I just finished washing a few dishes by hand, and started thinking about the long-standing argument over which is the thriftiest way to clean dishes. Is it hand washing or dishwasher? The Simple Dollar takes a look at the numbers, and says that the real cost is in the use of hot water. But there are lots of variables. Do you wash and rinse in hot water? I do. Is your dishwasher an energy-saving model? Do you use the light wash or the heavy-duty wash cycle? The CS Monitor and the Huffington Post checked in with opinions on dishwashing. Most say you should never, ever clean your dishes by hand.
I have a dishwasher. Yippee! I waited a long time to have one in my current once-fixer-now-fixed home. I love it – it is quiet and does a great job of cleaning the dishes. But sometimes I just have a few dishes to clean, or I have a great big cooking pan that I would rather just scrub in the kitchen sink. And sometimes, I just like to do the dishes the old-fashioned way.
I ‘m not going to try to convince you to hand wash or use the dishwasher, because bigger blogs than I have already covered the topic. I have no idea which is best for you, because your situation and preferences are personal. There are even family arguments over how to properly load the dishwasher. I’m not stepping into that mess.
But what if you don’t have a dishwasher?
You still have to clean your dishes, and you may not know that tossing everything into the sink at the same time is probably not going to give you the cleanest dishes possible. So instead of including myself in the dishwasher/handwashing debate, I’ll just share the way I do dishes.
My friend Jane and I both grew up in central Illinois, and we were taught the same method of washing dishes. That doesn’t mean it is the only way or the right way. It’s just the Crone’s way.
How to Wash Dishes
- If you only have a single sink, use a dish pan if possible. It will give you a little space to put your clean dishes before rinsing.
- Put a few squirts of dishwashing liquid in the pan, and fill with very hot water. The hotter the water, the less chance of streaks on your clean glasses. Adding the dishwashing liquid to the water instead of on your sponge is the more frugal way (and again, reduces the chance of streaks).
- Use gloves. You don’t want to damage or dry out your hands – no wine glass is worth it. Wear the rubber with pride.
- Wash in order. Start with glasses or crystal, then the cleaner plates or bowls (the ones with no heavy residue or clinging food). After they are cleaned, I toss the flatware into the hot water and let it soak. Next, clean the dirty plates and bowls, then the flatware. On to the serving bowls, serving utensils, and finally the pots and pans.
- Rinse each item well with hot water. Rinse off all the suds from outer and inner surfaces.
- Drain or towel dry.
- Change water if you need to at any point, and continue the wash order.
- Wash knives separately! Some Japanese chefs believe their souls go into their knives once they have used them, and never should be put in a dishwasher! But if you toss them into the water you could accidentally cut yourself when reaching back in for flatware. Take care to clean the area where the blade is attached to the handle. Rinse and dry right away.
- Cast iron should not be washed in soapy water! They are the wise elders of the cookware world. Treat them with care. If you can’t get to dirty pans right away, fill with soapy water and soak for an hour or so. I have memories of my mom saying, “I’ll just leave these to soak,” just as her favorite shows were starting on television!
Slow and Easy
Mom never had the luxury of a dishwasher, and even now she says that dishwashing can be meditative. I find it very satisfying to load the dishwasher and walk away. But sometimes I do a few by hand, thinking of this old Palmolive commercial:
How do you wash dishes?