Washing Dishes: Everything You Need to Know

Are you feeling overwhelmed by dishwashing? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

In Washing Dishes: Everything You Need to Know, we’ll provide all the info on how to wash the dishes in the best and most efficient way with step-by-step instructions.

We’ll also provide some helpful tips and hints along the way so that cleaning up after meals will be a breeze!

So pull up a chair, and let’s get started on learning how to tackle those dirty dishes!

dirty cups and saucers stacked on top of each other

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Not sure how to properly wash dishes? Today we will cover the various essentials you need to know, including options for detergent and tools you will need to make this task easier.

Maybe washing dishes is not your favorite chore. Like me. It’s my least favorite. But by implementing a system, I have been able to find the joy in the process.

The Quick Version

1. Gather the dishes and supplies.

2. Rinse off any leftover food particles from the dishes.

3. Fill the sink with warm, soapy water.

4. Grease can be removed with a degreaser or baking soda paste before washing them in the soapy water.

5. Use a cleaning brush or sponge to scrub each dish thoroughly.

6. Rinse each dish off with cold water to remove all of the soap residue and give your dishes a final shine.

7. Dry the dishes either by hand or use a dish rack and clean kitchen towel to pat them dry.

Essentials for Hand Washing Dishes

We all know that washing dishes is an essential part of homemaking, but it can be a difficult task when you don’t have the right supplies.

Whether you are washing dishes by hand or using a dishwasher, having the right equipment and products is key to getting the job done quickly and efficiently.

Here are some essentials for hand washing your dishes:

Grab Some Gloves

When washing dishes by hand, you should always wear gloves. Not only will they protect your skin from any harsh soaps or detergents, but they’ll also make sure that your hands stay clean while you tackle this time-consuming task.

Choose gloves that fit well so that they won’t slip off easily. This will help prevent water slipping down into your gloves.

Purchase Quality Detergent

A good detergent goes a long way when it comes to cleaning dishes by hand. Look for a dish soap formulated with degreasers that will cut through grease and grime more effectively.

Avoid abrasive cleaners as these could scratch delicate items like fine china or glassware. Also look for non-toxic and biodegradable options if possible.

Many people have discovered after washing glasses with harsh dish soaps that they have accidentally damaged or scratched their fine glassware. Search for non-abrasive soaps or look for soaps specifically marketed as “gentle on glass” or “safe to use on glass surfaces.”

In case you’re curious, I have tried a bunch of “green” detergents. Knowing that my family will be eating off of these items drives me to find the cleanest cleaners possible.

But we all know that so often green can equal doesn’t work. I use Grab Green Automatic Dishwasher Powder Detergent Pods for my dishwasher and Grab Green Liquid Dish Soap for hand washing dishes.

Scrub Brushes Make All the Difference

A quality scrub brush is one of the most important tools when it comes to dishwashing by hand.

You need something sturdy enough to get into tight crevices on plates and pots, while still being gentle enough not to damage them.

Natural brushes work best; however, there are other materials available such as metal chainmail or nylon which provides even more vigorous scrubbing power.

Cloth for Delicate Items

For delicate items such as glasses and china, opt for a softer touch with a netted cloth instead of a scrub brush.

Netted cloths offer a gentle way to scrub these sensitive surfaces without sacrificing durability or their ability to get into tight places on fragile items like ramekins or espresso cups.

I personally use a Norwex netted cloth. However, I do not sell them and I’m not an affiliate. But I have linked a very similar cleaning cloth here.

Homemaker Hint:

Parchment Paper Keeps You From Wasting Precious Time

If you want to save yourself time standing at the sink, then parchment paper should become part of your daily meal routine.

When prepping meals, line every serving plate or bowl with parchment paper before placing food onto them and simply toss away after use (or recycle) without having actually cleaned anything minutes later!

Preparing Your Workspace

Whether you’re a professional chef or cooking for your family, it is essential to keep your kitchen clean.

This is especially important when washing dishes, as it requires direct contact with food and utensils.

To make sure you stay safe in the kitchen, here is a guide on how to prepare your workspace for hand-washing your dishes.

Gather All Necessary Supplies

Before getting started, make sure that you have all the items needed to clean and sanitize your kitchen workspace.

You will need dish-washing soap (or detergent), cloths, scrubbing brushes, white vinegar, hand towels, and cleaning gloves.

Amber bottle of dish soap with label behind a sponge, bar soap, and wooden natural bristle brush

Lay Out Your Tools

Set out the tools that you will be using before you start washing the dishes so that they are within reach when you need to use them.

This includes scrub brushes for removing stuck on food from dishes or pans, wash cloths, or even metal chainmail for cast iron; pot scrapers to remove baked-on material from bakeware; and microfiber cloths for drying surfaces.

Set Up a System

If you want to make washing dishes more efficient, set up a system that works for you.

This could be as simple as always, starting with the dirtiest dishes first and then working your way down to the cleanest ones.

Alternatively, some people like to wash one type of item at a time, such as all glasses first, followed by plates and then utensils last.

I recommend following a first in, first out rule. Wash the very first items that were dirtied, first. This will leave the last most recently soiled pans, dishes, and cutlery for last. Hopefully, I explained this clearly.

Basically, you don’t want things sitting dirty any longer than they have to, where they can grow mold or have food become stuck fast.

various cooking pans hanging from a rack

Soak Pots & Pans

Rather than struggle with stubborn food residue on pots and pans, soak them in soapy water for several minutes beforehand to loosen it up for easier removal later on – and save yourself lots of scrubbing time!

However, leaving dirty dishes to soak for too long can actually lead to bacterial growth.

Try to limit normal soaking times to under 20 minutes; this should be sufficient enough to throw off any bacteria clinging tenaciously onto your dirty silverware or plates prior to scrubbing them clean with a sponge or rag thereafter!

Pre-Rinse Dishes

Pre-rinsing dishes helps reduce the amount of food residue left behind which will save time during dishwashing as well as help protect delicate dish surfaces from scratches caused by aggressive scrubbing with a brush or pad.

The way I prefer to do this is to immediately rinse dishes, pans, and utensils after each meal.

If you create this habit, you will have only a small amount of dishes to do at any given time. This way they will not pile up, and therefore you will be less likely to procrastinate washing them. Ask me how I know!

After each meal, my daughters and I clear the table. Then I rinse off each plate, utensil, glass or pan. I either quickly hand wash the item there at the sink, or I hand it to my daughters who load the dishwasher.

If you do not have enough dishes after breakfast or lunch to fill your dishwasher, you can just wait and add the dinner dishes in the evening and run your dishwasher then.

hands rinsing soapy water off of glass under a sink faucet

Use Hot Water When Possible

Hot water kills most bacteria, at a temperature of at least 170℉– which is why it’s best practice to use hot water to wash your dishes whenever possible.

Especially if there have been raw meats sitting on plates or cookware surfaces; this way, potentially dangerous bacteria won’t linger around after all the other steps have been taken care of!

Note: Most of us would not be able to tolerate 170℉ water on our hands, so using water as warm as you can stand it should be sufficient. Don’t forget, this is another area where utilizing rubber gloves can be helpful also.

Warm water helps dissolve grease and grime more efficiently than cold water when you’re washing dishes.

Add Cleaning Products

After pre-rinsing dirty dishes, utensils, and cookware under warm running water, add a few drops of liquid dish soap to a scrub brush or cloth dampened with warm/hot water.

If you have a double basin sink, you can fill up one side with warm/hot water and a few drops of dish soap.

Homemaker Hint:

Don’t Use Too Much Dish Soap

Dish soap helps to break down grease and grime, but using too much will leave behind a sudsy residue on your plates!

That’s why it is important not just to measure out how much is necessary (usually less than what most people think) but also to rinse off dishes thoroughly after they’ve been washed with soapy water until no suds remain visible.

A few drops in a sink of warm/hot water, or a few drops on your damp cloth should be sufficient.

Remove Visible Residue

Next scrub off any remaining caked-on grease or food particles using a suitable scraper where necessary.

Use your scrub brush or washing cloth to clean away any remaining food debris.

For really stuck on food or sticky residue, add a teaspoon of baking soda to a teaspoon of hot water and a drop of dish soap to create a scrubbing paste.

Use this paste with your scrub brush or cloth, moving in circular motions to remove residue.

Rinse all surfaces well until all signs of soap or scrubbing paste is gone.

drying a drinking glass with a white towel with black stripes

Dry With Soft Cloths/Towels

Once everything has been washed and rinsed thoroughly, wipe each item dry using a cotton or microfiber cloth.

You will want to use a soft and absorbent cloth to thoroughly dry each plate, utensil, and pan before putting them away to prevent bacteria and mold growth.

You can also utilize an air drying rack to prevent this gross occurrence.

glasses in a dish rack with silverware on a towel

Optional: Sanitizing Your Dishes

You may choose to sanitize your dishes after washing them if they have set long enough to grow mold.

Side Note 

Don’t worry if your dishes have set, because life has been chaotic, and now they have grown mold.

I guarantee most of us have encountered this at some point, and it doesn’t make you a bad homemaker. I struggled for years with hating the task of washing dishes.

Dirty pans and dishes would sit longer than I care to share. We would eat off of paper plates and use plastic utensils because I let the dishes get so out of hand.

I have literally thrown things away because they got so gross from sitting for so long. I’m telling you this so that you know, if this is where you are now, that’s okay.

I want to encourage you to create a system you can follow. Because I promise you that when your counters are clear and your sink is empty, you will feel so much joy about washing dishes.

Pour Hot Water over Dishes

Once you’ve finished washing your dishes with soap and water, pour hot water over them to help remove any remaining bacteria or germs.

Be sure that the temperature of the water is at least 77 degrees Celsius (170 degrees Fahrenheit) as this is the temperature needed to effectively kill pathogens.

Wash Dishes With White Vinegar

White vinegar has antimicrobial properties and can be used as a natural sanitizer when washing your dishes.

Simply add 1/2 cup of white vinegar per 1 gallon of warm water and rinse your already clean dishes.

plates stacked in a bamboo dish rack beside a woven basket full of bread

Proper Storage of Dishes After Washing

Dishwashing is a necessary household chore, but simply washing dishes does not ensure proper storage.

Storing dishes the wrong way can cause them to get scratched or take away their shine. Here’s how to store them properly after washing:

white plates stacked together on a weathered black surface

Plates Should Be Free of Moisture and Water Before Storage

It’s important to allow plates and other pans or utensils to air-dry completely before storing.

Any moisture left behind can make its way into crevices, causing plates to crack and chip over time.

After hand-washing each dish, use a soft cloth or kitchen towel for drying in order to minimize potential damage.

Stack Plates with Care

When it comes time to putting everything away, avoid overlapping dishes when stacking plates in your cupboard or cabinet—this could lead to scratches if they come in contact at any point during storage.

Instead, line them up side-by-side in an orderly fashion on your shelf with plenty of room around each one.

Utilizing a vertical storage rack, like this one, can be extremely helpful with proper storage and organization.

Vertical storage racks are the ideal solution for enjoying maximum space without compromising the safety of your dishes during storage.

By arranging your plates using this system, you’ll be able to squeeze more into small cabinets without having them clang around and scratch each other as they move about with regular use as well!

Glasses and silverware sitting on a towel on a counter in front of a drying rack

Everything You Need To Know About Washing the Dishes: the Recap

Washing dishes is an essential part of homemaking. But while it’s often taken for granted, there’s actually a lot to learn about washing the dishes, from what kind of soap to use to how to properly sanitize them.

I hope this information is helpful in giving you a starting point to forming your own household system, and learning to enjoy each task that you have.

If you are facing the same attitude toward washing dishes that I had it may be helpful, initially, to reward yourself after a week of keeping up with the dishes.

Or try adding an activity you do enjoy, like listening to podcasts, audio books, or music while you do the dishes. Include your children on this task.

Even little ones enjoy loading and unloading small items from a dishwasher or putting things away in lower cabinets.

As someone who was not taught to enjoy their homemaking tasks, I can now see how important it is to encourage our children to do so.

Encourage your spouse or roommate (for all the college ladies) to help with an aspect of washing dishes, such as one washes and the other dries.

The most important thing to help make cleaning your dishes enjoyable, is to train your mind to enjoy it.

one last thing…

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