How to Wash Dishes in a Small Travel Trailer

When you have a small trailer, dishes can stack up fast. And washing them can feel difficult with a small sink and limited counter space. This is the process we use to wash dishes in our Jay Feather Micro travel trailer.

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Turn Hot Water On

The first thing you want to do is turn on the hot water. This will take about 10 minutes to heat up, so do this before you’re ready to start.

Prepare Rinse Water

Then I start by using a collapsible bucket for my rinse water. You want to turn on the water to hot and start filling the rinse bucket. It will start out cold, so keep testing the water until it gets hot and then filled enough that the bucket is full of warm water. Once the rinse bucket is full, put the bucket to the side of your sink, and this basically expands your sink area and allows you to wash dishes as if you have a double basin sink.

Prepare Soapy Water

Now that your water is nice and hot, add some dish soap and start filling up the sink. We always keep a plastic bucket in our sink to catch the water so we aren’t filling up our gray tank. This is totally optional, but it works nice for dry camping. Once your dirty dishes have some nice soapy water, it’s time to start washing.

Wash Dishes

So first, scrub the dirty dish in the soapy water, then put it in the rinse bucket to rinse it off.

Dry Dishes

When you’re ready to dry, there are two different options. You can either hand dry with a hand towel or you can use a drying rack. If it’s our last night in camp, we always hand dry. If not, though, the dish rack is easier, though there isn’t much space for it. The collapsible dish rack has a drain for water to drain into the sink, but with the rinse bucket there, there really isn’t a good place to set it. We instead use another collapsible bucket and put the drying rack inside of it. That allows us to put the drying rack on our table instead of trying to find space on a crowded counter because it can drain into that bucket instead of needing to drain into the sink.


Now this really isn’t anything new. Anyone who has washed dishes at camp has probably gone through a similar process to what I just explained, but it can be nice to see how it’s done in a small space. And once you have a good routine in place, this is a great chore to assign to the kids.

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