No matter how often you load the dishwasher or clean out the sink, it’s only a short amount of time before more cups, plates, random silverware, and bowls will end up filling it back up. How much time do you spend each day at the sink scrubbing coffee cup rings and sippy cups?
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, people spend 37 minutes on average preparing and cleaning up from meals daily. Perhaps you want to reduce that time, or you just want to be able to sit down after dinner and not have to think about what’s in the sink. Even if you use a dishwasher or decide to ditch the dishes for paper plates, plenty of other items will pile up, requiring you to spend your time stuck in the kitchen. You can’t get rid of the process, but you may be able to make doing the dishes easier.
1. Prep the sink for dishes
One of the easiest ways to speed up dinner dish cleanup is to ensure your family and sink are ready to go. Start with creating a basin of hot soapy water, to which you can add some baking soda, according to the Cleaning Institute. Ensure each plate is scraped fully before placing them into the basin to soak. That basin could sit for a few minutes or up to a couple of hours.
As they soak and you grab a quick episode of your favorite show or wrap up homework, the suds effectively break down most of the food particles. That way, when you’re ready to wash them or put them into the dishwasher, it’s far faster and more efficient. This doesn’t get you out of doing the dishes, but that caked-on food from the lasagna pan is sure to come off quickly and easily.
2. Cut back on the number of dishes you have to clean
How many cups or glasses does your family use each day? Consider a Saturday when everyone is home. Each time they want to drink something, they go to the cabinet to pull out another cup, and that means there’s one more cup to wash and deal with that day or the next day after you’ve found the cup in their room forgotten.
Limiting the number of cups being used helps to save time, and making that happen doesn’t have to be difficult. Simply encourage your loved ones to use the same cup several times. This Simple Balance states one easy way to manage this is by labeling cups with a marker, which should wash right off later. Another option is to use a rubber band placed around each cup with a unique color for each person or with each person’s name child to ensure you know who’s cup is where.
3. Buy the best soap
The best soap for dishes isn’t necessarily the most expensive product on the market, but it is the version that’s going to work most effectively to clean your dishes. There are dozens of options to choose from, including all-natural formulas and the stuff your grandma used to use. Which one is best?
RusticWise.com states the highest quality products clean most effectively because they tend to have a high concentration of surfactants, also called surface-active agents. These components help break the tension on the surface of the water. As that happens, it allows for any debris, grime, grease, and dirt to just wash off the surface of your plate or dish. Look for those with anionic surfactants, such as natural soaps, or those with ingredients like the following on their label: alkane sulfonate, alkyl ethoxylate sulfate, or alkyl sulfate. These products are more effective in the way they work and do more of the hard grime removal.
4. Use the best sponge for scrubbing
Hopefully, if you’re soaking dishes and pots before you start cleaning, the job is a bit easier, but using the most appropriate scrubbing tool will make your job even more efficient. The Cleaning Authority points out there are numerous types of sponges you could use, but it’s best to choose those suited for the type of work you’re up against.
A cellulose sponge has small holes to allow it to absorb more liquid soap, which helps it do a great job on dishes, whereas an abrasive sponge has small plastic loops that are better for hard scrubbing, like cleaning a pan. A wire sponge provides even more grit with its sharp-edged steel design, but that’s best used on surfaces you cannot scratch, like glass. For an all-natural option, go with a sea sponge, which grows on the bed of the ocean and makes a fantastic sponge for washing dishes.
5. What about that pan?
There’s often a pan you just don’t want to touch because, even after soaking it for hours, you know it’s still not going to be easy to clean. One of the sponges above may help, but it may also need more than soaking to get it clean. From burnt-on foods to heavily greasy pans, these are some of the biggest time-sucking pans out there when it comes to washing them.
The Organic Maids has a few tips to help, starting with soaking it for hours or overnight to loosen the material. Then, it’s possible to use equal parts of baking soda, vinegar, and hot water on the surface to break down the material. You may still need to use a scouring pad to really get the grime off, but it should wash away much easier following this method. Some types of pans, like stainless steel, take a bit more hard work to get clean, unfortunately.