The Proper Way to Hand Wash Dishes


I am well aware that hand washing dishes is something that should be common sense unless you believe that you can dump a pan of oil into soapy water, wash it and still expect it to come out spotless, then we have a problem. Or a pet peeve. I have this pet peeve and didn’t find out this peeve until the I watched my dear husband hand wash dishes. He’s much better now but for the longest time I had to show him and ask him nicely to wash a few pots again since they were still covered in oil. I am ever so grateful that I have a husband who will hand wash dishes for me but I still have to leave the room when he does because I tend to be… overly helpful. :) In the end they come out clean and that’s what is really important here.

To properly hand wash dishes, you’ll need:

  • Hot soapy water
  • Extra soap
  • Scrubby
  • Optional, rubber gloves
  1. Scrap off excess food into trash.
  2. Place dried, crusty dishes into sink to soak.
  3. Fill one sink with hot soapy water and if you have a second, fill that with warm water with a splash of vinegar, to aid in a spotless drying.
  4. Start scrubbing the least dirty dishes first.
    how-to-hand-wash-dishesMost scrubbers have a scraper on the top to help get rid of stuck on cheese or other stubborn food crusties.
  5. Use a cup to corral silverware or sharp knives so you don’t miss any or cut yourself in the process.
  6. Continue hand washing dishes and changing the water as needed. You will need to change the water when there is more fat and oil on top than bubbles.
  7. Rinse soap bubble off your freshly hand washed dishes in the vinegar water.
  8. Lay out a towel or get a drying rack to recreate the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
    hand-washing-dishesI like to use towels to let my dishes dry on because they are much easier to hide once the dishes are done.
  9. Put away dishes once they are dry.

This is the way my mother taught me to hand wash dishes so I figured this is how everyone’s mother taught them. I have since learned that apparently you can forget important life skills like hand washing dishes because of the invention of the dishwasher. In case you have forgotten, or always had the luxury of a dishwasher and now have a broken one or lack of one, that is how you hand wash dishes.

Happy Washing!

Please feel free to share this post with stubborn teenagers who think they know everything.


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15 thoughts on “The Proper Way to Hand Wash Dishes

  1. I always feel too guilty to ask my roomie to wash something again, so I do it myself!
    I hate a greasy/grimy pot! I still need to ‘deep’ clean my kitchen more often–the only thing better than your tutorials would be having you here!

    • I still rewash the pots myself sometimes when I’m too lazy to ask DH to do it. I totally would help you Nikki! This one time I was helping a friend and ended up cleaning out her dryer for her just because I know how to. I think I have a problem. :)
      Thanks so much for reading; I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

      • You are a sweet soul! But what I really need is for someone with ‘fresh’ eyes and GREAT cleaning skills (this is where YOU come in!) to ‘crack the whip’ and get me cleaning! ;-)

  2. My dishes are rinsed off and absolutely NO food is in them when they are washed…..I used to put several drops of Clorox in my dishwater for yrs. & yrs., but recently I went to DAWN dishwasher detergent and it is the best ever…..I use plastic dish pans in the sink….can’t stand the thought of my dishes being washed in just the sink itself…..(just seems gross to me…..)I fill my pan with just HOT water from faucet, add dawn and let sit until I am able to put my hands in the water….then I will fill up the other pan with just HOT water, by the time those are washed, the rinse water is cool enough to put my hands in, (I also add about a tbsp.of vinegar to rinse water/ I then rinse them very well and put in dish drainer to drain , when it gets full, I then dry them with (cotton dish towels) no terry cloth dish towels as they leave lint…..I have a drying pad I use to put my glasses on to let them air dry, as I do not dry those….If I have a lot of dishes and water gets cold, I will start all over with more clean water and finish them…..(this doesn’t happen too often)
    When I cook something like mac & cheese , or whatever that seems to stick to the pot, as soon as I empty it, I run hot water with a squirt of dawn in it and let soak until I am finished eating, then I wash the pot out, and put to the side to be washed after my other dishes are washed…..I know some will say this seems like a lot of trouble, but this is the way I wash dishes………just sayin……………my daughter will tell you that I am too picky about washing dishes…..BTW she has a dishwasher….
    I had one also until about (4) yrs. ago. and now where I live we do not have them….so I am forced to do by hand…..but I really don’t mind it tho…..
    When I did have a dishwasher for yrs. & yrs. NOTHING went into the dishwasher with ANY food on it at all…..I pre-washed them first……they were clean when they went in…..they were sterilized when they came out…….
    I have always heard it’s best to let dishes air-dry…..but can’t stand clean or dirty dishes sitting out on or in the sink…….I like to get them dried and the pans and dish drainer put away…….

    • I have never thought of adding a few drop of clorox to the dish water but now that I think about it, I really like it. I usually pre-rinse my dishes before I even put them in the dishwasher and they look clean enough to eat off of, which makes me wonder why I own a dishwasher sometimes. :)
      Thanks for your tips and for stopping by!

  3. Always…..I love your blog…..and be careful of the Clorox, it is bad on your hands….but maybe because I was using too much :) gotta tell you this….I was using like a heaping daughter thought it was too much, so one day I was at the drugstore and I asked the pharamicist for something for my hands, and I told him I always wash dishes in Clorox, so he said how much do you use? I said about a tsp. and he laughed, and said are you washing dishes for an army ????? He said you only need a few drops… I started putting it in a squeeze bottle and would just put a few drops in, my daughter could not understand why I even used Clorox…..since I am only washing dishes for one :) so then I quit using it, and started putting vinegar in my rinse water…’s suppose to kill any germs too… now I feel better and my hands are not so dry…..but occasionally i still will use clorox, when i wash my blender and the blades and can opener, and certain things like that……….just sayin :)

  4. Adding bleach to wash water won’t be very effective because it will be quickly deactivated by the organic matter from the food. If you want to disinfect your dishes, the bleach should be added to the rinse water. Vinegar and bleach can react, so they shouldn’t be put in the same rinse.

  5. Pingback: Thrifty Thursday Link Party | Link Up Your Budget Friendly Blog Posts

  6. Thanks for the tips! I need to start adding vinegar to my rinse water. I live in a house that was built in 1940, on a US military base in Puerto Rico and needless to say there has never been a dish washer here…just me. I need all the tips I can get!
    Stopping by fro Thrifty Thursday
    Ashley @

  7. Bering married to a chef and being servsafe certified myself..we are pretty anal about how dishes are washed. We have stainless steel pots and pans with the exception of one nonstick omelet/crepe pan. Steel wool for the stainless steel ones! Love that!

    Also, I am strange and wash my sinks before I wash dishes in them. I had an old apartment (with an even older stove) and it had white ceramic coated steel sinks. No dishwasher. So, a bit of comet and a green scrubby and I would have clean sinks. I had to wear gloves because I used straight hot water and my hands are sensitive to almost all soaps.

    My grandmother taught me young to always make sure all soap suds are rinsed off the dishes, otherwise you will get the runs!

    Also, a tip for those who towel dry: it isn’t recommended to do it at all. If you do, always make sure you use a brand new, clean towel. You never know what might have been used on the towel between the last time you used it to towel dry!

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