Introduction: What You Never Knew About Doing the Dishes With a Sponge
Finalist in the
Spring Cleaning Contest
After living with college roommates that couldn't seem to do the dishes properly, I realized I had to get the word out there about proper dishwashing duty.
Step 1: Dishsoap and Sponges
The first thing to realize is that dishwashing is not about sanitizing (killing the bacteria and viruses on) your dishes. If you look on your dishsoap (any brand will do), you will notice that it does not claim to "disinfect" your dishes!
What is the point of dishwashing?
To remove food, scum, scents, flavors, grease, oil, etc. from your dishes.
What is the best tool to use?
Use a sponge that has a scrubby side on it. This way you can soak up soapy water to scrub away at your dishes with. Using a plain sponge with no scrub is pointless - it won't scrub the food or grease off of your dishes!
How do I get rid of the "germs?"
Washing your dishes will help get rid of most of them, and the rest tend to die once the dishes dry off (bacteria can't live without water!). However, if you're concerned, you could always rinse your dishes with a 1/20 bleach dilution, or add a tiny bit of bleach to your dishsoap.
Step 2: Soak Your Dishes and Silverware
To make it easier to wash your dirty dishes, soak them in hot water for a while! If you have food dried onto your dishes (mashed potatoes, pancake mix, baking residue) or sticky, gunky stuff (peanut butter, grease), soaking them for a while will make it MUCH easier to scrub the stuff of. You will be spending way less time on it.
Step 3: Two Methods for Soaping
If you have a lot of dishes, the best thing to do is fill a bowl up with very hot, very soapy water. You can dunk your sponge into this bowl whenever it needs more soap.
If you don't have as many dishes, or if you're feeling lazy, squirt a little soap onto one side of your sponge (the scrubby side) and run a little of hot water onto it.
Step 4: Scrub Those Dishes!
While doing your dishes, keep your sponge separated into two sides: the YUCKY side, and the SOAPY side. Use the yucky side to wipe off particularly grimy dishes. After getting the heavy grime/food off, then use the cleaner, soapier side to get it really clean.
Make sure you wash the outside and bottoms of your dishes, especially the ones you stack. Nobody wants a cup with grimy fingerprints / lip prints on the outside, and if you leave food on the bottom of your bowls or plates, it will transfer onto the top of the bowl or plate underneath it!
When washing silverware, don't just wash the end of it - wash the entire length of it. This way, no matter how you leave them to dry, the entire thing will stay clean and germ-free-ish.
Step 5: Rinse and Stack
Rinse your dishes off! Hot water is recommended because it carries the soap (and grease, oil, etc.) off of the dish more easily than cold water.
When stacking your dishes to dry, make sure you stack them upside-down, so that water can run off of them and not collect inside.
Step 6: Care for Your Sponge: Important!
You know that stinky smell your sponge gets after a couple of weeks? BACTERIA!!
Sponges are a haven for all sorts of bacteria. They LOVE growing in there! It's important to make sure your sponge is bacteria-free if you are cleaning things like cutting boards and countertops (not to mention anything else).
How to keep your sponge clean:
1. After doing the dishes, rinse your sponge thoroughly in hot, and then cold, water, squeeze out as much water as possible, and set it outside of the sink (near your soap bottle, perhaps).
2. Never leave your sponge in the sink or in water.
How to clean your sponge once it's filthy:
1. Saturate it with cold water and then microwave it for 1 minute. DO NOT TOUCH! It will be EXTREMELY hot!
2. Soak in a bowl of 1/10 bleach to water solution for 10-20 minutes.
3. Soak in a bowl of 1/5 vinegar to water solution for 10-20 minutes.
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