Learn how to wash dishes by hand—for times when a dishwasher isn't available or appropriate—and save the most water possible.
In the house I share with two roommates, we call our dishwasher the fourth roommate. We pity him because while he is much appreciated, he is certainly overworked. With all of the from-scratch cooking and baking going on here, there are often large pots, heavy pans that have no business in the dishwasher, and sharp knives that require hand washing—plus all of the plates and mugs that didn't make it into this load of the already overfull appliance.
Tackling a mess like this or the one you may have in your kitchen can be done with water conservation in mind, following these rules.
1. Hand Wash Big Items
Your spaghetti pot might fit in the dishwasher, but it'll take up valuable real estate that could be occupied by six or more plates. It’s more water-wise to wash big pots like this by hand.
Other items that should be washed by hand, according to the American Cleaning Institute, include:
- wooden items (like spoons and bowls)
- silver and pewter
- milk glass
- china and other delicate dishware
- hand-painted items
- items with metal trim
- cast iron
2. Soak Pots and Pans ASAP
The longer that squash-and-cheese dish sits after coming out of the oven, the more glue-like the stuck-on food will become. Give it a tiny squirt of soap or a few shakes of baking soda and a bit of hot water to soften up ASAP.
3. Wash Your Stack In Order
The American Cleaning Institute suggests washing dishes in order of cleanliness: glassware and flatware first; then plates and serving dishes; then cookware. I've always known to wash first anything that will come in direct contact with your mouth, then remaining glass items, and then items in order of cleanliness.
Save the greasy or bacteria-filled dishes for last. Don't share wash water with a dish that contained raw meat or other potential pathogens. Drain and scrub the sink to eliminate leftover bacteria after washing the nasties.