9 Tips to Make Washing Dishes Easier

Dishwashing Dish Tips

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Even if you have a dishwasher, or an affinity for paper plates, there will come a time when some types of glasses or dishes will need to be washed by hand. While it's not a job that most people enjoy, it is necessary and important to the health of your household to properly clean those bacteria-laden surfaces.

So, to help you tackle the task and get it done faster with the least amount of effort, here are nine tips to get you out of the kitchen.

Buy Several Dishpans at the Dollar Store

A couple of inexpensive plastic dishpans will change the way you do dishes and save you lots of time. 

  • Use one dishpan as a spot to put dirty dishes as they accumulate. If you put them in the sink, you'll have to unload the sink first before you can start washing. Save that step.
  • Using a dishpan saves water (and money) over using a big sink to wash just a few items.
  • If you don't have a double sink, the dishpan can be used for rinsing dishes, a quick disinfectant dip or soaking stuck-on food.
  • Even if you have a large or double sink, using dishpans will protect your dishes from chips that can come when they hit the harder surfaces of stainless steel, stone, or porcelain.

Take a Second to Scrape Off Food Residue

If you don't plan to wash the dishes right away after a meal or snack, take a second to scrape off any bits left on the plates, pots or pans, putting the waste into the garbage can. Use a rubber spatula to prevent scratching, and don't clog up the sink drain or garbage disposal! Leaving grease in the disposal will clog the pipes when the grease gets cold and congeals.

Get a Good Dishwashing Liquid and Use It the Right Way

Why work harder than you have to? Using the right dishwashing liquid can make cleaning dishes so much easier. Choose one with a high concentration of surfactants: alkyl ether sulfates that lift food from the dish surfaces and suspend them in the dishwater, solvents like alcohols that break down grease, or anti-bacterial ingredients like lactic acids. These detergents usually have a higher purchase price, but they do not contain as much water as bargain brands. They're also concentrated, so you don't have to use as much to get through all your dishes.

Grab the Best Tools for the Job

Get a sponge that has some type of scrubbing surface like net or nylon bristles in addition to the softer side. You'll need it. And whatever brand you choose, clean it often with a disinfecting solution and replace it frequently. Sponges are bacteria breeding grounds.

Dishwashing gloves may look old school, but they will both help you keep a good grip on slippery dishes and protect your hands. You should also be able to use hotter water if you're wearing gloves, which will help clean the dishes too. If they smell a little funky inside, sprinkle in some baking soda between uses.

Learn to Relax and Soak

Letting dishes soak for days probably isn't the best look, but letting them soak for a few minutes in the dishwashing liquid and water solution is right on trend. This gives the surfactants and solvents time to begin loosening the soil and makes your job easier.

The One Time You Don't Want Hot Water

Dishes should be washed and rinsed in the hottest water you can stand to use. The one exception is dishes that are coated in dairy products or starchy foods. For these, start with a cold water rinse to remove the food particles. The heat can make them even stickier.

Wash in the Right Order

Always start with the least greasy and dirtiest pieces first, usually glassware. Then do eating utensils, plates and serving dishes, and save the pots and pans for last. You may need to add a bit more dishwashing liquid and hot water to complete the job.

So, You Burned the Sauce

It happens. Burned-on food or baked-on grease are the biggest problems at the dishwashing sink. If the food is really stuck, fill the dirty pot with hot water and powdered dishwasher detergent. Bring the mixture to a boil and then remove from the heating element and allow it to soak for at least one hour. In a casserole dish, sprinkle the dry powder into the dish and then, in a separate pot, boil water. Once boiling, pour the boiling water into the casserole dish and let it soak.

After soaking, scrape the sides and bottom with a rubber spatula to remove loosened particles and then wash as usual.

If traces of burned marks remain on nonstick coatings, fill the pan with cold water and three tablespoons of salt. Let the pan soak overnight and then slowly bring the solution to a boil. Wash the pan as usual.

Perfect Your Clean Dishes Drying

Use a dish drainer to hold your dishes in place. You can either let them air dry, or finish up by drying with a lint-free microfiber cloth. To keep your counters water-free, place the drainer on an absorbent towel, rubber mat, or baking sheet with edges.