We are getting ready for our expedition and one challenge is cleanliness. If you are not clean in the outdoors you get sick. So I thought I would take a moment to share some common questions about keeping the cooking kit clean with biodegradable soap. Some people have asked me… “does biodegradable mean I can wash directly in the ocean/river” and “how much space do you devote to caring cleaning supplies in the kayak”.
My cleaning kit is smaller than my cook kit. It consists of one bar of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap and a MSR Nano Towel. I use it to wash my pots, to shave, and it cleans everything from my hair to my toes. There is no need to carry dish soap, a bottle of shampoo, and a bar of soap. I also prefer not to smell like a candy-cane. Say no to peppermint.
When it comes to washing up remember a river, lake, ocean is not a bathtub. Do not jump in with a bottle of shampoo or a bar of soap. Soap labels are often confusing because many people think that if it says biodegradable they can wash their dishes in the river. That is not the case. Graywater needs to be filtered through the soil. Granted I have been known to drink a little graywater when there was no soap in it. Here are the highlights of proper dish-washing (Go to lnt.org for lots more details.)
>”All dish-washing (and body washing) should be done 200 feet away from any water source, because we need to keep even biodegradable soap out of rivers, streams, and lakes. (Fish don’t groove on peppermint scented suds.)”
>”Only use soap if you need to (for really greasy pots or on long trips, when serious grime buildup is inevitable). For the most part, hot water and a scrubby sponge will do the trick. Boiling dishwater before doing dishes would be the safest way to make sure you’re not scrubbing your pots with Giardia. But as for me, 99% of the time, I’m content with just getting it hot enough to cut the grease. Your call.”
> “After scrubbing, strain your dishwater through a fine mesh strainer (or a bandanna) and broadcast the wastewater. In other words, fling it far and wide. Then pack out the food remnants in your garbage bag.”
I have known some people also use Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap to brush their teeth. I have never put soap in my mouth voluntarily. I use a non-fluoridated toothpaste. And toothpaste is a type of soap. Consequently I use as little as possible. Sometimes I swallow it and other times I make a raspberry sound and disperse it away from water and over a wide area.
The final cleaning tool I have is waterless hand cleaner. I have two small bottles. I keep one with my food kit, and the other with my WAG bag. – Jeff