And here's something to talk about at the dinner table
December 20, 2019 7:15 PM   Subscribe

Cleaning up the dishes. It is/is not complicated. But Dawn dish soap says you're doing it wrong....

Is everyone involved?

At least it's something to discuss other than Brexit or impeachment.
posted by mightshould (78 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I'll want to look at the bottle. Original Dawn is biodegradable, and that's led me to it time and again. But I will admit, my method for watching dishes (single sink situation) is to squeeze some on the object and scrub and then rinse. Which I'm certain is not how it's meant to be used. So maybe this is better? I'd try it... if it's biodegradable like original Dawn.
posted by hippybear at 7:46 PM on December 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

Is Dawn Powerwash just regular Dawn with some water mixed in, maybe a little extra surfactant? That they charge $2 more for? I bet it is.
posted by muddgirl at 7:48 PM on December 20, 2019 [27 favorites]

Oh yeah it’s totally like 5ml of soap in 745ml of water, and only 2 dollars more.
posted by rodlymight at 7:51 PM on December 20, 2019 [13 favorites]

They claim it's a different formula, because current Dawn is designed to mix with water and create suds, not be poured directly on dishes or sponges. (We use the foam stuff. And after the initial bottle runs out, we refill it with about 1/4 Dawn and 3/4 water, and shake slowly to mix. Much cheaper than buying new pump-foam dispensers.)

It's fascinating what the article doesn't mention.

More consumers are washing one or two dishes during "cooking downtime," instead of letting them pile up and doing one big wash once they're all done, according to P&G. ... Today, 61% of Americans prefer this "clean-as-you-go" method, according to P&G's research. ... The growing number of Americans who eat out and order in has hurt dish soap sales.

Not mentioned:
1) How many households have automatic dishwashers;
2) How many households either don't have children, or have a single parent and single child.

The "traditional" method of "pile all the dishes in a heap; wash a sinkful or two at once" assumed that a meal created a sinkful or more of dishes. With two adults alone, this is often not the case. Even with several adults sharing a house, with no kid as the traditional "does gruntwork chores" person, each person is likely to insist on washing only their own dishes . And of course, for single people and even some couples, eating out or ordering meals is almost as cheap as buying single-serving portions to cook, and much faster.

Washing a sinkful of dishes was an economy-of-scale event that nobody paid attention to until most households were 2-3 people, and a whole lot were 1 person.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 7:57 PM on December 20, 2019 [13 favorites]

My kitchen sink would be a lot more useful with a foot-pedal for the drain (fill, soak, drain) or the water or even both. Pipe organ music, thunder, wild laughter fading to gurgle
posted by clew at 7:58 PM on December 20, 2019 [30 favorites]

You don’t have to go too far back before water is scarce and people soak their dishes in a dishpan smaller than the sink. Edna St Vincent Millay has a nice early poem about being the Queen of the Dish-pan.
posted by clew at 8:00 PM on December 20, 2019 [11 favorites]

I have a fantastic workflow for washing dishes in a double sink: hot soapy water in one side for scrubbing, hot clean water in the other for rinsing. When the scrub side got too dirty, swap. Add soap to the former rinse side, drain and refill the former scrub side.

Unfortunately, of my last three apartments, one had a single bowl sink, one had some half-baked abortion of a double sink where the divider was only two inches high, and this one has a double a height that is comfortable for my 5'1" wife.

Who squirts the soap onto her sponge and keeps the water running continuously as she scrubs.

I am disgruntled.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 8:16 PM on December 20, 2019 [7 favorites]

In an effort to reduce plastic use in our house we've switched to using bar soap for dishes. Large bars of olive oil soap seem to work best, there's a greek one we can buy from a local deli for about 2 bux canadian that seems to weigh a quarter pound and last three months. Give it a couple of swipes with a scouring pad or cloth and go to town on whatever dish is at issue. If stuff needs soaked we have found that soaking in hot water seems to loosen and degrease about as much as soaking in soapy water provided you get to it with the wipe and swipe routine before the water cools.

we also tried putting bar soap in the water for soaking (swishing grating etc) but this doesn't work nearly as well due to lack of surfactant/detergent and would definitely be a disappointment to the Exotic Bottled Soap set. (full disclosure, we keep bottle soap for critical applications but we use it far more slowly than we used to).
posted by hearthpig at 8:25 PM on December 20, 2019 [5 favorites]

I just throw away the dishes after each use. - Tom Cruise probably
posted by Literaryhero at 8:32 PM on December 20, 2019 [3 favorites]

It's one of those things that bugs me whenever I watch a home renovation show: everybody wants elaborate chef's kitchens with a farm-house sink. Do these people never have to do dishes? I guess, for the most part, they don't cook or clean up after themselves.

Until recently, I've never had a dishwasher (see my last Ask), but I've usually been fortunate to have a double sink. Now, I don't, and it drives me crazy. I don't always use the dishwasher (and it doesn't do the greatest job), so most of the time I end up washing my dishes by hand, which means I run into a number of different problems.

The first is where do I stack my dishes? I've got a tiny kitchen with not enough counter space, so I don't want to leave them on the counter. My sink is badly positioned in that I only have counter on one side of (it's right on the edge of the counter). My usual habit is to rinse the dishes and put them in the sink but then I get stuck when I need to use the sink for food prep.

Then there is the washing phase. I hate letting warm sudsy water down the drain, but I have to keep doing that if I want to rinse my dishes. I can just image how much extra water I'd use and waste if I had to do that in a farmhouse sink.

I know I should be one of those people who washes as they go, but I'm not that organized. I don't have time to wash my breakfast dishes in the morning, so they have to wait until it's time to do my evening dishes.

I thought dishwashing would be easier with a dishwasher at my disposal, but it's not. At this point, I'm almost willing to say I'd gladly forego the dishwasher I have in trade for a double sink. (And no, there is no way I'm paying extra for some squeeze-on, foamy, no-water-needed dishsoap.)
posted by sardonyx at 8:45 PM on December 20, 2019

squirts the soap onto her sponge and keeps the water running continuously as she scrubs.

Exactly. I've done this forEVER and my dishes wind up perfectly clean as far as I can tell, nor have I yet perished of some dirty-dish related dysentery. Knock wood.

This seems like a solution in search of a problem. Or a solution attempting to conjure up a problem out of thin air.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 8:50 PM on December 20, 2019 [17 favorites]

I just throw away the dishes after each use.

You jest, but I knew a guy who for a while was working such long-ass hours (not long ass-hours) and making so much money that he just kept buying new undies, t-shirts, and jeans since he never had time to do laundry. Needless to say that wasn't sustainable in the long run, but he enjoyed it while it lasted.

All of which is to say, I shall be resisting corporate blandishments to buy fancy expensive new dish soap.

This seems like a solution in search of a problem. Or a solution attempting to conjure up a problem out of thin air.

(in the style of the "Aristocrats" joke punchline) Capitalism!!
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:06 PM on December 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

Wait, why can't you do dishes with a farmhouse sink? I have a farmhouse sink and I just... do dishes in it? But I've never been a two-basin method person. I squirt and rinse. I have a visceral horror of the gross wet food particles that float around when you use a full basin of water.
posted by soren_lorensen at 9:08 PM on December 20, 2019 [15 favorites]

Where are your dirty dishes sitting before washing? Did you rinse them? Are they wet? If your dirty dishes are in the sink what do you use when you need to wash your vegetables or do some other kind of prep that involves using your sink? It's mainly the one-sink situation that drives me batty.

I've always been a soak, wipe/scrub (although I've typically already pre-scrubbed), rinse person, not a squirt and wipe washer, so the idea of using roughly double the amount of water to fill a farmhouse sink than I'd use in a standard-size sink makes me think about much higher water bills.
posted by sardonyx at 9:15 PM on December 20, 2019

My Miele dishwasher does a load with about 3 gallons. It uses one and a half kilowatt hours of solar energy to run.

It can do the job with more dishes using far less water and far less energy than I ever could. If I do them by hand I need at least 15 gallons to fill the sink to a reasonable level and I would put out more emissions heating the water by natural gas.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 9:16 PM on December 20, 2019 [20 favorites]

I had a girlfriend who would pile all of the dirty dishes in the sink, fill it with water and soap, and let them "soak" for hours in a lukewarm scum of soap and half-masticated food bits. We had a terrible ant problem. It was revolting and informed my dish-doing methodology.

I arrange all of the dirty dishes to the left of the sink and have drying pads on the right. Then I take each dish, wet it and scrub it with a soapy sponge. Then I rinse and place on the drying mat, or if it is a knife, wine glass or pot/pan it gets dried immediately.

Mostly, though, I have learned to love our diahwasher which, if properly loaded, does a bang-up job. Anodized aluminim, chef knives and non-stick pans do not go in there because they will get destroyed.

We have a farmhouse sink. And no ants.
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:17 PM on December 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

Where are your dirty dishes sitting before washing?

Want to be horrified?

Back when I was in college, I had a great meal prep routine. I shopped, cooked, and did all my dishes once a week. I packaged all the food into those little round takeout containers.

For every meal, I microwaved a container, ate out of it, licked the container clean, and put it back into the refrigerator. Then next week I washed them all with my pots and pans and refilled them with food.

I think I re-used the same set of utensils all week, too.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 9:28 PM on December 20, 2019 [16 favorites]

“ People are much more time-starved today" and they see the clean-as-you-go method as a "'life hack,'" said Morgan Brashear, a home care senior scientist at P&G.

No, it is that the kitchen stays way cleaner if I clean as I go (whether washing dishes by hand or loading them into a dishwasher). The last thing I want is to be faced with a messy kitchen and a huge stack of dirty dishes. If anything, it takes more time to clean as I go.

But as people have said, this works because there are two of us. If this was a big household where every meal means a pile of dishes, the old school approach would be better.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:29 PM on December 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

I knew a guy who for a while was working such long-ass hours (not long ass-hours) and making so much money that he just kept buying new undies, t-shirts, and jeans since he never had time to do laundry

My brother lived with me when he was a teenager. He had hated to do laundry all his life, so when he got his first job at KFC when he was 16, he would go out every payday and buy himself a brand new pack of white crew socks. Which was fine... his money, his life, whatever. However, unbeknownst to me, his old dirty socks were being thrown into a garbage bag in the dark recesses of his closet - never to actually be thrown away, mind you, simply left to accumulate in a smoldering, reeking mass for several years until we moved out. I could never understand why his room always had the most horrible stench of a filthy locker room. I gagged when I found it.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 9:31 PM on December 20, 2019 [14 favorites]

I always thought double-sinks seemed like a great dishwashing situation until I had one. Each side is too small. I want to be able to scrub the baking sheet, y'all. When we bought our house, my spouse and I agreed for this exact reason that we wanted a farmhouse-size sink and we looooooooooove it.

Dishwashing method in our house is to squirt dishsoap on a thoroughly-dripping-wet sponge to wash dishes, so I think we're still using the soap the way Dawn intended. Whoever cooks doesn't clean up. When I cook, I wash as I go but use a LOT of dishes for prep. When my spouse cooks, he uses fewer dishes along the way but doesn't wash them as he goes. End result is about the same amount of work for the human washing the dishes. People think we're nuts for choosing to not have installed a dishwasher, but it's easier and faster and uses the same or less amount of water for us to just handwash our dishes. Two adults no kids. I'm sure I'm in a confusing segment for Dawn to track.
posted by desuetude at 9:48 PM on December 20, 2019 [4 favorites]

The way Americans wash dishes was a complete surprise to me. And the idea of people running the tap the whole time was totally shocking.

In Australia and New Zealand, you fill your sink with hot soapy water, wash the dishes and then either stack them or dry them. You don't need to rinse. (Although some people do I'm sure.)

As I understand it (??) you have to rinse in America because otherwise you ingest traces of dish soap and get sick. I don't know what is different about your dish soap, but if that is the reason, I wonder why they don't just change the formula to something more like what's used in other countries with no ill effects?
posted by reshet at 9:49 PM on December 20, 2019 [6 favorites]

You don’t have to go too far back before water is scarce and people soak their dishes in a dishpan smaller than the sink.

That's what I still do? I have a dishpan that fits in one side of my sink, I pile the dishes in there until it's reasonably full, and then fill it with hot water and soap. I come back later and usually all I have to do is a rub and rinse, occasionally a scrub with a sponge, and I stack them in the dish drainer. H2O is a wonderful solvent.
posted by tavella at 9:56 PM on December 20, 2019 [4 favorites]

You don't need to rinse.

That is a misconception prevalent throughout the Commonwealth and one of the lesser-known causes of the American Revolution.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 10:04 PM on December 20, 2019 [60 favorites]

In Australia and New Zealand, you fill your sink with hot soapy water, wash the dishes and then either stack them or dry them. You don't need to rinse.

The Down-Unders live in a land full of horrible venomous creatures and yet the country is still populated. They are hardy and can withstand what will kill others. This "not rinsing" is not exportable.
posted by hippybear at 10:10 PM on December 20, 2019 [21 favorites]

I grew up with just one sink and we just piled dirty dishes on the counter. It's a source of frustration because even with a dishwasher MuddDude piles them in the sink and then we can't use the sink.
posted by muddgirl at 10:12 PM on December 20, 2019 [3 favorites]

The Down-Unders live in a land full of horrible venomous creatures and yet the country is still populated.

The Australians live in a land full of horrible venomous creatures and yet the country is still populated.

FTFY - on behalf of my fellow Kiwis.
posted by maupuia at 10:19 PM on December 20, 2019 [4 favorites]

I'd offer you a rebuttal but I refuse to call it buttle rubbies.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 10:29 PM on December 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

If maupuia wants kiwis to be known as less hardy than Australians, I will rescind my previous statement.
posted by hippybear at 10:36 PM on December 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

studio audience: WhoooOOOOOOOOooooooahhhhhh
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:47 PM on December 20, 2019 [4 favorites]

I'm Australian and I've bullied everyone I've lived with into becoming a rinser, it's truly psychotic to stack your dishes on the drying rack with suds still adhering to them. You can TASTE it come the next meal!!!
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 11:56 PM on December 20, 2019 [34 favorites]

>I hate letting warm sudsy water down the drain, but I have to keep doing that if I want to rinse my dishes

Everyone with a single sink that wants to rinse their dishes, pro tip: find a square plastic washtub that is slightly smaller than your sink, nest them, and do your sudsy dishwashing in the tub as a modern day dishpan. When you need to rinse either before or after soaping, use the faucet and direct the water between the tub and your sink. Two sinks in one! When you’re done, just tip and dump the tub, rinse it and the sink to your level of fastidiousness, stand the tub on its side and let it dry in the sink.

You do need a faucet with a movable flexible head, and some space in a cupboard nearby for the tub. But running hot water down the drain the whole time you dishwash is expensive.
posted by anthill at 12:25 AM on December 21, 2019 [12 favorites]

I brush the dishes off with one of two old Heller brushes I've had for some 30 years and steam weekly, rinsing them as I go; then I put them in an empty and dry dishpan I've had almost as long; then I put a few drops of dish liquid on a Scotchbrite no scratch sponge and sponge the dishes thoroughly, stacking them on a glass counter protector which fits by friction into my white enameled cast iron sink and sits about two inches above the bottom of the sink, turn the water on, rinse them and put them in a wire dish drainer which is so old the plastic is splitting away from the wires. I may replace it with a stainless steel wire dish drainer I have in waiting, or I may just peel all the plastic off the wires and use the drainer bare since the exposed wires seem to be rust resistant, though not stainless. I don't like the dish pan sitting in the bottom of the sink, so I have another counter protector, this one ceramic, which fits into the sink about an inch above the bottom for the dishpan to sit on. I was worried the counter protectors would spall the enamel of the sink, but I've been doing it this way for over a decade with no discernible chipping.

I don't use Dawn because it gives me a headache, though I do like the way it cleans. I use something called 'Free and Clear' made by BioKleen, and which is completely unscented.
posted by jamjam at 12:47 AM on December 21, 2019

Pro tip intensified: depending on your sink size, that plastic washtub is sold as a pet care item.
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:50 AM on December 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

I want a massive sink because my split sink is annoying. You can't fit oven trays or large frying pans in properly! Bah. I also hate stacking stuff in the sink, so that won't be an issue for me, most stuff goes in the dishwasher and the rest goes to the right of the sink. (I love my dishwasher so so much. Life changing.)

I am European and I do rinse, but what I do is: half fill the sink with hot soapy water. Put in multiple items. Scrub, turn on tap, rinse item, turn off tap. Repeat until sink is empty then put more things in. If sink gets too full of water the extra just goes down the overflow. I also use a cloth "sponge" with metal mesh on one side that is meant to be run through the laundry and re-used and I love it.

I don't like those plastic washtubs because I think they just get in the way, they sit on the drain and block it and if they're left in the sink they end up full of stagnant water from people just filling cups and stuff. Plus, if you store the tub away between uses, inevitably if you're in a household with multiple people they'll stack stuff in the sink anyway despite being told not to hundreds of times and then you have to take it all back out to put the tub in. I've never found an actual benefit to the plastic tub except pet washing, unless you all have kitchen sinks without an overflow and are blasting the water on full the whole time?

Oh, and my husband likes "washing as you go" his dishes often aren't quite as clean as mine, glasses especially. I think you need the sink of hot soapy water.
posted by stillnocturnal at 2:00 AM on December 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

The plus of the nested-sink method (and a double sink I guess) is that you can keep your suds

- cleaner longer by rinsing off saucy dishes down the drain direct rather than greasing up your suds

- more concentrated by only adding hot rinse water into the suds when you need it, and

- hotter longer by easily being able to dump half-filled water glasses or cold rinse water down the drain direct without diluting your suds.

Gotta have choices / control options to optimize! Op - ti - miiiiiiize.....
posted by anthill at 2:18 AM on December 21, 2019

I have four wire brushes I use for cleaning. One says "steel" on the handle. one says "stainless", one says "aluminum" and one says "flesh".

I always rinse tho, i'm not THAT fucked up.
posted by some loser at 3:56 AM on December 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

I'm sure P&G has my best interest at heart when they tell me I'm washing dishes incorrectly and should buy expensive watered dish detergent. Sweet of them to help me with this problem I had no idea I had.
posted by theora55 at 3:57 AM on December 21, 2019 [9 favorites]

I live in a drought area so I think of water conservation a lot. Dishwashers, if used without prewashing, are the best for saving water, short of not generating dirty dishes in the first place. Next best is the dish pan method with the tap set off as much as possible. Farmhouse sinks are preferable for the dishpan method.
posted by tofu_crouton at 4:05 AM on December 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

Also, instead of using an actual dishpan, I use whatever the largest currently dirty dish is as the pan.
posted by tofu_crouton at 4:10 AM on December 21, 2019 [6 favorites]

Both links in this post are unavailable in the U.K. Can someone summarise it for me please?
posted by faceplantingcheetah at 5:12 AM on December 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

Listen, being time starved means it's even MORE likely that the dishes are going to pile up until we've completely run out of forks and it's now a miserable task because there's no room in the sink to wash dishes.
posted by brook horse at 5:21 AM on December 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

>Both links in this post are unavailable in the U.K. Can someone summarise it for me please?

It's some horseshit about how some major multinational corporation is going to dillute their product and spend millions on screwing the local consumer into spending money on something they don't need by way of making them feel bad about the way they wash dishes.

The other link is an opinion piece from 2005 thrown in there so the post doesn't look like marketing spam, which it is.
posted by Catblack at 5:41 AM on December 21, 2019 [5 favorites]

I run the water continuously but it works out. Turn on the hot water a bit, while it's warming up you wet and suds up the dishes moving dirtier things down and keeping relatively clean things together (like throwing silverware into a cup or stacking containers. By now the hot water is actually HOT so you plug the drain and start rinsing the easy stuff letting the suds and hot water start filling the sink. Since you're rinsing in scalding hot water you don't need to dry things, just put them in the drying rack and the bit of water will evaporate post haste. Rinse the dirtier stuff and if somethings not ready... by now you can turn off the water and let the rest soak in that 1/4 sink of hot soapy water and do some actual scrubbing. Drain as needed and let the hot tap run as needed to get back to actual HOT water.

This takes about 1/4 to 1/3 of a sink of water total. The trick is that the water is only running at a decent trickle and is really HOT. Wear dish gloves if you can't handle the heat bare handed.
posted by zengargoyle at 5:56 AM on December 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

While we're at it, clean your sponge!
posted by mono blanco at 6:13 AM on December 21, 2019 [4 favorites]

In Australia and New Zealand, you fill your sink with hot soapy water, wash the dishes and then either stack them or dry them. You don't need to rinse.

In America, you just kinda laze around when you're not at work. You don't need to exercise.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 6:44 AM on December 21, 2019

I think smaller family size may indeed have something to do with whatever shift is happening here because dinner for my family of three is two pots/pans max, three plates or bowls, three forks and a knife. Doing dishes takes a very short amount of time and is done immediately after eating. No rinsing and stacking of dirty dishes to wait until later, no running gallons of water for a half an hour. We cook, then we eat, then we wash up. We're not out here eating five course meals of a weeknight.
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:47 AM on December 21, 2019

As for microwaving your sponge in water, I just read a tip the other day about this that said to put a wooden spoon or chop stick (or similar) in your container of water to avoid a superheating incident. I imagine that the sponge itself would actually deter the superheating, but passing along anyway.
posted by taz at 6:54 AM on December 21, 2019

Crusty conservative here (and erstwhile college-level chemist).

"Surfactant? Around physiological pH? Yes? We're good." Buy the absolute cheapest off-brand sudsy detergent for hand-washing dishes, always.

Dishwasher detergent differs primarily because it uses alkalinity, more than surfactants, to cleanse. You can get the same effect of old-school Cascade or off-brand granular detergents by just putting a drop or two of dish soap in with either some Borax, or baking soda and salt to raise the pH a bit.

If you want to get rid of streaks that current detergents are leaving after the various state phosphate bans, just get some trisodium phosphate (TSP) to throw in.

For goodness' sake, don't buy the pods. That will only encourage them.

posted by phenylphenol at 8:00 AM on December 21, 2019 [7 favorites]

I always thought double-sinks seemed like a great dishwashing situation until I had one. Each side is too small. I want to be able to scrub the baking sheet, y'all.

Preach! I hate our double sink so. freaking. much. We’ve had it since we moved in eight years ago, and I’ve sworn that this is the year it gets replaced.

Also, The Wirecutter has said that running water for three minutes uses the equivalent of the amount used by the average dishwasher. So if you have a dishwasher, use it, even if you don’t fill it. And if it’s old and you can afford it, invest in a new one. Our Bosch cleans anything we throw at it. Takes two hours, but it’s so quiet we can watch TV fifteen feet away.
posted by schoolgirl report at 8:49 AM on December 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

I wet everything, turn off the water, put a modicum of soap on the sponge, scrub everything, rinse it all, done. I've never thought of that as inefficient.

In NYC if you leave dirty dishes around you start to get critters fast. No dirty dishes, fewer to no critters. It's not a "life hack," it's a rule of thumb.

When someone sent me this gambit a few days back I thought "bc OF COURSE I'm doing it wrong and the solution is $2 more."
posted by nevercalm at 9:02 AM on December 21, 2019 [3 favorites]

I love topics like this where there's just so many ways to do the same task and none of them is appreciably more "right" than any other. It's like perl, but for housework!
posted by phooky at 9:42 AM on December 21, 2019 [4 favorites]

Huh, At this point I've been in a lot of farmhouses and I've never seen one of these so-called "farmhouse sinks". In the house in the kitchen it's usually just a regular two sink kitchen sink and never a garbage disposal because that's what the compost pile is for and don't you dare throw that biomass down the drain.

For a utility sink there's usually one of those ubiquitous white plastic tub shop sinks in a mudroom, garage or shed.

In commercial kitchens and dishpits if you're doing dishes manually you're required by most health codes to have a triple sink. Sink one is extremely hot water and soap. Sink two is hot water. Sink three is cold water with bleach or sanitizing solution. It'd be hot water there, too, but hot water kills bleach and sanitizer and causes it to decompose and stop being sanitizer.

And hand washing is done in the handwashing sinks. Food prep in the food prep sinks, too. The dish sink is for dishes only.

If I was going to design my dream home chef kitchen I'd probably put in a triple sink and dish station with foot pedals and a sprayer. And a hand washing sink. And a food prep sink that would look more like a normal home sink, and/or embed one in a center island or cutting block. It would not be one of those weird "farm house" sinks.

And wait, hold up - there's people that let soap just dry on their dishes before the next use? Do you not taste it or get GI issues? Soap tends to give people diarrhea if you consume enough of it.

Anyway, I've become really good at doing dishes having spent plenty of time on the back line in a dish pit and give me a commercial kitchen triple sink I can rip through a pile of dishes the size of a compact car in less than an hour.

You just load up the hot and soapy side with all the dishes it can take and go totally ham on it. When you get fast you can really throw dishes around and scrub the hell out of them with zero breakage, like, you learn how to literally throw dishes into the rinse sink so they kind of belly flop and gently settle into the water instead of diving in edgewards and shattering on the other dishes.

And I hate doing dishes. I really, really hate doing dishes. It's my least favorite chore of all. I really don't like standing in one place bent over a sink and it's a right proper pain in my backside, non-figuratively. I'd rather scrub a floor on my hands and knees or *gasp* do a full inventory in a walk in freezer.

This may explain why my "dishes" are now basically a camping mess kit with a little pot, a titanium cup and some other really basic things. I think I have more coffee making implements than I have actual dishes. I have a couple of mugs with sentimental values for when I want a civilized cup of tea or have a guest over. I also have some small amount of glassware I've, uh, pilfered from a friend's bar as souvenirs but they all have plant starts in them.

I like all this just fine. I basically don't ever do dishes. Cleaning out my mess kit is as simple as boiling some water in it and scrubbing it out with a steel scrubber. If I really want to sterilize it I just get it smoking hot.
posted by loquacious at 10:03 AM on December 21, 2019 [4 favorites]

Lol I have one of everything because I am that damn lazy when it comes to cleaning. One plate, one bowl, one fork, spoon etc. If I eat with other people we usually go out so shrug. I maybe buy a bottle of dish detergent every 6 months and it’s usually some independent brand anyway. Megacorps that can’t keep up with the changing human landscape brought on by capitalism to begin with don’t concern me.
posted by Young Kullervo at 10:23 AM on December 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

I think what we've learned from this thread is that Australians, at least, are doing it wrong.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 10:47 AM on December 21, 2019 [4 favorites]

NZers (mostly) love our neighbouring Australians, and they are in our thoughts right now especially. But yes they are a lot hardier than us. I think in both our countries though, our dish soap is just not that harmful. Or maybe we are all just a bit feral what with living at the bottom of the world :)

At any rate, further googling has opened my eyes to the fact that the issue IS controversial in New Zealand - although mostly between foreigners and locals - and in the UK too.
posted by reshet at 11:32 AM on December 21, 2019

Labeling standards are different between countries so it's hard to make a direct comparison between brands, but based on the labels I've just read it doesn't seem like you have some special, safe type of dish detergent.

In any case, I don't rinse the soap off of my dishes because I'm afraid it will hurt me (though it might). I rinse the soap off of my dishes because I don't like the taste of soap.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 12:05 PM on December 21, 2019 [7 favorites]

Washing dishes is consumers' second least-favorite household chore, behind cleaning the toilet

Hold my beer: we have eight cats. I got a household chore that tops either of those.
posted by Ber at 12:29 PM on December 21, 2019 [10 favorites]

loquacious: Oh my god, yes. There are so many things that commercial kitchens get right that domestic kitchens don't. I honestly wonder sometimes if the problem is that builders are all men. Or interior decorator? Architects? I don't even know who designed my kitchen, but clearly nobody who has ever had to use one.

For example: in a commercial kitchen the stove has "open burners," which means that if you spill something it falls through the burner onto this tray that you can pull out at the end of the night and run through the dishwasher. Or scrub by hand if it's really baked on, but usually a vigorous scraping and a trip through the dish machine works fine.

Also, the dish machine does a load in 2 minutes, and it comes out so hot that all the remaining water flash-evaporates when you lift the door open.

I can actually understand why people don't install commercial dishwashers into their kitchens. It takes a long time to turn on, because the assumption is that once you've got it on you'll run it for 20 hours straight. It makes so much steam you need an exhaust hood over it. And it costs, like, $5k on the low end.

But surely open burners don't cost that much more? Why can't I get an open burner on a domestic stove? Instead here I am, having scrubbed my stove, now using a sponge to pick up the rinse water.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 1:00 PM on December 21, 2019 [4 favorites]

I have what feels like a large domestic kitchen but there’s no way four sinks would fit. Am happy with one sink big enough to fit a half sheet and some other stuff, and a combination of largest dirty dish as dishpan/ narrow stream of hottest water (MFK Fisher thrift-approved) / rinsewater of the clean is soaking water of the dirty as described above.
posted by clew at 1:14 PM on December 21, 2019

Dish drying has vanished completely, hasn’t it? “I’ll wash, you dry” was a companionable offer of conversation, in the day.

I think it turns out dish drying lets more microbes flourish and nursing and home ec schools campaigned against it.
posted by clew at 1:17 PM on December 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

I don't even know who designed my kitchen, but clearly nobody who has ever had to use one.

The kitchen in nearly every dwelling I've ever lived in seems to have been an afterthought they wedged into an existing floorplan at the last minute.
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:22 PM on December 21, 2019

As long as you used fresh drying towel(s), I can't imagine that it would spread significant microbes, you just have to remember to toss the one you just used in the wash and not leave it out to grow colonies. I just don't see the point unless you have such a micro-kitchen that you have no space for even a small dishrack, the air will do the work for you with no effort. Maybe it made sense if you had an enormous family or were throwing dinner parties on the reg, such that the dishrack wouldn't hold everything. But in that case, buy a damn dishwasher!
posted by tavella at 1:55 PM on December 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

Sounds like some of you people need a Dishmaster.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 2:48 PM on December 21, 2019

Dishwash water filter
posted by hortense at 2:52 PM on December 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

Dishwash water filter yt

This is delightful but what if one needs some dish soap, that may not be good for carp. I live in a valley alongside a river and have a septic system. I imagine all of the soap, not the food bits, that is draining into the river. So much soap.
posted by waving at 3:10 PM on December 21, 2019

So, drying, you would think that a fresh clean teatowel would be fine, but it is unlikely that you are cleaning your tea towels in a way that will actually kill all the microbes. Commercial laundries use a combination of, heat pressure and chemicals to kill off microbes and even they need to get regular sample testing to ensure they are doing it right.

It's not that using a clean tea towel would generally make your sick, but it can, microbes like clostridium perfringens and bacillus cereus are tough, and your home washing machine can't deal with them.

Cleaning as you go is a thing, but it's utility is dependant on how you clean. Scrubbing with dish soap makes no real sense, you use far more dish soap than you actually need and as a result you need to rinse it off. If you want to clean like that then have a bucket of hot and soapy with a brush, scrub the food off and stack aside for a final rinse of everything later.

If you're cooking and want to clean your dishes as you go, I think it's more effective to get some water into them while they are still hot and wipe out, hold your scrubbing pad with tongs if need be. The water steam cleans your dishes and has the bonus of not stripping your seasoning like detergent would.
posted by fido~depravo at 7:42 PM on December 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

THREE BINS FOR LIFE but that's just when camping, especially with my Girl Scouts.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:45 PM on December 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

Urgh Aussie here that rinses. Not all Aussies. :P

Drought mindset has definitely modified my dishwashing. I used to fill up a sink with suds for washing and one for rinsing, refilling as needed.

Now, I put an inch or so of water in, if I have a suitable large dish I'll use that- and use this water to refresh the sponge as I go. For rinsing I run the tap quickly then stack in the rack to dry. I will dry and put away knives, the rest air dries, and most goes in the dishwasher anyway.

The real issue is that our hot water is routed all around the house, so it takes ages to get hot. I assauge my guilt by catching the first run of water for the water filter.
posted by freethefeet at 9:29 PM on December 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

...or you can just put the dirty dishes on the floor & let the dogs have a go at it... ?
You just have to round up all the pots later that have gotten pushed / licked into the corners.
posted by cabin fever at 10:22 PM on December 21, 2019

IIRC, the problem with dish-drying is that wiping increases the odds of a microbe, some food, and some water coëxisting long enough for the microbe to reproduce. Scrubbed and rinsed and left to dry out of the splash zone, the three are usually sparse enough not to overlap.
posted by clew at 10:25 PM on December 21, 2019

>>Both links in this post are unavailable in the U.K. Can someone summarise it for me please?
>It's some horseshit about how some major multinational corporation is going to ...
>posted by Catblack at 1:41 PM ...

Haha, perfect. Thanks!
posted by faceplantingcheetah at 12:12 AM on December 22, 2019

I'm honestly surprised by how many people do the soaking in the sink/basin method. We don't have a lot of counter/sink space in our kitchen, just a single sink, and no dishwasher, so we don't let them pile up, which might be why I've never used the soaking method. If they need it, I rinse dishes so food doesn't dry on them, then put them in the sink. When it's time to wash, I take a pot or bowl, squirt a bit of soap into it, fill it with hot water and used that to clean the dishes with. I wash a batch, rinse them off, put them in the drying rack, and repeat until they're done. It's been working fine for 25 years.
posted by mollweide at 7:50 AM on December 22, 2019

meaty shoe puppet, you don't need open burners! What you need is a nice, perfectly flat induction cooktop, preferably mounted on a perfectly flat countertop, so when you spill or something boils over, it just runs all over the cooker, the work surface, and onto the floor, including the tops of all drawers and around the handles.


on the bright side, there is less actual scrubbing...?
posted by sldownard at 4:11 AM on December 23, 2019 [4 favorites]

My dad was very, very harsh about the way that he wanted the dishes washed, and still to this day i get anxious about having to wash the dishes. But i will admit that his way of doing it produces the cleanest dishes possible with the least amount of soap used. The thought of not rinsing your dishes is positively barbarian. Soap is a physical substance, leaving it on your plates makes your food taste like soap. Here's how to wash dishes if you don't want to get in trouble, according to george:

1)collect all the dishes from all the rooms. (this step is a bit of a trick question, because if you have a dish in a room other than the kitchen you are already in trouble)
2)rinse all the dishes, and as you do so stack them on the counter. Plates should be stacked according to diameter, bowls according to depth, and utensils should be in a cup, with knives pointing down.
3)once the sinks are clear, wash the sinks. Also wash the food catcher things.
4)fill up one sink with VERY warm water and a tablespoon of dish soap.
5)start with the plates. wash them and stack them in the empty sink. When they are done, rinse them and put them in the strainer.
5)repeat for bowls, then silverware. If at any point the strainer becomes full, stop washing and dry the dishes with a towel. Put them away. Start washing again with an empty strainer.
6)lastly is the pots "soaking" is not allowed. Scrub til cleaned.
posted by FirstMateKate at 8:33 AM on December 23, 2019

Soaking dirty pots is such an enormous time-saver - as someone upthread mentioned, water is an excellent solvent. Why would anyone choose to spend the sweat and elbow grease to scrub off cooked-on gunk?
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:51 AM on December 23, 2019 [3 favorites]

Also, I just recently learned the secret of how to get really cooked on stuff off: a generous amount of baking soda in water, then heat on stove for a few minutes, then scrape with a wooden spoon.
posted by tavella at 10:42 AM on December 23, 2019 [2 favorites]

A step-saving kitchen from the 1949 USDA.

Dishwashing starts at 13:30. Scrape, wash in the shallow side of the sink - less water, easier on the back - dry over the deep side. They refer to scalding and drying the dishes and there’s a airing closet for the dish towels.
posted by clew at 3:44 PM on December 23, 2019

P&G and the other soap makers have convinced people that terrifying germs are everywhere and must be defeated. It's sort of true, but at home, getting dishes reasonably clean is fine. You don't need them to be sterile. I have tons of dishcloths, got more in my stocking (yay), and they go in the laundry as soon as they are the least bit sketchy. I rinse out the sponge a lot. I wipe counters. My counters have never needed to be used for surgery. The microwave gets wiped out. If you have an immune-compromised person at home, different rules, but I'd rather occasionally re-wash a glass than use strong chemicals in my home every day. Advertisers are not truthful, if you stop watching ads, you'll buy less crap.
posted by theora55 at 8:51 AM on December 26, 2019 [2 favorites]

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