Dreading the next time you have to wash the dishes? Follow these seven secret hacks to wash dishes faster than ever before.
Are you one of those home cooks who find countless creative ways to get out of the task, from breaking into the piggy bank to order takeout again to challenging a spouse to a competitive game of Rock-Paper-Scissors? We can’t say we blame you.
Dishwashing is quite possibly no one’s favorite household chore. It’s not only time-consuming and manually intensive, but it often presents itself just after we’ve spent hours in the kitchen preparing food. So, why not just toss everything in the dishwasher and be done with it? Well, not everyone has a dishwasher and not everything is dishwasher-safe.
Our Top 7 Ways to Wash Dishes Faster By Hand
Whether handwashing is your only option or you simply prefer it over a machine, here are seven hacks you can employ to wash dishes faster and get back to doing the things you love.
1. Collect your tools and prepare your space
The fastest way to wash dishes begins with preparation. If you gather everything you need ahead of time and plan out intentional stations to scrub, rinse, and dry, you’ll have a well-oiled—er, soaped—machine and be finished earlier. On the other hand, if you jump into the task without so much as a whisper of strategy, you’ll no doubt waste precious minutes rummaging around for a suitable sponge and extra towels or panicking because you ran out of space on your drying rack.
Here are our top picks to get you started:
- Plant-based dish soap
- One or more sponges with both soft and abrasive sides
- A plastic bin or tub (optional, see tip #2)
- A drying pad or rack
- Organic cotton kitchen towels for superior absorbency
With tools in order, it’s a good idea to organize your dirty dishes as well. While it may sound like an additional step, it more than makes up for itself as it dramatically streamlines the actual washing process. The way you organize is up to your personal preferences, but one approach would be to separate flatware, plates and bowls, and large pots and pans into three distinct groups.
2. Use a plastic bin or tub
Instead of washing dishes directly out of the sink, use a plastic tub to contain them. Get a bin or tub that matches the dimensions of your sink as closely as possible, fill it with hot water and a few drops of soap, and drop in your first round of dishes. Wash dishes in batches in the tub, adding as many as can comfortably fit at a time.
The reasons for washing dishes in a tub are threefold. First, you’ll use less soap as it will be contained within the tub and reused for each successive piece you clean. Second, you’ll create a standing pool of hot water where tougher dishes with stuck-on food can soak while you tackle easier items. Third, the tub will collect the food waste from your dishes, preventing it from clogging up your drain and causing additional work in the long run.
3. Blend soap after breakfast
If you’re into your healthy green smoothie recipes like we are, you know how much of an ordeal it can be to clean your blender. Not only is it an awkward shape to reach into, but the fructose of your ingredients has a bad habit of getting stuck in every nook and cranny, like underneath the blades.
So why not save yourself the trouble and let your blender clean itself? No, seriously. Fill it halfway (or less) with warm water, add a drop or two of your favorite dish soap, and close the lid tightly. Next, put the blender container back on the motor base and turn it on! Watch the soap swirl around the container, removing every last morsel of your delicious breakfast. Job well done, blender!
4. Clean as you cook
Need we say more? Instead of pulling out your smartphone and scrolling Instagram during those odd amounts of time where you’re waiting for a pot to boil or the oven to preheat, clean a few dishes! This practice will not only occupy your mind and fill those dead periods that you have to spend in the kitchen anyway, but it will also cut down on time spent washing dishes later.
5. Use cold water for dairy and starch
You read that right. Use cold water to speed up the removal of stubborn dairy and starch. Why? When starch is heated in a liquid, its granules swell to the point of bursting. As they pop, they cause the starch to break down and release glucose. The result is a stickier mess that takes more force and effort to remove from your dishes. This is one of our favorite hacks to wash dishes faster.
Pro Tip: For all other situations, go as hot as you can. Hotter water loosens most residue, making it easier to remove (not dairy or starch!), and helps dishes dry without streaks. A sturdy pair of rubber gloves will help you withstand the heat.
6. Pre-soak large pots and pans
Frequently, large pots and pans will suffer from catastrophically stuck-on cheese, burnt-on sauce, and other food remains that simply won’t come off with a sponge—especially if there is a non-stick coating to protect. We recommend soaking these troublesome dishes with piping hot water and a drop or two of dish soap before attempting to clean them.
If you don’t have the sink space to leave them there (or in your plastic tub), it’s ok. Simply fill them up to three-quarters full and set them on your countertop. You can spread dishtowels across the counter to protect its surface and mitigate any splashing. Finally, move them back into the sink one by one as you are ready to tackle them!
7. Raid the pantry
When we said to make sure you have all the right tools on hand before you begin, you probably didn’t think to look in the pantry! And yet, it is very likely that you have some consumables on hand that can help you hasten the dishwashing process. These star ingredients are table salt and vinegar.
Table salt is your best friend when it comes to heavy grease or burnt-on food, due to its naturally absorbent and abrasive nature. Use a dry sponge to rub salt on pans with grease to remove it in a hurry. If you have burnt pans that are delicate due to a non-stick coating, fill them up with water and a few tablespoons of salt to soak overnight. Bring the water to a boil the next morning and the burns should be removed!
Vinegar magically erases stubborn water spots on tumblers and other glassware. If your tap water is especially hard, you may notice some mineral deposits that cloud their brilliance after a thorough wash. Don’t spend time re-washing these pesky dishes—vinegar’s slight acidity can help remove that residue quickly and easily.
Bonus: Wash dishes in the correct order
While dishwashing can feel like madness—and often is—there is a method to it. Make sure you wash your dishes in the correct order, from the cleanest to the dirtiest. Additionally, work through your glasses first to avoid contaminating them with grease from pots and pans. After glassware, move on to flatware and plates that have been rinsed off. Save the heavy-duty work on pots and pans for last. Not only does this give you a chance to soak them, but you’ll keep your dishwashing tub clear of food debris for longer.
Hopefully, you can put these tips into practice right away and begin whizzing through everyone’s least favorite kitchen chore in no time at all. Remember the key to success is in solid preparation, organization, and making use of everything in your kitchen to wage war on stuck-on grease and stains!
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