(Photo: Getty Images)
Not every home or apartment owner is lucky enough to have a dishwasher (cough, city dwellers, cough), and most of us don't have a ton of time to spend cleaning dishes. The dish-washing process is tedious, to be sure. But there are hacks to make it go faster.
We spoke with Jolie Kerr, Deadspin columnist and the author of "My Boyfriend Barfed In My Handbag ... And Other Things You Can't Ask Martha," as well as Dr. Kelly Reynolds, a professor at The University of Arizona and a public health educator specializing in food safety and disease transmission. Behold, seven tips for ultra-speedy dish washing so you can clean up, dry off and get ON with your life.
1. Switch to a soap with the right ingredients.
Look for antibacterial soaps with lactic acid, which provides antibacterial benefits and gets the job done fast. Soaps with lauramine oxide, like Mrs. Meyer's and Method, have grease-cutting power, says Kerr.
2. Use a sanitizing rinse.
Dipping dishes in a sanitizing rinse will mimic part of the process they go through in a dishwasher, and it'll provide peace of mind that your dishes are clean, even if you don't scrub them for hours. After washing, dip your plates in one gallon of water with one teaspoon to one tablespoon of bleach. Reynolds says you can also use this solution to clean your dish sponge and your sink in a jiffy.
3. Be patient. Let dishes soak.
It's tempting to start scrubbing caked-on food right away, but do yourself a favor and let pans soak in a sink of warm, sudsy water first. "Those couple minutes of soaking time are going to go a long way in making things a lot easier to clean," says Kerr. It'll loosen food particles and save your hands from sponge-induced fatigue. For pots with burn marks on the bottom, soak in salt and cold water overnight, then boil the water to remove grime.
4. And while you're waiting, go get a serious sponge.
Kerr swears by the Dobie Pad sponge. "It's covered in a plastic netting that allows you to scrub like a Brillo but it doesn't cause any scratching," she says. Lysol's scrub sponges are also a strong, scrub-worthy alternative to the average dish sponge, for a comparable price.
5. Use cold water to un-stick dairy and starches.
Rinsing ice cream or butter off a plate with hot water can cause it to gum up, Martha Stewart explains on her blog. Take her advice, and get these foods off with a cold rinse before continuing to wash the dish in warm water.
6. And make baking soda your grease-dissolving best friend.
Coat a sticky, greasy pan with one tablespoon of baking soda, and cover the bottom with water. Heat it up a bit, then scrub the gunk off in mere seconds.
7. Don't stack dirty dishes in your sink.
It's a small tweak, to be sure, but have your guests or roommates leave their dishes on the counter next to the sink, not inside it. Remember: You need to leave your sink open so that you can actually wash those dishes. Unstacking and re-stacking is going to make washing your dishes take longer, and ain't nobody got time for that.