Squeaky clean
June 10, 2024 10:06 PM   Subscribe

How do you wash your dishes wearing dish gloves and actually get them completely clean?

I rarely wear gloves when I wash dishes but I should because I have sensitive skin and my companion also should because he has real issues about touching slimy things so wearing gloves would make him more able to clear the sink, especially when something gross has been soaking. But! Whenever either of us remembers to wear gloves, inevitably the things we washed and thought were super clean dry off and there is all kinds of remaining gunk. This is stuff that I can feel with my fingers when the pan is wet and soapy, but if I’m wearing gloves I can’t, and it looks clean when wet because it’s all glossy and not opaque. There is also inevitably a dish that is greasy, that I can feel is still slippery with bare hands and needs more soap, but when I have gloves on their grippy texture makes it impossible to detect.

So how do you get your pots and pans properly clean? We have almost all stainless steel cookware, with a few nonstick pans and a couple glass and metal lids, some glass bakeware and a selection of reasonably nice knives. We do have a dishwasher for most of our dishes, but the cookware is usually impossible to fit or should be hand washed, and we would never put our cooking knives in the dishwasher. We use the kind of dish sponges with a scrubby side and a soft side, and also have a couple bristly dish brushes which I find completely useless except to remove huge burnt on chunks - actual cleaning is with a sponge or my fingers. Sometimes I use my (very short)nail to scrape off stuck bits, another thing I can’t do with any precision in gloves. Our soap varies but it’s always something that cuts grease. We have barkeeper’s friend but I only rarely use it.

I’ve tried taking off the gloves to feel a cleaned pan to see if it’s actually clean, but that feels silly and also means my hand gets all wet and jamming it back in the glove is hard and feels bad. I’ve tried being extra vigorous and thorough with my scrubbing and soaping but I inevitably miss areas and it’s extra work for no result. I’m in Seattle using the very nice local tap water. It doesn’t seem to matter if I use very hot water or not, except for something like melting cooled butter off a nonstick pan, but not for cleaning the residues I miss when wearing gloves.

So what are your techniques? Are there gloves that don’t suck to wear and also help mitigate these issues? Is there some style of dishwashing I am missing? Do people who wear dish gloves all the time just magically know?

For the purposes of this question, please assume that I do not want to continue washing dishes without gloves - I know how to get around the problems that makes and I’m tired of it, would like to wear gloves, and have both consistently healthy skin on my hands and fully clean cookware.
posted by Mizu to Home & Garden (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't know about with gloves exactly, but the way i make sure dishes are clean is by tilting them so water drains off, then tilting them back and forth so the light reflects off of them. You can catch a lot that's left on them after scrubbing that way. I also avoid touching the dishes with my hands directly by using a ScotchBrite dish wand, which has a handle, as a sponge. I don't fill the handle with dish soap anymore; I just use it with diluted dish soap in a spray bottle.
posted by limeonaire at 10:59 PM on June 10 [6 favorites]

Stainless steel scourer for stainless steel pots and knives.
posted by Thella at 12:08 AM on June 11

I use a brush. I'm not really looking at the plates, so much as feeling with the brush if there's any resistance when I swirl it round, and if there is, I scrub it.
Basically the same as you're doing with your fingers.
Writing it out, it doesn't sound like it should work, but it really does, I clean dishes quite well.

Final inspect as I'm rinsing with clean water (I quarter fill with *very* soapy water, then rinse off a few at a time with hot water to put on the rack).

There's also dishwashers or benchtop dishwashers if you both have reasons to not do it by hand?
posted by Elysum at 2:45 AM on June 11 [6 favorites]

I use a washcloth instead of a sponge. I feel like I can apply more pressure to the surface I'm washing with a cloth, and I find the texture is more effective for cleaning than a sponge. And I look at the dishes the way limeonaire describes during and after rinsing.

Since I don't use non-stick, I've got steel wool for heavy scouring on pans. I have Bon Ami or Barkeeper's Friend on hand for the rare times I need to really scrub glass or ceramic.

I also find that I can usually feel the slipperiness of heavy grease - I'm using non-latex gloves, not sure if that makes a difference. I do sometimes find a bit of grease I've missed once the dishes dry, especially on plastic, but it's rare that I miss bits of food.
posted by EvaDestruction at 4:43 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I have a dishwasher, as I say in the full text. These are things I can’t put in the dishwasher, either because they must be hand washed or because they don’t fit. Like knives, nonstick pans, big pots, etc.
posted by Mizu at 4:44 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]

I don't wear gloves, but I also have a problem with non-stick pans. After a dip in the wash water, I run my finger over the cooking surface, and it doesn't feel clean even though it looks clean. My process is to put the tiniest possible drop of detergent, pinhead size, and scrub it with the Dobie or the dishrag.

Im not entirely sure why the pan doesn't get clean using the same process as cleans the plates, but possibly it is because I do the pans last and the wash water doesn't have much grease cutting power left.

A couple things to try. 1. Use Dawn. It is famous for being strong against grease. 2. Have a sponge that you keep wet and soapy which you don't put in the washwater and use that foe soaping the plates and pans.
posted by SemiSalt at 5:02 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]

If you'll always wear gloves during dishwashing, than little by little/ soon enough you'll learn to feel surface cleanness.

For what you do with your fingernails, you can use a small square plastic scraper (it is one of the coolest kitchen gadget in my opinion)
posted by Sky12 at 5:03 AM on June 11 [5 favorites]

"For what you do with your fingernails, you can use a small square plastic scraper "– just an example from internet, I have a similar tool:

Pan Scraper, 5 Pcs Pot Scraper Plastic, Pot Scraper Non Scratch for Cast Iron, Pot and Pan Cleaning, Sturdy Scraper Kitchen Tool-Aqua
posted by Sky12 at 5:10 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]

Like you, I want everything super duper clean and I use hot water and gloves.

I scrape the dishes into the trash before washing. If there's a pan with even a moderate amount of oil, I'll scrape and then paper towel wipe that into the trash.

I don't soak the dishes in a sink full of water. I'll soak pots and pans and some dishes individually, either by spreading them out in the sink and putting Dawn and hot water inside them, or briefly by running hot water over a plate, for instance, while I'm actively washing something else. Even if I wait until the next day to wash the dishes.

Then every 4 or 5 washes there might be one thing that turned out not super duper clean, and I'll rewash that one thing without gloves.
posted by happy_cat at 5:58 AM on June 11 [2 favorites]

I find a dobie pad (a plastic scrubber) very helpful in hand washing items that need a softer touch. Things like glassware that you don’t want to scratch. It gets the initial gunk off, then finish washing with a soapy sponge. Rinse thoroughly. Inspect. Repeat if necessary.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 6:20 AM on June 11

Use a sponge with a scrubby side, Dawn, and very hot water.

Stack a category of dishes in the sink (I do glasses first with cutlery beside it).
Cover them in hot soapy water.
One by one, pick them up and wipe them hard with the soapy sponge, front and back, til the sponge feels like it’s moving without resistance from dried food.
You’re keeping the sponge quite soapy here, not rinsing off the soap.
Stack the soapy dishes on the counter until that category of dishes (or all dishes) are soaped.
One by one, rinse under hot running water- both sides, looking at each rinsed dish to visually check for gunk, then place on drying rack.

I do glasses first, so the sink isn’t greasy at all. then plates, then bowls, then cutlery so it’s had time to soak while I did all the other categories. Pots and pans last because they add grease to the sink.

Giving the soapy dishes time to rest - first while soaking in the sink, and then in a stack before rinsing, lets the water and soap have extra time to do their jobs and results in very very clean dishes.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 8:18 AM on June 11 [2 favorites]

Gloves are a must for dish washing, imo, but I find that the regular kind of latex dishwashing gloves, even the brand name ones, are too thin and ill-fitting to be really comfortable to use. When they're wet they always feel a bit slimy and oily to me, so maybe it's interfering with your ability to sense whether the dishes are properly clean?

I use gloves from the brand True Blue: they're heavy cloth-lined vinyl and come in actual sizes (S-M-L) so the fingers aren't miles beyond the end of my actual fingers. They are also slightly insulating, so you can crank the hot water to max without worry. A bit spendy, but each pair lasts a couple years; I get mine from a local shop, but I think I've seen some similar ones on amazon, look for the ones that stay hand-shaped even when not being worn.
posted by radiogreentea at 8:48 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]

For stuff I must wash by hand:

1. Spray Dawn Power Wash on caked on pot/pan junk. Let sit while I wash smaller, non-caked items.

2. To get stubborn stuck on items I use a semi-flexible plastic bowl scraper set aside just for dish washing.

3. For the rest I use a palm brush and a microfiber dish cloth. The microfiber just does a better job at "polishing" than sponges do, ime. I also prefer the palm brush over a sponge because it's easier to clean and has more flexibility for getting into nooks and crannies on complicated tumbler lids or fussy little devices like garlic presses.

To maintain my microfiber so that it continues to polish I follow the directions on the label. For mine, warm water only, no dryer.
posted by MagnificentVacuum at 10:41 AM on June 11

I don't usually wear gloves and I don't have a dishwasher. Are you using those big bright thick dishwashing gloves? Consider instead using disposable latex or similar gloves because they're much thinner and you'll be able to feel the surfaces much better. I used ones I got at home depot for a couple of weeks when I had a serious cut on a finger several years ago and I don't remember anything coming out slimy or otherwise dirty. I already had the gloves for a project. Of course that's just more wasted plastic...
posted by mareli at 4:11 PM on June 11

(Apologies for forgetting your mention of the dish-washer!)

Additional tricks once I over-thought this some more:

- Scraping:
the dish-brushes have to be the sort that have a short flat plastic scraping edge on the reverse side, and that is used to flip and scrape anything. Much wider surface for scraping big things. I have terrible weak short nails, so even not using gloves, I'm not scratching anything directly with my hands.
I'm just scrubbing vigorously in big circular motions or using the scraping edge.
Example: dishbrush with scraping edge - lots of bristles, which curve out to the sides, all the better for getting into corners of pants. Not too stiff, so again, it moulds to the shape of what you're washing.

- Grease:
* Dish soap: I'm wondering if, because of your skin sensitivity, you've been more cautious with your dish soap usage to not set off a skin reaction? If you're wearing gloves, use a LOT more dish soap. Twice as much.
* Hot water! The water can also be a *lot* hotter than you would be able to tolerate with hand washing, because your hands are protected by the gloves. I'm not using any cold water at all, although my tap takes a little while to warm up.
Eg you'd have to put a plate in the drying rack, because it'll be too hot to pass to someone drying with bare hands, and will partly dry via evaporation!

Really greasy pans:
With everything scraped off -
Before I start, I squirt dish soap in and pour some boiling water in them to soak while sitting on the stove, while I wash the other items first (knives, chopping boards etc). A little swish with the dish brush to get the soap mixed through.

In summary:
I'm part filling the sink with very hot, soapy water, entirely from the hot tap. Scrubbing vigorously with the dish-brush and scraping where needed. Then I run just a little hot water to rinse things as I go - by the time I'm finished the sink is getting close to normal fullness.

Floor-cleaning tangent/parallel: a clean, softer bristle broom is also great for soapy-scrubbing of floors, and only pulling out a traditional mop to dry it off. Again, same principle, a brush cleans more effectively than a sponge can.
posted by Elysum at 6:23 PM on June 11

The type of gloves does make a difference. I was able to wash dishes more thoroughly (and comfortably) once I found close-fitting gloves in my size (my hands are very small), made of material that was thin enough for me to feel the surface of the dishes.
The gloves that worked for me also didn't have any ridges/bumps on the fingers/fingertips of the gloves (previous gloves did, and that made it harder to determine the cleanliness of objects being washed through touch). The fit is important because a looser fit will also hinder your ability to feel stubborn bits stuck to surfaces.
posted by aielen at 8:56 AM on June 12

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