Don’t get me wrong…I love my dishwasher and use it regularly, but there is just something about putting my hands into hot soapy water while looking out of my kitchen window. My view is gorgeous, especially now…rolling hills and happily decorated trees at the edge of the clearing. I love looking out onto the garden when it’s planted and flourishing.
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I can remember the way my grandmother washed hers…”First, you heat the water…” She had a single sink made of porcelain, and washed the dishes with powdered laundry detergent in a dishpan, rinsing in a second dishpan of clean water. She usually had someone on hand to dry and put away everything, then both dishpans were emptied with a flourish out into the garden, or on the flowers. She then wiped off the counters and table, swept and mopped the floor, and she was done. Her kitchen always had a faint fragrance of cornbread and soap.
Now, I am super-picky about my dishwashing. She Who Shall Not Be Named (one of my relatives…shhh) just crams all her dirty pots, glassware, silverware willy-nilly into lukewarm water with a minimum of soap. By the time she gets to the last few dishes, the water is murky and greasy. I have been known to surreptitiously re-wash my glass before drinking anything there. Here’s my routine:
1. Clear the table, and stack all dishes except pots beside the sink. Begin clearing counters from the outside toward the sink.
2. Run the tap until the water is super-hot, and fill the sink about halfway. Squirt a big dollop of dishwashing liquid. Big dollop.
3. Put your glasses and silverware into this hot soapy water. Take your clean dishcloth and wet it in this water, then wipe your table and chairs. Rinse the cloth, and begin scrubbing the cleared counters . At this point, your kitchen looks decent enough for sudden company.
4. Carefully wash your glasses, being sure you scrub around the rim of the glass. This one step, I believe, has helped us to avoid catching many nasty bugs. Rinse in HOT water, and set aside on a clean towel to dry. Add all silverware, utensils, etc. to your soapy water, let soak for a moment while you put your leftovers away, then scrub well and rinse in hot water. Let stand to dry.
5. If your water is still hot, then add your plates, saucers, bowls, etc. Wash and rinse as above. If the water is not hot or has floaties in it, drain it, rinse the sink, and run fresh hot soapy water before adding the plates.
6. Your plates, etc. should be nearly dry by now, from their hot rinse, so now add your pots and pans, adding enough hot water to cover. Some bigger items like roasters, etc. may need to soak while sitting on the counter.
7. While your pots soak, sweep your kitchen, and check the cabinets for drips or spatters, especially the lower cabinets. Scrub the top of your stove, using a Brillo pad, special cleaner, whatever it takes to shine that surface.
8. Scrub your pots. I don’t use soap on my cast iron cookware unless there is something very oily, sticky or odorous (like garlic). I scrub them with a kitchen brush, rinse in hot water, dry over a low flame, and re-season with Crisco. When I have cleaned all pots well, I use Cameo cleaner, or BarKeepers Friend, to remove any discoloration that may remain on the stainless steel. Needless to say, nonstick pans and cast iron do not need this step.
9. When all dishes are clean, leave them to drain, and set out a fresh dishtowel and cloth for the next day (if it’s night time). Mop your floor, and you are done.
This sounds like a great many steps, but once you have your routine well in hand, it goes very quickly. Now, fix yourself a cold beverage or cup of herbal tea, and relax. If you sniff hard enough, you might smell a hint of cornbread and soap.