Secret Shortcuts Everyone Needs to Wash Dishes Quickly

For years we did not have a dishwasher and had to wash dishes by hand. I have a dishwasher now, and believe me when I say I will stuff that bad boy completely full before I have to do any dishes by hand.

I like to pretend using the dishwasher to it’s fullest potential is part of my green lifestyle. After all, a dishwasher actually uses less water and energy than doing dishes by hand.

But that’s not the truth.

The truth is I do not enjoy doing the dishes and will do anything to avoid it. However, since it has proven impossible to avoid all hand washing of dishes, I thought I’d share a few of my secret shortcuts for getting the chore done as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Secret 1: Don’t Wash What You Can Wipe

This calls for some judgement on your part. Does it really have to be washed to be clean? For example, if you just used a measuring cup to measure one cup of dried beans – how dirty is that measuring cup? I use a clean dishtowel and give it a good swipe and call it clean.

Secret 2: Have the Right Tools

Start with a clean sponge, scrub brush, and gloves. I prefer a sponge to a cloth so I can nuke it between washings to kill any lingering bacteria. I also like to wear gloves and use a scrub brush. The scrub brush makes light work of tough dishes and the brush can be put in the top rack of the dishwasher to sterilize. The gloves not only keep me from having to touch anything slimy and gross, they also keep my hands from getting chapped during the winter.

Secret 3: Keep Baking Soda Handy

Have a dish that is going to present a challenge? Sprinkle it with baking soda and fill with about half an inch of hot water. Put it to the side and let it sit for a bit. This should help get off anything that is sticking. However, if you can’t get the goop off with the baking soda and a scrub brush, try my How to Clean Burnt Pots and Pans method.

Secret 4: Fill A Sink With Hot, Soapy Water As Soon As You Start Cooking

Have your sink prepped with hot, soapy water, then the process looks like this:

  1. Use a dish and get it dirty.
  2. Immediately take it and scrape it into your compost pail or garbage disposal if needed.
  3. Scrub with scrub brush under running hot water, then place it in the soapy water.
  4. Continue to do this with each dish as you use it.
  5. When you are finished prepping and cooking, you will find you all you need to do is finish scrubbing. Letting dishes air dry in a dish drainer saves you from having to hand dry.

Secret 5: Scrub Starchy Dishes in Cold Water

If you’ve cooked potatoes or rice, you actually want to initially scrub those dishes in cold water. The cold water keeps any potatoes or rice that are stuck in the pan from getting gummy and sticky. So rinse in cold, then put in your sink of hot water to scrub.

Your Turn: Sponge or Rag? Ok to wipe and not wash? Ever leave the dishes until the next morning?

The GBG It Works for Me

“The GBG: It Works for Me” is a weekly series all about that thing you’ve started doing that you’d wish you’d known you should be doing all along.

Solutions, quick tips, and shortcuts. Time savers and sanity savers. It’ll all be right here.

Have a solution, tip, or time saver of your own? Let me know by filling out this form, I’ll try and share it!

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  1. We have a dishwasher, but I still have to wash way too many dishes by hand. We have a large sink, so rather than use the sink directly to wash dishes, I save water by using a dish tub for washing. IKEA conveniently makes a tub that fits the large sink we also bought there. It’s also easier because I don’t have to empty and clean one side of the sink completely before washing as I just need to empty and clean the dish tub.

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