How to wash dishes you say? Get real, who doesn’t have their own method? Well my friends if you try your old method with dish soap sans palm-oil you may be unpleasantly surprised and give up. I know, this has almost happened in our kitchen several times this year. In fact how to do dishes correctly has been a hot topic of debate in our house lately, especially since I am not the dish fairy, but I suddenly need to tell the fairy how to do his job….yikes. He is the dish guy, he’s been doing them for so long, and he is not too keen on change, but the new method really works. It provides sudsy goodness, cleans, and uses less water, win win win! We’ve saved about $100 on our water bill so far! Reason enough.
Okay here we go. First things first….
What you need:
Scrub Brush – We use a wood option that has a replaceable head. If the head has nylon bristles be sure to pull them out before discarding (its way easier than it sounds) so they can be recycled while the head can be composted. There are also plant based models out there too. We have a sponge aversion in our house so it was easy to ditch the plastic wrapped mystery made item for this greener option. Plus it looks prettier on your counter, especially when housed in a vintage mustard crock. You can see we have quite a collection of brushes for all sorts of tasks.
Palm Oil Free Dish Soap – We have been loving this locally made Lifeline option purchased in bulk from our local grocer. You may have to search harder for something in your area or order in bulk, write to your grocer if they don’t carry a palm-oil free option (or one at all). Our old house happened to be built on the site of the dump of our neighbors truly old home. While gardening I came across all kinds of interesting treasures, mostly old bottles. We use one of these bottles (cleaned very well of course) filled with soap and topped with a pourer. It looks pretty, is recycled and has a cool story. Keep your eyes peeled interesting old bottles are everywhere or maybe you can find another treasure to reuse?
Small Wash Rag – I find smaller easier to manage but size really doesn’t matter. We actually make ours by cutting down old towels. It gives them a new life and is much more economical than buying sponges, speciality rags, paper towels etc. They are used for all of our cleaning tasks.
Baking Soda – We buy it in bulk, I wish they would hold a larger bin of it because I want to buy so much of it. Baking soda is a miracle cleaning agent.
Vinegar – Distilled white purchased in glass because I have yet to find it in bulk. We reuse the bottles for making vanilla and buying oils etc. in bulk.
Now that you have the tools let’s get started.
Start with your dirty load of dishes piled high to the sky, if you are in our kitchen this is what after dinner usually looks like. We load the items that can go in the dishwasher first, and thanks to Missy and her recent appliance research I have discovered that our dishwasher does not want the dishes to be rinsed prior to loading. I did not do this and we wasted so much water rinsing them spotless only to find the dishwasher was etching them, and they were coming out cloudy not matter how much booster (aka vinegar) I was adding to the machine. Hallelujah I actually like our machine now. Dishes go in covered with gook and come out shining. There is the occasional rewash, but that is most of the time my error not necessarily the machines. Check your user manual, are you loading your machine the right way? We use one tablespoon of soap purchased in bulk, be sure to also check the concentration of your product, you’d be surprised how concentrated some of them are. Wasting soap is wasting resources and money!
Next all the items that are not dishwasher friendly need to be rinsed. Now if you have a flourishing compost pile I suggest using the biggest dirty item you have as the basin and rinse everything in there and use that water to wet down your compost. If you do not be mindful of how you are running your water. Can you rinse some items in a bigger item, but capture that water? The point of this step is to get all the food off your dishes so they look spotless, but they’re not actually clean. At this stage I prefer to use the scrub brush, I find it efficient in getting the goop off and it is easy to rinse out. Did you have a little too much fun while the onions were going? Did you rock the heat a little to high before that salmon filet hit the pan? No worries. Rinse away the food and put the burned, extra difficult items to the side we’ll get to them next. I work left to right, so after I have rinsed all the dishes they get stacked to the left of the sink. The sink may be dirty, but it is dish free now.
Take those dishes with the extra good times stuck to them and plop those down in your sink. Make sure that the bulk of the water is out of them, you don’t want them dry necessarily but standing water makes things a little less efficient. Next sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda and using the brush or rag (I prefer the rag) and your elbow grease scrub that mishap gone. It is amazing how well the baking soda works and how shiny it makes your pots and pans. If you have got an extra tough mess on your hands try adding a little vinegar to the baking soda and letting it sit, or boil some water with the baking soda to loosen it up then try again. I have yet to lose a battle I promise. Rinse the dish and move it to the pile with all the other rinsed items.
After everyone is rinsed its time to clean the sink, yes clean it. It may just need a rinse, maybe some soapy love, or a full on baking soda scrub, whatever it is make sure its clean. Don’t forget about the grate at the bottom of the sink if you have one, the underside of that guy gets real gross.
Now that your sink is clean you are ready to get sudsy. Take your wash rag, get it wet but not soaked, and drop a few drops of dish soap in it. Rub it together to make a good lather, grab a dish and scrub it. Scrub it good. Scrub it real good. Then stack it to the side in the sink. Grab another dish and repeat until you have a good size pile in your sink. Move quickly because you do not want the soap to dry, its not the end of the world it just makes for spotty dishes. Rinse them and stack them to the right. Then repeat until your entire pile is done. If you prefer to towel dry go for it. I took a cooking class years ago and they said the biggest contributor to the spread of germs in the kitchen is drying dishes with towels so we let ours air dry, though I much prefer the dishes to be out of sight. Do what you are comfortable with.
Now you are done. If you tried to fill your sink with water and soap it wouldn’t suds up, you get a greasy film on your dishes and you will spend your time doing them twice or even three times. Believe me, we have been there. Now that is not exactly how I want to spend my time and I am sure you don’t want to either.
Reducing our waste happens in all forms. We have to rethink our methods and routines, but once we get the hang of it, its really not that hard. Getting there can be, but for now doing dishes is not a struggle other than the sure fact that we would much rather do something else, but hey thats the case no matter what our soap is made of, right?
What would you rather do than wash dishes?