I hate dishes.  I wash them, turn my back for five minutes, and when I turn back the sink is full of glasses and plates and there are two dirty pots on the stove.

We have a dishwasher, which makes things easier, but there are still tasks to do anyway:

  • Someone has to load the dishwasher
  • Someone has to run the dishwasher
  • Someone has to empty the dishwasher
  • Someone has to hand wash the pans, knives and other things that don’t do well in a dishwasher

I don’t have any special formula to make dishes non-existent or even especially easy.  I do, however, have some tips to help you get them done right.

Things that should not go in the dishwasher:

  • Knives – the dishwasher can cause the blades to dull more quickly and the heat can ruin the handle
  • Crystal (or the “good” glasses) and china – between the abrasive cleaners, high heat and the possibility of them knocking together during the wash cycle, putting these items in the dishwasher is a sure way to pare down your set.
  • Many plastics – some that are marked dishwasher-safe do not take into account the heated drying cycle.  These can be washed in the dishwasher, but use the air dry setting, put them in a dish drainer or dry them by hand.
  • Anything not marked dishwasher safe.  Those recommendations are there for a reason!
  • Non-stick pots and pans — even if there is a “Pots and Pans” load choice.

Generally, fill your dishwasher with plates and utensils in the bottom rack, and glasses/cups, bowls and plastic in the top rack.  Some manuals specifically tell you the best way to load a dishwasher.  If you have yours and it does, that’s terrific.  If not, just follow the tips above.

For hand washing, it’s best to rinse first, then fill the sink about half way with hot water and submerge everything in order of how much cleaning they need.  Generally, glasses first when the water is cleanest, then knives and other silverware, followed by any hand-wash-only plates, bowls, serving trays, etc.  Pots and pans go last, cleanest to dirtiest.

I’m not big on drying by hand, so I put everything in the dish drainer to dry, but if drying them so you can put them away right away works better for you, go for it.

As for a “schedule,” if you don’t have kids or a husband to help out, I recommend washing them all right after dinner to get them out of the way, and before you go to bed just do a quick check for anything you used after dinner so it’s clean for the morning.  If the dishwasher is full, run it overnight and, if you have time, unload it in the morning so you have less to do after dinner.

What dish tips do you have?  Are there any other questions you need answered?  Let me know in the comments.