Written by Lisa Truesdale. Reviewed by cleaning expert Sean Busch.
There are a number of reasons why someone might hand-wash their dishes rather than use an automatic dishwasher. They could be in the estimated 25 percent of American households that don’t own such a machine. Or they could choose to hand-wash because their machine is broken, they don’t think their machine cleans well enough, or they only have a small amount to wash.
Some items, such as knives, cutting boards, and certain types of dishes, are simply not dishwasher safe and therefore need to be washed by hand. And finally, some folks hand-wash their dishes simply because they truly appreciate the soothing rhythm of the chore, elbows-deep in warm sudsy water.
No matter your reason for needing (or wanting) to wash dishes by hand quickly and effectively, here are our experts’ proven steps for getting the job done right.
This is a pretty easy question for us to answer. Puracy was started by two friends with a shared commitment to making non-toxic, plant-based household and personal care products that were safe enough to use around children and pets, gentle on the planet, but also effective enough to get the job done. So, yes, we believe the dish soap you use matters.
Puracy Natural Dish Soap is a hypoallergenic, sulfate-free formula made from carefully selected plants, minerals, and water. It’s non-toxic and biodegradable, with vegetable-based moisturizers that naturally soften your skin, and it’s available in your choice of three fresh-smelling scents: Green Tea & Lime, Organic Lemongrass, or Citrus & Sea Salt. It’s also hyper-concentrated -- you only need a teaspoon for a full sink of dishes.
Most conventional dish detergents will dry out your skin if you attempt to use them without gloves. Not Puracy, though. Due to the gentle nature of our plant-based ingredients and vegetable-based moisturizers, you can use your bare hands when cleaning with our natural dish soap.
Harsh conventional dish soap can dry out more than just your hands. It can also dry out your wood cutting boards, wood utensils, and other wood items. Harsh dish soap can also cause damage to raw silver, raw copper, and other delicate materials. This is reason why care instructions for many kitchen-related items call for washing with a “mild” detergent. Many items with specialty finishes truly require a safe and mild detergent like ours.
Expert Tip from Cleaning Expert and Puracy Co-Founder Sean Busch: In a pinch, you could bathe most of your body (minus your face) with Puracy Natural Dish Soap. It’s that gentle. The same cannot be said for the harsh chemical dish soaps sold by many of our conventional competitors. And if you read our blog regularly, you’ve probably noticed that dish soap is one of our most versatile products. You can use a few drops of dish soap and warm water to clean literally hundreds of different items throughout your home, from your hardwood floors to your couch.
Another key benefit of Puracy Natural Dish Soap is that it sheets water. Try holding a dirty dish an angle under a low pressure stream of water. After agitating the dirty dish with our dish soap, you’ll notice that the soap and water sheet away. Continue to hold the dish over the sink at this angle to allow more water to fall off. The result? After using our dish soap you’ll have far fewer water droplets to dry off your dishes, leading to a clean, sparkling, streak-free finish. This sheeting effect is especially valuable if you’re one of the millions of Americans who have hard water in their homes, as it helps reduce the unsightly appearance of hard water deposits.
Just as with any household cleaning procedure, there is a correct order you should follow to ensure the best results. When you’re washing dishes, the order makes perfect sense, since you don’t want to leave a soapy residue that would affect the taste of your food and beverages. The following hand-washing method utilizes six important steps: Prep, Fill, Wash, Rinse, Dry, Finish.
Scrape or wipe dishes to remove large pieces of leftover food. Use a rubber spatula on nonstick cookware and other dishes that could scratch. If your dishes or cookware have stubborn, stuck-on pieces of food, soak them before washing:
Fill your sink or dishpan with clean, hot water. Add a teaspoon of Puracy Natural Dish Soap to the water. Stack a few dishes in the sink at a time; avoid overcrowding. Start with the items that aren’t as soiled, such as glasses, cups, or silverware, followed by plates and bowls, then cookware. Wash any delicate glassware separately -- do not stack it at the bottom of your sink.
For safety reasons, never pile knives in the sink; wash them one by one and dry them immediately with a clean towel. Many knives use special metals that can etch or tarnish if you leave them wet.
Throughout the process, if the water becomes greasy, if the suds disappear, or if the water gets too cool, you can drain the water and start over.
Wash each item with a microfiber dishrag or non-scratch sponge. Keep the item submerged in the water as you scrub, pulling it out a few times to check for missed spots. We recommend purchasing an OXO dishwashing brush with built-in soap reservoir.
Rinse off the suds by passing the item under a spray or stream of lukewarm water, turning it a few times to rinse all surfaces and the insides of dishes and cups.
Expert Tip from Sean Busch: Some people like to rinse with hot water, but I disagree. Lukewarm water is easy on hands, doesn’t waste energy, and doesn’t leave everything all steamy. For reference, rinse a wine glass with hot water and then wash one with lukewarm. Dry them on a flat towel upside down. You’ll find that there is far less residual water in the glass rinsed in lukewarm water.
Place the item in a dish-drying rack to air dry.
You can also wipe each item dry by hand with a clean microfiber towel. The towel-drying method works especially well with glasses and silverware that can become spotted or filmed as they air dry. If the towel becomes damp, switch to a dry towel. Use a separate towel to dry cookware that contains any traces of grease.
You can also invest in an ultra-thick microfiber drying towel. They usually have some padding to them and they’re great at absorbing residual water. Best of all, you won’t need to store and move around a bulky, ugly-looking drying rack.
When you’re finished washing all of your dishes, rinse and wipe down the sink or dishpan. Rinse and wring out your dishrag or sponge and let it air dry. Rags and sponges can also be laundered in the washing machine, along with your microfiber towels.
You do NOT need to rinse your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, especially if you’re using an enzyme-based dishwasher detergent (like Puracy Natural Dishwasher Detergent Packs). Simply scrape or wipe off large chunks of food before putting your dishes into the dishwasher -- that’s all you have to do. Pre-rinsing dishes before loading them into the dishwasher is a waste of one of our most valuable natural resources -- water.
Washing dishes is what dishwashers are for. In fact, most newer dishwashers have sensors that can detect how dirty your dishes are, and they clean accordingly. If there’s nothing left on the dishes to clean, then the dishwasher and the detergent you use won’t do their jobs as effectively. Puracy Natural Dishwasher Detergent Packs feature plant-derived enzymes that leave dishes spotless, sparkling, and streak-free.
Utilizing these steps will result in sparkling dishes every time, and when you use Puracy Natural Dish Soap, you’ll also get the benefit of helping to save the planet. The naturally derived formula is free of petrochemicals, is safe for gray water and septic systems, and is 100% biodegradable. Plus, just one bottle of this ultra-concentrated liquid cleans a whopping 160 sinks full of dishes, saving on unnecessary packaging.