Clean Dishes Quicker: How to Cut Dishwashing Time in Half

Clean Dishes Quicker: How to Cut Dishwashing Time in Half

Use these tips to get out of the kitchen after meals in no time flat.

By: Amanda Formaro

Washing the dishes after a big meal can take time and effort but with these tips you can save yourself some time and get back to enjoying the night with your family.

Before the Wash
Whether you are hand-washing the dishes or loading a dishwasher, these time saving tips apply to both situations:

  • Disposing Solids : Always scrape dishes right away. Use your garbage disposal or scrape solid food waste into the garbage. Once food dries onto your dishes, it will require soaking or scrubbing to remove.
  • Rinse : After scraping food from dishes, rinse them in warm water to remove food particles, sauce, etc.
  • Clearing the Table : Designate one person to clear the table and gather dishes, or have each person bring their dirty dishes to the sink.

Washing Dishes by Hand
You might be surprised at how many people still wash their dishes by hand. Many homes come complete with dishwashers, but a large percentage of families choose not to use them. Whether your family does or not, here are some tips for getting it done quickly the next time you’re washing the old-fashioned way.

  • Wash ASAP : If possible, wash dishes right away — and as you use them — instead of piling them into the sink. While we are usually on our way to running out the door and just can’t, taking the extra 20 seconds to wash a bowl and spoon from breakfast can make a surprising impact at the end of the day.
  • Sorting : When faced with a sink full of dishes, remove each one and sort on the counter. Stack plates and bowls together, and nest cups inside of each other until your sink is empty.
  • Getting Them Clean : The hotter the water, the easier it is to remove residual food. If your dishes were rinsed right after use, cleaning will be a breeze. If not, soak the dishes until the food can be wiped away. Use quality dish soap and a sponge with both a soft and scrubber side to get the best of both worlds. Baking soda can be used as a mild abrasive if needed.
  • Washing by Type : While you might not think it matters, washing your dishes by type and in a certain order will save space in your dish drying rack, thus saving you time having to empty it several times during the washing process.

Wash utensils first, plates next — stacking then neatly — then the bowls and your mugs go in afterward. Wash glasses and cups next. Pots and pans should be done last.

  • Drying and Putting Away : To finish up this task, instead of leaving one for yourself when you get up for morning coffee, have someone dry them and put them away. In less than 10 minutes, you’ll have an empty drying rack.
  • Clean the Sink : Nothing looks better in a kitchen than a freshly cleaned sink. Use a cleanser appropriate for your type of sink and be sure to squeeze any excess water out of your sponge to keep odors at bay.

Using the Dishwasher
While many people joke about dishwashers and how you have to wash your dishes before placing them inside the appliance, they really can be helpful if used properly. Here are a few tips to keep your kitchen tidy and make use of your dishwasher efficiently.


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  • Load Right Away : Get family members accustomed to loading individual dirty dishes right away. If Sally has a bowl of cereal for breakfast, she should rinse her bowl and spoon and place them in the dishwasher.
  • Use Proper Portions : Be sure that you are using the correct portion of dishwasher soap and rinse agents. Using too much can leave residue on dishes while not enough could result in dishes having to be washed again.
  • Big Loads : While you’ve been loading with a bowl here and a spoon there throughout the day, a wave of dishes comes after dinner. Do it right away, don’t wait. Get up from the dinner table and scrape, rinse and load. Fill the soap compartment and turn the dishwasher on.
  • Unloading : Designate someone to unload the dishwasher and put the clean dishes away each morning. If this is a child’s chore, it can be done before school, in less than 10 minutes. By unloading the dishwasher the first thing in the morning, you will start a new day with an empty machine ready for the day’s activities. Your child will acquire a nice habit, too.

Doing the dishes doesn’t have to be difficult and your sink doesn’t have to be full all the time. A little planning and getting into a routine everyday can save you a ton of time and leave your kitchen happy.

Amanda is a mother of four, craft designer and recipe developer who also runs several sites, including Crafts by Amanda , Cooking with Amanda and the Secret Recipe Club. Her work has appeared on and as well as in Parents, Redbook and Mixing Bowl magazines among others.


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