steps for washing dishes

Cleaning 101: Hand Washing Dishes

Follow these foolproof steps and tips for washing dishes by hand.
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Don't have a dishwasher and wondering how to wash dishes? To clear up confusion and get things sparkling, follow these foolproof steps and tips for hand washing dishes.

What you will need: 

Maybe you don't have a dishwasher, you're handling items that aren't dishwasher-safe, or you only have a couple items to wash. At some point, we all need to know the proper order for washing dishes by hand.

When you use our expert cleaning tips, you'll learn how to wash dishes quickly and effectively.

Note: We've also got you covered with these dishwasher hacks!

How to Wash Dishes by Hand

1. Prepare the dishes for washing on the sink. 

Scrape any leftover food into the trash or compost bin. Use a rubber spatula on nonstick cookware and any other dishes that might scratch.

Then pre-rinse or soak the dishes with hot water and a few drops of dish soap to remove any loose food particles. Remember not to mix greasy and non-greasy dishes, as this will make it difficult to remove the grease.

Pro tip: Avoid food particles from clogging your sink drain by pouring hot water down your drain weekly to prevent buildup from accumulating in the pipes.

2. Soak dishes with stubborn stains. 

Make sure the pans or pots have cooled down before putting them in the sink. You may use warm water or a pan degreaser to make things easier for heavily soiled items. You can put those aside while they degrease and begin with lightly soiled items.

To do so, add a teaspoon of Natural Dish Soap to your plugged sink, dishpan, or a larger piece of cookware. Fill with hot water, place your dishes in the solution, and soak for 15-30 minutes. Afterwards, drain the sink, refill with hot water, and another teaspoon of dish soap.

3. Wash dishes from lightly soiled glasses to the dirtiest pans. 

There is a proper order for washing the dishes. You may start with the least soiled ones like glassware, then plates/bowls and flatware. The pots and pans go last on the list as they are the hardest to complete.

A dishwashing brush and a silicone brush are preferred tools along with your favorite dishwashing soap to clean. You can also use a sponge but keep in mind to regularly replace it to avoid harboring germs and bacteria.

4. Rinse thoroughly. 

Rinse the dishes thoroughly, if possible, with warm water for a much easier rinse.

If you have a dual sink basin, rinse off the suds as you go. Using lukewarm water, pass the item under the aeration setting on your faucet. 

As your hands move around the item, make sure to inspect it for any remaining particles or if it still feels greasy. Turn them over a few times to ensure that all surfaces (especially interiors) are thoroughly clean.

Before setting dishes on the dish rack or wiping them with a towel, shake to remove excess water.

Pro tip: Choose a dish soap that is tough on grease and grime but still rinses off easily with naturally derived cleansers in its formula.

5. Dry them up before storage. 

The most common method here is air drying on a dish rack. We also like using our luxe microfiber towels to absorb residual water, especially from glasses and silverware (which can become spotted or filmed as they air dry). If your towel becomes damp or dirty, simply switch to a new, dry one.

Pro tip: Always use a clean towel when drying up your newly-washed dishes. You’ll want to avoid letting moist environments proliferate, as this can lead to mold and other bacteria.

6. Store in a cool, dry place. 

Once you’re done wiping the dishes, store them in your cabinet or cupboard away from insects and pests.

When you’re finished washing your dishes, rinse and wipe down the sink or dishpan with a disinfecting surface cleaner. Rinse and shake out the water in your dish scrubber. Finally, throw your dishrags and microfiber towels in the washing machine.

7. Clean and Dry Your Sink

Once the dishes are dried and put away, don’t forget to completely dry off your sink and disinfect the area if needed. 

Pro Tip: Disinfecting a kitchen sink is important after coming into direct contact with potentially pathogenic objects (like raw chicken or pet bowls).

What to Look For in a Dish Soap

Dish soap is a kitchen essential, but with so many different brands and formulas on the market, it can be hard to know which one is right for you. Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a dish soap:

Check the Ingredients

The first thing to look for is the ingredients list. Avoid dish soaps that contain harsh chemicals, such as phthalates, triclosan, and SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate). These chemicals can be irritating to your skin and the environment. 

Instead, look for dish soaps that are made with natural ingredients, such as plant-based surfactants and essential oils.

Ingredients to avoid: 

  • Phthalates: These chemicals are used to soften plastics and make them more pliable. They can also be found in some dish soaps. Phthalates have been linked to health problems, such as reproductive issues and cancer.
  • Triclosan: This chemical is used as an antibacterial agent in some dish soaps. Triclosan has been linked to health problems, such as hormone disruption and antibiotic resistance.
  • SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate): This chemical is a foaming agent that is often found in dish soaps. SLS can be irritating to the skin and eyes.

Ingredients to look for: 

  • Plant-based surfactants: These are natural substances that clean and lather without being harsh on the skin or the environment. Some common plant-based surfactants include coconut oil-derived surfactants and sugar-based surfactants.
  • Essential oils: These can add a pleasant scent to your dish soap and can also have antibacterial and antifungal properties. Some common essential oils used in dish soaps include tea tree oil, lavender oil, and lemon oil.

Dish soap functions and benefits to look for: 

  • Grease-cutting ability: Look for a dish soap that is effective at cutting through grease and grime. This will make your dishes easier to clean and will help to prevent them from becoming stained.
  • Sulfate-free: Sulfates are harsh chemicals that can be irritating to the skin and eyes. They can also pollute waterways when they are washed down the drain.
  • Biodegradable: Biodegradable products break down naturally in the environment. This means that they will not harm plants, animals, or waterways.
  • Safe for septic and greywater systems: Septic and greywater systems are designed to treat wastewater from homes. Harsh chemicals can damage these systems and pollute the environment.
  • Cruelty-free: Cruelty-free products have not been tested on animals. This is important for people who are concerned about animal welfare.
  • Petrochemical-free: Petrochemicals are derived from petroleum. They can pollute waterways and contribute to climate change.
  • Skin-friendly: Look for a dish soap that is gentle on your skin. This is especially important if you have sensitive skin or allergies.
  • Streak-free: Look for a dish soap that leaves your dishes streak-free. This will make your dishes look their best.

If you have sensitive skin, it is important to choose a dish soap that is gentle on your skin. Look for dish soaps that are labeled as "hypoallergenic" or "dermatologically tested." These soaps are less likely to irritate your skin. You may also want to choose a dish soap that is free of harsh chemicals, such as SLS and triclosan.

You’ll Love Dish Duty

Most conventional dish soaps do more than just dry out your hands: They can also dry out wooden items (like cutting boards and utensils) and damage more delicate materials like silver and hammered copper.

When choosing a dish soap, it is important to consider the ingredients, function, and benefits. Harsh chemicals in dish soaps can be irritating to the skin and the environment. Instead, look for dish soaps that are made with natural ingredients, such as Puracy’s plant-based power-cleaning products.