There are only two things in this world more monotonous than hand-washing dishes: watching grass grow, and watching paint dry. However, for most of us, washing dishes is a tedious reality. Even if you have a dishwasher, you still have to deal with items that aren’t dishwasher safe, along with the pots and pans that can’t go in there. Now, I’m well aware that some people actually enjoy washing dishes—they find it meditative, a good way to achieve Omnipresent Super-Galactic Oneness. I am not one of those people. If you are not one of those people, or if you’re just having a hard time washing your dishes, here are 10 helpful tips and tricks to make this job a little easier..

Use Gloves

These bright yellow gloves not only make you look super-cool, they also prevent your hands’ natural oils from stripping away, leading to the dreaded “dishpan hands”. They also protect your hands from hot water and give you an added barrier against rogue knives. A cool bonus feature is that they make it easier to hold on to slippery, wet dishes. If you hate that rubber glove smell as much as I do, sprinkle some baking soda inside to deodorize them.

Get a Dish Rack

For around $20 you can get yourself a dish rack. I recommend a nice big one, to avoid overflow. This will give you some place to let your dishes dry properly, without cluttering up you whole countertop.

Wipe Food off your Dishes ASAP

Might sound a little obvious, but you’d be surprised how much tougher it is to wash off food that has been sitting on a dish for 12 hours. When dirty dishes hang around for a while, moisture evaporates from the food, creating a solid bond with the surface it is sitting on. You get the picture.

Use the Hottest Water you Can Bear

The hotter the water, the better. Heat makes the food break away from surfaces more easily, it helps break down grease, and it aides in drying your glasses and cutlery without spots or streaks.

Time to Soak

For really stubborn food deposits, use a few drops of dish liquid and fill with water to let those tough, baked-on food bits loosen overnight. In the morning, you should be able to easily wipe everything away. (Why not sprinkle in some baking soda while cleaning the next morning, for a little extra mild abrasion?)

Invest in a Good Sponge and Dish Washing Tools

You can find name-brand sponges at your local dollar store or big box stores—just make sure to choose a non-scratching sponge. I really like Scotch-Brite sponges. I also use a dish wand, where you can put dish liquid directly inside the handle. Other great tools include a dish scrub brush, which won’t cling on to bacteria as much as a sponge would, and a SKrAPr, for those really, really tough jobs.

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Don’t Let Dishes Pile Up!

Unlike fine wine or an artisan cheese, dirty dishes tend not to age very well. What’s worse, that dish pile is only going to grow bigger and bigger—and your interest level in washing them is going to get smaller and smaller. So, don’t let your sink turn into Mount Dishmore. Tackle the dishes every night to prevent them from ever getting out of hand.

Burnt Pots’n’Pans

I made a video about this exact subject a long time ago. Check it out here! 

Wash in the Right Order!

You want to wash your dishes from least greasy to most greasy, which usually looks like this: Start with glassware and any drinking vessels, move on to cutlery, then plates and bowls. Finish with greasy serving dishes, and finally pots and pans.

You may have to drain and re-fill the water as needed, especially if you notice it getting really greasy and grimy.

The Melissa Maker Way

If you have two sinks:

Fill one sink with hot water and a couple of drops of dish liquid, and fill the other sink with cool water and 1/2 cup of vinegar, which will act as a rinse aid and help avoid spots and streaks on glassware. Simply wash each dish in the hot water sink, and then dip it into the cool water sink to rinse. Place in the rack to dry.

If you have one sink:

Start by making yourself some dish pre-treater: a tablespoon of dish liquid, mixed with water, in a spray bottle. First, soak all your items in a cup or bowl filled with hot water and dish liquid. Then take your pre-treater and spray each item, and neatly pile them on the side of the sink. Let them sit, letting the pre-treater do its thing, breaking down dirt and grease and saving you scrub time. One by one, give each item the once-over with the dish wand, then rinse under a slow stream of water. Finally, let the dishes sit in the dish rack to dry.

Whether you have one sink or two, some items will require hand-drying with a towel. For this, I suggest using a waffle-weave microfiber towel, which is super-absorbant and actually dries quicker than a regular tea towel.

Those are my 10 hand washing dish tips! What are yours?

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Melissa Maker is an entrepreneur, cleaning expert, founder of Toronto’s most popular boutique cleaning service, and star of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube (but she still hates to clean!). Every week, Melissa delivers new videos dishing expert advice on cleaning products, tools, DIY substitutes, and practical, timesaving solutions to everyday problems. Melissa has appeared on the Today Show, and has been featured in InStyle, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.


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