I have been a wife for ten years and a mother for 16 months. I am not a stranger to caring for my family, but now the household under my care includes my husband, our 16-month-old twins, two geriatric dogs, and myself. All of us have different feeding schedules and dietary restrictions, with one thing in common: we all eat off dishes. And I do the dishes. Every day. Several times a day. All of the things my mother used to comment about my use and care of dishes when living under her roof, now are appreciated with older, more experienced, and dishpan hands, particularly after a recent dishwasher death and handwashing several weeks. I want to share my mother’s dishwashing laws for those who may be interested or need a refresher.
Starting with the dish/cup/utensil chosen, be thoughtful and use one that fits in the dishwasher or, if not, hand wash it and put it back in the cabinet clean and dry. It’s incredibly frustrating trying to fit the one dish that doesn’t fall into the washer mold. Equally as frustrating is squishing the sponge in the toe of the faceted, glass cowboy boot mug you had to use for your breakfast smoothie while humming “The Gambler.” And reusable straws are great for the environment, but *&$!@#, they are hard to clean.
Piggybacking on the boot mug, make sure whatever shape or style dish you use, take the 3.4 seconds to rinse it with water when putting it in the sink. Bonus points if you squirt some Dawn in there and give it a swirl. You hit a home run if you spend a whole 5 seconds, loading it into the dishwasher after rinsing. Nothing is worse than scraping and scrubbing baked-on, caked-on, dry food goop when you know a touch of consideration could have exponentially lessened your task.
When cooking, you do not need to put every condiment in individualized dishes as if you were cooking for an audience like Giada, Bobby, or the Swedish Chef. Nor do you need to use a different spoon every time you want to take a taste.
After cooking, pour out whatever fat into a non-plastic container while still warm. In this case, only, please do not put a fatty pan in the sink and run water over it. Once a sponge, Brillo, or brush gets greasy, it infects all your other dishes with its slimy film for at least 3-4 more washing cycles.
Dishwashers are thoughtfully engineered to make rows of like dishes. The placement is going in matters and most certainly makes for efficient unloading and organizational longevity for your cabinets.
And lastly, scrape your plate into the trashcan, composting bin, dog bowl, or disposer. Do not, I repeat, do NOT put a dish half full of food in the sink—no one likes to put their hands in your discarded food floaties.
Be kind, clean after you dine.