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I don't know how to wash dishes correctly

I've had my own place for seven years, and I've never owned a dishwasher, but it's gradually dawning on me that my dishes look horrible I wash them and let them dry. Particularly on stainless steel and glass items, there's always film and spots and cloudy, streaky residue no matter how much (or how little?) I wash and rinse. I wish they would just look shiny and clean.

I only have one basin, so I can't use separate sinks for washing and rinsing, if that makes a diference. Help! I need remedial dishwashing tips.

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  1. Do you dry your dishes after washing them or do you simply let them air dry? Using dish towels or paper towels to dry your dishes after washing should prevent the spots.

    1 Reply
    1. re: doraji

      Flour sack dish towels. Paper towels don't work as well, and contribute to the landfill.

    2. Since you have only one basin for washing and rinsing, I have an idea for some of your smaller items--it won't help much with big pots and pans, though. I have a big, super-wide metal salad bowl which I fill with hot soapy water. I use that to wash the dishes and use the sink to rinse everything really well.

      My roomie has the same problem you do with the streaky/filmy/spotty dishes, and I notice that he does not scrub the dishes completely with a brush. I use a really good, stiff vegetable brush that I get at the grocery store and make sure that I brush the dishes all over, then rinse really well. Doraji is also right--drying them after rinsing may help.

      1. 1) Rinse food from dishes, silverware, and glasses under running water before you put them in the dishwater. 2) Wash items in a plastic dishpan using liquid dishwashing detergent (Joy, Palmolive, Dawn etc) and water as hot as your hands can stand. 3) Then hold each item under RUNNING water to rinse it---get all traces of detergent off each piece. 4) Place items in a draining rack to air-dry. You shouldn't get any streaking. 5) Soaking pieces in the dishwater for a minute or two while you do something else (put away food, fill salt shaker) will help clean them. 6) Do your pots and pans last. If the water gets greasy, replace it. 7) Be sure that any sponge, dishcloth, or dishtowel is CLEAN.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Querencia

          Querencia, Yago doesn't own a dishwasher. That's part of the problem.

          Yago, buy the largest plastic dishpan you can. First, scrape all food residue from your dishes into the trash with a paper towel and stack them. Don't use that cheap-o supermarket pink or yellow opague dish-soap. Use Ajax, Joy, Palmolive and keep a bottle of Dawn to use on the really greasy stuff. A little of the good brands goes a long way and you will spend more money on more bottles of that cheap crap that you will on the quality stuff, although that pink stuff is GREAT for hand-washing unmentionables :).

          Ok, next step: Use the hottest water you can stand and get a pair of rubber gloves if you need to. Put your silverware into soak and stack your scraped, dirty plates and glasses to the side and one by one wash (glasses first) with an abrasive sponge or brush and then place the pieces into the sink. When done washing, rinse-rinse-rinse-rinse with hot water and then stack in your dish rack. You may or may not find that you need to dry with towels.

          I remember that from college days when my roommates and I lived in an old house without a dishwasher, central air or heat. Now I am the proud owner of a Kitchenaid DW with the most freakishly long wash cycle that I have ever come across.

          1. re: MysticYoYo

            No mention of a dishwasher in Querencia's post.

            Querencia also hit on the key thing, I think, "water as hot as you can stand it." It's the key to getting things clean and having them dry with fewer spots (also more quickly).

          2. re: Querencia

            ITA with Querencia's method and sequence--buy a cheap plastic dishpan and use that for washing, then rinse under running water. HOT HOT water is the secret, and I definitely endorse Dawn for the detergent. If you use a sponge (I strongly prefer a dishcloth), don't use it more than one day without washing in bleach.

            I've heard you can nuke sponges to kill the germs, but it's easier for me to thrown them in with the other whites in the laundry. After a few washings, pitch them.

            I also prefer air drying, it is supposed to be more sanitary, but if you use a towel to dry, get some plain white linen/cotton, not terrycloth, towels. They can be bleached and they don't leave lint.

            1. re: Querencia

              Querencia- This is not a responsible use of resources.
              If you can't get dishes clean IN a dishwasher without first pre-rinsing, that dishwasher needs to be replaced!
              I wonder if the OP is using too much detergent and it is leaving a film on the dishes?

              1. re: Goomba

                I believe you confused the word "dishwaTer" in Querencia's post with "dishwaSHer." Making note of the difference should clear up any confusion.

            2. Everyone has given you great advice (HOT water, good detergent, etc) I would like to re-iterate the most obvious that is often overlooked: scrape and rinse everything, wash glassware first followed by china and flatware. Save the pots & pans for last. If I had a single mantra it would be "wash the glasses first". I watched my sons & friends wash dishes when they were in college and it was a FIFO system that resulted in scummy, greasy plates/glasses/pots that you wouldn't use to feed your dog (assuming you like your dog). HOT water, wash the glasses first!

              1. I would add little to the suggestions above (except, please, use some kind of re-usable towel to dry dishes instead of paper towels). But if these suggestions fail, it could be your water. I have lived a couple of places where the water contained something that left a cloudy or spotty film on dishes. It wiped right off with a dry towel, so no biggie.

                1 Reply
                1. re: lisa13

                  True "hard" water can affect how well soap works. Hot water is the key. Vinegar in the rinse water helps remove the hard water deposits.

                  And I have been doing this for years, each time I make up my dishpan of HOT soapy water with good detergent, I add one capful of plain old bleach. That is just enough to kill whatever germs survive the water and soap.