CREATING THE REAL FAMILY EXPERIENCE: Doing Dishes after the Thanksgiving Meal

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Will it be dishwasher or dishes by hand?If you plan to wash dishes by hand this Thanksgiving, here’s the scoop on how to do it!  First, you will want to begin with a clean sink and you will want to keep it as clean as possible throughout the process. Before you begin washing your dishes, Melissa Briones, owner of Melissa’s House Cleaning in Lawton, Oklahoma, recommends, “Rinse your dishes. Discard all the food off of your plates and out of your bowls. If you have a garbage disposal in your sink, you can scrape the dishes in to that.” Otherwise, scrape as much as you can in to the garbage. By removing any of the loose food particles, you prevent dirtying your dishwater therefore preventing the need to continually change the water and add additional soap.


Once the dishes are scraped, fill the sink about half way up with warm to hot water. Add about a tablespoon or two of your favorite dishwashing liquid while running the water. Be sure you only use soap that is meant for dishwashing by hand. Dishwasher detergent is too strong and should not come in contact with skin.

Begin by washing the least soiled dishes. If you begin by washing the greasy pots and pans, you will have to change the water again before finishing the dishes. By cleaning the least dirty dishes first, the soapy water will still be fresh enough to carry on the task of cleaning the dirtier dishes afterwards.

According to Briones, “You should wash your plates in a circular motion, getting all the food and gunk off.” Be sure to wash the edges and backsides of your plates too. As for washing glasses and mugs, Briones says, “Simply put your dishrag into the cup, twist it at the bottom of the cup, and then twist it up at the top. Then, just wipe the outside of the cup. Rinse it off and put it in the dish rack.”

Utensils can be cleaned by holding them with the dishcloth or sponge in your hand and then rubbing them. You should clean not only the part of the utensil that comes in contact with food, but the handle also.

Caution should be used when cleaning sharp objects such as knives, blender and food processor blades, or choppers. When you wash these, but sure you are not grasping them from the sharp side of their blades. Wipe the utensil by placing the dishcloth over the dull side of the blade and keep your fingers away from the sharp side. Also, do not leave sharp items to soak in the soapy water. It is easy to forget they are there and, because they are hidden under the suds, you or somebody else could reach into the sink and get cut.

For the most part, dishwashing is a repetitive routine. Flat items, such as dishes, are washed in a circular motion. Deep items, such as glasses, have the dishcloth placed in them and are cleaned with a twisting motion. Utensils are cleaned by grasping them with the soapy dishcloth and rubbing.

As you finish cleaning each item, rinse it and place it in a strainer. If you don’t have a strainer, you can place one or two dishtowels down on the counter and set your items down on this. Most kitchen items can be air-dried, but you may prefer to dry them immediately so that you can put them away. Of course, there are some items that should always be dried right away, such as cast iron pots and pans, wooden bowls and utensils, and any metallic items that are prone to developing water spots.

When you are finished washing all of the dishes, drain the water out of the sink, rinse out your sponge or dishcloth, and rinse any soap suds or debris down the drain. (If don’t have a garbage disposal, do not let large pieces of debris go down the drain or you may end up with a clog. Simply wipe up the debris with a paper towel or napkin and dispose of it in the garbage.) If greasy dishes have been washed, you may see an oily ring around the sides of the sink. You should clean this off as soon as possible so that it doesn’t create an odor or promote bacterial growth. You can clean the sink with either a mild abrasive cleanser, a liquid spray cleaner, or even a little bit of dish soap.

Dishes can be cleaned in different ways. Some people prefer sponges, others prefer dish clothes. According to Briones, however, “You cannot use a dish sponge for too long because bacteria can build up in it. You might want to use one for a week and then discard it after that. I like to use a dish cloth. I use that for a week and then wash it.” The choice between sponge and cloth is mostly a matter of preference


  • Mike Sloan says:

    One tip. When using sponges around the kitchen, rinse them thoroughly after use, and throw them in the microwave for 5 -10 seconds while damp. This keeps bacteria under control.

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