How Do I Adult: Washing the Dishes

Continuing my How Do I Adult series, today is about washing the dishes.

As usual, let’s all be kind. It’s ok to still be learning the basics and it’s ok to ask for help.

There are a lot of variations in exactly how one can go about washing the dishes, so first I’m going to talk about how I wash the dishes, then I’ll talk about some ways it can be done differently than my method to help you figure out what will work best for you, and I’ll finish up with talking a bit about dishwashers.

Things you will need

Dishwashing soap
A sink
A drying rack
Rubber gloves (optional)

Ok then. Here’s what I do!

First I turn on the hot water on high to get the hot water through the pipes. While that is warming up I will put away any dishes that are still in the drying rack from the last time I washed the dishes, and organize the dirty dishes so that they are easier for me to get through. I’ll stack plates together, bowls together, and pile the eating utensils all together.

Once the hot water is coming out the tap, I will lower the hot water flow and turn on the cold (I have separate knobs for hot and cold) and adjust the water temperature so that it’s about the hottest I can reasonably handle. Then I take my sponge and get it wet, put some liquid dish soap on it, fold it in half, and rub the halves together to get the soap lathered up. After that, it’s time to start washing.

I start with the plates. I’ll take my stack of plates and put the entire stack in the sink under the flow of water. Then I wash each plate one at a time – I pick one up, get it wet, use the sponge to thoroughly clean both the top and the bottom, rinse it off, and then place it in my drying rack. I start with the big plates and move to the small plates, as it helps them fit nicely in the drying rack.

Then I move to bowls. Again, I will place the entire stack of bowls in the sink and wash them one at a time, getting each one wet, cleaning each side, and rinsing it back off. I wash bowls from smallest to largest, again because I find that stacks best in my drying rack.

Usually around halfway through the washing I need to replenish the soap on my sponge. As I adjust to the water temperature I can sometimes also turn it a bit hotter.

As I am washing I will also wash the utensils, generally several at a time interspersed between the various other dishes I am washing. Each utensil also gets washed one at a time – I will wash the “business end” thoroughly and usually give the handle a quick wipe down. They then get placed in the utensil cup part of the drying rack business end up – except for sharp knives, which ALWAYS get put away point DOWN.

Sometimes cups will need to soak for a few minutes to make washing them easier, depending on what was in them (remnants of milk can be quite difficult to clean). As I get through the dishes I will start glancing at the cups and any I see with dried beverage on the bottom get a little bit of water in them to start soaking.

I usually do cups, pots, and pans last, along with miscellaneous things that need washing like measuring cups and such. If the drying rack is full at this point (or any previous point, if I had an unusually large number of dishes to wash) I will go ahead and empty it – if the water is nice and hot, the dishes generally get dry enough to put away within minutes.

As part of my dishwashing regimen I also wipe down the counters and the stove top and the kitchen table. Finally, I rinse out my sponge, squeeze out the water as much as I can and put it next to the sink, rinse out the sink if necessary and then turn off the water. I’m done!


Filed under How do I Adult

7 responses to “How Do I Adult: Washing the Dishes

  1. How do I get myself ready and out of the house, how do I get myself to do necessary things I don’t like. Both topics my son nearing adulthood struggles with

    • Thank you for the topic ideas! Those are good ones, and I am noting them down now.

      • I appreciate the consideration and love this series feel like theres so much in fo on what not to do and policies etc but not much practical info on day to day stuff…what works for one may not for another but at least its a place to start

  2. Great post! My main problem with washing the dishes is the feeling of soap on my hands and the sound wet dishes make when they are being washed. My skin is crawling when I only think of it. ( sorry for any mistakes- English is not my native language)

    • The feeling of soap can probably only be reduced by using gloves…I’ve always hated the feeling of gloves more than I hate the feeling of soap.
      Sometimes you can separate dishes into two categories: things that need soap and things that don’t (ie. greasy and non-greasy plates). That might reduce the amount of soap you have to use and the amount of time your hands need to be in contact with soap.
      As for the sound wet dishes make when they’re being washed…does listening to music help? You might be able to drown out the sound.

  3. If I’m having something like milk or oatmeal that’s likely to be awful if it gets dried on the bowl/cup, then when I’m done with it, I’ll put the bowl in the sink and fill it with tap water to let it soak until I’m ready to clean it with the rest of the dishes, which stops something from drying on the bowl, and also cleans a lot of the stuff off the bowl because soaking it dilutes it and means it’ll come off easier.

    Also, my sink has two compartments, so I tend to place dirty dishes on one side, run water over them, put soap on them and then put them in the other side, then when I’m done, I wash the dish soap off all of them one at a time. Otherwise, I find I have to pick up and put down the dish-soapy sponge all the time to keep it out of the water when I’m rinsing the soap off my dishes.

  4. merelyquirky

    I wash my dishes by hand (and currently need to dump my dishpans outside due to a professional-grade drain/plumbing problem). So I use 2 dishpans, one for washing and one for rinsing. So the water I run while waiting for it to heat up goes in the rinse pan.

    When water gets hot, I run just an inch or two in the washing pan with lots of soap. While water is very hot/soapy/clean, I wash all the glassware thoroughly, rinse by plunging into the cold water from before, and set in drainer. They come out very sparkly this way.

    Then I throw all silverware in bottom of soapy dishpan to soak while I wash plates and bowls.

    Since the location of the built-in light in my kitchen means my sink is in shadow when I stand at it, I put a table lamp on the counter on the other side of the dish pan, which helps me to make sure an item really is clean before I set it in the drainer.

    I leave cooking pots for last, and if I have run out of drainer space or the water is dirty, I add a splash of soap to the pot, run hot water in it, and leave it to soak for later.

    Then I dump my two dishpans outside, dry with a paper towel (mold issue in my house), and take a break. I’ll go back to the pots later, I’m too tired just now. But at least the biggest volume of work is done, so the remaining washing is less daunting.