Washing dishes is quite the process – scrape food into the trash or garbage disposal, rinse, wash, rinse again, dry, and put away. Some folks may skip a few steps of this process, like the first rinse (since it uses so much water) or the towel drying portion (environmentally friendly to air dry, right?).
The exact particulars of how you organize your dishwashing process are up to you, but how do you wash your dishes? Are you supposed to wash them on the garbage disposal side or the side without? Does it even matter?
There are a few different opinions across the board, so let’s take a look at the varying viewpoints.
How To Set Up Dishwashing In A Double-Bowl Sink
Standard double-bowl kitchen sinks feature two bowls, generally the same size. Of course, some double-bowl sinks feature one larger bowl and one smaller bowl. That said, they’re usually close to the same size.
The double-bowl sink is ideal since it provides a convenient spot for washing and rinsing. If you don’t have a double-bowl sink, a single-bowl sink works just fine, but you’ll have to get creative with rinsing.
Which Side Should I Wash Dishes On?
If you have a standard double-bowl kitchen sink, setting up the sink is easy. Generally, it’s best to use the bowl with the garbage disposal for rinsing the dirty dishes before and after washing.
In some cases, washing dishes on the garbage disposal side might be easier, which is entirely okay. That said, using the disposal side for rinsing usually makes more sense since you can flush food scraps safely into the drain.
Scrape And Rinse The Dishes
If you like to keep clean (ish) water as you wash dishes, it’s best to scrape the food scraps into the trash or garbage disposal beforehand.
Then, once the majority of the food scraps are gone, rinse away smaller pieces into the garbage disposal. This way, your dishwater won’t end up with a disgusting amount of food floaters right away when you start washing.
Prep Your Sink
Once you rinse the dishes, stack them on the countertop next to the sink without the disposal. Fill the bowl (without the garbage disposal) half full with warm to hot water (as hot as you can tolerate) and a few drops of soap.
Don’t use too much soap, as excessive amounts can leave a filmy residue on your clean dishes. If there’s a leftover residue coating the dishes, you might ingest it the next time you use them. While small amounts of soapy residue typically aren’t harmful, some soaps contain harsh chemicals, like bleach.
So, make sure you only use as much soap as necessary. Generally, the manufacturer will recommend a certain amount for dishwashing on the back of the bottle. If your dishwater resembles a luxurious bubble bath, there’s probably too much soap.
Rinse The Garbage Disposal Side
If you rinsed excess food scraps into the garbage disposal, remember to clean the sink before you set clean dishes there. Saturate a clean sponge with the soapy water from the washing sink and scrub the opposite bowl.
Make sure you remove any leftover food scraps clinging to the sides of the bowl. Then, rinse away the suds with clean water. Now, you can set clean dishes in this sink as you wash them. If you want to save water, fill the sink bowl on the garbage disposal side with warm, clean water.
For a bit of extra sanitizing power, you could fill the rinsing sink with extremely hot water (between 165 and 180 degrees) and soak dishes for about a minute. Or, dilute a small amount of bleach in cool water.
Start Soaking The Pots And Pans
Chipping cooked-on food off pots and pans is overrated. So, save yourself the trouble and start soaking these dishes right away. After preparing the food, you can begin the soaking process while you eat your meal.
Or, if you forget, fill them with enough hot water to reach the cooked-on food and set them aside to soak while you wash the other dishes. Either way, soaking the burnt or cooked-on food will help loosen it, making your hand washing job much more manageable.
Wash The Dishes
With your hot, soapy water ready in one sink and the opposite sink clean, you can start washing dishes. While your dishwasher (if you have one) can handle most dishes, here are a few things you might want to hand wash:
- Wine glasses
- Fine china
- Baking and serving trays
- Kitchen knives
- Insulated mugs
- Anything hand painted
- Oversized items that could block the spray
Wash each of your dishes with a sponge. Or, if you detest sponges and the bacteria that are often associated with them, use a dishcloth or a silicone/plastic scrub brush. After you wash the dishes, rinse them in the opposite bowl.
If you have the opposite bowl filled with hot water, let the dishes sit for about one minute in the water before removing them.
Dry The Dishes
Your last step in this process (aside from putting them away) is to dry the dishes. You could prop the dishes on a kitchen towel and allow them to drip dry, or you can hand dry them. Or, if you have one of those nifty dryer racks, arrange the dishes in there. Make sure everything faces downward so water runs off and they dry completely.
How To Set Up A Single-Bowl Sink
Single-bowl kitchen sinks are another standard pick, especially for farmhouse sinks. While these sinks are ideal for washing oversized pots and pans, the lack of a division can be tricky for washing and rinsing. On top of that, you’ll probably have to use more water to fill the sink for handwashing.
If you have a single-bowl sink, there’s not much variation in the cleaning process since you can’t set up the non-existent opposite bowl for rinsing. There’s no “garbage disposal side” since you only have one bowl.
So, the way you set up the process is entirely up to you. We recommend scraping food scraps into the trash or garbage disposal, then rinsing the dishes to remove leftover bits. Then, set the dishes aside and scrub the sink with a soapy sponge to remove food bits.
Once the sink is clean, fill the sink partway with hot, soapy water. If you have an extra basin for rinsing, fill that with water (hot for sanitizing, cool for diluted bleach sanitizing). Wash your dishes, rinse them, and set them aside to dry on a drying rack (or hand dry them).
If you don’t have a basin for rinsing, you can always rinse the dishes in the main sink. Just make sure you don’t overflow the sink.