Make Doing Dishes by Hand Less of a Downright Dirty Deed
Drowning in dirty dishes? For those who don't use an electric dishwasher, you know this is going to be an everyday affair. So why not save a little time and energy with some of these handy tips.
Reduce how many dishes you dirty in the first place.
Try to use the same cup all day instead of changing it every time you have a drink. Make meals that can be cooked in one pan when possible.
Use a dirty dish tray.
I use a plastic tray beside the sink to place any dirty dishes. This protects my counter tops from stains and creates a designated spot for them so everyone in the house knows where to put them. I purchased this white plastic one from Dollarama for $2.50.
Wash your sink beforehand.
If there are any dirty dishes in the sink I move them onto the dirty dish tray or into the second sink. I use one of these sponges from Dollarama to give the sink a quick scrub right before I do the dishes. This reduces germs and keeps my fresh dish water clean and clear.
Fill the water in the sink only part of the way.
I prefer to use the hottest water I can handle to try to kill some of those germs and it seems to work better at lifting all that grime. There's no reason to fill the sink all the way to the top as you don't need to have all of the dishes in the sink at once. I fill it only about a quarter to half of the way to save energy and water.
Use a rinse pan.
If you have a second sink, using a rinse pan can reduce the amount of water you will need. Alternatively, if you do not have a second sink, you can place your rinse pan just beside the sink. Be sure to use rinse water that isn't too cold or too different from your wash water because this could cause dishes to crack or even explode when being exposed to extreme temperature changes.
Use inexpensive wash cloths.
Wash cloths are going to get dirty. Some really dirty, especially after you've washed a really yucky pan. I buy these wash cloths from Dollarama. These can be found in the automotive section and come in a pack of 50 for $2.50! Once they start to get really grimy or smelly I don't feel so bad for having to toss them. And, of course, before tossing them it's good to give them one last use like wiping down that drip on the floor when somebody missed the garbage can. If you prefer to use sponges, Dollarama also carries this pack of 10 for $1.25.
Prolong the life of your wash cloth or sponge.
Rinse it frequently as you're washing to remove any yucky bits. Additionally, there are all kinds of methods out there to extend the life or your wash cloth/sponge, like, using the microwave, bleach or vinegar. Here's an article on that topic from Good Housekeeping:
Use good-quality detergent.
In my experience, using cheapo detergents just wastes money as it doesn't seem to be very effective. You're not really saving money if half of the detergent is just going down the drain. I opt for more trustworthy brands, which also seem to come out of the lid a lot slower (wasting less) and actually get the job done. Of course, I try to stock up when they're on sale or use coupons.
Keep a backup bottle of detergent.
If you run out of detergent and can't make it out to pick up more it can really add to that pile of dishes. Don't take a chance, always keep at least a second bottle on hand and when you take it out to use it it's time to buy another backup bottle.
Wear protective gloves.
Because of the hot water I find using gloves can save my hands from getting really dried out or irritated by the soap. A personal preference maybe but a good option to think about, even if just for use with those occasional really gross items that need washing.
Do your dishes in a specific order.
Place your dishes in the sink in small groups of items so you have room to work and they can get immersed in the soapy water. Work from more clean/fragile items to bulkier/dirtier items to stretch out how long you can use the same water.
drinking glasses (fragile and least dirty)
plastic dishes (grime in the water will stick to the plastic)
plates and bowls
pots/pans (soak ahead)
anything that's so gross you're going to need to drain the water afterward
To save me the effort and time I just place my clean dishes in
the counter-top dish drainer and let the air do all the work. I leave them overnight to air dry and put them away first thing every morning. If I run out of space I use the same type of tray that I use for my dirty dishes with an absorbent cloth pad on top for an additional space to air dry. This can also be useful for very large items that won't fit in the dish drainer. I purchased both my drainer and cloth pads at Giant Tiger.
Prep for next time.
Oh, yes, you know there's going to be a next time. After draining the dish water give your sink a quick scrub with the sponge and wipe down the water drops from all around the sink. Rinse your washcloth/sponge and ring dry to remove any moisture which can breed bacteria. This will save you from having to do this when you do the dishes again in a few hours ... ack, will it ever end?!
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