Thursday, 3 January 2013

Doing the dishes!

Copyright Miss Pupik 2008 Creative Commons
One of my multiple, utterly over ambitious New Year's resolutions this year is to keep the house in sparkling slightly better order with as little effort as I can possibly get away with.

Part of my grand plan to achieve this is a 12 week domestic dummy make over in which I adopt a new housework habit every week.

Habit #1 - Doing the Dishes
Over the last year I've worked out that "doing the dishes" is the daily habit that most saves me from mayhem.  And by doing the dishes I mean:

1. Start the day with an empty dishwasher
2. Put dirty stuff straight in it - NO stacking!
3. Switch it on straight after the evening meal
4. Empty it before bed or leave overnight with door open & empty first thing

Copyright Andy Melton 2010
The Big Benefits
The big benefit of doing the dishes is not having to fight my way through piles of dirty stuff before doing anything else in the kitchen, which is pretty essential as the kitchen is also my "dining room", "laundry room", "craft room" and "desk"!

Basically if I manage to do it every night it means:
- Work tops are always clear
- Sink is always clear
- In the evening I just shove in last things & switch it on
- Cleaning kitchen is quick wipe of worktops, sink & floor
- I always start the day with everything I need clean

Dishwasher Tip List
Running the dishwasher is really one of the few household habits that I do actually do most days but the problem is I am not very good at it! How hard can it be to load a blinking dishwasher you ask? But it is, it is! Too often plates comes out with little bits on them, glasses are covered with white deposits and pans just have to be washed again, so this week's aim is not only to make sure the dishwasher goes on every evening but to follow as many of these tips as I can in using it ...
Scrape but don't rinse!
Copyright Sean 2008 Creative Commons
  • Run a full load as more efficient & effective
  • But don't jam too much in - more effective to wash a few bits by hand then do again 
  • Scrape dishes but don't rinse - wastes water & energy
  • Read filling guidelines for your machine - will make a difference but in general:
  • Put big stuff in back and bottom
  • Face dirty side of dishes towards centre 
  • Put cutlery in handles down
  • Put washing up brush in - it breeds germs!
  • Put really congealed stuff in mucky side down to get full blast of water
  • Use white vinegar rather than rinse aid - just put in dispenser*
  • Don't put floury baking things un-rinsed into dishwasher as causes white grime

Tips for looking after your dishwasher ...
Whilst I have been pretty good at shoving as much as I can in the dishwasher, I have to confess I have done absolutely nothing to look after it and it turns out that dishwashers only perform if you're nice to them!  So I am also going to try very hard to make sure I do some of the following at least ever so often :-)
Make sure spray holes aren't blocked
  • Run short but hot empty load with either plain white vinegar* in bottom of machine 
  • Or run as above with cup of vinegar in top of machine + bicarb of soda shaken over bottom
  • Clean the spray arm - make sure holes aren't blocked up
  • Clean out filter with hoover
  • Clean out float
  • Clean rubber seals - try scrubbing with a paste of bicarb of soda on a toothbrush
  • Don't forget to wipe under bottom of door
  • If there's a steam vent on door clean it out
  • If you have hard water use a treatment to prevent smears
  • Store dishwasher tablets in water tight container as dampness undermines performance 
  • Avoid bleach based solutions that damage stainless steel and seals
  • Always keep door very slightly open when not running to prevent mildew etc
If you're battling with the dishes you might also like these posts from Oh Scrap ThatA Slob Comes Clean and The Chaos Queen

And whether you're a domestic dummy like me or a full blown domestic goddess - ! - do come and talk housework, parenting, babies, thrift and much more on Twitter and Google+.

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*Some manufacturers advise against vinegar but many people swear by it for both rinse aid and maintaining the machine


  1. Great idea! I too find that my kitchen stays cleaner when I keep up with the dishwasher and other dishes. It only takes a few minutes to unload and a few seconds here and there to put the new dirty dishes in throughout the day so why do I procrastinate so?? Good luck this week with keeping the dishes caught up!

  2. Alice ~

    Great ideas and tips on dish washing! Here's to a sparkly clean kitchen...starting with the dishes! Kinda like making the bed everyday...just makes the room look cleaner! :D

    Blessings ~

  3. love these tips- we didnt grow up with a dishwasher so I am still learnign :) thanks also for the plug to my site, so sweet! have a great weekend, newly following!

  4. Oh, I was hoping you were going to share the UK way of washing up. I've often seen in the kitchens of people here from the UK, a wash up tub and wonder why they do that. Why not just use the sink to wash up? The lady next door to me is from the UK so I might just ask her. Just forgot to ask. I'd love a dishwasher. One of these days. LOL

    Anne xx

    1. Definitely my mum and gran's generation all had a tub and I did when I first left home just cos I thought that was what you did. I think - but maybe making this up - that the idea is that because we have such tiny kitchens over here and only one sink that you did your dishes in the tub and your clothes in the sink so that you kept the two separate. I only got a dishwasher for the first time 2 years ago - despite my moaning about it, worth every last penny!

  5. Wow, thanks for all the tips! These are great.

    - Jocelyn @

  6. I agree with you. There is nothing that makes me feel more stressed in the morning than seeing a sink full of dirty dishes. Good resolution!


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