Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Survival skill: dish washing with limited water

I promised myself at the beginning of the year that I would blog at least once month. Hello, it's already Q2 of 2014 and I'm only writing my first entry. I have about 4 or 5 topics in my head that I've been wanting to write about. But as usual, it is staying mostly in my head. If you want to know what they were, kwentuhan na lang tayo (let's just talk).

Sometime in the 1980's I remember the Philippines going through a period of El Nino. Rain was scarce and water was a precious commodity. I remember public service announcements on TV giving people tips on how to maximize and save water. I remember large water pails in the bathroom and smaller water pails in the kitchen. I remember my father making trips to the deep well hand pump in our back yard and my waiting for him by the door so I could take the bucket he just filled, empty it into a bigger pail, and give it back to him to fill again. It was a task we would keep doing until the big pail was full.

Now, almost 30 years later, I find myself once again in a similar situation. For the last few weeks, every 2 days, for 2 days each, our taps run dry. My life is once again all about big pails, small pails and water scoopers.

The good thing about having faced water rationing before is that I feel incredibly equipped to deal with its challenges. No hot water showers? No problem. Inconsistent laundry days? I'm flexible. Too much hassle to cook during no-water days? Prepare dishes in advance. But what I am most proud of is that even with no running water, I can wash the dishes.

Say what?

Alright, let me explain. We're used to washing dishes by rinsing them in water that runs from the tap. So, when the tap is dry, the immediate recourse some people take is to scoop up some water and pour it out in a steady stream, just like a tap, and rinse as usual. Sure, it's doable. But it's also wasteful. What I learned almost 30 years ago is a dish washing method that is much more economical.

Introducing: The Basin.

In what will be probably one of the weirdest, most random blog posts you will ever read, I pass on to you the life skill my dear mother taught me, and for which I will forever be grateful.

Step 1: build your pile. This method is time consuming and is more efficient when you have plenty to wash. This was breakfast and lunch dishes combined.
Step 2: get a basin and fill it with water. It doesn't need to be full. I only fill mine up to half or maybe even less.
Step 3: start rinsing your dishes, one by one, in the basin. This lets you can get rid of any food pieces, oil or any other dirt on the dish. Start off with the cleanest / most delicate ones. I have a 1yo son so I normally rinse his things first, followed by our drinking glasses. By the time you finish rinsing and discard the water, your basin may also be a little grimy from the dirt and the oil, especially if it's plastic. Give it a nice, simple cleansing with some soap and fresh water.

Step 4: soap your dishes.

Step 5: fill up your now-clean basin with water again, and start rinsing your dishes. As before, start with the delicate items first. In this case, I started with my son's milk bottle. Once you've done all the dishes, give your basin another once over to clean it.

On another note, I like to separate the washing of large pots and pans because they're a lot dirtier than plates and glasses. In those instances, I use the water here for their pre-soap rinse (step #1).

Step 6: Finally, give all your dishes a final wash by filling up the basin again and repeating the rinsing process. At this point your dishes will be ready to put away. In case you have any stubborn item, just set it aside and give it a third washing later.

Extra: I consider the water from the final rinse to be considerably clean so I try not to just discard it. I usually use it to soak the cleaning rags I use to wipe down the table or the kitchen sink. Or use it to give my pots and pans a good first rinse.

So there you have it. It's not the sexiest survival skill to know, but hey, it sure is useful.


1 comment:

  1. Unique Outdoor Survival Skills

    Don't you find it ironic that even with all this scandalously expensive education, people today know so little?

    If they can't even fix their car, how are they supposed to handle a - let's say - long term food shortage?

    You can't possibly hope they'd know how to garden and produce their own food, save seeds for next year, and use leaves plowed under to fertilize the soil.

    Not to mention trapping, catching, skinning and cooking a rabbit...

    These may seem advanced outdoor survival skills now, but back in the days, they were merely called "Living".

    Watch this short video now and discover a set of unique and fantastic survival skills used and perfected by our ancestors.

    Don't wait for the next crisis to hit and live to regret you had the chance to learn these skills but didn't.

    Click here to watch video!

    Thanks again.



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