Sunday, February 26, 2017

Cheapskates on the Move, Washing dishes

(UPDATE:  06/2017 grease & food)
On the boat, we are trying to conserve the fresh water in our tanks.  In Odin the Winnebago, we are trying to slow filling the grey water tank.  Doing dishes is the most wasteful use of water (besides showering--more on that later) and here's our technique, adopted and adapted from other cruiser tips.  It's also earth-friendly (allowing you to afford more expensive dish soap because it lasts longer), saves plastic, and saves money.

Foaming dish soap:
Start with an earth-friendly foaming soap (I like Seven Generation, Method or Dawn).  A little soap goes farther & the squirt of water is built right in!  Then refill the empty bottle with regular dish soap--fill almost to the top with water, then add 2 Tbsp dish soap.  Shake ocassionally to keep mixed.

Dish cloth:
Our favorite is Lunatec (Learned from The Boat Galley).  It comes in a 4-pack and one dish cloth lasted us at least a year!  Just the right amount of scrubby, antibacterial & quick drying (I love the loop for hanging up on the faucet).  Never smells.

Spray bottle:  Finally, a good spray bottle (preferably from the hardware store) filled with water & 1 Tbsp vinegar (breaks up soap suds and is also disinfectant).  Even The Captain was amazed at how clean you can get a dirty dish with a good high-powered squirt bottle!

(WARNING:  My sister should stop reading here.  She will be horrified.  So was I, when I read posts on a sailor's forum.  Boiling water equals CLEAN!  However, open your mind for a second, and read on...)

First, SCRAPE, SCRAPE, SCRAPE the food scraps into the trash.  The water lines in a boat or RV can't tolerate the food scraps you may be used to putting down a normal sink (with a garbage disposal for insurance).  For greasy dishes, the easiest way is to wipe the dishes with a paper towel.  (You lack the abundant hot water to run through the lines & you should avoid the toxic chemicals designed for household plumbing, especially on a boat where it will go overboard).   Some use an old coffee can for food scraps.  Depending on where you are, you may be able to throw some overboard (I only do this in remote anchorages.  There's nothing more disappointing than jumping in for a snorkel and seeing the the former resident's egg shells or overripe potatoes laying on the bottom.

Start with the minimum amount of water.  You only need a few inches, preferably using a dirty bowl or pan instead of filling the sink with water (depending on amount of dishes).  We primarily wash & rinse in cold water.  I know it sounds crazy, but it works fine.  If you NEED hot water (tomato or oil based recipe), you can heat it up in a tea kettle (or put some water in a pot still warm from cooking & put it back on the stove--running water while waiting for it to get hot is WASTEFUL!).  Many of us were taught to use hot water because it leaves less streaks, but see "Rinse" below.

This may sound basic, but washing the least dirty things first will keep your dishwater cleaner.  Glasses first, silverware, then pots & pans last.

For a few items, the foaming soap on the washcloth works great.  Otherwise, it only takes a couple inches of water to wash dishes but using a pot or bowl that needs to be washed as your basin is even better.

Rinse:  This is your biggest water waster.  Try a few squirts from the water bottle.  Even better, don't rinse off the soap OR just rinse off the "eating surface" of bowls or pans.  You don't need to rinse off the outside.  You won't eat off the surface & it's WASTEFUL!  Bonus: soapy water doesn't leave streaks!  Before you say, EWWWWW!, here's food for thought:  the-cultural-divide-on-washing-dishes-brits-vs-americans

Tips:  Do dishes before the food dries (I know.  This is the part I hate).  It will require less water OR, a few squirts from the water bottle OR a quick swish of a wet wash cloth & let it sit a second will loosen difficult stains.

The same foaming concept works for the bathroom:
Foaming hand soap canister
Fill almost to the top with water
2 Tbsp castile soap (unscented or citrus to deter mosquitos)
1 tsp coconut oil or glycerin (moisturizing)
10 drops lavender or tea tree essential oil for disinfecting

Try one or two of the steps above to start.  You'll get used to it.  You may not adopt the whole process, but you may find some things you do out of habit aren't necessary.  Good luck.  Share your tips below.

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