Set Up A Campsite Dish Washing Station

My collapsible drainer, dish tub and electric kettle make a nice compact dish washing station.

My husband's college pal Pete Jordan once had a goal to wash dishes in all 50 states.  Dishwasher Pete, as he is known, traveled around the US for over a decade working everywhere from a commune to kosher nursing homes.  He made it to 33 states before hanging up his apron and then wrote a book about his journey.  I'm not trying to wash dishes in all 50 states or write a book about it.  But, I do want to be able to wash my dishes with ease wherever my travels take me.

Peggy Sue, our pop up, has a tiny sink and does not have hot water.  The size of the sink and lack of hot water makes washing dishes a difficult task.  I needed more space for water and washing along with real hot water!  Washing dishes in cold water just seems unsanitary.  Maybe it's not.  Science was never my forte, so I'm not going to pretend to know what I'm talking about.  Common sense just tells me hot soapy water is better.  I'm going to stick with that!

To make our set up more functional, I use 4 key pieces.

I start out by putting everything in my dish tub with some soap.  I heat up water in my electric kettle while I'm getting my dish drainer set up and arranged.  An electric kettle will heat up water really fast.  I fill the kettle pretty full and get my water nice and hot.  I can add a little cold water to bring the temperature down if needed.

I wash items in the dish tub.  Then, I rinse everything in my sink.  I would prefer to have hot water for rinsing, but this is not a deal breaker.  I've learned that compromise and creativity are the charms of camping.  Go with it.

I wash dishes in a tub that collapses down for compact storage.

The hot soapy water in the dish tub sits next to the sink.  My dish drainer sits on the far side of my counter.  It is an awkward setup and arrangement.  Again, it's a compromise that I have to make in a small space.  Keep in mind.  The goal is clean dishes.

The dish drainer sits on the far end of the counter.  While this is a little awkward, it works and gets the job done!

The dishes are dried and put away as soon as I finish washing so that I can clean everything up.  I drain my tub of hot soapy water.  The tub is cleaned, dried and collapsed.  I clean, dry and collapse the dish drainer too.  The small space means that I just have to get it done and out of the way.  There isn't room for dirty dishes!

Because I use collapsible items, I can stack them on top of the sink when I am done.  The size of the tub and drainer is perfect to fit right over the sink.  Anything larger would just be too much!

Collapsible gear is some of my favorite items in my camper!

I know that some people may add a second or third collapsible tub for washing.  For this method, you would have the following:
  1. Tub One - Pre-washing/rinsing dishes
  2. Tub Two - Soapy water for washing
  3. Tub Three - Rinsing station
I just don't have room for 3 tubs.  Plus, I would rather wash dishes inside of my camper and not on a picnic table.  Adding more gear means that I would have to move outdoors.  I'm fine with washing dishes inside with my tiny set up.  It's clean.  It's compact.  It gets the job done!

If you are looking for ways to make your camping set up better, improving your dishwashing set up could be worth it.  Even if you have a large camper, the sink may not be a good size for the task.  Adding a collapsible tub and dish drainer could be helpful items for almost any camper regardless of camper size.

I hope you are finally enjoying the spring weather.  As you are gearing up for your next trip, check out my recent post on staying organized in a camper.  You might also want to check out my camp kitchen page for more ideas to use in your kitchen on the road.  As always...

If you want to find out more about Pete Jordan's travels as a dishwasher across our country, check out his book, Dishwasher.  

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  1. Your electric kettle idea lead me from Pinterest to your blog after our April camping trip. I can't tell you how awesome having easy hot water has made doing the dishes.

    1. It does make a huge difference. I'm glad you found this to be helpful!


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