If the upside to a meal is eating, the downside is the dirty dishes that come afterward. If you don’t want to eat every dinner on paper plates, you’re going to have to wash them. If you do the dishes in an organized fashion, it should take you minutes, not hours. That is the good news.
There are two ways to wash your dishes: by hand or in the dishwasher. Both ways have their devotees. There seems to be a disagreement about which is better. Some prefer the dishwasher for its convenience, and others prefer hand washing because you can control how much water you use and ensure that your dishes are clean the first time.
Washing Your Dishes By Hand
*For instructions on using the dishwasher, scroll down.
There are two methods you can use to wash your dishes by hand. One requires a double bowled sink and one is for those with just one sink in the kitchen. Besides that, they take roughly the same steps. Before you start the actual washing process, you should scrape any leftover food into the trash. You can also run it through the garbage disposal, but then you risk clogging the sink.
1. Fill the sink with hot water
Use the hottest water that you can without making it so hot that you burn yourself. Don’t fill the sink all the way to the top, since you need room to drop the dishes in. Make it about half full. If you’d like you can fill a large bowl in the sink instead of the sink itself. This will make it a little easier if you have to change the water.
2. Soak pots and pans
If you have any dishes that have baked on grime that will be hard to get off, such as pots or casserole dishes, fill these dishes with the hot water as well and set them on the counter so that they are out of the way. Let them sit for about ten to 15 minutes. You can also put smaller dishes with baked on crud in these pans, such as spatulas and knives.
3. Add the soap
Add a couple squirts of dish soap for hand washing to the sink and stir it around with your hands to make a uniform solution with lots of bubbles. If the soapy water is hard on your hands, you can wear a pair of rubber gloves. This will also protect you from cutting yourself on any utensils.
4. Start washing
Begin with the glasses and delicate plates, such as those used for dessert. Then proceed to the dinner plates, and then the pots and pans and utensils that had been soaking. Simply immerse the dishes in the water and scrub any grease, sauce or food off by using a kitchen brush, sponge or steel wool pad. Since steel wool can be abrasive, don’t use it on dishes made from delicate materials, like stainless steel.
Replace the water and add more soap whenever it becomes too full of gunk to really clean any subsequent dishes.
5. Rinse the dishes
As you finish with scrubbing each dish, you want to rinse it off under the tap, or in the second sink if you’re using the double-bowled method. For this method, you can simply fill the second sink with lukewarm water and dunk the dishes in to rinse them, replacing the water as needed. If you don’t have a second sink, just rinse the dishes under the tap. You may need to drain out a little of the water as you do so. Using lukewarm water is fine.
6. Check the dishes
After you rinse each dish, double-check that you’ve gotten it completely clean. Any remaining sauce or food will be fairly obvious, but you may have to remove your gloves and check with your fingers to ensure that you’ve gotten off all of the grease. If any amount of soil remains, repeat steps four and five. If you still can’t get the dish clean, you can try soaking it longer or using a stronger cleaning solution.
7. Dry the dishes
Once you’re sure each dish is indeed clean, dry it off using a dish towel. Don’t use a bath or hand towel since the lint may stick to your dishes. You’ll want to dry the dishes as you go, not save them all for the end, since you don’t want them to get streaks or spots from sitting wet. If you can, recruit a friend or friends to help you dry. It’s an easy task; they’ll still be your friends after this. If this isn’t an option, you can leave the dishes to dry in a drying rack. Be sure to put bowls and glasses in the rack upside down so that the water doesn’t pool.
8. Put the dishes away
Put the dishes away in the cabinet after you dry them. That way they’ll be easy to find later and harder to knock on the floor and break.
9. Clean the Dishwashing Area
Once the dishes are put away, wipe down the dish rack with a damp cloth then towel it dry to prevent mineral build-up from hard water. Wiping out the sink is also a good idea to remove any food debris.
Using The Dishwasher
Preparing dishes for the dishwasher is a much shorter process, especially if you have one of the newer dishwashers that will practically scrape off everything. If you’re not so lucky, you should soak your pots and pans, as in step two, and then follow the scrubbing instructions in step three. You should also scrape off as much food as possible to avoid clogging your dishwasher’s drain.
After this is done, simply load the dishes in the dishwasher, taking care to put plastics and more delicate dishes in the top rack so that they don’t get damaged. (Hand wash anything that you know isn’t dishwasher safe.) Then add the detergent to the dispenser, lock the machine and run it.
Most dishwashers drain into the sink, so be sure the sink isn’t clogged before you turn the dishwasher on or you could end up with quite a mess on your counter and floor.
When the dishwasher is finished, take the dishes out and put them away. Give them a quick check to make sure they are clean and dry first, so that there are no surprises later when you set the table.
A Little Advice
It will be a lot easier on you and the friends you recruit to help you if you clean the dishes as you cook each meal. Instead of leaving dirty dishes out on the counter for hours, you want to at least rinse them right away so the food doesn’t have a chance to set. This will make it much quicker when you run the dish detail.