Hand Washing Dishes and Using the Dishwasher

Hand washing dishes and pots

I have noticed that most helpers do not organize the dishes in any order prior to the start of their hand washing process. They tend to just soap the sponge and run the dishes under the tap, one at a time. They live a much simpler life style in their home countries.

For the purposes of time, detergent and water efficiency we had learnt in our domestic science classes that the dishes should be organised and washed in a particular order and with the use of a dish tub filled with hot soapy water. These advantages become particularly obvious after a party.

When you are hand washing, may I suggest this order:

  • Wipe dirty dishes with those used paper napkins you have just cleared from the dining table. Use them to wipe away the leftovers, grease and sauces on those dishes before putting them into the soapy water in the dish tub.
  • Wash in Order. Wash dishes in this order: crystal, glassware, clear glass plates, other plates, flatware, serving ware, the greasiest serving dishes, then pots and pans. If there are many to wash, you may have to drain the dish tub and start again
  • Dish Tub. Wash the dishes in a plastic dish tub, rather than one at a time under the tap. If you’re not using a tub but prefer to stop the sink, line the sink with a rubber or plastic mat. This soft material protects dishes against chipping.
  • Use Hot Water. Fill the tub with one or two squirts of dish-washing liquid. This is more economical than squirting dish-washing liquid directly onto a sponge. The hotter the water, the more likely glass and silver will dry without spots and streaks. Except when dairy products are present as they should be washed with cold water.

Short of extra dish drainers?

After a party, you will find that there are too many dishes for your one dish drainer. You could decide to just soak some in the dish tub to wash the next day.

  • Clean large towels placed on the counter top do the trick. Making creases and folds in this towel helps to create evenness which provides some air circulation.
  • Perhaps you have an extra dish drainer but nothing to catch the drips. Place a baking tray with 2 cm vertical sides to prevent a wet counter-top and dangerous slippery kitchen floor.

Cleaning very dirty or burnt pots

Dirty pots or casseroles should be soaked with hot soapy water over night if necessary. You might even have to scrape it with a spoon or rubber spatula and finish up washing as you normally would.

Here are the steps in cleaning a burnt pot.

  • Depending on the size of the pot, you may need to fill it with about 1 cup vinegar, 2 to 3 tablespoons of baking soda and enough water to just cover stain but with room for the bubbling action once the vinegar is added to the baking soda.
  • Soak overnight. Scrape away the loosened charred bits in the pot and remove whatever you can.
  • You might have to go a step further to scrub the pot with the abrasive side of your sponge. The burned spots should come up fairly easily.
  • If not, sprinkle a little dry baking soda on top of those stubborn spots and continue to scrub. When you’re satisfied that the pot is clean, then rinse it thoroughly.

Helpful Hints:

Rice Vinegar + dish washing detergent: Improve the grease-cutting power of your washing detergent. Also gentle on your hands. What to do: Use a pump dispenser (240ml capacity) . Add 180 ml of dish washing detergent to 60 ml rice vinegar from the wet market or supermarket. Stir with a chopstick to mix.

For daily use, use paper towels, cheaper paper napkins or even a toilet roll placed in a special container from Daiso to absorb and wipe away the grease or sauces before handwashing. Less detergent and water will be used to do the job.

Recently, a friend shared notes with me about her DIY “Enzyme” Cleaner using fruit peels. If you are a firm believer in making this cleaning solution (Click here), use some of it in a mixture with dish washing detergent (instead of vinegar). It also improves the grease-cutting power of your dish washing detergent.

Using the Dishwasher

Don’t be surprised if your helper is not keen to use the dishwasher. Several of my past helpers have found that it is more time efficient if they hand wash as described above. They are also fearful about loading the dishwasher wrongly and thereby damage is caused. Have chat and find out the reason why.

Can silverware be washed in the dishwasher?

I personally prefer to err on the side of caution especially when I do not wash the dishes myself and cutlery is not difficult to wash.

A check with Martha Stewart’s website suggests that you can put silverware in the dishwasher (but with less detergent). The key is to keep stainless steel out if you put sterling or silver-plate pieces in. The two metals will react with each other and cause irreparable damage to both finishes. However, she says that drying of the silverware must be done by hand. Don’t run the “dry” cycle. Silver should be removed just before the rinse cycle and dried by hand.

Some Do’s and Don’ts when loading the Dishwasher

Do put heavy-duty wash jobs on the bottom rack, delicate small dishes and glassware on the upper rack. Don’t place items over the prongs on the upper rack but use the prongs to hold glasses and mugs in place.

Do check whether there are one or 2 water spray arms and your items in the load will impede their movement during the wash.

Do load your forks and spoons in the basket in a up and down pattern which stops these cutlery from cradling into each other.

Don’t load items that are made of or have parts that are made of pewter, cast iron, bronze and wood into the dishwasher.

Don’t load antique crockery.


For dishwasher 101, I suggest watching this video.


One response to “Hand Washing Dishes and Using the Dishwasher

  1. Pingback: Essential Skills to Teach Your Helper | hints for the home·

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