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How to Wash Dishes by Hand

Whether you wash all your dishes by hand or just the ones that can’t go in the dishwasher, you’ve probably faced the post-meal tower of dirty dishes. While dealing with oils and baked-on food isn’t exactly fun, there are some steps you can take to make the job easier.

  1. PREP
    Scrape dishes to remove leftover food. Soak dishes and cookware with stuck-on food in water with dish soap for at least 30 minutes. Drain the water before moving on to step 2. Remember: never pour grease down the drain! Grease can cause the drain to clog.
  2. FILL
    Fill the sink or a dishpan with clean water, then add dish soap to the water. Some concentrated dish soaps require a smaller amount, so remember to read the label for dosage. Throughout the process, if the water becomes greasy or if the suds disappear, drain the water and refill with clean water and dish soap.
  3. WASH
    Wash from lightly to heavily soiled items. Start with glasses, cups and utensils. When handling knives, wash them one by one and immediately place them handle-up in the drying rack (or flat to dry). Then move on to plates, bowls and serving dishes. In general, dishes wash more easily if you keep them under the water while scrubbing them. As you work, pull each dish out of the water to check for missed spots. End with cookware, pots and pans – don’t forget the bottoms!
  4. RINSE
    Rinse washed dishes to remove suds and any lingering residue. Either pass them under a stream of water, or dip them in a rinsing sink or pan filled with water before moving them to the drying rack. Make sure to get the inside of cups, bowls and glassware when you’re rinsing.
  5. DRY
    Air drying is easier than towel drying. However, wiping with a clean towel can help keep glassware or utensils from spotting. Make sure the towel is clean, and change the towel when it becomes damp. Paper towels work well for drying pots and pans, especially if they contain traces of grease.

Once you’re done, take a moment to clean up, so the sink is ready for your next task. Rinse and wipe down the sink, dish drainer and dishpan. Dish cloths and sponges should be left out to air dry or laundered in the washing machine. Remember to replace sponges and towels frequently.

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