I really hate washing dishes. One reason I hate washing dishes is because I don’t like working on something meticulously until it’s perfect. And let’s be honest, that’s what a good pan covered in black tar needs. I like to be fast and move things through an assembly line. Not the best for washing dishes.
But, if there was one thing my mama taught me – it was the importance of keeping the kitchen clean. After every meal the kids (all 4 of us) would divide the labor until the kitchen was as new as it was before dinner started. I grew up thinking this pattern was normal – especially because we saw Emily’s family do the same thing. But, now I am realizing that washing dishes have really become a trap for families. In fact, I’ve heard couples say they don’t like cooking – because they don’t like cleaning dishes.
So, here are some tips I’ve learned from my mother (and on my own) about washing dishes. Such a glamorous post, y’all. 🙂
Washing Dishes when Cooking/Baking
- Wash dishes as you go. Don’t let all your dishes build up until your baking/cooking project is over. I like to find the largest, already-used bowl and stick it in the sink. Then, as my utensils and smaller bowls get used up, I just put them in that bowl covered by water. This means that all the dirty dishes are off my counter – and already soaking.
- When your recipe has a lull (“let this cool for 15 minutes” OR “put in refrigerator for 30 minutes”), wash your dishes. Don’t wait until the whole recipe is done. A lot of my favorite bigger recipes have multiple stages. If I waited until the end of the last stage to wash my dishes, I’d probably have a mini panic attack. Wash them after each stage so at the end you only have to wipe up the counter!
- If you have a dishwasher, use it. I love putting EVERYTHING I possibly can into the dishwasher – without overloading it of course. I put in my hand beaters, my stainless steel pots (not my non-stick pots), my metal mixing spoons, my glass mixing bowls, and every plate and utensil on my counter. Things that don’t go in the dishwasher: wooden, non-stick, or plastic anything.
- Now, when my mother cooked or baked, she definitely showed us how to do this. But, she didn’t make us do her dishes while she was cooking or baking. The kids’ dish-washing jobs came after dinner…just to be clear! 🙂
I also wipe down my counters about 5-10 times during a cooking/baking project. Keep one sponge in your sink with no soap on it – and just rinse and wipe every 5 or 10 minutes or so. I really hate cooking on a dirty surface!
Washing Dishes with your Family
- After dinner, my family split up the dish-washing jobs: one person cleared the table and wiped the table, one person filled the dishwasher and help direct dishes to the dish-washer, one person washed, and one person dried (there were 4 kids). We often divided up these chores by age and skill. We all rotated these jobs, but on average I would get the drying job because my dishwashing wasn’t as good as my brother’s. And, to this day, my younger brother is the genius dishwasher-filler. He can fill that dishwasher like tetris. So, we knew our strengths and worked really quickly until the kitchen was clean.
- We made it fun: Often we would turn on music and have elaborate conversations when cleaning. There might have even been one or two bubble fights. But, the bottom line is that we knew we did this EVERY night. There were no exceptions – and definitely no complaining.
- We washed – but also let things soak: My older brother ALWAYS asked to let the biggest, dirtiest pan soak – partially as a joke – partially because it probably needed it. We often would leave the last pan in the sink filled with sudsy water – so later that night or in the morning, the cleaning would be really easy.
Washing Dishes Equipment
- I am sponge girl. I hate dishwashing rags, brushes, soap-dispensing apparatus, and anything else. Give me a good sponge everyday. But, the trick is to change out that sponge A LOT. I mean – at least once a week I change it out. I never let it get the gross, germ-y stage. The cheapest place I have found for sponges is Aldi – they are 3 for $1. Can’t beat that! (I also keep a stash of metal scouring brushes on hand for all the hard stuff!)
Little family tip: Growing up my mom always had two sponges in the sink. One that had soap in it – and one just for water. This way there was always a sponge just for cleaning the counters.
- I also have a good drainboard and a drying mat. I love my drying mat! Right now, my husband and I often don’t dry all the dishes and put them away. I am totally ok with clean dishes on the counter! So, I put out my drying mat and in the morning put all the dishes away.
- I don’t use cheap soap. I don’t use anything but the BEST, most grease-penetrating soap. The last thing I want is to spend more time in the kitchen. I use the traditional Dawn soap – with all the powers. I have tried store brands and even natural brands – and have found that for me, the best is Dawn.
- I do love a fun amazing-smelling, natural counter cleaner for when I’m done! There is nothing like ending with your kitchen smelling like lavender. My current favorite is Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Spray.
I know this has been a really nitty-gritty post, but I hope it gave you some ideas! Please share your favorite family tips for washing dishes below – we love to hear your stories!