter it before adding it to the clean container. Use a coffee filter or a paper towel to filter particles out of the water.
2.  Add Clorox bleach to the water with an eyedropper. To purify 1 qt. of water, add 3 drops of bleach. For 1/2 gallon of water, add 5 drops of bleach, and for 1 gallon of water, add 1/8 tsp. of bleach. If the water is cloudy or cold, increase the amount of bleach to 5 drops for 1 qt., 10 drops for 1/2 gallon, and 1/4 tsp. for 1 gallon.
3.  Dish rinsing:  a) If using hot water to rinse to disinfect dishes and utensils, add 1/8 tsp bleach per gallon water. b) If using a cold water rinse, add  ¼ tsp bleach per gallon water.
Mix the bleach thoroughly into the water.
4.  Let the bleach and water sit for at least 30 minutes before you use it. If the water is cold or cloudy, allow the water to sit for at least 60 minutes. The purified water should smell faintly of bleach when the reaction is complete.

E.  How to Prevent Food Borne Illness by Cleaning Your Kitchen
eHow.com, by Amanda C. Strosahl< http://www.ehow.com/how_5069352_prevent-borne-illness-cleaning-kitchen.html#ixzz1Q0ankTIP>
[I have adapted this article to the emergency kitchen-Mr Larry]

More than 200 known diseases are transmitted through food. In the United States alone, an estimated 6 million to 81 million illnesses and up 9,000 deaths are caused by food borne diseases each year.
Keeping your emergency kitchen clean is a simple, yet effective way, of preventing food borne illness. Here are some easy steps you can take to make your kitchen a safe area.
1. It is easier to clean an emergency kitchen or camp table work  surface when you do not have to fight your way through it. Store pots/pans and dining accessories in cupboards, cabinets or boxes.  Keeping the extra surfaces to a minimum will provide less breeding ground for bacteria.
2. Clean out your refrigerator-ice chest on a regular basis. Discard any food that shows signs of spoilage. Wipe down the shelves and door using warm, soapy water or cleaning spray. It is safe to use dish detergent in your water when cleaning your refrigerator, but avoid using a variety that has a strong fragrance.
3. Clean up any spills on your stove top each time you cook. Use warm, soapy water or a kitchen cleaner. If you have used a camp oven, wipe the surfaces and racks after the interior has cooled. It is easier to remove drips and grease from the oven as they happen.
4. The work surfaces are the most dangerous areas in the emergency kitchen. Food, utensils and hands come directly in contact with these surfaces several times per day. Wipe down the work areas of your countertops or work top table before and after using them. Use hot, soapy water or a kitchen cleaning spray. Remove everything from the work surfaces and wash the entire surface once per week. An effective sanitizing solution for thoroughly cleaning the kitchen counters is to mix one capful of bleach into a quart of warm water. Allow the counters to air dry.
5. Wash dishes as soon as you can after using them. Do not let dirty dishes sit out on the counter. Bacteria and mold grows quickly on dirty dishes, especially in warm temperatures. Dirty dishes attract flies and other insects, as well as rodents. Wash dishes by hand using the procedures discussed above each time you prepare a meal.
6. Change your dish towel and dish washcloth daily. Bacteria can survive for weeks in a wet dishcloth or sponge. It is important to change your dishcloth, dishtowels and sponges on a daily basis. Use one dishcloth or sponge for cleaning the counters and another for washing the dishes. Use disposable paper towels when cleaning up spilled fluids from raw meat. If you plan to use a single dishcloth throughout the day, let it soak in a little water that has had a couple drops of bleach added to it between uses.

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