Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Very run-of-the-mill dinner Monday, angel hair pasta, a jar of sauce, and a regular garden salad.
Tuesday was potatoes au gratin, broccoli, and chard.

Going green and saving some money: Washing dishes

I've been avoiding writing about this because it's sort of a gross topic.  But since this blog is really just for me, and I've been wanting to record my methods, here we go.

First of all, here's a general idea of how soap works:
Little description
Little video

It's basically a matter of gathering up all the dirt, oil, and germs, releasing them from the surface of the item, and then rinsing them down the drain.

So, for dishes, I have a few techniques, and I can do a whole sinkful with only a gallon or so of water.

First, before the actual germs, there's the crusty food bits.  I like to do something that my husband hates, which is to dribble a little tiny bit of water on each plate or bowl -- swirl up the sides for pots and pans -- and leave them layered in the sink.  He wants to teach our kids to put them straight in the dishwasher, which I applaud, but then they're sideways and they drain and stay crusty.  (Which then necessitates using tons of extra water to essentially stand there and wash them before you put them in.)  I layer them with literally just a few drips of water each, but every time I use the sink more water fountains down the pile, so after a half hour (ahem, or more), I don't even have to turn on the faucet to scrub them off, I just go down the pile with the scrub brush in hand and de-crust them for the dishwasher.  OK, maybe I should specify that the leftovers are scraped off before all this...

I do the pots and pans, often even the smallish mixing bowls, by hand, since they'd be a waste of space and water in the dishwasher.  So I go through and de-crust, sometimes needing to do an extra swirly-soak (I really don't ever just "fill up" a pot to soak, I use the scrub brush to splash water up around the sides and come back to it) while I start on the others.  Once everything is relatively smooth on the surface, I get a squirt of soap in one of the bigger pots and fill it with a few inches of hot water.  Scrub, dump into the next pot, using the still-damp scrubbie in my hand to do the underside of the first one while I'm dumping; repeat.

The gross part is that there's not all that much water and so it gets gray fast, but as long as there is still soap in evidence, it's doing the work it needs to.  (See above links!)  In fact, you can even squirt soap straight on a wet green Scotch-brite and rub it around, and wash with almost no water at all for certain things.  (That especially works well for plastic bowls that are very oily, or for things that wouldn't hold water anyway such as griddles.)  I use that same few inches of water and squirt of soap for a good 6 pans, I only get more when I have a really huge backlog to wash.

Then, you give everything a good rinse -- I try to work really fast with the water running, laying a pan to dry with one hand while simultaneously rinsing the next with the other hand -- and you're set.

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