Ten steps to washing up effectively

washingupNow I don’t know if there is much writing on this matter. It’s actually something I was taught by my food tech teacher when I started secondary school oh so many moons ago, but I feel that knowing how to wash up properly is one of those useful life skills that everybody should know, but that very few actually do know.  So if you’ve spent all your life using a dishwasher, or perhaps you know a teenager who’s had Mummy do it all and they’re just about to head off to uni, perhaps you could pass this handy guide to them to ignore make use of.

My credentials are won over years of experience as, except for 18 months of dishwasher bliss in one flat, I have been having to handwash everything since I left my parents’ house fourteen years ago. So trust me – this is how to do a really good job!

1 – Make sure your sink is clean.
I’d like to think this is so obvious it doesn’t need saying, but I have been in close contact with someone (who shall remain nameless) who runs a sinkful of hot soapy water into a sink that’s rimmed around with orange grease from previously washing up bolognaise plates and pans. Yuck. Goes without saying that if your sink is dirty and greasy, so will your washing up be.

2 – Wear rubber gloves
Yes, they look absurd, but their use is two fold. Firstly – they protect your hands from the rigours of washing up and will hopefully prevent (or at least lessen) uncomfortable and unsightly conditions like contact dermatitis. This is less important when you do the odd pan here and there, far more important when you’re in that sink two or three times a day doing all crockery, cutlery and cookware.  Secondly – they enable you to follow rule number 3…

3 – Have the water as hot as you can
Hence the rubber gloves. You’re trying to kill germs here, not just remove food residue, so you want the water as hot as possible: ideally this is hotter than a bare hand can reasonably stand without rubber gloves. If your taps dont run that hot (personally, our boiler is set to somewhere about molten lava…) then boil up a kettle to supplement it and pour it in.

4 – Less is more
You do *not* need gallons of washing up liquid to clean things satisfactorily. Half a tablespoon is more than adequate for the majority of washing up loads.  More than this and you’ll have to rinse every blessed thing less it taste of detergent, plus you’ll have bubbles to the ceiling!

5 – Establish a hierarchy!
No, this is not a family hierarchy whereby the lowest rank gets stuck with the washing up, but a logical order in which to wash up so you can get everything properly cleaned without running endless sinkfuls of fresh water. This is roughly it:
Glasses
Cups/mugs
Cutlery
Plates
Cookware
Obviously there is some wriggle room where you should use your common sense, but if you just chuck everything in together then you end up with everything greasy and glasses that are all smeary and grubby looking.

6 – Rinse rinse rinse before
Scrape off the debris into the food recycling, then rinse everything either into the side sink if you have it, or use a washing-up bowl and rinse into the sink down the side of it. I wish this, also, was obvious, but again I have first-hand experience of someone chucking plates still encrusted with baked beans and fried egg into the sink with glasses and everything else.  If it’s too dried on then soak it a bit first.  This goes double for things like casserole dishes where the food has baked on.

7 – Use the right tools
A sponge, a brush or a cloth are the best tools for the basic washing up. A scourer or wire wool is useful for dealing with baked-on food. Do not use a scourer for the standard washing up. You will wreck the dishes and leave bits of food adhered between the scoured-off bits. Trust me. Pick your tools wisely.

8 – Rinse rinse rinse after
Not everything, certainly, but if you give glasses and cutlery a good swish under some more really hot water then they’ll dry quickly and smear-free which makes them look so much more appealing when you come to using them again

9 – Use your brain to drain
If you leave bowls or glasses upturned not only will they not dry, they will collect drips (and possibly unseen debris) from things draining on top of them.  If you haven’t got a draining board a tea towel laid flat makes a reasonable substitute. Leaving to drain is more hygienic than using a tea towel generally, but if you have to dry immediately then use a clean towel and don’t mix it up with a hand towel. Ick.

10 – Clean that sink
This is especially important when flat-sharing or living in halls, or basically if someone else is going to have to have to use that sink other than you. Remove all large food debris, rinse away scum, if there’s any grease then use some detergent and wipe it down. Even if it’s just you who’ll use it next think how nice it’ll be to look at a clean sink in the interim and have it all ready to use.

So there you go – ten steps to effective washing up. If any of this is unfamiliar to you then I suggest you implement it and see the difference it makes!

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