Tuesday, December 28, 2010

doing dishes

"Do the dishes" was often heard in our home during my childhood, as 10 people were consuming Mom's delicious meals.  I actually enjoy doing the dishes, not only at my own home, but whenever I visit someone after a party or gathering. It's always been my way of offering gratitude for the hostess' efforts to entertain us.  That's just me.  We had a dishwasher installed in our home when we first moved here and it was rarely used in 20 years.  When we replaced it with a new one, it has been used every single day; however, when I prepare meals, I tend to clean up immediately in the sink. I have found that the younger members of this household may need tips on the art of good old-fashioned dishwashing, hence I share.
Dishwashing is cleaning the eating and cooking utensils, dishes, glasses and cups.  The British call it washing up.  Dishwashing is usually done in the kitchen sink; some use a dish tub, others just plug in the strainer.  An effective way to easily cleanse is to fill the sink with hot water and squeeze  a little dish detergent while the sink is filling with water so a layer of suds forms on the top.  There are a variety of soaps available but some are more effective than others.  We use Dawn and Palmolive for best results in these parts.   I tend to buy those with citrus, apple or lavender scents.  Fill the sink with as much water as necessary to cover the amount of dishes that need to be cleaned. 
Since the majority of us are right-handed, we place our dirty dishes in the left side of the sink for better function.  Sorry, southpaws, you can reverse sides if needed.  Keep a dish drain on the right side which includes a tub for the utensils so you don't end up stabbing yourself with a fork or knife when reaching for something. Make sure you place sharp objects with the points facing downward.  When someone is finished eating, we place the dirty dish on the left side after rinsing off food particles.  I always believe anything on the right side is clean.  I like to soak my dishes for a bit which makes for easier clean up because it loosens the particles.
I find the very best way to get rid of grime is to soak, clean, rinse, then scrub with an SOS  or brillo pad.  I use this tool for cleaning my stove grills, too.  It is very old-fashioned, but tried and true.  If you have really, really grimy, caked-on scum in pots and pans, add a half inch of water to the pot and heat on the stove for 10 minutes as this helps particles separate faster. This is especially helpful after cooking scrambled eggs.

The longer it soaks, the easier it cleans.

Commonly used cleaning tools include cloths, sponges and brushes.  I prefer the above all-in-one sponge/scrubber but keep in mind bacteria builds quickly so these must be replaced often.  They are strong enough to wash in a machine, but they are inexpensive enough to just dump and replace.  Fingernails are effective at dislodging stuck-on food particles.  Rubber gloves are sometimes worn by people who are sensitive to hot water or dishwashing liquids, just had a manicure or who simply don't want to touch the old food particles.  I have a system for doing my dishes which includes initially washing all the delicate glasses, then cups, saucers and small bowls, dishes, utensils and finally lids and pots and pans.  If I have a heavy load to do, I wash and dry the more fragile items so the heavier things won't break them, plus I need the space :P  If your dishwater begins to look too scuzzy to continue, drain the old water and refill the sink as described above and begin again.  This is common and usually is done for the dirtier pots and pans.  Make sure each item is thoroughly rinsed with very warm, even hot water for best results.  Put your water spout on the right side and make sure the drain is open so the rinse water can drain.  There is nothing worse than drinking from a glass that tastes like dish soap and even foams bubbles.  Yuck!  This is why dishwashers are the most effective sterilizers and really do get things sparkling clean.  However, not everyone is fortunate enough to own one and it doesn't hurt to know how this process works. (sidebar to my kids)  You can let the dishes sit in the sink to drain and air dry, or use a cloth towel to dry each prior to putting them away.  This is my least favorite part. 
There is something ingrained in us about a clear sink and no dirty dishes that before we go to bed, our sink must be clear. It's funny how dirty dishes seem to magically appear each morning!  This is such a menial topic, but you never know who needs these tools, especially when they begin to leave the nest and live on their own.  Many children have been doing the dishes as part of the family chores, but many have not.  Back in the day, if someone did not, or could not, pay their restaurant bill, they were offered the chance to fulfill their debt by washing the dishes. 

Like my folks always said "cleanliness is Godliness" xo