How to Clean Dishes When You Have Zero Water to Spare

dirty dishes piled in a plastic tub sitting on dry grass

Whether you’re out in the wilderness or at home during a water outage, you might not have any clean water to spare during a crisis. Every drop counts. After all, a human can only go about three days without water, but can survive between one to two months without food.

That doesn’t mean you should give up on an essential task like washing dishes, which is crucial to maintaining your family’s health by removing bacteria and avoiding pest infestations. Check out these 5 ways to clean dishes without running water. 

1. Boil Rainwater

When you don’t have water to spare, you have to get creative in how you find and collect that precious H20. One of the most hygienic and least work-intensive ways to wash dishes without wasting water is to rely on Mother Nature. Set out a bucket or other container to collect rainwater, or if you’re lucky, dip your bucket into a nearby stream. Once you have enough water to submerge your dirty dishes, build a fire and bring that water to a boil in a non-plastic pot. Remove the pot from the fire, then simply place your dishes in the boiled water to sterilize them. Once the water has cooled, you can remove your dishes and store them away for the next meal. 

2. Collect the Morning Dew

Another way to wash dishes without running water relies on a source of water that may be overlooked — the morning dew. To employ this dishwashing method, again grab your trusty bucket or container and head out into the landscape in the early morning hours. Collect leaves and small branches covered in dew and place them in your chosen receptacle, waiting for the dew to collect at the bottom. Once the moisture has run off the leaves and branches, remove them, then use the collected liquid to wipe down your dirty dishes.

3. Baby Wipes

If absolutely no water is available, then baby wipes are a good option. This will require you to plan ahead a bit, but if you make a habit of keeping a box of baby wipes at the ready, it’s a dishwashing method that can serve you well. The method is simple:

  • Clear off any large pieces of food residue.
  • Thoroughly wipe down the dish’s surface until it looks visibly clean.
  • Take a new wipe and wipe it down again to get rid of leftover germs.
  • Wipe the dish down with a dry cloth to remove any remaining soap.

4. Keep Food Off Dishes

Another great way to save water on dishwashing is to keep your dishes clean — even when you’re using them for meals. This might seem impossible, but it’s actually quite simple. You can cover your plate with a paper plate or a thin film of plastic wrap. Place your food on top of this disposable surface, then when you’re done eating, you can easily discard the soiled paper plate or piece of plastic. No water needed!

5. Avoid Dishes Altogether

For the ultimate in waterless dish cleaning, avoid dishes altogether. With a roll of aluminum foil, you can create your own cookware that you can eat directly out of. And the bonus is, once placed in the foil, you can place your uncooked meal directly on the fire or grill. You can conserve water and save time on cleanup.

4Patriots can help you prepare for a potential water shortage. Shop online for our water purification tools, including solar cookers, water filtration systems, and purification pitchers today.