How To Hand Wash Dishes Quick And Easy
Perhaps you’ve grown up always having the convenience of a dishwasher. Now, out on your own for the first time, you have an apartment, no money and no dishwasher. Consequently those nasty dirty dishes keep piling up. What are you to do?
Wash them obviously, however, if you’ve never been taught the most efficient way to do that, then that pile of dishes might as well be a mountain.
Today, you will be EMPOWERED towards a HOPE and a FUTURE. You will conquer that mountain!
Hand Washing Tools Needed
Before you begin, you need to gather up the basic hand washing tools required to do the job. Oh, don’t panic, they are inexpensive. Here is the what you will need to get started:
- dish rack and drain tray (can be purchased at Dollarama for $6.22 total)
- 2 dishcloths (I prefer the hand knit cotton ones, but to get you started, just grab some at the Dollar Store)
- 4 tea towels (Walmart, set of 4 for $6.97 + taxes)
- 1 firm toothbrush (for cleaning tiny areas)
- a bottle brush (useful for cleaning tall glasses)
- metal scrubber (usually sold in a 3 pack)
- soft scrub nylon scour pad (usually sold in a 8-10 package)
- bottle of dish soap, suggested brands are Palmolive, Sunlight, or even Dawn
Many of the items listed above can be picked up at your local dollar store for $1-$3 each. So although you might be on a tight budget, this is a doable accomplishment.
Once you have these basic tools you are ready to get started. Set up your work area. After 40 plus years of hand washing dishes, this is the most efficient methods I have found that also require the least amount of movement. Why re-invent the wheel?
Lighting Up The Area
Notice in the photo below that there is a small fluorescent light above the sink area. This is necessary in order to clearly see the dirt and grime and how well you removed it. Up above this area is also a ceiling light with two 60 watt bulbs for more light.
No choice in this kitchen, however, if you are ever designing your own kitchen–place the kitchen sink under an outside wall with a window above it. Not only can you look outside, but you can take advantage of natural lights to brighten this area. Also, in order to optimize the best daytime light, it should be on the south, east or west wall of your house.
Prepare Your Working Area
Set up the dish rack and drain tray on the counter beside the sink. It works best to put it on the side where your cleaned dishes will be closer to the cupboards you will be putting them away in.
So, in some kitchens, that will be on the left side and in others it will be on the right side. In my kitchen, I put mine on the left side, because my plate and cup cupboards are directly above that counter. My pots and pans cupboard is directly below the counter on the left hand side also.
However, there have been kitchens in my past where my plate and cup cupboards were to the right of the sink. Consequently, I would place my drain tray on the right side of the sink. Remember, this is to make it easier, and why take more steps or movements than necessary.
Get The Dish Piles Ready
Before piling your dirty dishes, make sure any obvious food chunks and greases have been scraped off. This step, if you learn to do it after every meal or snack, will save you time when you have to wash. By cleaning the plates off after every meal you will be preventing the food particles from drying out and sticking to the plates, pots and pans. This one quick step of scraping off now as you go, makes washing dishes quicker and easier later.
Pile the dirty dishes on the counter on the other side of the sink. Again, making sure you use the least amount of body movements, place the cups, glasses, and silverware closest to the sink. Followed by the stack of large plates, small plates, and bowls. Next should be your stack of mixing, storage, or serving bowls. Finally, your stack of pots and pans. Depending on the size of your counter, this last stack might have to sit on the stove top until you are ready for them in the sink.
Kitchen Hints and Tips
NEVER, EVER pour grease and cooking oils down the drain. If you do, you will soon find yourself requiring Drano, drain snakes, and maybe even the expense of a plumber. Always drain off the cooking oils, either into the compost bucket, or into a jar with a lid if you are disposing in the garbage. Wait until the grease has cooled down obviously, or you will either burn yourself, or have a glass jar explode. So wait until the grease is room temperature, but before it turns into a solid before putting into the container of your choice.
TIP: If it is bacon grease, why not strain it into a jar with a lid, place in the refrigerator and use it for baking and cooking purposes? Bacon grease used to make Cheddar Biscuits, really adds flavor.
By using a small kitchen compost bucket, you can easily just brush off the leftover food particles on your dishes and pans into the bucket. I have found that lining the bucket with a bio-degradable bag makes cleaning the kitchen compost bucket easier later too. You can purchase a box of 15 bags at Dollarama. Depending on your food wastage, this box of 15 bags may last you 15 weeks (3 ½ months).
Getting The Sink Ready
Clean and rinse the sink. This may be especially important if this is your first time learning to hand wash the dishes. However, you are going to learn to keep this step to a minimum in the future. Depending on how grungy your sink might be, you might need to use an additional cleanser such as a soft scrub cream cleaner, or an abrasive cleaner such as Comet. So grab your metal scrubber, give the sink a quick scrubbing, and rinse it all down the drain.
Hint: Using the hot water as you do this will bring the hot water to the tap line for when you need to fill the sink in a moment.
Put the drain stopper in the sink securely. This might appear to be obvious, however, I have not had the plug secured in the past, and lost a sink full of water down the drain.
Squirt about 2 teaspoons of dish soap on the bottom on the sink. It is important to squirt this in an area where the tap water from the faucet will be able to best hit it. In this way it will make bubbles better and blend with the water.
Dish soap is needed to help lift the food particles off of the dishes. Your rubbing the dishes with the dishcloth destroys the germs while completely lifting the food remnants off the dishes.
Fill the sink about 2/3 full of hot water. The water should be as hot as you can comfortably tolerate. There should be a nice amount of bubbles covering the surface. The hot water is essential for aiding in dissolving grease particles off of your dishes.
The Order To Wash Your Dishes In
Hand wash dishes in this order: If you remember the following guidelines, you will quickly become a hand washing professional.
Basically, remember, you always wash the cleanest, least greasy items first and work your way up to washing the greasiest, dirtiest items last. So, the items that have come into direct contact with your mouth should be among the first items washed, as you will see from the following list.
- Glasses, and cups, teapots
- eating utensils, serving spoons, cooking utensils such as spatulas, and knives
- plates, bowls
- serving bowls, mixing bowls, meal preparation bowls
- cake pans, muffin tins, baking sheets
- pots, pans, frying pans, roast pans
Now It Is Time To Start Loading Your Sink
Place all the silverware or flatware, kitchen utensils on the bottom of the sink to one side. Depending on how comfortable you are with knives, you can place them in the sink at this time also. However, make sure that all the handles are pointing down to you and the sharp ends away. This way you know when you put your hands into the water which direction the knives are pointing and have less chance of cutting yourself. But to get started, you might want to leave the knives on the counter and only wash them one at a time.
Place all the cups and drinking glasses into the sink on the other side of the utensils. I prefer to set all the glasses and cups into the sink on the side closest to the drain tray set up. In this way, you wash and move the glass or cup the least amount of space in order to reach the dish rack/drain tray. Remember, we are looking for tips to make this quick and easy.
A Quick Wipe Down Of Available Counter Top Space
Next, wet the dishcloth in the sink, squeeze out the excess water and wipe down any exposed counter or stove top areas. This gives the glasses, cups, and utensils a few minutes to soak in the sink. It also give you an opportunity to clean any surfaces where you might be putting your freshly cleaned dishes on in a moment. However, remember, we are showing you ways to reduce your cleanup steps. In many cases you will be putting your cleaned items directly into the cupboards they need to go. There are instances though where you might pile a stack on the counter top and then lift the entire pile into the cupboard. Cleaning the counter top allows you to make such a pile on a clean surface. You don’t want to re-dirty the bottom of your dishes by setting them on a dirty counter top.
How To Wash Drinking Glasses
Washing the Drinking Glasses. NEVER, EVER, place your hand inside a glass, especially the tall ones. They tend to be fragile and the mass of your hand has a tendency to snap pieces off, and quickly cut your knuckles. I know, I’ve done it! So, use your bottle brush to wash tall glasses and other tall items such as vases. However, if you don’t have one yet, carefully put the dish cloth inside the glass and use a butter knife to move the dish cloth around the inside and bottom of the glass.
Are you a milk drinker or even pop? Is there a sticky residue on the bottom of the glass? Here is a tip for the future to make glass washing easier. When you take an empty glass to the sink, either give it a quick rinse under the tap, or just put about ¼ inch of water in the bottom. This will prevent the residue of your drink from dehydrating and becoming a sticky goo on the bottom of the glass. Cleaning glasses will become a breeze in the future.
Don’t forget to use the dish cloth to clean all around the rim of the glass. Wipe down the outside of the glass and the bottom too. It might be sticky from either a spill or a drip drizzling down the side of the glass.
Give it one quick dip back in and out of the sink to rinse out any obvious soap bubbles inside the glass. Turn the glass upside down and place into the dish rack to drip dry.
Another bonus from using the hottest water your hands can tolerate, is that it will take very little time for the dishes to dry. By washing glasses and cups first, you will have streak-free glasses too.
How To Wash Coffee Mugs
Washing the Coffee and Tea Stained Mugs may seem difficult, but it really isn’t. Often the coffee/cream ring in the mug can be wiped out simply with the dishcloth. Turn it up and check to see if that worked. If not, grab the soft scour pad and with a little pressure holding it tight on the inside of the mug, give it a quick twist around. Dip the cup back into the water to remove residue and look inside it once again. Did that get it clean? In most cases it did, however, I have noticed that the oils from tea can be a bit more persistent.
If it is a persistent tea stain, you may have to grab the abrasive cleaner such as Comet, and throw a quick dash of it in the cup. Again, grab the soft scour pad and as before, holding it against the side of the inside cup walls, give it a swipe. The added assistance of the abrasive powder with the soft scour pad usually gets it this time.
As with cleaning a drinking glass, make sure you clean the rim of the cup and the outside of the cup. Don’t forget the bottom of the cup also. Usually there is a little dip on the bottom that is famous for grabbing dirt and oils. So make sure you wipe the bottom of the cup too. Give the cup a quick dip back into the sink water, turn upside down and place on the dish rack.
How To Wash Flatware and Utensils
All that should be remaining in the sink now are the flatware and utensils. With the dishcloth in one hand and grabbing the silverware (flatware) in the other, wipe down each item. Remember to wipe the handles down too. Handles are often overlooked as an area that also needs to be cleaned. Visually check each piece to make sure the food residue is cleaned off before placing them on the dish rack.
If you like to eat eggs with soft, runny yolks, you will notice a hardened residue especially on your knives and forks. In those cases, you often will have to use the metal scrubber in one hand to assist you in wiping off the egg goo. Another unpleasant thing to remove from utensils is chewing gum. So over the years, I’ve just eliminated those from our home. When we eat eggs, they are not Over Easy, they are Over Hard. The egg yolk doesn’t stick to anything that way.
I have found that it helps to lay my flatware, cooking utensils, and knives in separate piles on the dish rack. The flatware and utensils are separated because they are usually stored in 2 separate drawers. In this way, you save steps by only drying the one drawer of items without having to go and open the other drawer for another type of item. The knives I keep in a separate pile just so I have a lower risk of cutting myself. I know that is the sharp pile.
Carefully move your hand around the bottom of the sink. Have you now washed all the items that were in this sink load? Good. Onto the next.
Load The Sink Again
Before you grab the tea towel, fill the sink with dishes again. This time, grab the stack of plates and put them on side of the sink bottom. Often, even with 8-12 dinner plates, I still have room to put the small plates and cereal bowls in the sink too. You may have to lean the smaller item piles against the side of the dinner plate stack, but they should all fit.
Now, while those are soaking, grab that tea towel and let’s clear off the dish rack.
Dry The Glasses, Cups, Flatware, and Utensils
As you dry, put items away! So, open the cupboard door, and as you dry each coffee mug, put in on the shelf it belongs. CAUTION: Remember about the tall glasses, and don’t put your hand inside them. Instead, gently push the towel inside and give it a wipe. However, if your water was hot enough, quite often by this time, the inside of the glass is already dry and streak-free. Once all the cups and glasses are put away, close that cupboard door. This is to prevent bumping your head on it—I know!
Next, grab a handful of flatware, knives, or utensils and go to the required drawer or storage spot. Hand dry each one with the towel, not forgetting to dry the handles too, and place them where they belong.
Wow, that didn’t take long. Put the towel aside and back to the sink.
How To Wash Plates And Bowls
Start with the smaller plates and bowls. With the dishcloth or soft scrub scour pad in hand, wipe out each bowl and plate. Remember to clean the rims, inside, outside, and the bottoms as well. You will find that to clean all the bowls and placing them on the dish rack, followed by all the small plates, and then the dinner plates works best. In this way, they stack better on the dish rack, allowing them to drain and dry better too.
Cleaning the big plates is the same. Wipe the front surface, around the rim, and the back side of the plates also. Use your hand to feel across the surfaces also, not just the dishcloth. Your fingertips can detect stuck food particles easily, which allows you to grab the cloth or soft scour pad to finish removing it before placing on the dish rack.
MY PET PEEVE: Please clean the underside of your plates and bowls as well as you do the top side. I have seen some pretty gross undersides of plates. Remember, quite often these are piled in the cupboard. Why would you stack a clean plate, then place the dirty underside of another plate on top of that first clean plate? But I see it happen all the time. Yuck!! Clean the WHOLE plate, please.
Load The Sink With Serving Bowls, Storage Containers, etc.
Now is the time to re-load the sink with serving bowls, lunch containers, and the such. Once again, before you grab the tea towel to start drying the plates, fill the sink and allow things to soak.
This sink full will basically be anything else not yet washed before you get into baking pans and pots.
Put Away As You Dry
Open the cupboard door, dry, and put away. It really is easy to just dry and put away all in one step. Don’t just dry and set on the counter. You will only have to pick it up to put it away again in a few minutes anyways. Just do it once! Unless, you like to stack all 8 plates together and lift the whole pile into the cupboard at once. However, this can lead to dropping and breaking them. So, to reduce the risk of breakage, as you dry each plate or bowl, put it in the cupboard and add to that stack instead. One step—quick and easy!
Back To Washing
Washing the items in the sink now, is basically the same as before. Wipe each item inside and out with the dishcloth or soft scour pad. Smooth your hand over the surfaces to ensure no stuck on food residue is missed. Wipe, or softly scrub if needed, then a quick swoosh in the water, turn upside down and place on the dish rack. Simple—quick—easy !!
The more you hand wash, the faster you will get. When this sink full of items is on the dish rack, fill the sink again. This time, place in the least greasy of the baking pans or pots.
Dry And Put Items Away As Before
Putting items away as you dry is a real time-saver.
Pots/Pans And Baking Pans
Washing Pots and Pans need not be intimidating. Most people dread the pots and pans the most, but it doesn’t need to be that way. Sure, you might need to put a bit more scrubbing behind it, but that is usually do to your cooking habits and those results. If you’ve burned the vegetables in the bottom of the pot, that is a cooking problem, not the pot’s problem. You get what I mean.
Non-stick surfaces—Use only the dishcloth or soft scour pads to clean the non-stick surface pots and pans, muffin tins, baking sheets and such.
Metal Scour Pads are useful for stainless steel pots and pans. The metal scour pad is useful for removing food residue from typical pots, pans, and roast pans with stainless steel or aluminum surfaces.
Again, use your hand to feel along the surfaces to ensure food residue is removed, and visually inspect the results. Make sure to wipe all surfaces, including the handles before setting aside to drain in the dish rack.
Final Dry And Put Away
You are almost done! Dry these last items and put away in the cupboard or pot/pan drawer.
Last Tidy Up To Complete
Okay, the hardest part is over. Now you just have the last wipe down of surfaces and final putting away of items.
Tip the dish rack and drain tray over the sink to drain. Wipe down the drain tray surface with the dishcloth, wipe with a tea towel if desired and put the dish rack and drain tray away in their place of storage. For me, it is the cupboard under the sink. Mind you though, I don’t store my garbage disposal under there like some people tend to do. In that case, storing the dish rack and drain tray beside your rotting garbage is not recommended. Find another location in the kitchen to store either the garbage or the dish rack.
Grab the wet dishcloth and finish wiping down all the counter tops, stove tops, kitchen table and such.
Remove the sink drain stopper. Now this is the step that is going to save you from having to scrub your sink in the future before hand washing your dishes. Remember, this time you had to clean the sink before you got started. Well, what if I told you, that as the sink empties now—with soapy water, and the food residue isn’t stuck to the sides, you take that dish cloth or scour pads and wipe it out now!!
Yes, drain the sink and wipe it out now. Even if you get the sink a little grungy before the next dish washing time, it won’t be nearly as difficult to clean.
Lastly, rinse out the dishcloth and scour pads and set aside to dry. I keep a couple of small dishes by the sink for this purpose. In one I keep the metal scour pad and the other is the soft scour pad and toothbrush. I hang up the dishcloth to dry. Some people choose to drape it over the tap nozzle to dry.
Hang up the tea towels nicely to dry.
Wow!! You’ve done it!! There you have it–
How To Hand Wash Dishes Quick And Easy
You can wash up to 5 full sink fulls of items in 30 minutes or less with only 15 L (4 Gal) of water. The sheer satisfaction from clean dishes, and a clean kitchen is reward enough. What a refreshing way to get up and see your kitchen in the morning!
If you want to see the actual financial costs savings of hand washing vs a dishwasher, read this article.
You are now EMPOWERED towards a HOPE and a FUTURE. You know how to conquer that mountain of dishes!