8 Keys to Washing Dishes by Hand

Do you hate washing dishes by hand? Do they still end up dirty? Today, we'll show you some tips and tricks that will make this task easier!
8 Keys to Washing Dishes by Hand

Last update: 27 May, 2022

Eating homemade food is one of the best things in life. However, after eating comes a task that few people want to do. It’s one of the chores that people tend to like the least: we’re talking about doing the dishes. In today’s article, we’ll share 8 keys to washing dishes by hand.

Even though dishwashers exist, there’s a lot of people that don’t have them. In addition, some people prefer to wash their dishes by hand because not everything can go in the dishwasher. Also, dishwashers use a lot of energy and require specific detergent.

Plus, doing dishes by hand has its advantages. For example, it can save water and consumes less energy. In addition, assigning this job to a member of the family each day encourages responsibility in children and teaches them the importance of working together.

Common mistakes when washing dishes by hand

Although washing dishes is a simple and intuitive task, it’s also easy to make mistakes. These errors can put your health at risk or damage your dishes and utensils.

Therefore, we must take a look at some of the most common mistakes people make when they wash their dishes. Our kitchens are the room with the most bacteria in our homes, especially by the sink. Pay attention to the following mistakes so you can avoid them and wash your dishes more effectively.

Keep reading: How to Wash and Disinfect Wooden Kitchen Utensils

Letting your dishes accumulate

Stacking up large piles of dishes, pots, glasses, and utensils is common, but unhelpful behavior. The first reason is that it creates more work for you. 

In addition, it makes the food dry out and it becomes harder to remove. Also, it causes bacteria and fungi to reproduce. Therefore, it’s best to wash your dishes and utensils while you cook.

wash dishes.

Using the same sponge for everything

Have you ever gone to take a sip of water, but had to stop because the glass smelled bad? That usually happens because you’re using the same sponge to wash everything.

Instead, it’s best to have one sponge for your glasses, another for pots, and another for dishes, cutlery, and utensils. This will also help you avoid contamination between different substances.

Ignoring the kitchen towels

A lot of people replace their kitchen sponges with rags. And some people dry their dishes with towels before putting them back in their cabinets.

However, bacteria and germs can grow in the fabric in those towels. Therefore, it’s important to wash your towels with hot water after each use and, if possible, to run them through the dryer at a high temperature.

Always washing with cold water

It’s very common for people to wash their dishes with cold water from the sink. However, that mistake can turn your kitchen into a hotbed for bacteria and germs.

The Food Safety portal from the United States Government points out that it’s essential to wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and countertops with hot soapy water to avoid cross-contamination. 

To help with that, you can also fill a large container with hot water and submerge your dishes and tools in it. However, it’s important to wear gloves or take other precautions to ensure you don’t burn the skin on your hands and arms. Also, it’s best to keep children away from the hot water while you wash the dishes.

Not removing food scraps before washing dishes by hand

Often, we put dishes in the sink, and we start washing them right away. However, this mistake makes the more difficult to wash and we end up using more water.

Instead, it’s best to remove any food scraps first and dispose of them in the compost or garbage can. You can use a paper towel to help do that. Then, get rid of the grease and it will be easier to wash the dishes.

Keys to washing dishes by hand

Although washing dishes by hand isn’t always a pleasant task, it’s still necessary. So, you must do it correctly. Also, you can make it more pleasant if you have a good attitude about it. There are also some tricks you can use to facilitate the process.

Here are some tips that will make the work easier and more hygienic.

1. Pay attention to your sponges

Research published in the International Journal of Food Microbiology investigated the growth and development of bacteria in sponges and brushes for washing dishes. The findings indicate that they are a conducive space for bacteria, like Salmonella. This is because they’re exposed to food, fluids, and water. 

In addition, the same study found that it’s more hygienic to use brushes than sponges for washing dishes by hand. So, if you want to have a more environmentally friendly home, you can replace your sponges with brushes made from wood and natural fibers. The fibers will help you spread the soap around.

However, if you prefer to use sponges, you should pay special attention to any bad smells or changes in color. Those are all signs that you should change it. 

2. Disinfect your sponge or brush frequently

In addition to changing your sponge frequently, it’s also important to clean it thoroughly daily, or at least 4 times a week. You should also do that for rags and brushes. 
To clean them, you can use boiling water and a splash of vinegar. Also, you can throw your sponge in the microwave for a minute, as long as it’s not wet.

You may also like to read this article: Five Tricks to Disinfect Your Kitchen Sponges

3. Use a mesh drainer

Washing dishes by hand can lead to a lot of food waste going down the drain. Over time, this problem could end up clogging your pipes.

For that reason, we recommend using a mesh drainer so it will catch any food scraps. These are also great in situations when things accidentally fall into the sink, like a ring. 

4. Wear gloves

Washing dishes by hand can dry your hands out and weaken your nails. Also, no one wants to touch wet food scraps.

Wearing gloves is an excellent idea to help you take care of your skin and make this task more pleasant. Try to buy them in a size that will fit your hands, and don’t share them with others in your house. It’s best for each member of your family to have their own pair.

5. Use homemade cleaners when washing dishes by hand

There are things we all have in our cupboards that can help with the cleaning processes. For example, vinegar, bicarbonate, coffee, and lemon are all helpful.

You can use warm water with lemon and baking soda to get rid of grease. Also, vinegar can keep containers from growing mold. In addition, coffee grounds are absorbent and help remove stubborn grease stuck to pans.

A jug of lemon water.

6. Wash your dishes in the right order

Although it seems like there isn’t much of a science to washing dishes by hand, doing it in a certain order is a great strategy. Similarly, it’s helpful to put them in the dish drainer in an organized way. 

First, wash the glasses and any glass containers. Then, do the plates and silverware. When it comes to silverware, it’s important to wash each one and to not try to wash them in batches. They’ll come out dirty if you do that. Lastly, finish up with the pots and pans, leaving those with any grease on them for last. 

7. Soak off stubborn food when washing dishes by hand

If you have a dish with food stuck to it, the best thing to do is soak it in warm water for a couple of hours. Also, you can take precautions to avoid this. 

If you’re making foods that tend to harden over time, it’s best to rinse or soak the dish immediately. Some examples of these foods are oatmeal, cake batter, and chocolate. 

8. Use lemon or salt to eliminate bad odors

Dishes, utensils, and pans often have unpleasant odors. For example, they might smell like raw eggs.

However, you can use two tricks when washing dishes by hand to help control those smells. First, soak the dish in hot water with salt in it. Then, add lemon juice to the water when you rinse the dish, after washing it. They both work wonders.


Now that you know some keys to washing dishes by hand and the mistakes you should avoid, our last bit of advice is to buy a good dish drainer. It’s important because humid and wet environments are the perfect habitat for bacteria to grow and cause bad odors. 

So, make sure to dry and clean your dish drainer once you put your dishes away. Otherwise, it will collect germs and bacteria. You can clean it with bleach once a week to eliminate any germs.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.