Four bucket dishwashing system

Nancy McLauchlan (Words few and savory, seasoned with Grace) included this tidbit in her review of western Friends meetings. (Broad-brimmed hat tip: QuakerQuaker via Twitter)

Redwood Forest Meeting (Santa Rosa, CA) has adapted a “Four Bucket” system of dishwashing to hygienically wash the dishes and not waste water.

This is church administration at its most basic: getting a basic function accomplished well with available resources and established values. Or perhaps I’m a bit biased since putting a large kettle on to boil was a usual task in my first pastorate, “to scald the forks” after church suppers. There was no hot water heater in the fellowship hall.

I have seen the four bucket dishwashing system in practice exactly once: more than a decade ago in a hostel in San Francisco. So I Googled for details. There aren’t many to be had.

The four buckets, according to Colorado River and Trail Expeditions — which uses the protocol in its outings — are

cool soap, hot soap, hot rinse, clorox rinse. The items are scrubbed in the first two buckets, rinsed in the third, and sanitized in the last bucket.

See their site, look for “cleanup”, for more details and a photo.

How big should the basin be for a given sized group? How much soap or bleach? I don’t have answers for these questions. Do you?