(when the idea sounds about as appealing to you as peeling off your own fingernails)
Here are some things to try.
- Use a decent dish soap. The house brand is not decent; it's
slimy gunk that will barely cut through anything, or rinse off. Try a name brand; I
specifically look for ones with a lotion in them. They're far less gunky, and
though I can't stand the texture of lotion normally, it's just right in this context and
is an excuse to moisturize my hands that I don't have otherwise.
- Use a decent dish sponge. Again, the house brand is not decent. You
shouldn't be using a single sponge for more than a month, if it's avoidable.Get a
name-brand sponge; the 'scrub' part should feel like a cat's tongue, not like wet felt.
- Try gloves. Personally, I can't stand dish gloves as they leave a
pungent residue on my hands, but my spouse (much more sensitive in this regard) swears by
them. There are a few types of gloves you can get; latex is not your only option. You can
also try disposable gloves, like they have at the doctor's office, if you're particularly
germophobic (plus you should really be wearing them for some sanitation tasks anyway; I
handle old, raw meat with my bare hands regularly but that doesn't mean you should, and
those gloves probably shouldn't be the same ones touching clean dishes).
- If you can, get a dishwasher machine. This won't free you from
dishwashing duties entirely (unless you solely eat soups or grease-soaked foods), but it
will remove a lot of variables, at the cost of some caveats; see the section on
- Silverware and dishes do not go together. Silverware getting piled in
with dishes as they're just haphazardly piled in the sink is how you end up with a sink
that's far too full to clean anything or even put your hands in.
- Instead, put all the silverware in something large and tall you have to clean,
like a mug, and soak them in it.
- Your sink should be mostly empty when you're washing dishes. You need
room to clean; the sink is a work space, not a place for dirty dishes. It's OK to soak
them there, but you should have a way to move them out when you're ready to clean.
Otherwise, you end up with the 'full sink dilemma' mentioned above.
- Soak, soak, soak. If you have to aggressively scrub food off a dish, something
went wrong. Either use a particularly large piece of kitchenware (I use a mixing
bowl, since that usually gets dirty every day or two anyway) or a bucket specifically
designed for the task (they sell these at the store next to the trash cans where I live),
and make sure that when dishes go in, they'll come out wet and ready to be washed. This
is doubly important if you live anywhere with low humidity. East-coasters may not
realize the necessity of this, but in a desert, food will practically fossilize
onto a dirty plate in a matter of hours.
- Stack dishes logically. Bowls of similar dimensions and angles? STACK.
(Remove the silverware. Silverware and dishes don't go together, remember?) Cups and bowls
with handles? Pile them in a bucket; preferably sideways, so as much of their surface area
as possible is submerged. (They can't be stacked, really.) Anything that can be stacked
should be stacked. This applies to cabinets, too.
- If you have a really bad build-up of dirty dishes, endear a drier to your cause.
This is a good excuse to invite a friend over. If the laundry is also dirty, it's a good
excuse to wash the towels. You need someone to dry the dishes so you can cut straight
through the backlog; otherwise, they tend to build up nearly as fast as you can
wash->air-dry->put away, and it can take days to get through it all. You can do this
yourself if absolutely necessary, but it's far more efficient to have someone drying them
and putting them away as you wash.
- Dishwashing is boring, so enlist some company. This can be a friend, a
podcast, some music, a show, or anything else you like. I approach it similar to exercise;
my body is doing a lot, but my brain is effectively doing nothing. This is not a good
arrangement for me, unless I'm intentionally trying to meditate, which is personally not
something I do while dishwashing. Additionally, I wouldn't try doing another boring or
stressful task while I was washing.
- The dishwasher cannot soak your dishes. It will make a valiant attempt,
but if you live in a 'food-fossilizing' dry region, there's only so much it can do, so
apply the same soaking strategies you would with hand-washing.
- The dishwasher will have an extremely hard time cleaning significantly concave
dishes. Like cups. Beware the mug full of dried yogurt on the top rack.
- Generally, I don't trust dishwashers to wash my dishes so much as clean
them; perform that extra level of rinsing, shining and sanitizing, and drying
that I don't have the time or energy to. i.e. I'll clean a dish, but I won't rinse it;
just put it in the dishwasher. Maybe your dishwasher is better than the ones I've had the
honor of interacting with; do a few 'test loads' (do fully load it, though; you need
dishes in all locations to see what obscures what) and find out.