The first 5 years of my marriage were spent doing dishes by hand. It cracks me up when I think of how I used to stand there and wash each dish one by one because I was too lazy to take all the dirty dishes out of the sink and fill it with hot soapy water. Thankfully, I came up with a better hand-washing system over time.
The day we got our new dishwasher, a new era had begun. I couldn’t believe how much easier life was! It’s amazing to me that I spent the first year of my son’s life without one, especially since I had not yet embraced the beauty of paper plates (read more on that here).
Even with this novelty right at my fingertips, I still struggled to keep my dishes done all the time. Can you relate? I think it’s definitely psychological- we think we have all this extra time to get the dishes done, so we procrastinate and they pile up like crazy. And when the kitchen’s dirty, the whole house feels dirty!
The solution? A game plan for how to load a dishwasher and use it to it’s full potential. Knowing how to load a dishwasher seems obvious… but there are a few tips and tricks that will save you time! In this post, I will share how to load a dishwasher in the most efficient way, saving you time and sanity. I learned most of these tricks from my mom, who hardly ever has dirty dishes in the sink (or on the counter tops)! Here are my top tips for staying on top of those daily dishes.
Don’t wait for a “full load” to run the dishwasher.
I think this is where we often get tripped up when it comes to staying caught up on dishes. If you don’t run the dishwasher frequently, later it will be crammed full. The dishes won’t get as clean, and you’ll still have some sitting in the sink that won’t fit. When I stay with my mom and ask if she wants me to start a load that’s not full, her response is always, “Well, there’s another meal coming up.” This needs to be our mentality when it comes to doing dishes – it never stops!
I saw a funny kitchen sign recently that said, ” My kitchen would be clean, but these people keep eating here.” So true! “But Mary,” you say, “isn’t that a waste of water and electricity?” Well, I’m glad you asked, as it leads me to my next point…
Learn to use the quick wash setting.
Your dishwasher almost definitely has a “quick” or “rapid” wash setting, which I venture to say you’ve probably never used. Try it! It does an awesome job, and since it doesn’t take long, uses a lot less water and power – making the more frequent washes economical. Plus, it gives you time to unload before the next meal happens. The only caveat to this would be if someone in your house is sick – then I like to do a sanitize or extra hot setting. You may be wondering, “Does the quick wash do a very good job with extra dirty or caked on dishes?” This leads me to my final tip, which is…
This is vital. Most of the time, if I neglect this step, I have to wash the same dishes twice. (Don’t act like you’ve never left that same crusty pan in there for 3 cycles ?). The easiest way to do this is to fill a sink with hot soapy water while you’re cooking. As you dirty things, throw them in the sink. Later, you won’t even need to wipe them with a rag – just stick them in the dishwasher!
It’s also great to use a natural dishwasher detergent, but finding one with the same effectiveness can be a challenge. I’ve tried a few different kinds (even tried making my own), but this is my favorite so far: Ecover tablets. I buy them on Amazon, and they seem to do a better job than any other natural kind I’ve tried.
Another brand that has great reviews is Method Smarty Dish Tabs – you can get them here on Grove Collaborative. By the way, Grove Collaborative is the perfect way to stock your home with natural cleaning products. They’ll even give you $10 to spend when you sign up and $10 more for every friend of yours that signs up. Click here to get your $10 from ePantry!
Drying tip: I like to use heated dry on my dishes, but it still seems like the tops of my glasses always have puddles of water. My great aunt gave us this tip – use your dish towel to pat all those puddles dry at once while they’re still in the rack. Also, unloading the bottom first will prevent drips from the top from getting everything wet.
Remember: wash frequently, make friends with your ‘quick wash’, and rinse beforehand. I hope these tips saved you a little bit of time and sanity on this never-ending chore!
Share if you found this post helpful! What dish cleaning tips have you tried?