I need dishwashing hacks.
February 20, 2018 9:23 AM   Subscribe

How can I make washing dishes better, easier, and something I do consistently?

I recently bought a house without a dishwasher, and nowhere to put one without renovating the kitchen entirely which is not on the agenda.* I've been trying to get used to hand washing dishes but I absolutely hate it.

1. I hate kitchen gloves, because they make my hands smell weird, and the water always gets inside the glove which feels gross.
2. When I'm not using gloves, the dirty dishes and dirty water seem gross, and the sponge makes my hands smell bad/weird.
3. I've tried a dish brush but it doesn't seem to work as well as a sponge.
4. I have a small double sink, no disposal, and a dish rack. I usually have the rack sitting inside one half of the sink for drying, then I use the other half of the sink for washing. I could probably have a setup where I move the drying rack to the side of the sink and get a mat for underneath, so I could use both sides of the sink for dishwashing, but I wouldn't want it to stay on the counter all the time, just when I'm doing the dishes.
5. My main problem is that since I hate doing the dishes, I tend to pile them up inside the sink, which then makes them seem even grosser and more overwhelming. I know I need to get into a habit of washing each dish immediately after I use it.

Ideas I have so far:
-getting a dish brush that somehow works better than the one I have
-finding gloves that aren't that yellow latexy stuff and have a smell I don't hate
-learning a new routine/habit for how to do dishes efficiently
-fancy-smelling/pretty soap to make it more pleasurable
-maybe a special dish towel to dry things off with, so I don't have to wait for them to air-dry and can keep the area more clear
-some other type of visual/sensory reward that comes after washing all the dishes. I'm very responsive to my visual environment and if I can buy anything well-made/beautiful/attractive that will help or motivate, I'm in.

Please give me all your tips, tricks, and hacks. Also, assume I'm an alien who has never washed dishes before and will need every single step of your efficient process explained.


*Unless someone has a recommendation for a dishwasher that somehow fits under the kitchen sink?
posted by ohsnapdragon to Home & Garden (56 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
You don't want a dish brush, you want a dish wand. The key is that it's a sponge (replaceable head) that dispenses soap, like this one. Even with a full sink, this will help.

You've got your dish wand full of soap and your sink full of dishes, your rack is set up just as you have it now. Don't bother with gloves. Here's what you do: turn the sink on so that it's running over your pile of dishes (try to move spoons so they don't splash). Grab a dish from the pile and get it wet. Scrub it with your dish wand, rinse it under the running water. Place in drying rack. Repeat. It'll get easier with each dish as the suds and water run over them.

Yes, you're running the water the whole time and no, it's not great for the environment. This is dish-triage here. As you get used to the system, you'll use the dish wand to wash as you go and lessen your water-usage.
posted by AmandaA at 9:30 AM on February 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


I'm fucking terrible at doing my dishes so I have no advice for the motivation side of things, but I can help in a few departments:

I hate kitchen gloves, because they make my hands smell weird, and the water always gets inside the glove which feels gross.

You need: 1) taller gloves, 2) less cheap gloves that you replace more often so you don't get that broke down latex smell quite as strong, and 3) and this is a key tip, USE HAND LOTION prior to putting on the gloves. Fill in all the nooks of your hand skin so the latex smell can't permeate. Then WASH YOUR HANDS WITH SOAP after you take the gloves off. It'll wash off the lotion and the latex smell. I, too, really notice the latex smell and this makes it not be a thing.

the sponge makes my hands smell bad/weird.

Change your sponge more often. Like, WAY more often. I don't care how frequently you change your sponge now but more often than that.
posted by phunniemee at 9:32 AM on February 20, 2018 [6 favorites]


Have you tried flock-lined gloves? More expensive, but they usually last better as well.
posted by kellyblah at 9:32 AM on February 20, 2018


I have a similar setup and am guilty of the majority of things you've listed, although I spent years not using gloves for dishwashing and buying a decent pair, even if they're yellow and latexy, has been motivating.

Have you thought about limiting the number of dishes in active rotation? I've tried it with mixed results, but the idea is that you have more dishes that you only use when you have company, but you limit yourself to one plate, one bowl, one set of utensils on a daily basis. Then you're forced to wash them.
posted by mikeh at 9:33 AM on February 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


I also don't have a garbage disposal! This means any attached food gets scraped into the compost bin / garbage before I set any dishes in the sink (so even if you're delaying the actual washing, the dishes are not sitting there molding). I don't use gloves, but I have especially luxurious hand lotion on the window ledge over the kitchen sink for after I wash dishes.
posted by worstname at 9:33 AM on February 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


he sponge makes my hands smell bad/weird.

Change your sponge more often. Like, WAY more often. I don't care how frequently you change your sponge now but more often than that.


Also, in-between changing sponges, pop that sucker (not dry, not soaking wet) in the microwave for about 20 seconds. Kills all the smells!
posted by cooker girl at 9:35 AM on February 20, 2018


I listen to podcasts while I wash dishes, which distracts me from the tedium. Bonus if you listen to your favorite podcast only while washing dishes, which makes it something to look forward to.
posted by AFABulous at 9:35 AM on February 20, 2018 [11 favorites]


I HATE those yellow latex gloves. They're the worst. Try these Playtex gloves. My hands never smell after them and because of the cuff (and length) I have never gotten water in them. I also want to try Korean dishwashing gloves soon.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 9:36 AM on February 20, 2018 [5 favorites]


I tried the microwaving the sponge trick and I found it just made the house smell like sponge for a couple hours. My sponge smelled better but everything else was worse.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 9:37 AM on February 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


I don't know if this is quite 'dishwasher that fits under a kitchen sink', but a year ago, I moved into an apartment with no dishwasher, and a friend gave me a portable dishwasher. It's small enough that if you have a double cupboard under your sink, you could probably stash it there when it's not in use. I'm not able to do the up-and-down of that, tho, so I bought this cart, which holds the dishwasher perfectly. I don't know how much space you're working with, obviously, but if something like this is an option for you, I can't say enough good about it.
posted by mishafletch at 9:38 AM on February 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


Dish drawers exist and are popular in fancy kitchens. I have no idea if this will fit in the space you have available, but here’s an idea
Dish drawer
posted by littlewater at 9:39 AM on February 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


Having multiple dishes is just silly and consumerist (unless kitchen stuff/cooking is your thing, of course).

Think of how much easier it would be to have one knife, one fork, one spoon, etc. Things can get rinsed off before crap gets a chance to get dried on, and here isn’t enough stuff to ever create a nasty pile.

I also have one single pot, and one skillet that is cast iron, so it never moves off the stove.

Ahh, ease... I rarely have to think of or look at dishes.
posted by Vaike at 9:46 AM on February 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


I don't use a sponge. I use dish cloths, like these. I switch them out for a new one really frequently (like daily) and then wash them in hot water once a week. Make sure to wring out your dish cloth and hang it up to dry out after you've used it, so it doesn't smell. Then stick it in a little trash can thing until you're ready to wash your dish cloths.

Do you have a double sink? My dish-washing process is that I scrape the big stuff into the trash can. Then I rinse the dish out in one side of the sink, which has this stopper thing in it. I leave my dishes in that side of the sink until I'm ready to wash them. Then I fill the other side with hot soapy water, soak all the dishes in the hot, soapy water, clean them with the dish cloth, rinse them over the other (now empty) side of the sink, and put them in my dish rack to dry.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 9:52 AM on February 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


Oh, and I don't wear gloves, but my hands probably suffer as a result. I find gloves annoying.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 9:54 AM on February 20, 2018


No dishwasher-having, glove-hater here:

-Listen to music, sing and dance along if that's something you enjoy.

-You can't let the dishes pile up if you have to hand-wash. You just can't or it'll take forever and they'll be gross and it'll be overwhelming. If you do a meal at a time (especially if you can clean the prep dishes during downtimes in cooking) it truly doesn't take more than 5-15 minutes. You can do something unpleasant for 5-15 minutes.

-Scrape stuff off dishes into trash, blast dishes with hot water, wash with soapy sponge, put in rack.

-Sponges are cheap. Throw them away if they're at all nasty. Keep plenty in stock if you know you're not the sort to diligently sanitize them.

-Letting stuff soak for long periods is largely bullshit and ineffective; get at it ASAP.

-Wash and dry your hands; keep light, non irritating moisturizer by the sink so you can treat your hands right away.
posted by kapers at 9:57 AM on February 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


Countertop dishwasher. If I couldn't fit a dishwasher in my kitchen I'd probably have one in the bathroom at this point. Dishes suck.
posted by corvine at 9:59 AM on February 20, 2018


Also, if you have a partner or kids or roomies, take turns. Also, bribe yourself with special dessert or wine or tea you can only have after the dishes are done.
posted by kapers at 10:00 AM on February 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


2. When I'm not using gloves, the dirty dishes and dirty water seem gross, and the sponge makes my hands smell bad/weird.

Well good news! you're at the sink and can wash your hands when you are done!

I can't remember if handling stainless steel will get sponge stank off your hands like it does with garlic and onion, but you could try that.

For the sponge itself, I've had good luck with wringing it out really well after use and getting a holder that suction cups to the inside of the sink so it can drain/dry out. This doesn't keep it fresh forever obviously, but it has helped keep the stank off longer than just throwing it up by the faucet.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 10:01 AM on February 20, 2018


I use these sponges and find they get less smelly and make my hands less smelly than more traditional sponges. They're not as good for scrubbing burnt things, so I supplement with scouring pads, but for routine grime, I find them much more pleasant.
posted by dapati at 10:03 AM on February 20, 2018


Try to at least rinse the dishes or soak them if you've got a big pile, so you are only washing and not chipping off dried on gunk. For the non-disposal issue, I have one of these in the sink, which is better at trapping stuff than the strainer that the sink came with. Gross, but effective.

Yes, also better, longer, cuter gloves.
posted by sarajane at 10:12 AM on February 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


Nothing the korean dishgloves...I buy then here amazon link. If you aren't allergic to rubber, they do not tear as easily, they insulate against hot water and the longer length is great. These are miles away better than the $2 a pair you find at the grocery store.
posted by tipsyBumblebee at 10:15 AM on February 20, 2018


Recently previously
posted by rhizome at 10:17 AM on February 20, 2018


Gloves - hit up Lowe's or HomeDepot for some decent gloves that will last, about $3 a pair, I go through maybe 2 pair a year. No stink or funky smell and they don't puncture easily.

Sponge/scrubber - just replace the thing. I've found some great ones at Dollar General, 2-pack for $1; foam on one side and soft-scrubber on the other.

SandPine
posted by sandpine at 10:20 AM on February 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


In terms of better-smelling dish soap, I'm a big fan of the Method foaming dish soaps. All the ones I've tried smell so much better than regular dish soap. They're also refillable, which makes me feel better for some reason.
posted by General Malaise at 10:29 AM on February 20, 2018


They very-definitely do manufacture under sink dishwashers. You would lose some sink basin depth in the process (and at the same time the top shelf wont be what you are used to), but it might be worth looking into.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 10:37 AM on February 20, 2018


For me, Method's foaming soap dispensers have never worked properly after being refilled.

A bamboo wok brush has pretty much replaced dish brushes and metal scrubbers for me. It gets almost everything off without my hands really approaching any dish nastiness, leaving me to just finish up with a scrubby sponge.

Get glass-safe scrubby sponges (Scotch-Brite blue rather than yellow/green) and you don't have to worry about your glassware getting scratched, and with the wok brush you won't need the harsher green pad on the other sponges.
posted by rhizome at 10:37 AM on February 20, 2018


Whatever gloves you use, if you must use them, cuff them.

I use this brush, all my usual stores have them. I use Scrub Daddy sponges because they generally let me hold one side and scrub with the other (so I hold it by the chin and scrub with the hair, basically). If you're washing dishes as soon as you use them, you shouldn't need to scrub anything but maybe cooking vessels.

Do actually whittle down your dishes to a day's worth. I just did this, because two or sometimes three adults do not need 40+ dish items. I bought six shallow bowls that only take up a single plate slot in a dishwasher/dish rack, put almost all the other bowls away for special occasions, and I use those bowls or smaller salad plates for 80% of our meals. We don't need more than maybe three mugs out in regular use, or water glasses, or wine glasses.

Do an audit on your cooking vessels and utensils too. Now that I do a lot of my cooking work in the Instant Pot (which I use the Scrub Daddy to clean) I really only need one skillet in primary rotation and I use nonstick for that. I own like 8 casserole dishes, and some of them have weird sentimental value, but two of them are easier to clean than the others for whatever reason so I'm going to jettison most of the rest and put the remainder in the china cabinet for rare use. I foil all my baking pans, and as long as I do so carefully they don't need washing every time they get used.

I'm slowly recycling most of my way-too-many plastic food storage tubs. I have a couple of commercial-grade two- and four-quart Cambro tubs for putting away serious quantities of leftovers, and I have one set of 16 meal prep containers that nest well enough that containers and lids take up one half of one half shelf in a cabinet, and I could keep them in a drawer instead. The rest I am getting rid of, moving to become dresser/bathroom drawer organizers, or giving away.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:40 AM on February 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


A soap dispenser is helpful at our house.

Using lots of soap (aided by the dispenser) and hot water seems to cut down on sponge smell too.
posted by Wulfhere at 10:44 AM on February 20, 2018


Big plastic tub that fits inside your sink. If you can't find one in normal stores you'll find them in a restaurant supply store for wicked cheap. You can keep it inside your sink and pop scraped dirty dishes into it. When it's time to wash them you pick the tub up and set it on the counter and look, a nice empty sink in which to work. If there are a lot of dishes you can fill it with hot water and soap to soak, which will make the scrub and rinse parts easier. If you're the type who leaves dishes scattered around the house you can use the tub like a busboy to gather everything up, too.

I agree that you should winnow down your dishes to one day's worth for the household. Put the rest in storage or heck, if you're not attached to them give them to a thrift shop where they'll find a good home. You can always get more dishes when you have a dishwasher again, and for company you can use disposable dishes, which come in swanky and fun varieties these days.
posted by Mizu at 10:44 AM on February 20, 2018 [6 favorites]


Seconding the dish wand and nuking sponges -- I usually chuck the sponges into the laundry hamper after nuking them. I take them out before get into the clothes dryer, since they dry adequately on their own and if they fell apart in there, it would be a messy cleanup.

To limit the sponge funk, give them a place to try by your sink; they get funky because of various sink bacteria that live there full time, but, while drying your sponge between wash-ups won't really kill them off, it will put them into stasis, and slow down their funky emissions.
posted by Sunburnt at 10:46 AM on February 20, 2018


The nice gloves have been covered.

In my experience dish soap comes in two scent categories - gross and lovely, i.e. not dissimilar a soap you’d be happy to use on your hands and body. For me, as a rule, ‘lemon’ and ‘orange’ scented stuff is always horrible, as is most of the bright green stuff.

Any dish sponge, cloth, brush will get stinky quickly if they are not allowed to dry between use. After finishing the dishes you have to rinse them, wring or squeeze out any water and place on a surface that allows drainage when not in use. And yes, replace/wash in hot water frequently. The same goes for dish towels.
posted by koahiatamadl at 10:47 AM on February 20, 2018


I struggle with doing dishes too and have a similar set up to you. A few things that sort of work for me, when I'm consistent with them:
- Rinse things off quickly and then put them in the sink. Its so much harder to try and wash off caked on grime.
- Dont let more than two or three large pots be in the sink at any time
- Listen to a podcast while doing the dishes so I have something else to look at
- Do the dishes often, doing a couple at a time is so much easier that a gross pole growing in the sink...
posted by watrlily at 10:47 AM on February 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


I use chamois cloths (not leather, I think they're actually made of cellulose) cut down into maybe 6" by 6" pieces to wash dishes. Can be laundered and dried, dry quickly on sink edge, less gross than sponges. I ordered mine online but I think Trader Joe's has them. They start stiff but soften up with water/use.

Can you pile dishes next to the sink? This makes it harder to forget about the dirty dishes because they're visible and also you have the sink free for washing dishes and whatever other kitchen stuff you're doing.

I also have a routine that dishes get washed before I go to bed and put away while I make coffee. This avoids the problem where you need to wash more dishes but the rack is still full of half-wet dishes I don't want to dry.
posted by momus_window at 10:55 AM on February 20, 2018


I use the same sponges that dapati uses. They're great and they don't smell. I still microwave it to kill germs, but it never gets that gross smell.

Here's what makes dish-washing easy for me:

First, and most importantly, look at the clock before you start. Look at the clock when you finish. It probably doesn't take more than 20 minutes, if that, and you're done. Don't make it into a bigger chore than it is. It will be over quickly, and your reward is a cleaner kitchen. This is one chore that shows results. (Clean the bathroom tub, and who really notices? Do dishes, and it's very obvious!)

I never use gloves. I take off my rings, let my hands get wet, but really, they're soapy and clean more than they're gross. Having my hands bare lets me feel each dish to ensure all the food is gone. Remember, this is all just food - you don't have to sterilize each dish. I remember watching my grandma do dishes, and for half of them, she'd just rinse them off - no soap needed. It's fine. Feel all around the dish - are there bits of food or grease? If not, you're good.

I scrape out dishes before setting them in the sink so there's not a ton of food sitting in them getting gross. For a big pot of sauce, scrape it out as you're filling it with water to soak. Dump the yucky water down the drain, and if it needs it, fill it again to soak. Or just wash it right now - it will just take a few seconds.

I keep a small pyrex bowl by my sink with dishsoap and a bit of water, refilling with soap as needed. I keep my sponge right there too. This makes it so easy to just wash one or two dishes. Everything is right there, ready to go. I wash as many dishes individually as I can - I hate letting them pile up too far. But after dinner, they usually end up in the sink overnight. They're fine - and filled with mostly clean water. This keeps the grime from getting dry.

Try to let yourself zen out. You can't really do anything else while doing dishes. Enjoy the time away from electronics. Feel the warm soapy water, and the feeling of accomplishment with a clean empty sink.
posted by hydra77 at 11:03 AM on February 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


Don't put things in the sink. Stack stuff on the counter next to the sink so the sink is free for dishwashing.

Buy a TON of sponges. I get the green and yellow sort--without germicide!--and just be careful with glassware to only use the sponge side.

I use a new sponge each dishwashing event. At the end of the sponge's tour of duty I toss it in a string bag that hangs in my kitchen. When the bag fills up, I fill the washing machine for a small load, add a lot of chlorine bleach, throw in the sponges, oscillate the washer a few seconds (I guess this assumes you have a toploader that will let you stop and start--if you have a fancier one, I guess just wash as usual with bleach and add detergent a little late in the cycle to let the bleach work...?), then let stand for ten minutes for the sponges to disinfect. Add laundry detergent and wash. Use cold water. Bleach won't work as well if the water's hot, or if there's a lot of soap. I blast the sponges in the dryer, where they do make a mess, but I just use one of them to wipe out the dryer. After several washes, the yellow part will separate from the green part. I usually toss the yellow part because after years and years of this method I have amassed a lifetime supply of greenfree yellow sponges, but I keep the green part until it disintegrates completely because it's useful for washing potatoes and carrots and for scrubbing all the seasoning off cast iron, which I do on occasion, just because one of the joys of dishwashing is washing the cast iron The Wrong Way and imagining the agonies it would cause my father if he could see me doing it.

Concur with everybody who says longer gloves, but even if water can't get in, your hands will sweat and the powdery stuff in the gloves turns to tiny pills, and it's very shudderyawful. I tried a thing where I first put on these very thin disposable cotton gloves I got somewhere, probably BigLots, and then put rubber gloves on over them. It didn't work because the cotton gloves got all wedgied into my fingercrotches and it was uncomfortable. I now desperately want to try those Korean gloves. I like gloves not bare hands for big jobs because I want the water hot. It takes longer with cold water if stuff's greasy.

I wouldn't buy foaming dishwashing liquid because of the paying-for-air factor. I get those Mrs. Meyer's things that they sell in grocery stores, in all the different smells except bluebell, which I don't like. Because it smells good, I use about a quarter-inch of that stuff in the bottom of a foaming handsoap dispenser; fill it up the rest of the way with tap water. You can keep the foaming handsoap dispenser basically forever. So you make up for having paid money for air when you first bought it. This will save on detergent because absent handsoap, you'll wash your hands with detergent, which is overkill. Not only does Mrs. Meyer's smell good (except for bluebell. Gack.), it won best in show in a detergent comparison in either Consumer Reports or Cooks Magazine.
posted by Don Pepino at 11:18 AM on February 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


I buy a bulk pack of exam-style gloves (latex or vinyl), and I get a similiar bulk pack of either sponges or the little scrubby things, all of which are cheap. I don't fill up a huge sink of water, but I do sometimes have a little tub or bowl that I put a few inches in, and then I do all of the silverware and rinse by the handful, then all the plates, then all the pots or whatever. You can always dump the little tub of water if it gets icky, but it's never enough to come up and over the gloves (quelle horreur). The wands/brushes are ok for some things but not very good at others in my experience. Rinse stuff after you use it so it isn't stuck on grossness when you have to wash them. Clean the sponges or toss them on a regular basis. I also don't have tons of dishes so it's never too many. Dish gloves are icky. Air dry your dishes.
posted by OneSmartMonkey at 11:29 AM on February 20, 2018


I can sympathize. I have OCD, and so I wash my hands after anything that makes me feel "dirty" (in quotes because my definition of dirty is a lot more inclusive than most people's), and I just hate doing dishes in general. At one point in college, I had so many dishes piled in my kitchen that my mom came over to visit and ended up washing them in my bathtub. So, I know where you're coming from, and I have to say: just do it. Nothing makes it better. It's just one of those things you have to do, so stop overthinking and get started.

"the dirty dishes and dirty water seem gross"

That's because they are gross, objectively. It's half-eaten food, mixed with other half-eaten food, left out to rot, and then mixed with water. I'd be more concerned if that didn't seem gross to you.

"I have a small double sink, no disposal, and a dish rack. I usually have the rack sitting inside one half of the sink for drying, then I use the other half of the sink for washing. I could probably have a setup where I move the drying rack to the side of the sink and get a mat for underneath... I tend to pile them up inside the sink"

Here's what I would do in this situation. Pile up the dishes in one side of the sink. Leave the dish rack in the other side when you're not doing dishes. When you start, put the rack on the counter, and use that half of the sink for washing. Take them from the piled-up half of the sink, drop them in the other half to soak and scrub, then stick them in the rack. When you're done, wipe down both sides of the sink and then put the rack back in the one side. Then wash the heck out of your hands using normal hand soap.

In terms of products, they're all the same, really. If you think the concept of dirty dishes is gross, a fancy sponge won't change that. I personally like this dish soap, but not enough to make me actually like doing dishes. I'm not sure it's something you can hack, really. Maybe use paper plates? :)
posted by kevinbelt at 11:32 AM on February 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


This might be going against the grain, but perhaps you would prefer to be a composting plates and bowls house? That cuts down on...a small bit of washing up.

For actual washing up advice. If several people are eating, flatware goes into a tall glass with a bit of soap and hot water. This means I’m not poking myself with a fork when reaching in to pick up a plate. It also prevents flatware from getting crusty if I have to walk away from the sink for some reason (adhd! Entertaining! Guests that don’t offer to help! Having to pee!). Cookware, cups, bowls, and plates get scraped and rinsed before being put down. Now the big news is that if I’ve gone to the trouble of scraping and rinsing, I’ve done literally 90% of the task. So keeping on the water, swiping the dish brush over it (I like the oxo brand with soap reservoir and replaceable scrubber, I don’t mole throwing things away AND I don’t like things that are gross.) and giving a good rinse don’t require me to think about it again and find the motivation to ‘start.’ For tall glasses and jars, I have an oxo bottle scrubber with a stand. It’s from their tot line and I don’t care because the scrubber isn’t mis-sharpen and doesn’t sit in a puddle of bacterial soup all day if someone else uses it. I do keep a sponge for weird corners of things like baking pans and I am fastidious about rinsing and propping it do it dries as quickly as possible. I really love hand knitted dish cloths but they require a frequency of laundry or a space to dry them, neither of which I have been able to manage in the city. I fantasize about a super tiny drying line in the kitchen. Or a clippy hoop like I use for my socks and underpants.

Other tips. Wash as you go. Cutting board is usually done being used before the cooking begins, so that you have all your mis en place together. So get the cooking board and knives cleaned up and set to dry before you turn on the heat. Drinking glasses. If you’re putting one in the sink, just wash it instead. I use parchment paper on baking sheets because washing them in an nyc sink is truly a pain in the ass, and easier if there’s only 10% of the chicken or bacon grease instead of everything that I couldn’t pour into the receptacle. (What...you’re not saving your bacon grease? What, you’re not putting your chicken grease in the trash in a little can? Grease is going to combine with hair and whatever else to clog your pipes.)

When the sink is empty I like to dry it out but I can’t justify the use of paper towels for it and the laundry needs of using a little dish towel aren’t practical right now but maybe they are for you. Drying it out goes a long way to pulling odd bits of...stuff out of the sink. I do dry any puddles around the sink.

It’s not clear if you live alone or not. But definitely be enlisting everyone’s help with this.
posted by bilabial at 11:50 AM on February 20, 2018


I think I dislike washing dishes by hand more than the average person. My dishwasher was going to be out of commission for a couple months due to a burst pipe in the kitchen, so I rigged it up in the laundry room for the duration.

If you've got a laundry room, you could buy a cheap used dishwasher off of Craigslist/etc and do the same. Some people think it's silly to carry dishes up and down the stairs to put them in and out of the dishwasher, but boy do I ever prefer it to hand washing them!
posted by Juffo-Wup at 12:30 PM on February 20, 2018


I am terrible at keeping up with my dishes, but here's the routine I follow when I'm being good.

I have a double sink and use both sides for washing. I use a dishpan for washing and soaking and use the other side of the sink for rinsing. The dishpan makes me happy because all the food gunk ends up in the dishpan rather than stuck to the sides of my sink.

Here's a two-part article singing the praises of the humble dishpan:
http://16sparrows.typepad.com/16sparrows/2010/01/everyday-vintage-life-washing-dishes-part-1.html
http://16sparrows.typepad.com/16sparrows/2010/02/washing-dishes.html

If you have hard water, vinegar is very helpful for getting glassware clean.

I listen to music or podcasts to motivate myself to do the dishes. I've also tried to convince myself that it's okay to wash dishes a few at a time. Better to chip away at a giant unwashed pile of dishes than continue to add to it.
posted by toastedcheese at 12:34 PM on February 20, 2018


I have a hated task that got a little less awful when I timed it and realized that it takes only a few minutes. Do dishes 1st thing every morning while the coffee perks, or every evening while the water boils for tea, or however you can tie it to a pleasant experience immediately after doing the task. It really is less unpleasant if you keep up. Put on music, podcast, radio. I like the foaming stuff and have a Dawn dispenser that I refill with dish soap that smells better. Dawn has degreaser in it and is the worst dish soap for your hands.

No Window? You could consider a tablet securely mounted over the sink and pictures, or netflix.
posted by theora55 at 12:55 PM on February 20, 2018


I also hate doing dishes. I like Biokleen dish soap and Seventh Generation dish soaps for their smells. (Method is too intense for me.) Seventh Generation makes one that doesn't smell like anything, if you prefer that.

Seconding timing it and listening to a podcast.
posted by purple_bird at 1:14 PM on February 20, 2018


Don't use a sponge. Ew, ew, ew. Little pieces of food get stuck to them and they stink. Use a cloth. Or a pot scrubber.

Don't use gloves. Ew, ew, ew. They stink and feel gross and get mildewy.

Use very hot water. Let as many dishes as you can soak in the hot water for 5 or 10 minutes before you begin. This really cuts down on the effort you have to put in.

Use a soap that both smells good AND doesn't seem to stop being soapy halfway through the dishes being down. I like Dawn.

If the water gets gross, let it out and refill it. Don't suffer through. Ew.

If you are washing super gross things, use a little bleach in the water.

(I have a dishwasher now, but that is a very recent thing for me. I've been washing dishes by hand for my entire grownup life + mom life).
posted by kitcat at 1:21 PM on February 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


I hate, with a passion, putting my hands in soapy water. Gloves don't help that much. For the past twenty-five years, I have used a dish wand as mentioned in the first answer. I turn the water on just past a trickle and I soap up and rinse the dishes right after using them and put them in the rack in the second sink to dry. The dish wand changed my life.
posted by TORunner at 1:24 PM on February 20, 2018


I have similar problems doing the dishes. Lots of good process hacks, here's a brain hack: You only have to do ten minutes of dishes at a time. Set a timer, grit your teeth, and (most importantly) just get started. You are totally capable of sucking it up for ten measly minutes. If it so happens that you want to just keep going after the timer goes off, great! If not, you can stop and you'll still have made progress, probably more than you expected.

I have ADHD, as well as a strong aversion to greasy gunk on my skin, and I would put off doing the dishes because they were so unpleasant, it seemed 'more efficient'* to let them pile up and tackle them all in one go. Then it turned into a monumental task, and I'd keep putting it off more because then I needed to block out a chunk of time or have the right playlist/podcast queued up or whatever. The trick is to tell yourself whatever you need to hear ("You can stop in ten minutes!") so you can get over that hump and just get started.**

* It was not.
** Actually the trick is to move in with someone who doesn't mind doing the dishes, but not everyone can be so lucky and this helped when I lived by myself.

posted by yeahlikethat at 1:25 PM on February 20, 2018


Play music you really like while you're doing it, extremely loud.
posted by Sebmojo at 1:28 PM on February 20, 2018


Cloths are way less gross than sponges. After you use the cloth, rinse it really thoroughly and hang it to dry, either over the edge of the sink or draped over the faucet. If you’ve used it for a big load of dishes or it hasn’t been changed in a while, throw the dry cloth in the laundry (wash hot, separate from clothes etc.) and swap in a fresh one. Have enough of these that you always have some clean ones handy. I keep a basket of them under the sink. It’s also handy to have a green scrubby, and maybe one of those non-sponge scrub brushes that have long handles and bristles (I really like the ikea ones with suction cup bases).
Get a nice smelling soap, but make sure it’s still dishwashing soap—ineffective dish soap is a huge nuisance.
Plenty of things can be put away after dripping in the rack for only a little bit—a slightly damp fork can go in the drawer. Things that have lids need to be 100% dry before they go away.
Consider putting a little dish bin beside the sink. It’s a good idea to have a rule that the sink stays empty when you’re not using it, and if the bin is small, you can’t let too many dishes build up before you do them.
Do you do dishes immediately after cooking or immediately after a meal? Pick one, and stick to it.
posted by Edna Million at 1:33 PM on February 20, 2018


Lots of good stuff in the thread. :)
I tend to rinse dishes off before putting them in the sink.
Cleaning while cooking helps, too, though I don't always do it.
Podcasts and music helps, too!
posted by luckynerd at 1:45 PM on February 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


This wire caddy attaches to the inside of the sink, letting the well-rinsed, wrung-out sponge dry between uses so there's no sponge stank.
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:43 PM on February 20, 2018


These silicone scrubbers don't smell. My friend has one, I rather enjoyed using it.
posted by txtwinkletoes at 3:18 PM on February 20, 2018


I keep getting told about the superiority of dishcloths. All my life! But the problem with cloths is they don't have the scratchy part, so you have to put the cloth down and reach over and get ANOTHER TOOL and use that and the water is running the whole time and then you have to put the scratchy thing down and reach and get the damn CLOTH again, and AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIHATEWASHINGDISHES! And no matter how many times you wash dishcloths, they're gray and sad looking almost from the first use. And if you bleach them, they disintegrate, unlike sturdy, sunny, green and yellow sponges, which emerge from a bleach bath none the worse for wear and smelling fresh and new. Sponges have the nice soft side that is a soap miser that means you use less detergent, and they have the asskicking pan-destroying side for when you want to take out some aggression. They do not get any more full of foodscrap grossness than does a waffleweave dish cloth. And if you have some kind of horrible tar-consistency slop on your dish and try to get it off with a cloth, it's just going to gum up the whole thing and render it useless. With a sponge, you attack the tarry substance with the scratchy side and gum it all up, but your sponge side is still functional and likely has enough detergent in it to tackle a few more jobs before you have to punt and get a fresh one. You just have to get a whole haystack of them and toss them in the laundry after every use.

I don't like the foam thing that's shaped like a face because it gets soft in hot water. (!)

I think the silicone scrubber thing looks like it would lose detergent too fast and I'd use up way more Mrs. Meyer's.
posted by Don Pepino at 3:46 PM on February 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


I have a lot to say about kitchen gloves. People have already recommended a bunch of gloves, but since I haven't seen these mentioned yet I'm going to throw in a vote for Latex-Free Soft Lined Vinyl Gloves. Mr. Clean Bliss is just an example. These look like basically the same thing.

The grocery chain Harris Teeter sells their own generic version of those gloves, and that's what I've been using for a few months now. Maybe one of your local grocers sell those or an equivalent as well. I love the lining - it's SO soft and these gloves do not make my hands stink, they're easy to put on and take off, and I can wash dishes in very hot water using these and they do a very good job protecting my hands. I am super picky about gloves ever since Casabella's formerly wonderful cleaning gloves stopped being made in Greece (you will find many complaints about this on Amazon - it's a totally different product now, sadly).

My only complaints about the latex-free soft-lined vinyl gloves is that they aren't long enough to cuff, and they do end up stained after washing anything tomato-saucy. They seem to only come in very light colors, so they look kind of gross with the staining, but that's just an aesthetic issue. Overall they are a pleasure to use as long as I'm able to keep the water from running down my arms and into the glove.

A lot of previously comfortable lined latex gloves are now made with a "nitrile blend" that has totally ruined the glove, in my experience. Many premium cleaning gloves sold in stores are now hard to remove, they smell bad, and the lining isn't as nice as it used to be. I have small, slender hands and have had a real problem with kitchen gloves being too tight to comfortable remove these days. I can't use the premium Playtex gloves anymore for this reason. But I don't have that problem with the lined vinyl gloves I mentioned up top.
posted by wondermouse at 6:37 PM on February 20, 2018


I also hate the smell of sponges once they get funky. I don't like wearing gloves, but I hate how old, musty sponges make my hands smell. (And you're rubbing something that smells like that on your dishes too?) I haven't found microwaving or bleaching to really help with that, so I just toss the sponge once it starts to smell, even if it isn't physically worn out yet. A wire rack on the wall above the sink holding the sponge out where it can dry helps delay the onset of funk. Also, since I go through the sponges faster, and I often find a full-sized sponge to be overkill, I cut each sponge in half to make two palm-sized sponges that I don't feel bad about throwing out twice as often.

My wife does use gloves, but rather than cheap latex ones, we go for these thick, cotton-lined, vinyl ones, which are less flexible, but last us a year, feel better, and don't have any smell that I've noticed.

Like you, we use one half of our double-sink for washing and the other half for drying. When I stack dirty dishes in the sink, I like to put water in them to soak. Nesting the bowls and the plates makes that take less water. I find that it makes it easier to quickly swipe the dishes clean rather than having to scrub away at dried on food. If I'm cooking a dish that has a reasonable amount of waiting in the process, I'll sometimes try to wash the dishes from previous steps while I wait for things to come to a boil, soften, fry, etc, telling myself that it's easier to do before things dry on. It's kind of satisfying to finish making dinner and have the only dirty dish be the pot the food is in.

(To be honest, this doesn't happen as often as I'd like, and more often there's enough dishes that one drying-rack-full isn't quite enough to get them all. When we had a dishwasher at our previous apartment, we almost never used it. Now that we don't have one, I miss it.)
posted by JiBB at 9:11 PM on February 20, 2018


might not be for everybody, but a few articles about 'zen-hacking' your dish washing paradigm:

Mindful Dishwashing
Washing Dishes Is a Really Great Stress Reliever, Science Says
The Zen of Dishwashing
Life’s Most Thankless Task Revisited


also:
-- when I do dishes I make everyone else get out of the kitchen
-- thinking of the bugs/ roaches/ ants/ bacteria that would inevitably come if I let dirty dishes sit helps me get a mental edge on the task.
posted by mrmarley at 6:37 AM on February 21, 2018


Disposals are affordable to purchase, and will make it more forgiving and less unpleasant to clean your sink if some food scraps remain on your dishes. Since the kitchen is now officially yours, it might be worth the $400 to buy a disposal and have it installed by a handyman. (I can assure you it was worth it to me to find a mini dishwasher on Craigslist and pay a handyman $350 to install it.)
posted by samthemander at 6:42 AM on February 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


Dishware without a dishwasher -- which is not unusual, when doing remodeling on another house.
1) Reduce the number of dishes, glasses, silverware, etc. If you want soup, and only have one bowl... well, there you go. Or go with disposables. No plastics since the children have grown up, since they get scratched and don't get as clean.
2) Always scrape out and rinse off "dirty dishes" before putting them in the sink. Basically, they look good to use.
This has been an issue with the dishwasher, since "dirty" dishes and "clean" dishes look the same. I go by the dishwasher soapy smell as soon as the door is opened.
3) Grease is awful. Awful. This requires hot water and soap. This is awful on sponges, too, but we can't help that.
4) Soak in hot soapy water... before the suds disappear, scrub with a green/yellow scrubber... use fingertips to check for invisible crud and scrub some more... rinse in hot water and set in drainer. If you have time, wipe off and set in cabinets, or make the dish drainer a permanent home for daily dishware.

Pots and pans and such.
1) You are using nonstick cookware, right? Because that stuff just wipes off like a dream.
(And I love my cast iron, because I can be a total heathen and just wipe out the grease once it's cooled down, then wipe it again before using it next time.)
2) Again, wipe out what you can with paper towels. Set pots and pans out of the way until the dishware is done.
3) Soak, soak, rinse and soak as needed.
4) Grease is still awful. This is where I sacrifice an older sponge just for the skillet. All the hot water rinsing may not rehabilitate that sponge, so into the trash it goes.
5) Rinse pots and pans in hot water and set in the drainer until they can be transferred to the cabinets.

No gloves or wands, no fancy detergents, but I do have some Shea Moisture soap and Working Hands lotion by the sink if I want to use them.
posted by TrishaU at 2:15 AM on February 22, 2018


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