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How To Hand Wash Dishes The Right Way

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Inside: Are you overwhelmed with dishes? Maybe your dishwasher doesn’t work and you don’t know what to do? Find out how to hand wash dishes the right way, and ensure your dishes are cleaned to your specifications.

You’re in the midst of making dinner. You go to your utensil rack to grab a slotted spoon, only to realize it’s sitting in the dishwasher. Since you have no other spoons that are of the same size as the one you were looking for, you’re forced to retrieve that dirty spoon from the dishwasher. 

how to hand wash dishes

Why do you ask? Well, you have no idea what dirty spoon touched, or worse yet, what gross substance dripped all over it.  For all you know, that spoon could have touched something that had raw chicken juice on it. Sure, you may have rinsed the spoon off before putting it in the dishwasher, or thought you did. Now, that spoon you just retrieved from the dishwasher, not only contains bacteria from when you first put it in the dishwasher, but it now also has Salmonella on it. 

Not only are you going to have to hand wash the spoon in order to use it, but you’re now going to have to hand wash it better than you would have had to if you had washed it immediately after using it. When you hand wash dishes and put them away after you use them, you’ll always be assured they’re clean and aren’t harboring any bacteria. 

In the long run, it’s an actual time-saver. 

As useful as dishwashers are, nothing truly compares to hand washing your own dishes. You see, when you run a dishwasher, you have no idea if all of your dishes are going to get clean. 

What about the times you ran your dishwasher only to find out the detergent door never opened?  Did it aggravate you to have to run the dishwasher again because the detergent was never released? If so, you’re not alone. 

Many people over-stuff their dishwashers and there are some instances where utensils may nest within each other. When this happens, only the top utensil is getting clean, which means you’re going to have to hand wash that utensil. Is that a time-saver? Nope, didn’t think so. 

When it comes time to empty the dishwasher, have you ever noticed dried food remains stuck on your dishes, or there is a pool of water on the bottoms of mugs, and bowls? I’m not knocking dishwashers, truly, I’m not. The point I’m trying to make here is, that a machine can only do so much, whereas you as a human can do so much more, and 9-out-of-10 times, a much better job at that!

Not only do you have to be careful when retrieving the dish from the dishwasher, but you’re also now faced with drying the dish off and rewashing it since the dishwashing soap didn’t dissolve and it’s stuck on your dish. 

When you wash your dishes by hand, you’re ensuring your dishes are cleaned to your specifications. Sure, it may feel as though it’s rather time-consuming to hand wash dishes, but in the long run, you’re ensuring your dishes are truly cleaned. 

When you hand wash dishes after using them, you’ll save yourself a lot of time, energy, and effort. 

Will I conserve water when I hand wash dishes?

Most dishwashers use approximately 10 gallons of water with each use. If you believe in water conversation, then hand washing will save you a lot of water, especially if you’re the type of person who shuts the water off after every use or uses a tub to soak your dishes in first. (More on that later). 

is it better to air dry dishes

Perhaps you don’t believe in conserving water, which is perfectly fine. You may use more than 10 gallons depending on how many dishes you’re washing, but then again, if the dishwasher detergent wasn’t released from the detergent door, or you over-stuffed the dishwasher, you’re going to have to run it again, which you’ll be consuming even more water than if you hand-washed dishes yourself. 

Supplies needed to wash dishes by hand

The great thing about hand-washing dishes is, that you don’t need an overabundance of supplies. Aside from hot water, dish soap, and a sink, you’ll need the following items:

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  • Liquid dish soap – Never use dishwasher soap in place of dishwashing soap.
  • Latex kitchen cleaning gloves – Although the use of dishwashing gloves is purely optional, they will protect your hands from being burnt by the hot water, and may reduce accidentally cutting your finger and/or hand with a knife or other sharp object. 
  • Rubber spatula (optional)
  • Microfiber dishcloths
  • Scrubbers (pot scrubbers, nylon, and plastic scouring pads)
  • Sponges (discard after 1 week) 
  • Steel wool (optional and only if you have stainless steel pots/pans)
  • Dishrack
  • Paper towels
  • Large washbasin/tub (if you don’t have a double sink)

Interesting facts about dishwashing liquid

Dishwashing liquid is made up of synthetic ingredients such as Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (both of those you‘ll find in your favorite shampoo). These cleansing ingredients work to break up and dissolve grease and oils in small amounts of leftover food that typically stick to our dishes, utensils, pots, and pans.

Dishwashing liquid works best when it’s foamy and mixed with hot water. The heat from the water activates the cleaning agents, which in turn become thick suds. These suds gather, trap, and suspend the tiny particles of oil and grease from touching the part of your dishes, utensils, pots, and pans that were just cleaned. Pretty cool, huh?

When the suds diminish, so does the cleaning power. 

Steps to make washing dishes by hand easier

Before I move on, you’re probably thinking, Stacey, why are you insulting my intelligence by explaining to me the proper steps to hand wash dishes? The truth of the matter is, even though I wasn’t doing it correctly in the beginning, and I’m older than AstroTurf®.

Just because we go through the motion, doesn’t mean we necessarily are doing something to maximize the results.

With everything in life, there’s a process to be followed. You wouldn’t use mouthwash before brushing your teeth, and you wouldn’t dry off your body before hopping into the shower. The same thing goes for when you hand wash dishes. 

There are two different methods to hand wash dishes. The first one is by diluting the dish detergent in a sink or basin/tub filled with water. The second method is by squirting the dish soap directly onto the sponge/scrubber. 

what order should you hand wash dishes

Whichever method you choose, and you can use both simultaneously, you’ll always want to be sure you have enough dish soap on your sponge and/or scrubber. 

1. Prep

Gather all of your dishwashing materials before you begin to hand wash dishes. 

Scrap off whatever food particles are left on the dishes. Use a rubber spatula, sponge, or the side of a dirty fork. If you don’t have an in-sink trash disposal, discard your leftover food in the trash can. 

If your pots have any residual grease in them, pour the excess grease into an empty jar or another receptacle that can be thrown out. Never place hot grease down the drain, as it will congeal once it’s cooled down, causing your pipes to become clogged.  

2. Load the sink, tub, or basin  

Place the dirty items into the sink from the largest to the smallest. Typically the largest items would be pots, pans, platters, and large bowls. You’ll want to then follow that with the smaller bowls, glassware, then utensils. 

To prevent an unnecessary injury, you may want to place your knives pointed side down in a dirty cup or mug that’s filled with hot soapy water and set it aside on the counter until all the other dishes have been washed. 

3. Fill the sink, tub, or basin

If you have a double-sided sink, fill one side with hot clean water. Make sure your drain strainer/stopper/plug is securely fastened. Add a few drops of dishwashing liquid to the water. For best results, you’ll want to refer to the dishwashing label instructions and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. 

For stuck-on foods, you’ll want to soak the dishes, utensils, pots, or pans in either a tub/basin or the other side of your sink with dishwashing soap and hot water for 15 minutes. 

If the suds dissolve before you get to all the dishes that are being soaked, remove the drain strainer/stopper/plug, add fresh hot water, and more dishwashing soap. 

why is hand washing dishes better than using a dishwasher

4. Prep your scrubber or sponge

Dampen your scrubber or sponge with hot water and add a few drops of liquid dishwashing soap directly to the surface of the scrubber or sponge.

If you’re using a sponge, you’ll want to squish it a few times to manipulate the soap throughout the pores of the sponge, for it begins creating suds. 

If you’re using a scrubber brush, just pour a few drops directly into the center of the bristles. 

Before you begin the process of hand washing your dishes, you’ll want to wash each item over a clean and clear sink. Don’t wash them in a sink that already has dirty dishes in it. 

5. Hand wash dishes in this order

  1. When beginning to hand wash dishes, you’ll want to begin with the dishes that are the least soiled, such as glasses, cups, and utensils. 
  2. Plates, bowls, and serving dishes.
  3. Pots, pans, and casserole dishes with stuck-on food 
  4. Knives

As you’re washing each item, you’ll want to remove them from the stream of water, while soaping them up. 

Although most times the bottoms of plates, bowls, pots, pans, and casserole dishes aren’t soiled with leftover food, they may have touched another item that was. Always clean the entire item, which includes the bottoms, sides, and handles (if appropriate). 

For tough to remove baked and burnt messes, you may need to soak your pot, pan, or casserole dish overnight. 

As a point of interest, when you’re trying to conserve water by shutting off the flow during the soaping process, the temperature of the flowing water will decrease. It can take up to two-to-three minutes to get to the ideal temperature of 110℉ -115℉ or 43℃-46℃. Due to this, you’re actually using more water than you would be if you never shut off the water in the first place.

how do you wash dishes quickly

6. Rinse the dishes

You’ll want to rinse the suds off with fresh hot water. Although there is no scientific evidence backing you can’t use cold water to rinse off the suds, it’s best to maintain a constant temperature to ensure your dishes are clean and sanitized. 

Once your dishes have been rinsed off, please them in a drying rack to air dry. 

7. Clean the sink, basin, or tub

Once all of the dishes have been cleaned and set to air dry in the drying rack, you’ll want to use your sponge and/or scrubber to clean the inside of the sink. Drop a few drops of liquid dishwashing soap onto the surface of the sink, basin, or tub, and scrub the bottom and the sides. 

You’ll want to also clean off your drain strainer/stopper/plug

Rinse with hot water. 

Follow up with your favorite household cleaner and spray down the inside and sides of the sink. Don’t forget the faucet and surrounding areas. Although this part is optional, it’s strongly recommended to ensure your sink is free from residual food particles. 

8. Drying your dishes

When it comes to drying dishes there are two schools of thought. Air drying is without a doubt the best option; however, if you’re one who tends not to like to see a pile of dishes on your kitchen counter you may opt to dry your dishes with a dishrag. 

Air drying your dishes is the best option, however, it may seem like it takes more time. On the contrary, when you rinse off dishes using hot water, the heat from the water evaporates quickly and it leaves fewer residual spots on glassware. 

If you do decide to use a dish towel to dry your dishes, you’ll want to make sure it’s a fresh and clean microfiber dish towel. Never reuse dish towels, as you may have inadvertently wiped your soiled hands on the dishtowel. The germs that you put on the towel, may now transfer to the dish; hence, defeating the purpose of cleaning the dish in the first place. 

As a rule of them, once you dry the dishes with a clean dish towel, remove them from service and place them to be laundered. 

Drying your hand-washed dishes with a paper towel is another great option, but be leary as some of the paper fibers may stick to the dishes. 

How do you feel about hand-washing dishes?

Some people find hand washing their dishes therapeutic, while others feel it’s a nuisance. I’d love to know what you feel about hand-washing dishes. Share in a comment.

Stay Peachy!

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