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How to wash dishes by hand:

  1. Prep — scrape off food
  2. Fill — get some clean, hot, soapy water
  3. Wash — scrub them, under the water
  4. Rinse — wash off all suds and residue
  5. Dry — air dry or towel dry

There are two common ways to hand wash dishes: by «diluting» dish detergent in a sink or dishpan filled with water, or by squirting detergent directly onto a sponge or the dirty dish (called the «neat» method). Whichever dishwashing method you choose, be sure to follow product directions to determine the right amount of detergent – especially with concentrated varieties, which may require less product than you think. So, read the label! And remember: some cookware, like baking pans with air cushioned inside, should not be submerged in water. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for advice!

Here are details on each step to make the job as easy as possible:


Scrape dishes to remove leftover food — use a rubber spatula or paper towel. For stuck-on foods, soak dishes/cookware before washing: add detergent or baking soda to the sink/dishpan (or soiled pot) and fill with hot water; soak for 15 to 30 minutes, then drain and proceed with Step 2. TIP: never pour grease down the drain — it can cause a clog.


Fill sink or dishpan with clean, hot water. Add dish soap to the water (read the label for dosage; some concentrated dish detergents require a smaller amount). Stack a few dishes in the sink at a time – this allows a few minutes of soaking time while you work on washing. TIP: Throughout the process, drain the water and start over if it becomes greasy, tool cool, or if suds disappear.


Wash «in order,» starting with lightly soiled items. This usually includes glasses, cups, and flatware. Washing these items first followed by plates/bowls and serving dishes. In general, dishes wash 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; if you soaked pans with baked-on foods, washing will be easier. Don’t forget to wash the bottom of the pan. TIP: Be extra careful when handling kitchen knives! Don’t pile them in the sink; instead, wash them one by one and immediately place them handle-up in the drying rack (or flat to dry).


Rinse suds and residue with clean hot water. Rinse by dipping in a rinsing sink or pan, passing under a stream or spray of hot water; or, by placing them in a drying rack and pouring or spraying water over them. If you have a double sink, use the second sink to rinse off washed dishes. TIP: Be sure to rinse inside cups, bowls and glassware

5. DRY

Air drying is easier than towel drying. However, wiping with a clean towel is helpful when glassware or flatware is spotted or filmed. 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. TIP: Remember to clean up when you’re done. It’ll make tomorrow’s task easier! Rinse and wipe down the sink, dish drainer, and dishpan. Rags, dish cloths, and sponges should be left out to air dry, or laundered in the washing machine. Remember to replace sponges and rags frequently.


You know, the analog way. Washing the dishes is easy. It’s so easy that this chore can be delegated to children, once they’re tall enough to reach the kitchen sink (mind the knives, though!). Dishwashing is, like, the original chore. But there are some tricks and nuances to properly hand washing certain dishes, especially large or sensitive items like seasoned cast iron pans, cutting boards or burnt baking sheets. And we’ve got some tips to streamline the handwashing process, including which items ought to be hand washed and why. If you thought you knew how to hand wash your dishes, think again. You might just learn something from us. We’ve even got some suggestions on the order you should consider washing your dishes in, just to make it easier for you. Video poster

When + why to wash dishes by hand

No dishwasher, no problem! Whether you don’t have a dishwasher or you’re just hand washing specialty items, we’ve got all the details on when, why and how to hand wash your dishes. There are some objects that should just never go in the dishwasher.

  • Sharp knives or mandolines
  • Anything wood, including cutting boards, spoons and utensils
  • Cast iron
  • Nonstick pots and pans
  • Aluminum cookware
  • Copper cookware
  • Fine china, crystal and hand-painted plates
  • Electric kettles
  • Travel mugs
  • Pressure cooker or air fryer parts and components
  • Any parts of kitchen appliances that have electric hookups or connections


  • Dishwashers tend to dull sharp knife blades.
  • Wood is porous and absorbs water like a sponge. Soaking and steam causes it to warp.
  • Dish soap and detergent damages nonstick properties in Teflon or cast iron pots and pans, corrodes aluminum and discolors copper.
  • Fragile or hand-painted items are more likely to break or chip in the dishwasher.
  • Water + electric hookups = bummer

1. Prep the dishes for washing.

  • Scrape off excess food into the compost or garbage. Use a spatula or wooden spoon to get the dried-on bits off your cookware. (For majorly burnt cookware, try out these extra cleaning tricks.)
  • Soak cookware as needed for about 15–30 minutes.
  • Spray items that are too large to soak—like pots, pans, cutting boards or baking sheets—with Dawn Platinum Powerwash Dish Spray, and let sit. (Never use soap on the cast iron, though! More on cast iron cleaning here.) This highly concentrated formula majorly cuts grime and grease, freeing you up to clean the stovetop while it sets.
  • Respect your garbage disposal. Avoid throwing large items down there—and never put bones, celery, coffee grounds, eggshells, fruit pits, grease, pasta or potato peels into your disposal. Scrape these guys directly into the trash can—or compost them! And if your garbage disposal needs some love, we’ve got some tips for that, too.

2. Fill the sink.

  • Fill your sink with hot water and Dawn Dish Soap.
  • Hot water is ideal for washing dishes (and everything) because it helps to loosen food and grease (and everything!).
  • Concentrated dish soap cuts through grease, leaving your dishes smudge and fingerprint (and olive oil and butter) free when you’re through.

3. Wash the dishes (already!).

  • Wash the cleanest items first to keep the water cleaner longer. This also avoids spreading food bits, gunk chunks and grease smears around.
  • Place your first round of dishes in the sink.
  • Using a soft sponge, wipe down each dish to remove all food particles. Best to avoid using a scouring pad on surfaces that can scratch easily, such as glassware or nonstick pans.

Washing dishes in order

  • Glasses and cups
  • Flatware
  • Plates
  • Serving utensils
  • Bowls and serving dishes
  • Pots and pans

4. Rinse the dishes.

  • If you have a double sink, you can use one for washing and one for rinsing. Fill the second sink with clean water, and transfer your soaped -p items from the soap sink to the rinse sink. Hooray!
  • Better yet, if you are using a rinsing sink, you can place the drying rack directly into the sink, stack cleaned dishes in it and pass a hot water spray over everything to rinse before leaving to dry.
  • Otherwise, give everything a light rinse with hot water from the faucet. Try to be conscious about water usage.
  • Place items into the drying rack to air dry. Towel off large items, and place upside down on a clean towel on the counter to air dry if they’re too big to fit in the drying rack.

5. Dry the dishes, and put them away.

  • Air drying is easier and can be more sanitary than towel drying. (How clean is that kitchen towel, anyway?)
  • Hand drying can help prevent spots or film on glassware, though. Use a microfiber rag to polish glassware, if you’re fancy like that. You can also buff up silverware or utensils that may have hard water spots on them before putting away.
  • Always dry and put away the following items:
    • Knives
    • Can openers
    • Sharp metal tools that could rust
    • Pots
    • Pans
    • Wood cutting boards and utensils

6. Clean up.

  • Wash the sink to remove any residue. That’s right: you’ve got to wash the sink, too! Collect any major lingering food particles, and throw them away and/or run the garbage disposal while simultaneously running hot water.
  • Wipe down any water spillage around the sink and faucet areas.
  • Disinfect and sanitize the surrounding counter and food prep areas.
  • Be sure to dry off the counter area beneath the drying rack so that water doesn’t puddle and give germs or bacteria an opportunity to breed beneath there. In fact, you should occasionally wash the drying rack itself!
  • Extra credit: Clean off your stovetop and stove burners.

Handwashing is a good way to increase the life span of your dishes, especially those we’ve listed above. Dishwashers are awesome because they save you time, energy and—in most cases—water! But sometimes it’s rewarding to go that extra mile and do the dishes analog style, with your good old-fashioned sponge or scrubber. And the rinsing and drying is nearly as important as the washing itself. Doing a lazy rinse will allow soapy residue to cling onto your dishes, causing weird buildup, soap scum or spots to show on your freshly washed dishes. And putting away damp dishes or utensils could cause bacteria or mildew to grow in your cabinets and drawers, and nobody wants that. Especially if you live in a humid environment, be sure everything is completely dry before putting it away. Any questions? For more information on how to wash your dishes—or to solve the great debate on whether (and what!) to hand wash versus put in the dishwasher—we’ve got you covered. Quick — what’s the germiest room in the house? You might be surprised to learn that it’s not the bathroom. Microscopic bugs and bacteria actually favor the kitchen, where you eat and prepare food. And the nexus of all that microbial activity could be sitting right next to the kitchen sink: on the sponge. If you’re washing dishes by hand, your cups, plates and flatware may not be as clean as you think. In a 2017 study published in Scientific Reports, German researchers did a germ-analysis of kitchen sponges with some startling results. There were 362 different kinds of bacteria lurking in the crevices of sponges they collected from ordinary homes, in astounding numbers — up to 45 billion per square centimeter. (That’s about the same amount found in the average human stool sample.) Considering the size of a typical dish sponge, that’s nearly 5.5 trillion microscopic bugs crawling around on the thing you use to “clean” your dishes. That amount even surprised the researchers conducting the study. “It was one to two orders of magnitude more than we initially expected to find,” says Markus Egert, professor of microbiology and hygiene at Furtwangen University, who led the study. When Egert and his team visualized the bacteria under the microscope, the 3D impact was even more alarming. “No one had ever seen bacteria sitting inside a sponge,” he says. “One problem we have with bacteria and microbes is that we cannot see them. And if you don’t see them, you don’t believe they are there.” Here are the nasty secrets of your kitchen sponge — and what you should use to wash your dishes instead.

Why you shouldn’t use a sponge

The ideal way to sanitize dishes and cups is to run them through the dishwasher. Since a dishwasher cycles both hot water and hot heat during the drying phase, it’s an effective way to get your eating utensils clean. But it’s important to use the full energy cycle to get the best results. Energy savers use less energy and therefore generate less heat for sanitizing. (The heat is important to destroy the microbes.) If you don’t use a dishwasher, you’re likely to choose a kitchen sponge. But sponges are ideal breeding grounds for bacteria, given the amount of food residue that can stick on and inside the porous surfaces, and the numerous moist havens that lure the bugs and provide fertile ground for them to breed. “The sponge never really dries,” says Leslie Reichert, a green cleaning expert and author of Joy of Green Cleaning. “It’s the perfect environment for bacteria…you never totally rinse the food out of the sponge.” The good news is that the bugs residing in these sponges aren’t generally the ones that can make you sick. Egert did not find the common bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses, such as salmonella, E. coli and campylobacter. Still, it’s possible that these disease-causing bugs were simply overwhelmed by the sheer number of other bugs; Egert suspects that if researchers look hard enough, they would find them in some sponges.

The better way to hand wash your dishes

Use a plastic or silicone brush. Brushes tend to stay drier when they’re not used, and they don’t have as many deep crevices as sponges where water and bacteria can grow. “You can stand brushes up, or put them in a caddy where they are likely to dry out,” says Carolyn Forte, director of the home appliances and cleaning products lab at Good Housekeeping Institute. “The material is not as porous as a sponge is, and if something is stuck to the brush, you can see that and rinse it out.” They’re also easy to clean; you should run them through the dishwasher once a week or so.

How to clean a sponge

If you insist on using a sponge, you should make peace with frequently cleaning it and throwing it out. Simple soap and water won’t cut it. In Egert’s study, sponges that were cleaned this way harbored more bacteria. These microbes were more likely to be the kind that are more resistant to detergents since they survived the cleaning, and they could potentially cause harm to human health. In other words, if you clean your sponge the wrong way, you’re selecting for the nastier bacteria. “Improper cleaning may make the situation even worse,” he says. “Cleaning, especially by non-cleaning experts at home, usually does not clean all the bacteria inside because there is such a large amount of microbes. Some survive, and become more resistant; if you do this a couple of times, you might select for more pathogenic communities.” That’s why Egert recommends changing kitchen sponges weekly to avoid bacterial buildup. Still, “it is possible to clean sponges,” says Forte. House-cleaning experts advise that you to sanitize dish sponges every few days in a variety of ways, from soaking it in a bleach solution to zapping it in the microwave or running it through the dishwasher. Good Housekeeping compared these three methods and found that the bleach and water solution worked best in removing 99.9% of salmonella, E. coli and pseudomonas bacteria they added to test sponges. They created a solution of 3 tablespoons of bleach to a quart of water and soaked the germy sponges for five minutes, then rinsed them out. MORE: The 5 Dirtiest Things You Touch Every Day The next most effective method was microwaving. It didn’t kill as many E coli as the bleach method, but still destroyed enough to sanitize the sponges. Forte says it’s important to wet the sponge thoroughly before zapping, to prevent it from catching fire in the microwave. It’s also important to thoroughly dry the sponge before using it to wash dishes again, since the dampness could attract more bacteria. Throwing the sponge in the dishwasher was the least effective cleaning strategy of the three, although the machine wash did kill 99.8% of the bugs. If you opt for this method, make sure you don’t use the energy-saving option. You can also choose a sponge that isn’t made from paper or wood pulp, which is what’s used to make traditional cellulose sponges. Many are now made from plastics that are less porous and absorbent, and therefore less likely to retain the moisture that attract bacteria. Reichert also recommends plant-based foam sponges infused with a citrus cleaning solution that keeps bacteria at bay for about a month.

What to do with your dirty old sponge

If throwing out sponges frequently seems wasteful, Egert suggests using them in other parts of the house where bacteria might not be so important, such as cleaning floors or gardening equipment. As long as the germy sponges aren’t being used on the dishes, glasses or flatware that you eat with every day, your sponge shouldn’t cause problems. Contact us at [email protected] After a delicious meal, doing the dishes is a very boring thought. But with the right methods, it’s easy and not too time-consuming. We’ll share tips on how to wash dishes by hand and in the dishwasher. By the next time you wash your dishes, you’ll be armed with new facts, methods and tips! How to Wash Dishes by Hand Scrape and rinse the dishes. Fill a sink with hot soapy water. Start by washing smaller, less dirty items, like cutlery. Use a brush, cloth or sponge to scrub off dirt. Rinse item, then place on a drying rack. Next, wash plates, cups, then pots and pans. Wash delicate items last. Change water when necessary. Air dry or towel dry.

  • How to Wash Dishes by Hand
  • How to Wash Dishes in the Dishwasher
  • More Tips for Washing Dishes
  • Washing Dishes FAQs
  • Do the Dishes

Don’t have a dishwasher? Or perhaps you have some fancy cookware and tableware? Then washing dishes by hand is the way forward. Before you start, we recommend putting on some good music or a podcast to keep you occupied.

What You Need

  • Warm water.
  • Dish soap.
  • Dish cloth, brush or sponge.
  • Scouring brush (optional).
  • Rubber gloves.
  • Drying rack.
  • Dish cloth.

Something To Note There are lots of dishwashing tools on the market. You can choose scented options, eco-friendly options, budget-friendly options and much more.

Step by Step Instructions

1. Scrape and Rinse

Before you get to washing the dishes, make sure that you scrape all the food into the compost or garbage. If you have a garbage disposal, you can use that, too. Next, rinse the dishes. This makes it easier to deep clean when it comes to it. Get rid of sauce, crumbs, and other bits of food or drink. Caution Don’t pour grease down the drain. It can clog. Instead, wait until it’s hardened, then scrape it off the dishes into the trash.

2. Fill

Fill your sink or basin with hot water and dish soap, until about three-quarters full.

3. Wash Small Items

We recommend starting with the smaller, less dirty items first, such as cutlery. This ensures your water doesn’t get as dirty quickly. That way, you don’t need to change the water as often. Put all the cutlery into the sink and let it soak for about a minute. Then, one item at a time, wearing your rubber gloves, take your sponge and scrub off dirt, food and residue. Rinse the item under the tap for a quick second. If you have a second tub or basin, fill that with lukewarm water and dip the item in there to rinse before moving onto the next step. Put the item on the drying rack, and repeat the steps for each item. Move onto cups, then bowls, and then plates. Top Tip If you’ve left the dishes for a little while, or you have really sticky ingredients, use a scouring brush. These help to remove stubborn spots. Just be careful as it may scratch your items.

4. Wash Bigger Items

Now it’s time to wash the bigger, dirtier items, like pots, pans, mixing bowls and utensils. If your water is quite dirty, dump it out and refill the sink, adding more dish soap, until about three-quarters full. For fancy non-stick pans, check the manufacturer instructions. These may require smaller amounts of dish soap and a non-scouring brush. Let the items soak in the water for about 10 minutes. Then scrub the dishes clean with your sponge, cloth or dish scrubber. Get into all nooks and crannies, in between spatula gaps, along with pot handles, and the bottom of pans, too. Rinse items under the tap or in a second sink. Put the items on the drying rack as you go. For pots and pans, and wooden utensils, dry immediately with a dish towel.

5. Wash Delicate Items

Drain the water away. Run the hot tap, but keep the sink plug open so it doesn’t fill with water. Add a bit of dish soap to your sponge or cloth and get it damp so that it suds up. Now, it’s time to wash delicate items such as knives, fancy glasses and antiques. Rinse the item first. Then scrub the item with your soapy cloth or sponge. You may need to use more elbow grease on stubborn or sticky spots. Rinse the suds away, then place the item on the drying rack. Repeat for each item. No Wet Knives Dry knives immediately, especially if they’re fancy or expensive ones. This can prevent rusting or warping.

6. Dry Dishes

You can air-dry your dishes which is easier and more hygienic (1). This doesn’t take too long, so check back in about an hour to put the dishes away. However, if you’re running out of space on the drying rack or want your kitchen to appear tidier, you can hand dry the dishes. Use a clean, dry dish towel and wipe the dishes dry. Change the towel as it becomes damp. Let it air dry before putting it in the laundry hamper to prevent mold growth. Dry pots and pans immediately to prolong the lifespan of these items.

7. Clean Up

Now that the dishes are clean, clean the sink. Remove food bits, then rinse the sink. Wash with a commercial cleaner and sponge, or just use some dish soap! Leave your sponge, cloth or other dish tools out to air dry. You should replace these every couple of weeks.

How to Wash Dishes in the Dishwasher

A dishwasher can save you lots of time and it may be more energy-efficient than hand washing dishes (2). Plus, it prevents that after-dinner argument of “Who’s doing the dishes?”!

What You Need

  • Dishwasher.
  • Dishwasher detergent or tablet.
  • Rinse aid (optional).

Step by Step Instructions

1. Scrape and Rinse

Before loading the dishwasher, make sure there aren’t big chunks of food on the dishes. You may want to rinse the dishes, but that’s not always necessary. If you’re going to be turning on the dishwasher that day, that doesn’t give the dirt time to cling stubbornly to the dishes. The dishwasher can handle this. However, if you only use your dishwasher a couple times a week, definitely rinse the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. Otherwise, the food can cling to the dishes and the dishwasher might not be able to clean it all off. Plus, it can smell bad.

2. Load the Dishwasher

It’s important to load your dishwasher properly so your dishes get super clean but stay protected. Put larger items like cutting boards on the bottom edges of the dishwasher. This prevents them from hitting the water arm, making sure all the dishes get clean. Put bowls on the top rack, upside down, at a slight angle. This saves space and allows the water to run off the bowls rather than sit inside. Stack your plates on the bottom rack. We recommend switching between large and small plates as this provides better water flow. Add your cutlery to the cutlery holder. The more space between the cutlery the better. Alternate between facing forks and spoons face up or face down to help with water flow. Knives should always be face down to prevent damage to other items. If your pots and pans are dishwasher safe, place them face down on the bottom tier. For wine glasses, they can go on the safety rack if your dishwasher has that. Otherwise, they should be handwashed. Place your mugs and glasses face down between the tines. This keeps them in place so that nothing breaks during the cycle. Cooking utensils can go between the tines as well, horizontal and facing down. For other things, you can just fit them in where possible. Keep in mind that the bottom rack gets hotter than the top. So for plastic Tupperware, that could possibly melt or warp, we recommend putting that at the top. What To Avoid Don’t overcrowd the dishwasher as items can break and food can get caught. Also, never put wooden items or insulated mugs in the dishwasher. Many non-stick items are also not dishwasher safe, so be sure to hand wash those.

3. Add Detergent

Use the right detergent for your machine. Your manufacturer will most likely recommend a brand. However, you can try out a few different detergents to find which works best for you. Add the recommended amount to the detergent slot and close it over.

4. Add Rinse Aid (Optional)

If your machine has a rinse aid dispenser, add your rinse aid. This helps to prevent spotting and film residue. It also can remove cling-ons so they don’t get stuck during the drying cycle. You can also add white vinegar to this dispenser, which is helpful if you have hard water.

5. Check the Garbage Disposal

Turn your garbage disposal on before using the dishwasher. This ensures that the drain is clean and clear so that nothing gets transferred into your dishwasher.

6. Turn on the Machine

Use the desired setting for washing your dishes. Normally, you can use the eco or daily setting, but if you have dirtier dishes, adjust accordingly. We recommend turning on your machine at night and emptying it in the morning. This helps you get into a good routine and keeps the machine empty during the day. So you can just stack it during the day as you go!

7. Run and Empty

After the cycle, check everything is clean and empty the dishwasher. If there is any food stuck in the filter or at the drain surface, empty that out before running the next cycle.

More Tips for Washing Dishes

Before you go, keep in mind some of our top tips for washing dishes. These tips can help you get the most out of your dishwashing routine.

  • Remove food as quickly as possible: The longer you wait, the stickier the food will be. This is especially true for things such as rice, pasta, porridge and eggs.
  • It’s not necessary to pre-rinse your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher: But if you only run your dishwasher a few times a week, you should. Otherwise, the residue can cling on and it won’t come off during the washing cycle.
  • Always check the construction of your pots and pans: Some, such as cast iron, can’t be washed with soap. Read the manufacturer’s advice to prolong the lifespan of your dishes.
  • How do you clean a blender? You may be able to put the main blender part in the dishwasher. But a quick tip is to fill the blender with warm water and a drop of dish soap and start blending! This gets into all the nooks and crannies, and speeds up your washing time.
  • Never put these things in the dishwasher: good knives, insulated mugs and cups, anything silver or gold, crystal glasses, disposable aluminum or plastic containers, cast iron and non-stick cookware, and wooden utensils.
  • Don’t stack dishes in the sink throughout the day: This is intimidating, but it also means you can’t use your sink as easily during the day. Either stack the dishes in the dishwasher as you go, or have a basin for dirty dishes.
  • Wear rubber gloves: This can protect your skin from the ingredients in dish soap, but it also allows you to use hotter water which can speed up your washing time.
  • Put toys in the dishwasher: Yep, toys! If your kids’ toys need a good clean, you can put them in the dishwasher. Just make sure there’s no risk of them melting, and keep them on the top rack to prevent them from getting too hot.
  • Do dishes while you’re cooking: Doing your dishes all at once can save water. However, doing dishes as you go, while you’re cooking, can make the job more bearable. While your onions are frying, wash the knife and chopping board. Multi-tasking is the way forward!
  • Opt for dish brushes instead of dish sponges: While sponges are very popular, they take longer to dry so can harbour more bacteria than dish brushes. Dish brushes use synthetic bristles and dry very quickly, making them more hygienic.

Washing Dishes FAQs

Can Microfiber Cloths Be Used to Wash Dishes?

Yes! We love using microfiber cloths to wash dishes. They’re gentle, absorbent and get the job done. Plus, they can be washed and reused many times.

Does Dishwashing Liquid Kill Bacteria?

Most dishwashing liquid doesn’t kill bacteria, but instead lifts it off the dishes so it can be rinsed away with water (3). You can buy antibacterial dish soap which will kill bacteria. However, washing it away is effective enough.

What Temperature Is Best to Wash Dishes?

As long as it’s hot, it’s good. Because the soap is what’s going to be removing germs and dirt, you don’t need the hot water to sterilize the dishes. That may be too hot for your hands anyway. The water just needs to be warm enough to be able to loosen and remove grease, grime and other sticky situations.

Should Dishes Be Rinsed After Washing?

Yes, rinsing the dishes removes the suds. This can remove bits of bacteria that the soap has clung to as well as any remaining food. Rinsing also ensures that there’s no filmy residue on the dishes.

What Can You Use to Wash Dishes When You Run Out of Dish Soap?

Ran out of dish soap but need to tackle some dishes? Here are some things you can use instead:

  • Lemon: Fill the sink with warm water and add two tablespoons of lemon juice. Soak the dishes in the solution for 30 minutes before washing as normal.
  • Salt: Add two tablespoons of salt to every one cup of water. Mix to combine and wash dishes as normal. Salt is abrasive so it can remove burnt or stubborn bits on dishes.
  • Baking soda: Rinse your dishes and then sprinkle some baking soda over them while they’re wet. Using a soft cloth to gently scrub the dishes. Baking soda is abrasive so it will help to remove food, dirt, and other residue.
  • Vinegar: Combine two tablespoons of distilled white vinegar for every cup of warm water. Soak the dishes for a few minutes before washing as normal.

Do the Dishes

With these tips, doing the dishes isn’t as overwhelming. Now you know the best methods for hand washing and using the dishwasher, you’re better equipped. Although, if we’re honest, the best way to do the dishes is still to ask somebody else to do it! This is no one’s favorite household chore. Otherwise, invest in a dishwasher. It may save you money over time, but it will definitely speed up the cleaning process in the evenings! Feedback: Was This Article Helpful? Thank You For Your Feedback! Thank You For Your Feedback! Dishwashing is made a lot easier having the right dishwashing supplies on hand and washing them in the correct order. By following a set sequence you will ensure the wash water stays cleaner for longer with fewer water changes. You’ll save time and you won’t end up with a greasy residue on the final items.

How Often to Wash Dishes

Wash dirty dishes at least daily if you are handwashing them. This will prevent food from becoming dried on and hard to wash off. As well, it prevents the growth of bacteria and fungus in the leftover food particles and keeps them from attracting insects and other pests. You can choose to wash dishes and cookware after each meal or cooking session if you prefer. If you use a dishwasher, you can get by with washing dishes every other day as the dishwasher reaches temperatures hot enough to kill bacteria and mold, which you can’t achieve when handwashing.


  • Dish soap
  • Hot water
  • Paper towels

The Spruce / Taylor Nebrija

  1. Scrape Excess Food

    To avoid polluting your wash water, begin by scraping the dishes of excess food. Stack the dishes in preparation for washing. The Spruce / Taylor Nebrija

  2. Soak Stuck-on Food

    If after scraping you note stuck-on food on some items, set them aside for soaking. Run a little water with a few drops of dishwashing liquid to pre-soak items that need this treatment. An exception: Aluminum should not soak as doing so can darken the finish. Give the dishes 15 to 30 minutes to soak. ​The Spruce / Taylor Nebrija

  3. Run a Sink or Dishpan of Hot Water

    Place the stopper in the sink and run water (as hot as is still comfortable) until it is half full. Add dish soap to the water in the amount recommended on the instruction label. Be sure the other side of a double sink is clean and available for rinsing or prepare a dishpan of rinse water. ​The Spruce / Taylor Nebrija

  4. Wash the Lightest Soiled Items

    The items that are lightly soiled usually include glasses, cups, and flatware. Washing these items first keeps your water fresher and ready to tackle bigger jobs. Place as many of these items as fit under the soapy water in the sink. This will allow them a bit of soaking time before you wash them. Using a sponge or scrubber, wash one item at a time under the soapy water. Bring them out of the water to check for spots before transferring to the rinse basin. Knives should be washed one by one and carefully placed in the drying rack. The Spruce / Taylor Nebrija

  5. Wash Plates, Bowls, and Serving Dishes

    Next, wash plates, bowls, and serving dishes gently with your sponge or scrubber. Keep an eye out for when you should change the dishwashing water. Change it if it appears greasy or no suds are left. ​The Spruce / Taylor Nebrija

  6. Wash Pots, Pans, and Cookware

    Any cookware with tough food residue should have been soaking already. Wash the pans thoroughly. The Spruce / Taylor Nebrija

  7. Rinse the Dishes

    If you have a double sink, use the second sink to rinse off the dishwashing suds from the dishes. If you don’t have a double sink, you can use a dishpan filled with hot water to dip and rinse your dishes. You do not want any suds remaining. ​The Spruce / Taylor Nebrija

  8. Dry the Dishes

    If you’ve used hot water to rinse, the dishes will dry quickly on their own. In some instances, you may have to use a dishtowel. Make sure the towel is clean. Change the towel when it becomes damp. Use a lint-free cloth for drying silverware. ​The Spruce / Taylor Nebrija

  9. Put Away Dishes

    Put all of the dishes, utensils, and cookware away. ​The Spruce / Taylor Nebrija

  10. Wipe Down the Sink and Tools

    Wipe down the sink, dish drainer, and dishpan. Any rags, dishcloths, or sponges need to be left out to air dry or thrown into the washing machine. The Spruce / Taylor Nebrija

Tips to Keep Your Dishes Clean Longer

  • Don’t forget to clean the bottoms of pans. Any oily residue left will burn onto the bottom of the pan at the next cooking session, not only blackening the pan but also sending the residue into the air to soil kitchen surfaces and dishes.
  • Replace the wash water when it becomes greasy or if the suds disappear. This will help ensure your dishes are clean and free of that residue.
  • Dry pots and pans with a paper towel to reduce residue from the pan staining the dishcloth and then depositing grime on your other clean dishes.
  • Put clean dishes away as soon as dry. This keeps them from picking up dust, dirt, or grease.
  • Replace sponges, scrubbers, and dish cloths frequently so you aren’t washing with dirty tools.

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