3 February 2008

Washing dishes

I'm the first to admit that I'm not consistent with my washing up methods. I swing between using the dishwasher and washing up in the sink. I do this because I can't make up my mind which is the best way. I believe the dishwasher does a better job of cleaning, but I think I do a better job of looking after my kitchen ware if I'm actually touching it and cleaning it myself.

Of course there's also the issue of water, electricity and chemical usage. My dishwasher uses 68 litres of water per wash and I use it once a day. When I wash up in the sink, I do that after each meal, so to improve on the dishwasher I have to use less than 22.6 litres of water each time for washing and rinsing. Generally I can do that, but I don't save much. I think I'm coming in at around 18 litres, three times a day, in the sink, and a couple of litres to pre-rinse the plates. I'm probably saving about 8 litres a day by washing up in the sink. I'm going to see how I go washing up twice a day - breakfast and lunch combined and then dinner. I think I could store the breakfast dishes in the sink so they're not sitting on the sink waiting to be washed.

There haven't been very many studies done on dishwashers versus hand washing. There is a famous one that found washing in the sink used much more water, but the people they studied didn't put a plug in the sink and kept the water tap running over the dishes! How strange. I've never known anyone to wash up like that.

This is what I do. I pre-rinse the plates, removing as much food as I can. Sometimes I use a spatula to do this. I put the soap in the water as I'm filling the sink, then add enough hot water (usually around 14 litres) to suit the amount of dishes I have in the main sink. About four litres of coolish water goes in the rinse sink. I use my own homemade soap because it lathers and gives a better wash than the yellow laundry soap. I used to use one of the "green" detergents but think homemade soap is better. It makes the water look milky - that's okay.

My tools include a dish mop, handmade dishcloth, long handle brush, scrubbing brush and a steel scourer. I don't use rubber gloves. If the soap is left in the hot water while the sink fills, it becomes a bit soft. I rub the soap on the dishcloth and dish mop and use them for the glasses, cups, plates, bowls and cutlery. The soap is then put in the soap rack. The dish mop allows me to use hotter water than I could with just the dishcloth. The dish mop, and sometimes the long handled brush, are used for jars and anything that needs scrubbing inside. The steel scourer is used on pots and pans. BTW, a plastic handled scrubbing brush was almost ten dollars at the store. I bought this shoe brush instead for $2.45, it's just as good.

I wash up in this order: glasses and jars, cups, saucers, plates, bowls, cutlery, pots, pans. Everything is washed thoroughly and inspected for cracks and damage, everything is rinsed and left to dry. I only dry wine glasses because I want them to shine.

When I wash up in the dishwasher, I pre-rinse some plates, but usually just pack everything in after use. After dinner at night, I start the dishwasher up, it's unpacked the next morning. I use Finish powder every second wash and alternate it with washing soda. I don't use a rinse aid and I don't use dishwasher "fresheners". I use vinegar to clean the dishwasher every month.

On the days I work, we use the dishwasher because Hanno doesn't like washing up. I like washing in the sink so I do that on the days I spend at home. I would like to find an alternative to using my regular dishwashing powder so if you have any ideas, let me know. At the moment I use it one day and washing soda the next. I have also used half and half dishwashing powder and washing soda. It works well but using what I am now is easier and uses the same amount of both. I'm sure there would be a healthier alternative. I wonder what you're all using.

Just like everything else we look after, we also care for our cleaning tools. On the day I clean the dishwasher with vinegar, I make up a bowl of weak strength liquid bleach - about 2 litres water with ½ cup of bleach added - and I soak the brushes, scourer and dish mop in that solution for a couple of hours. They're all rinse and dried. After every wash, I shake out the dish mop so it dries out between uses. The dishcloths and tea towels are changed every day and washed with the general laundry. If the dishcloths are very dirty or greasy, I soak them in oxygen bleach (nappy soaker) before washing.

I'm sure there are many different way to clean dishes. If you've worked out a great way to save resources while cleaning effectively, please let us all know about it.
Blogger Template by pipdig