Wash Dishes Without Running Water – No Plumbing? No Worries!

My van has no plumbing of any kind which means no running water. 

Everything I have is portable because I like to keep it simple. But a home with no plumbing left me wondering how I was going to wash dishes without running water.

As I researched this topic and tested my options I came up with several ways to get my dishes clean without running water. 

  • Two spray bottles (one to wash with and one to rinse with).
  • Garden sprayer and dish pan
  • Dish washing wipes
  • Disposable dishes

Now let’s look at each of these options in more detail…

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Two Spray Bottles

This is the method I use most. You’ll need 2 large spray bottles and a couple of paper towels. If you prefer, you can use cloth towels in place of paper towels.

wash dishes without running water

Spray Bottle One

The first bottle is filled with water and soap. You can use dish soap or any type of soap that you want to wash dishes with.

Van Life Soap Tip: Multi-purpose products are essential for van life. I use a product called KD Gold for all of my my cleaning needs – including doing dishes. That means I only need ONE bottle rather than several bottles and that ONE bottle is used for many different needs. At first glance, the price appears expensive but this soap is highly concentrated and lasts a very long time. If you’re interested in KD Gold, there’s more info on the KD Gold website.

Bottle Two

The second bottle is filled with plain water.

The Two Spray Bottle Process To Wash Dishes Without Running Water

  • Spray the dishes with the soapy mixture.
  • Use a paper towel to scrub off the food.
  • Rinse the dishes with plain water.

You don’t need to saturate the dishes when cleaning or rinsing. To catch the small amount of run-off water you can spray them over a waste basket or lay a paper towel on the counter and clean / rinse the dishes over the towel.

Garden Sprayer and Dish Pan

You can easily create your own portable, non-electric running water using a garden (weed) sprayer and a dish pan. The dish pan is optional because you could just use the sprayer outdoors.

The garden sprayer can be as small or big as you like. I use a 2 gallon garden sprayer but a smaller one would work just as well.

The weed sprayer is multi-purpose and can also be used as a portable shower or a simple way to hose off after a sandy walk on the beach.

Add A Kitchen Sink Sprayer To The Garden Sprayer

One of the best things I did to my garden sprayer was take the stiff spray nozzle-wand thing off and replace it with a regular kitchen sink sprayer.

You’ll Need:

  • Sink sprayer Nozzle and Hose (if you look for these items at Walmart or Home Depot the nozzle and hose may come together in one package or the nozzle may be in one package and the hose in a separate package)
  • Barbed Fitting 1/4″ ID – 1/4″ MIP

To assemble: 

  • Assemble the sink sprayer nozzle and hose per the package instructions.
  • Take the wand off of the garden sprayer.
  • Insert the barbed fitting into the garden sprayer hose (where you just took the wand from).
  • Attach the sink sprayer hose to the other end of the barbed fitting and you’re done!
doing dishes without running water

Dish Washing Wipes

Another method to wash dishes without running water is dish washing wipes.

The wipes work well for scrubbing and cleaning dishes but the dishes still need to be rinsed. A handy way to rinse the dishes is with a spray bottle filled with plain water.

Disposable Dishes

When all else fails, using disposable dishes and utensils is an easy way out of doing dishes.

I rarely use disposables but once in a great while the situation warrants using disposables.

Conclusion – Wash Dishes Without Running Water

I recommend having at least two alternate methods of washing dishes.

Sometimes we find ourselves in situations where washing dishes with a garden sprayer just won’t work (like in a Walmart parking lot) so the spray bottle method or dish washing wipes come in handy.

Related Article: Where To Find Free Water While Living In A Van

Related Post (an upgrade to include running water): My New Simple Easy Van Life Kitchen

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