Monday, January 2, 2012

a woman's work is never done

Because I am still baffled by the number of people who are totally clueless when it comes to handwashing dishes, I decided to do a more detailed description. Some of this stuff seems totally basic to my thinking, but I have realized (having male roommates) that I take a LOT of cleaning know-how for granted.

How to Properly and Efficiently Handwash Dishes

  • Dish drainer
  • 2 tubs that fit in your sink
  • Soap and sponge
  • Scrub brush (optional)
  • Hot water
  • Plastic gloves

Step 1:
Before you start fooling with gross dishes, make sure your clean dishes are put away, the dish rack should be empty and clean. (Rinsing your tray about once a week will prevent moldy build up - keeping it clean is much easier than cleaning it!)
Step One

Step 2:
Rinse out the dirty dishes. I have a scrub brush that I use to get caked-on food off of dishes and pots. (I also use it to clean out the sink at the end of dishwashing.) Getting all the gross bits off of your dishes before you start washing them will conserve water and make the whole thing a lot easier.
Step Two
Step 3:
Arrange the dishes on a counter or table in a way that makes sense to you. I gather all my silverwear into a plastic cup and arrange cups and mugs closest to the sink, dishes behind them, and pots and pans behind that. This is the order in which I usually wash things.
Step Three: Dirty dish found art
Step Three: Silverwear tower

Step 4:
Prep two wash tubs. These cost anywhere from $1 - $7, but as long as you don't bang them around too much the cheap ones hold up just fine. On the dirty dish side, fill the tub halfway with scalding hot water. On the clean dish side, fill halfway with lukewarm water. Those yellow plastic gloves are worth their weight in gold at this point. Not only do they make touching gross caked-on food bits kind of fun, they allow you to use super hot water without damaging your hands. 
Step Four: left = hot, right = cold

Step 5:
Start washing! My routine starts with glasswear because spots and stains show up best on glass. For this same reason, I put glasses on the far side of the drying rack, so that stray splashes won't leave spots as they dry. Then I wash mugs (to balance the rack...mine tends to tip over into the sink if I'm not careful!), then bowls, plates, silverwear, and pots/pans. 
Step Five: First layer of drying, everything is resting on
something else, plastic cups are used as barriers between
 glass and porcelain items.
Step 5.1:
I used to hate washing silverwear, but since I started tub-washing my dishes it's kind of fun. I dump the whole cup into the hot water, and (starting with steak knives for obvious reasons,) quickly scrub each one and plop them in the rinse water. 
Step Five-point-one: Silverwear dumping
Step 6:
Finish up with the dirtiest items - usually pots and pans. These can rest on top of the other dishes, again using plastic as barriers when possible and necessary. Notice in the picture below that I never put wine glasses in the dish drainer unless it will be virtually empty. I can't tell you how many stems I have broken from carelessly sticking those in the drainer (usually when trying to empty it), so now I just stick them off to the side to let them dry, usually on a clean towel or rag. 
Step Six: Two layers of dishes here, be careful unloading!

Step 7: 
Clean up after you clean. Seems annoying, but cleaning up after yourself will make your supplies last longer, not to mention it will be less daunting to do the dishes next time they pile up. THE MOST IMPORTANT thing to do when doing dishes is to keep your sponge clean and dry. Remember that episode of Family Guy where Stewie meets the cast of Star Trek? "A dry sponge is a happy sponge." It is absolutely true. Never leave your sponge sitting in a tub of water. Squeeze it out and put it off to the side somewhere that it can air out.
Step Seven: "A dry sponge is a happy sponge."

When you rinse out your tubs, first dump the nasty water, then empty your drain catcher or run the disposal. Then dump our your rinse water and clean up the sink. Be sure to rinse off all food bits and soapiness from the bottom of the tubs and set them aside somewhere they can dry.

Step Seven: Waste Water Services
That's it! This whole process takes me about 30-45 minutes to do a whole rack-full of dishes. They aren't as painful as you might think, and its kind of meditative in a weird way. So do some damn dishes already!

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