Skills & Techniques

Bigfoot’s Guide to Dirty Dishwater

Susy Alkaitis - July 28, 2019

Have you ever been camping and not been sure of how to dispose of your dishwater properly? The best way to wash your dishes and to dispose of your dishwater properly is to carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes, use small amounts of biodegradable soap, and to broadcast strained dishwater unless a designated receptacle is available. But the big question is WHY are these the best ways to dispose of your dish water properly?


Why Strain It?

Animals are attracted to all the food scraps big and small that we leave behind. Straining your dishwater allows you to capture food particles that you can then put in the trash or compost. That way, when you dispose of your water, either by putting it in a designated receptacle or by broadcasting it, you won’t be leaving behind tasty tidbits for the squirrels, bears, and other animals in the area which keeps both you, and them safe.

Why Broadcast it?

Broadcasting your dishwater allows the water to evaporate faster, and any microscopic food or soap particulate left in the water after straining to break down faster. Concentrated disposal of dishwater can cause erosion, attract animals, and be unsightly for other visitors.

Why 200 feet away from a water source?

  1. To avoid or minimize pollution of surface waters (streams, rivers, lakes, oceans, etc.)
  2. To create adequate filtering- biodegradable soap does not breakdown when introduced into water ways. It requires soil to breakdown properly overtime.
  3. To respect wildlife access to water sources

And remember, the best way to dispose of your dishwater will vary according to your area. If a designated receptacle is provided at a campsite, deposit your dishwater there. If it is required to pack it out, pack it out. Check local regulations to learn what’s required where you are camping!

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Enjoy Your World. Leave No Trace.

Leave No Trace’s Monika Baumgart and David LeMay are part of the 2019 Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer Program that provides free, mobile education to communities across the country. Proud partners of this program include Subaru of AmericaREIEagles Nest OutfittersDeuterThuleFjällräven and Klean Kanteen.

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