Ok, all of you RVers that cook... you're using up a TON of water to do the job! (Mostly due to cleaning dishes.)
If this is you, and you're dry camping, you need some good RV water saving tips.
Yeah, I am known for not cooking much. Even so, I still recognize how much water cooking (mostly the cleanup) consumes. And when you are dry camping (dry camping definition) or boondocking, water is severely limited.
You can't afford to waste any of it.
To help you extend your water supply, here are my 18 best RV water saving tips from 5 years of full-time dry camping. (And trying not to cook.) Beware, some may be a little non-conventional.
Like number one...
1. Lick Your Dishes
What, you're scared to look silly? Hey, I'll do this in a restaurant. If I can do it in public, you can lick your plates clean in your RV! It saves mess. And less waste, lol.
2. Let Your Dog Lick Your Plates
Again, TOTALLY serious here! You're gonna still wash it, right? If you think that's gross- think about how many other mouths (albeit human) have been on the forks and spoons you use out at a restaurant.
Now THAT grosses ME out! I'll take a dog lick (my dog) on a plate over a stranger lick any day. Well, that sounded weird.
3. Squeegee Your Dishes Before They Dry
Ok, you don't like the licking stuff- then use a spatula or a product made for squeegeeing plates and pots to get most of the food off BEFORE you rinse. The kicker with the first three methods is you have to do it right after you cook/eat. Not for the lazy.
4. Catch Water While Waiting For Warm Water
Unless you have an on-demand water heater, you're going to have to wait for the warm water to get through your lines. While you are waiting, you're watching perfectly good water down the drain. Unless you catch it in something. Catch it and re-use it! For dish washing. Or toilet flushing. Maybe for drinking. Whatever.
5. Bring Separate Drinking Water
Marshall recently started using this method. It allows your fresh water tank to go longer. He uses the refillable 3-gallon containers. Stores them in his tow vehicle. Puts one on the counter in his RV using a battery powered pump on the top to dispense it. There are also 5 gallon jugs available. You can easily refill these at any water filling station commonly found at gas stations and grocery stores.
6. Line Pans With Parchment Paper
This is a HUGE water AND cleanup saver. Do this when possible. No cleanup whatsoever. A bit wasteful, maybe. But you must choose your battles at times, right?
7. Use Crock Pot Liners
Same result as #6. No wasted dish water, easy cleanup! You can use them on a crock pot or instant pot, long as you are using slow-cooking mode.
8. Make One-Pot Meals
Whether you choose to line or not, making a one-pot meal means using and dirtying up less cookware. Bring your Instant Pot! Another bonus is that it's almost impossible to cook with two pots on most RV stoves. The burners are close together and tiny. They make them for tent camping sized pots, apparently. You could even pre-cook one-pot meals for the trip. More on that later.
9. Pre-Cook Pasta Or Only Use Enough Water To JUST Cover It
Easy solution! Why do we normally use so much water in a pot to cook pasta? It's not necessary. Either pre-cook it at home, or just use enough water to cover the pasta.
10. Pre-cook Meals And Seal-A-Meal Them To Save On Dirty Pots
My mom would love this one! She uses her Seal-A-Meal regularly. Additionally, she tries to get me excited about using one but it never works, lol! Make your meals before your trip. Stash some in the freezer and some in the fridge. Seal-A-Meal it or use ziplock freezer bags. Who wants to spend their camping vacation cooking, anyhow? Here's a way to not waste water waiting for it to get warm...
11. Heat Water On The Stove
If you aren't needing a lot of warm water for X job, don't get it through the tap. Just warm some up on the stove! Saves water, saves propane. I do this most of the time. No, I don't use warm water to do dishes. I only need small amounts for, well, I can't think of any examples. I just know I do it. (Oh, like for washing your face.)
12. Cook Over The Fire or Grill Using Tin Foil
Here's a no-brainer. If you're camping, you may want to utilize a grill or a fire to make your food. Here, you may be able to skip using pots and pans altogether. You may only dirty a few tongs, use a skewer or three, and some serving utensils. All very lickable, heh.
13. Bring Extra Water
You're not really limited to the size of your fresh water tank. You can simply bring extra water with you on your trip. Carry it in 5 gallon plastic bags, or in hard-sided containers. Once you need it, put it into your fresh water tank. Be aware that once your fresh water is used, you may not have much room in your grey tank. Depending on how much you put into it. (You can conserve grey tank room by catching dish water and throwing it outside. And by showering outside. Some water will go into your waste tank. So you should have some room. You'll learn your RV.)
14. Use Paper Products
Easy peasy and another no-brainer. Instead of using dishes that need to be washed, you could use paper plates and plastic silverware. Again, rather wasteful and worse for landfills, but if you only use them a few times a year... maybe it's not so bad.
15. Soak Dishes In A Bucket Or Bin In The Sink
Here is where that water you saved waiting for it to get warm can come in handy. If you don't want to lick, don't want the dogs to lick, and don't want to do dishes right after dinner, at least scrape then soak them. You'll use way less water getting them clean.
16. Wipe Dishes Down With Paper Towels
Same concept as the licking or squeegeeing. Just a different angle. A little more wasteful. But hey. Pick your battles.
17. Install Low-Flow Faucets on Sinks
Not sure how much this really helps. I simply control how much flow happens using the on/off knob. But maybe you have kids and they aren't as good at this kind of control.
18. Use Very Diluted Dish Soap
The less soapy your water is, the less water required to rinse it all off. Many people like to use Dawn foam, or simply use a water and vinegar mixture in a spray bottle to wash dishes.
What's to conclude? Maybe that you crazy chefs out there know that cooking uses up a lot of water in an RV. Probably more than anything else besides showering.
But it doesn't have to be wasteful. Use your smarts and use these RV water saving tips. You just easily extended your dry camping trips!
Author: Kelly Beasley
I dedicated myself to living the full-time RV life for over 6.5 years, immersing myself in the unique quirks and joys of the boondocking lifestyle and gaining a wealth of knowledge and experience along the way. In December 2020, my business partner and I made the transition to part-time RVing, but in January 2023, we hit the road once again, this time in our trusty vans. My mission is to help others embrace the RVing lifestyle with confidence and excitement, armed with the knowledge and resources needed to make the most of their adventures. I believe that the more you know, the more you can truly appreciate and enjoy the freedom and flexibility of the open road.