Saturday, September 15, 2007

Washing dishes

When I was a child, we had to "do" dishes in a certain way, or it wasn't "correct" and we'd have to redo them. I always thought this was a waste of time, but as I've gotten older, I realized that the womenfolk of the family knew more that a thing or two. I still don't made my kids rewash dishes because they didn't "do it right", but I do try to teach them to be organized in what they do.

How do you wash dishes?
This is how I'm try to get my kids to do them and the reason why I wash in this order.

First collect all the dishes that need washing. Seems like a simple idea, but hey, how many times have you gotten to the pots and someone shows up with more dirty glasses?

Second scrape and quick rinse the very dirty. I don't prerinse all my dishes. There's no point in rinsing an empty glass unless something is molded in it. On the other hand, if you don't rinse the grease and ketchup (a vegie in my house. sigh) off the plates, your dishwater will be dirty very quickly. So anything with a heavy coating of gunk get's rinsed, especially greasy things, preferably as soon as you're done using it so the gunk doesn't harden. You really don't need to let the water run, just fill a sink with hot water and swish off the majority of it. You can rinse a lot of dishes in a small amount of water. The idea isn't to clean the completely, just get most of it off.

Then clean out your sinks, with your cleaner of choice. For years I used Comet cleanser, because...that's what mom and Nana used. Then I learned that baking soda and water will do the job. So will a little soap on a wet cloth or sponge. Rinse well and then make sure that you rinse the cloth or sponge out well, hand wash with a little soap, rinse again or use a clean cloth - otherwise the grease you just cleaned out of the sink will be back in the soapy water you're about to run.

Next, I put in the plugs. I have one plug that doesn't work all that well. So when I've stoppered the sinks, I put a little water in it and make sure they're sealed. I've left too many a sink filled with water only to come back and find that the plug wasn't tight and the water ran out. So put in just enough to cover the stopper. Give it about 3 mins. If it's leaking, you'll see it.

After I'm sure the plugs are tight, I start stacking my dishes in the sink. I put the large plates on the bottom, then the small plates, then any med bowls, then small bowls. I put the flatware on the left side of the plates and put the glasses around on top where there's room. Obviously, I don't have a huge family. There are days the dishes get backed up and I can't fit all that in the sink. Then it's just plates, silverware and glasses. Also, if I have any plastic zippy type bags I'm recycling, they get priority.

With the stuff in the sink, I start running the water and add the detergent or my homemade soap. For detergent, unscrew the cap from the neck of the bottle and use one capful. That should do it. I know there's a squirt top. Just like there's a line on the cup for your laundry detergent. Unless you have VERY, VERY hard water and oily, mechanic clothes, you're using too much. (Found this out when I moved here to soft water and a washer that drained into a utility sink!) Anyway, they want you to open the top and squirt. Don't, the dishes will be easier to wash. You don't need all those suds.

I asked my friend Rhonda Jean over at
answered some of my questions on using home made soap. Here are her instructions:

To use homemade soap, just rub some soap on your rag, get it a little soapy, and let the water run over it as you run dishwater. You won't get soapy suds, you don't need soapy suds to get the dishes clean. Also, as you wash, your dishwater will look milky. If you're used to using store detergent, it's not going to look right. It may even look "dirty" to you. But if you've rinsed them, then the water's fine. If something is especially greasy, then rub some soap on the rag and use it.

So first I wash the recycled bags, turning them inside out - this is the only way I know of not having greasy, recycled bags. I also rinse them first and set them aside until I've washed the glasses - which I do next. Then I prop open the plastic bags so they can dry. With the bags inside out, the outside drys first. Then I turn them right side out to finish drying and put them away.

After glasses, come bowls, small plates and then large plates. They get rinsed in reverse order - plates to small bowls. This lets me get the most from my drainer space. Last in the load is the silverware. (I have a separate plastic mesh container that I toss the dirty ones in. Then from that I dump them into the sink, swish the container and then put the clean silverware back into it to drain.

Next to go are plastics, any big utensils - tongs, wooden spoons, sharp knives, etc. I don't usually leave those laying around in the water.

If you've done a lot of dishes, you may want/need to run another sink of hot water. Here is usually a good point to do that.

Then it's on to the lids, pots, pans, skillets or roasters. From smallest to largest.

I then wipe down the counter tops and cabinet fronts, the back of the faucet/backsplash area, microwave inside and out, stovetop (around the eyes, the drip pans and the rings) and any appliances that need a wipe down. This keeps the mess from building up. Don't forget the tops of the trash can, and fridge/freezer door(s). Go from the least greasy areas to the most greasy ones.

In fact, this whole method takes you from the least greasy to the most greasy and from the most likely items to pick up grease (plastic bags and glasses) to those that are easier to get clean.

Drain the soapy side, rinse the rag out in the rinse side and let the water out - use it to rinse the soapy side down with or water your plants with it. Wipe out the sink again with a soapy rag, rinse well, hang the rag to dry, and you're done.

Now, print this out, hang it by your sink and tell the kids that this is how I said to do dishes. You can blame me. lol I'd put some contact paper on it or laminate it, otherwise, it might have an "accident". kwim?

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