Got a lot of dishes to wash by hand and need them done in a hurry? Then this instructable is for you!
**The following instructable is my EXHAUSTIVE LIST of tricks, tips, hacks, and techniques for getting--particularly a lot of--dishes done all at once by hand. There are pictures of "lists" that summarize each section, but you can read further explanations as to the "whys" in the actual step's content, if desired.**
Make sure to read the last step as it has great preventative tips for keeping the dish load down in the future :)
Hand washing dishes has slowly and sadly become a lost art, as automatic dishwashers--although convenient-- replace it. However, many people still face the problem of living in an apartment or house (usually older) without an automatic dishwasher, and I don't know too many dorms that give college students one...so it's imperative that we cover this subject. (Not to mention, it uses WAY LESS water then a dishwasher per cycle and can be even faster if using this instructable!)
This also works great for washing dishes by hand in a single basin sink. Therefore, without further ado (yes, I just learned that's how you spell "uh-doo" hahaha!), I present to you: the easiest, fastest, and most sanitary way to wash your dishes (in my humble opinion)... :)
AUTHOR'S NOTES: 1) Please ignore my ugly kitchen as it's being renovated (and the backsplash is already being removed). Ugh. 2) I had to simulate dirty dishes in some of the pictures to show the process because I forgot to take pics of it when I was actually doing a lot of dishes last night. *face palm* So that's why there's some super clean "dirty dishes"...hahaha! :D
Step 1: Supplies and Important Notes
Before you declare war on this massive amount of dishes, it's crucial to have the right defense. My weapon of choice: the sponge with a green scrubby side. (I have the metal one on hand for getting hard stuff off of glass baking dishes or gunky plates, but I use my handy dandy sponge mostly).
A) the scrubber side gets off tough, stuck-on stuff without damaging or scratching delicate surfaces like stainless steel or teflon/non-stick.
B) a sponge, vs a washcloth, is better and more sanitary for cleaning the counter tops (see the reasoning why in point C1) and it soaks up excess water with ease.
C1) It is easily disinfected to 99% germ-free with a simple 2 minutes in the microwave (see the * at the bottom of this step for research info regarding this)...unlike washcloths that are often used for too long (usually without knowing it), resulting in the spreading of germs every time you wipe the counters. Have you seen that commercial where the lady is wiping her counters down with a whole, raw chicken? Yeah, that's basically the idea of what happens when overusing a washcloth. C2) Again, disinfecting your sponge in a microwave, versus doing an entire load of laundry to wash your washcloths as often as they need to be, will be a money and environment saver too.
D) It doesn't get stinky. I used to use washcloths all the time, but they always got that weird, stinky, musky smell when they dried (no matter how you "air dry" them)...this, I learned, is caused from the massive amount of bacteria that loves to congregate on them.
IMPORTANT NOTE TO CONSIDER: I'm not trying to "prove" anything with this instructable. I'm NOT right and everyone who does otherwise is wrong. But I've learned through a lot of research (listed below is a few under the ** point) that quite a few common beliefs that we've passed down along our generations aren't really all they're hyped up to be in reality. One of these points is bleach. It is a common misconception that bleach is required to properly sanitize your dishes. Not only is bleach extremely toxic and dangerous for inhaling and for your skin, it's led to a plethora of diseases and cancers as well as to many accidental deaths. But granny lived to be 102 and she used bleach every day!? I understand this, and have also once thought that this must mean whatever she did I can do too, right? Take it or leave it, but just consider doing your research...and if it's not necessary to use it (aka it doesn't add any specific benefit to your cleaning experiences more so then regular soap and water or baking soda and vinegar), then why use it? The choice is yours :)
*From MomsAgainstCooties.com: "The scientists reported that simply microwaving sponges (completely wet, never dry) for two minutes at high power killed or inactivated over 99% of pathogens in sponges that had been soaked in a "witch's brew" of fecal bacteria, viruses, protozoan parasites, and bacterial spores...The researchers recommend "zapping" kitchen sponges every other day or so. Watch out though--the zapped sponges will be really hot and steamy when done being microwaved, so they should be left in the microwave for a few minutes to cool. http://momsagainstcooties.com/want-to-help-keep-f...
So you see, you're safe with a sponge against even fecal bacteria and parasites! ;)
etc etc etc.. :)
Step 2: Organize and Rinse
This title may sound like it makes the process longer, but in reality doing this simple first step (especially with a bazillion dishes awaiting a washing) makes it faster and soooooo much easier!
1. Quickly sort all the dishes along your counter tops by type: FLAT STUFF together (big and small plates, serving plates, cutting boards, lids to pots, tupperware tops, etc); BOWLS AND BASINS together (bowls, tupperware, mixing bowls, etc); CUPS AND PLASTIC BAGGIES together; BIG ITEMS "minus one" (pots and pans, skillets, baking sheets, appliance pieces such as food processor, blender, or juicer pieces, etc); and finally the UTENSILS IN THE LAST BIG ITEM (this includes silverware, cooking utensils, measuring cups/spoons, inserts for appliances such as the different blades for a food processor, etc in the last "minus one" big item from above...this could be a pot, skillet, or baking sheet. If you have no "big item" to put it in, then simply collect them all in a cup, or whatnot..."worse case scenario," collect them all in the same spot on the countertop lol).
1A. While organizing your dishes, quickly scrape off and/or rinse off any dishes/utensils that are needing it. Sometimes scraping off is enough (ie: there's food left on a plate, scrape it off into the trash). And sometimes there's gunk (for lack of a better term) left on or in the dish and it needs a quick rinse. **If using a single basin, this step is vital to the quick success of washing your multiple dishes.**.
1B. Fill any super-stuck-on pots/pans or baking dishes with hot, soapy water (covering however high the stuck-on-ness reaches) and set aside. That's all folks. No crazy tonics or boiling water in the item over the stove forever. This is all you need. Once you get to the big items part of the washing step, these should be easy to simply wipe clean with your sponge.
Step 3: Washing Tips & Quick Method
QUICK WASHING METHOD:
Hahaha...this is quicker to DO then to write. Lol ;-P
1. Fill the bottom of the sink with hot, soapy water to only about 1/4 the way up (or just slightly above this). It should be just enough to cover a basin bottom full of utensils or a few plates. But wait--It's usually supposed to be about 1/3 a basin of water, right? Well, I'm challenging that theory ;) The water works just as good--if not better!--at lower levels. Not to mention, the concentration of soap in the water is higher as there's less liquid watering it down, therefore the clean penetrates deeper and disinfects better. Also, with less water = less soap = you save money (so don't be tempted to put in your "usual" amount of dish soap into your new-found lesser amount of water). Also, less water used saves you money on your water bill (if you pay it) and helps the environment! Win-win-win :)
2. WASH ALL YOUR DISHES IN ONE SHOT (see number 3 for the order of washing). That's right, we aren't stopping on this train! No taking selfies or "breaks" after one drainer-full (you know you won't be back!)...we are plowing right through these babies! And you'll feel better afterwards now that you got this giant task done. Baby steps help the brain stay focused and increases your stamina and morale (same for cleaning the house...but that's another instructable!).
3. This part (and some drying parts) may be different to you...it may or may not be the way you were taught to do dishes...but we're talking about a Titanic amount of dishes--and a Jack to actually save!--so this is the fastest and most convenient way I've found to get the job done in a hurry...
THE WASHING ORDER (Note: set the newly cleaned dishes in the second basin and/or back on the counter top when finished washing, re-stacking them back in their groups as much as possible to keep it tidy and easy-to-grab for the rinsing and drying step. Also, make sure to wash ALL surfaces of every item...this means front, back, sides, and any handles. The backs are washed--and often forgotten--because dishes will usually be sitting on top of each other, right? So if you didn't wash the back and it was left dirty, this dirty back will now re-contaminate your clean front when stacked (and that's the part you eat off of). Handles on pots, pans, and utensils are also often overlooked, yet these are where the most germs are.):
*Flat stuff first (Tip: it is a myth that you need all your dishes to be completely covered by the soapy water to get them "clean." In fact, you can put your entire pile of 8-10 dinner plates in the 1/4 filled soapy water sink--yes, some then will be out of the water level...and, yes, this is OK! You simply saturate your sponge with the hot soapy water from the sink and squeeze a little out over the top of each plate as you wash it, working your way down the pile and re-saturating your sponge as often as needed--like once for the front of the item and once for the back.)
*Bowls and basins second
*Cups and baggies third (Bag cleaning tips: turn your ziplocs and baggies inside-out to wash and dry. This ensures they are adequately clean and completely dry on the inside, versus the dampness that usually occurs even after a full night of "drying" if they're left rightside-out. Also, washing your baggies versus throwing them away saves you money--since you're now re-using them and not having to buy more--and it saves our landfills from plastic, which doesn't decompose for 20-1,000 years!)
*Big items fourth (Tips and how-to: these will always be higher up then the water level when cleaning--especially since we are using a smaller amount of water. To clean these, put one side of the item in the water (so the item is now standing basically vertical in the sink) and then flip it back on it's horizontal so the water fills into the bottom of the item. Hold the item here (in the sink, but above the water level) to wash it. Saturate your sponge in the soapy water and bring it back to the inside of the big item. Wash as normal, then dump the water from the big item back into the other soapy water still in the sink, wash the back of it, and set this item aside. If cleaning a baking sheet: simply put one side into the water in vertical standing position, saturate your sponge and wash up to halfway in this position on the front and back. Then turn it completely 180 degrees so the opposite end is now in the water, and do the same thing. Now your baking sheet is clean!)
THEN DRAIN YOUR WATER. Wait, what!? What craziness am I trying to suggest here? Most people tend to wash utensils last, right? They may put them in the bottom of the sink first while they wash all the other dishes, but then they physically get cleaned last. I understand...because it can be a tedious and meticulous job and if washed earlier, it usually makes the water the dirtiest (besides the pots and pans). But when we (and I've done it all my life--til now--too) do this, it actually means we are washing all our nice, should-be-clean utensils in the dirtiest, no-soap-properties-left water we can find. Might as well wash them in the local lake, lol. So we are going to drain this yucky water off, and USING THE MOST MINIMAL EXTRA WATER (and, of course, soap lol) in our sink basin, we are going to properly (and sanitary-ly!) clean our utensils. These go in our mouths, they should be the cleanest, right?
*Utensils last, along with the big item they were sitting in. (Tip 1: wash the big item--or cup if you don't have a "big item"--first. This gives you a nice, clean spot to put your newly-washed utensils back into until the next step. Tip 2: when putting your utensils in the soapy water, keep all the handles facing the same direction so you can easily locate them and keep your hands safe from getting cut on a knife. To further staying cut-free, keep all your sharp knives on one side of the basin).
OPTIONAL: part 4. Before you drain off this utensil water, quickly dampen your sponge and wipe down all the counter tops, stove top, and any other surfaces you use for food. This takes literally less then a minute to do and ensures that all your food-contacting surfaces are always ready to use. Plus it keeps your kitchen looking fresh and clean. Super simple!
Step 4: Rinse and Dry
Rinse them in the basic order you washed them in except rinse the big items LAST.
NOTE: I am NOT a germaphobic person. Lol. I actually believe in building immunity by having a safe amount of bacteria tolerance. I'm just trying to convey the most efficient way to wash, rinse, and dry your dishes without undoing all your hard work of cleaning them in the first place...and the point of cleaning them is to sanitize them, right?
So, this is my patent-pending (haha) drying approach that makes better use of the drainer, etc. I call it...
1. Fight the urge to put all the flat items you rinsed first into the drainer. Instead, lay out towels on the counter top and put all the plates, bowls, etc there (making sure these are all upright with spaces in-between them so they get plenty of airflow to their insides). First lay your plates against the wall upright. Then, use this as a base to lean your other dishes against to keep them all upright, too. Makes sense, right? Flattest stuff first, then bulkier stuff to follow. (Tip: when putting your first flat items up against the wall, you can turn them inward so the backs are against the wall and the fronts are facing you. This way the part you eat on isn't contaminated by anything on the wall you've yet to clean off. This isn't required, and I don't even do it all the time, but it's something to, again, consider.)
2. Save the drainer for all your cups and anything that would've otherwise had to sit face-down on a surface. This creates a breathable space for your cups and also makes it so they don't get that wonderful stank like they do when sitting face-down on a towel. Yay for happy smelling dishes! :)
THE ONLY EXCEPTION: If you have way too many cups for your dish drainer and HAVE TO put them on the counter top, PUT COOLING RACKS underneath your cups (as used for baking) to keep them from having the problems as listed above. Ingenious!
TIP: When drying your sharp knives, be sure to put them in the utensil drainer with the point up. This keeps your knives from getting dull and keeps the points intact.
3. When you get to the last step of rinsing and drying your big items, if you've been following my approach and putting all your other dishes on the towels or in the drainer, you now will have two basins free (or one basin free, if a single basin sink) for storing your big items to dry. It's always been so cumbersome to put these out to air-dry, but now--as simple as it is-- this little trick totally makes it a winner's lap finish! Simply start with your skillets by rinsing and leaning them up against the sink wall upright. Then add any pot lids you may not have rinsed with the flat stuff. Then add your pots. And, finally, your baking sheets. Sometimes to keep the whole thing upright (and not sliding down) you need to put a pot in first so the handles of the pot go into the sink's drain and act like a brace for the other items. You can see I did this with the red and white pot in the above picture. Just do whatchya gotta do! ;) If you run out of basin space, you can layer big items like your baking sheets behind the plates/flat items against the wall, or lean pots back so that they do not lay flat or face-down on the towels. There's no wrong way...these are just helpful tips!
TIP: Do not be afraid of stacking lightweight plastic dishes on top of your other drying dishes. Ever play Tetris? ;) This is also a great way to convince your kids to help...real life gaming! Lol.
4. The counter tops WILL be wet and sudsy after you've done this approach. Don't panic, lol. Simply take your sponge, wring it out, and wipe this excess water back into the sink (even over top of the pots and pans backs). Then use a hand towel and dry up the remaining moisture. This step saves your laminate (and even butcher block) counters from warping or bubbling in the future.
TIP: Do NOT place any dish completely face-down on the towel. If you put it face-down, bacteria and germs celebrate by doubling every 10-20 minutes. If you leave it like this overnight to "dry," you instantly ingest up to two million germs as soon as you put food in this contaminated dish and serve it. Germs need warmth, moisture, and usually a porous surface to really reproduce on. Would these conditions I just mentioned make for ideal growing conditions? Towels are made of porous fabric (check). You just washed the dishes in warm (check) and wet (check) water. Which the soap killed the bacteria originally, until you put it face-down on the towel where it's still moist and toasty. And the darkness underneath the container from being face-down creates a little sauna for your germies to enjoy...lol. Moral of the story: just don't do it!
Step 5: Finishing Touches & Prevention Tips
Wait, there's more!? I thought this was supposed to be easier and faster?
Well, these are OPTIONAL but they add to good habits that keep this problem from reoccurring again :)
1. After you're completely done, dry up any and all excess water with your hand towel (remember those counter tops you, maybe, washed in the washing step?). As aforementioned, this keeps your laminate (and even butcher block) counter tops from warping and bubbling.
2. Keep lotion out by the kitchen sink. Hands that clean dishes this much need--and deserve!--your best lotion as a reward ;)
***THE FOLLOWING ARE TIPS FOR KEEPING THE "DISH BUILD-UP" FROM REOCCURRING (no guarantees, lol, that's up to you, your time, and whatever you choose to do):***
3. Don't be afraid to ask your friends for help at the party. Lots of hands make light work. And if it's a quick help before you play games (or your next activities), or even before dessert is served, then it's even more incentive for your friends to help you. Friends can help with washing, rinsing, or drying (if you hand-dry anything) the dishes, or with putting away food (such as into tupperware and into the fridge) so you can wash the serving bowls, or even with clearing off the dining room table or wiping down surfaces, etc.
4. With each mealtime, start a soapy water "bath" for your dishes with steaming hot water right before you eat. This will have cooled down to the perfect temperature (for you and if you have little ones helping wash their dishes after) by the time you're done eating. However, if you're eating with a group or catching up with friends/family (and therefore chatting for awhile), start this soapy bath near the end of the meal or just before dessert (but this time the water just needs to be your normal hot water temp as you will be utilizing it soon). Whichever way you do it, just make sure you have some hot, soapy water ready for right after the meal.
When the meal's over, everyone does a quick wash of their own dishes (plate and/or bowl, utensils, cup). When entertaining, you can either have your guests do this too, or you can split your guests' dishes between each person in your household. For example, if you have a family of four, and you have four guests visiting, each member of the household can take one guest's set of dishes up (with their own) to wash. This keeps dishes from getting hardened stuff on them, and has them always ready for the next meal. TIP: do this, too, just within your own household at ALL mealtimes. Make a habit. :)
***THE BENEFITS OF THIS ARE: A) It lessens the work on the usual "dishwasher" (aka: typically the mom lol); B) It works extremely well with children (even the youngest can do it from toddler age and up). See * at the end of this step for more explanation on this; C) It is faster, more convenient, and can fit into any schedule (versus having to find time to clean a mound of dishes later).
There you have it, folks. My extensive, exhaustive tips on Loaded Dish Washing Made Easy! Hope you enjoyed! Spread it along to help your friends and family too ;)
*This works well for children because they learn to take responsibility and learn a life-skill that they will most likely encounter in the future. They learn to help and do their chores without complaining (because everyone in the family is chipping in, too). It teaches them to be cheerful helpers and encourages them to keep their messes at a minimal (since they're having to clean their own messes, therefore they'll start wanting to reduce the work on themselves). With older kids (ages 5-6 and up), they can take turns doing the extra dishes (like pots and pans and cooking utensils) or work together as a team with one washing and one rinsing (then the next time, they switch jobs). Do i need to mention all the benefits of this? ;) And if this is made into a routine, your kids will most likely do it naturally even when their friends come over. This teaches them to humbly be hospitable for their guests by offering to take their dish up and wash it for them, or showing their friends how to do it, too (because they naturally get up and do it). BONUSES!!!