Thinking about how you'll clean something before you buy it can save a lot of water on a boat.

Conserve Water with Your Gear Choices

Living ashore, most people have a dishwasher and a relatively unlimited supply of water and thus don’t think about how much water something takes to clean.

On a boat, the situation is different.  Instead of high-powered jets of water to get food particles out of nooks and crannies, we have to use a hand brush and dish rag.  I rather quickly learned to think about how I’d clean something when I bought it.  (UPDATE: Take a look at the yuck that can happen when I didn’t think about cleanability.)

And I learned that things that are difficult to clean generally took more water.  Although we had a watermaker, running it took power — power that I’d prefer to use for fun stuff like mThinking about how you'll clean something before you buy it can save a lot of water on a boat.usic, movies or downloading and editing photos.

I soon discovered that some of my galley gear was much harder to clean — and thus took more water — than other items.  Here’s a few things I learned:

  • Non-stick pans take a lot less water to clean than traditional.
  • Things with tight openings — like the space behind the blade of the top vegetable peeler in the photo — are hard to clean.  The peeler on the bottom takes a lot less water as the blade is open and the spaces in the handle (which usually don’t get food bits in them) are larger.
  • Thinking about how you'll clean something before you buy it can save a lot of water on a boat.One-piece handles on utensils are a snap to clean while those with seams and decorations take more effort, a brush and more water.  In the photo of the two spoons, it’s easy to see that the top one is much more streamlined than the bottom one.  While there is some difference in washing tableware, the difference is much larger when it comes to mixing spoons and cooking utensils that tend to get more “gunk” on them.
  • Things that can be taken apart for cleaning are almost always better than things that can’t be.  For example, most box-style graters don’t come apart and it can be hard to wash cheese out of the inside.  Single piece graters or A-frame ones that separate into 2 pieces are much simpler to clean.

Admittedly, there are other considerations in your gear choices, such as how well something works and how much space it takes to stow.  But I learned that I also had to consider cleaning — in terms of time, water and just being able to thoroughly remove all bits of food when doing dishes by hand.

And if you read some of my outfitting articles, you’ll probably notice that with many items, ease of cleaning is one reason that I like one piece of gear over another.

Thinking about how you'll clean something before you buy it can save a lot of water on a boat.

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  • Candy Ann Williams on Facebook
    Posted at 09 February 2012 Reply

    So true!!

  • Stephanie Hamilton on Facebook
    Posted at 05 March 2013 Reply

    Hey Carolyn…..just want to say thanks for such a terrific website! Now that we have transitioned to a land yacht, so many of your tips are right on target. Our RV is VERY compact with virtually NO storage space! The hanging locker idea is already in progress!

  • The Boat Galley on Facebook
    Posted at 05 March 2013 Reply

    Geez, thanks Stephanie!

  • Kim
    Posted at 31 October 2013 Reply

    We do not have a watermaker on our boat and cruise along the inside passage waters of Canada/Alaska. Potable water can be scarce along the more remote stretches so water conservation is always on my mind. I have cut back on making tomato sauce based recipes because the cleanup takes more water as the tomato sauce gets all over everything (notably, the plastics). We don’t have a saltwater outlet in our galley, but I started doing a pre-rinse outside, which has helped, but I still consider where we’ll be cruising and whether I want to make Mac & Beef & take the water penalty or not!

  • Shelly
    Posted at 31 October 2013 Reply

    I agree, your ideas are right on. We are outfitting our new boat being built in Chile and everything we shipped down was carefully thought out. Thanks for all the info!

  • Lynn Duggan
    Posted at 03 October 2014 Reply

    I am a neat freak about washing dishes as I use them and that can waste a lot of water on a boat! I came up with a simple but very workable solution for me. In the morning, I take a large baggie and add a cup of water and some dish detergent. During the day I will add any utensils I have used during the day, knives from lunch prep, coffee spoons, etc. The vegie peeler and cheese knife too. Even coffee cups! After dinner when I am doing galley clean up I have no dried food on the utensils and the soapy water goes right into the dishpan…I also use a toothbrush to clean the little catchy areas on things I should part
    with but can’t!

  • Christine Barber
    Posted at 03 October 2014 Reply

    Wash with sea water, rinse with fresh… be it dishes, laundry, shampooing, or bathing….

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