Abuelita and I were having a talk -- well, not really, but it sure sounds better than saying 'I was talking to myself and said to myself, "self..."' -- and we realized that there are probably tons of people out there who do not know about the joy of washing dishes by hand.
There's probably a whole generation of young people out there who just have absolutely no idea that you can even wash dishes by hand without going completely crazy. Well, Abuelita Lidia and I are here to tell you that it can be done. I do it all the time -- running the washer is not eco-friendly, no matter how efficient the washer happens to be. I had to make a choice between beating my laundry on a rock and washing dishes by hand and guess what won?
So the Abuelita and I sat down -- again not really, see above -- and decided to come up with a product to make handwashing easier and more friendly to our poor little planet. After that was done, we had the amazing epiphany discussed above, and hence, here I am to give a little "dishwashing 101" course. Been washing dishes since I was 8, so I think I've come up with a method that not only saves your sanity, but keeps your dishwater relatively clean and keeps excess water use to a minimum.
Reading this, it may seem like a long, long, task, but in practice, it really is pretty quick. I've spent maybe a good 1/2 hour in the kitchen after meals washing dishes and cleaning up. That's minus the chasing part. If you're one of those who have a TV in the kitchen, check out your favorite show. If you have a radio or MP3 player, plug it in and make the time go faster. Trust me, after the 2nd time you do the dishes, you'll find out it's a breeze. If you're like me and like a little alone time, you'll get it here. Unless you can convince someone else in your house that washing dishes can be fun.
So, here we go:
1. Get those dishes together: This is probably the hardest part. I know looking into the kitchen after a meal and seeing the stacks and piles of dirty dishes and pots waiting for me still makes me want to run screaming into the night, but I promise as soon as this step is over, it's almost a cake walk from here. Get the glasses together, the silverware, the dishes, the pots, and put them on your counter. Scrape those plates (or get the kids or SO to pitch in), empty those pots, and you're ready to go.
2. Grab your dishpan: If you don't have one, go get one from one of the discount stores. They range between $1 - $2.50, depending upon how fancy you want to get. You do want to get one that's going to stand the test of time, and one that's big enough to get the job done. Here is a good example of a nice dishpan.
If you're one of the lucky ones who have a divided sink, do a dance of joy! Your job is half done.
3. Get your dish-soap: Of course, I'm going to suggest using Abuelita Lidia's Dishwashing Powder, but whatever you use for handwashing dishes is going to work, as long as you're going green!
4: Dish-Soap in First: Sprinkle about a 1/2 tablespoon of powder in the bottom of your dishpan and fill it with the hottest water you can stand. This is an important step -- cold water washes no dishes, just spreads the grease around.
DIVIDED SINK FOLK: Fill one side of your sink with hot, soapy water and the other side with cool, clear water. This is all the water you will need.
Still with me? Good.
(and don't laugh at the pic above... some husbands do help with the dishes. honestly.)
Now comes the washing. This may sound absolutely insane, but this the most fun part of dishwashing for me. I love the feeling of the warm, soapy water, and the way your dishes look when they come out all sparkly clean, by your hand-power alone. But then, I used to get tickled pink when I saw the old commercials for Joy. No, don't call the happy truck yet.
There's a specific order to hand washing dishes. Can't just throw the dishes in and pray for the best -- that's where it starts to get ugly, and that's why I had you go through that little preparation dance earlier.
GLASSES FIRST: Wash your glasses first! There is nothing on this planet worst than a greasy glass. And while my 14 year old son hasn't quiet figured this out yet, trust me when I tell you that you will have the highest sense of accomplishment when you pull those glasses out of your water and their clean and shining. As you wash your glasses, set them in the bottom of your sink, beside the dishpan (or in the rinse portion of your sink, for you lucky divided sink folk). Only turn on the faucet for rinsing when you have something to rinse. Don't leave the water running.
Continue washing in this order:
Dishes (eating plates)
By now, your dishwater will be a little murky (especially if you DIDN'T scrape your plates). That's okay, though. If you want, refresh your water with a little more hot water and a sprinkle more of soap. Trust me.
At this point, you may want to stand back and admire your work, go take a break, (have a drink, chase the kids, chase the SO), because your dishes are drying in the rack. Once they're done drying (or you're done chasing), get the dishes and glasses out of the way and get ready to tackle those pots and pans.
Grab a scrubby and go to town. This can become a onerous task if you let it become that way, but, guess what? Washing pots and pans can take you back to those days when you could get all dirty and wet and not get in trouble. Yes, I know, we're all mature adults here... oh, we're not? Okay then, have fun!
Once again, wash the "cleanest" of the dirty pots first. If your water is done by this time, you're okay. Without a shred of guilt, you can dump that water. Sprinkle the dishwash powder directly into the pot and run some hot water, and scrub. Dunk it in the rinse water (which should still be relatively clean), and put it where ever you put pots. If you have fancy pots, then do whatever the instructions tell you to do with the pots. Far be it from me to tell Wolfgang Puck what to do with his pots and pans!
Take yourself a deep breath... because you're done with the dishes.
Now check this out. Maybe you could use it to relax after your fun in the kitchen is done.