Cooking food at home and eating with your whole family is a good habit.
But after cooking and enjoying your meal, you’re faced with the dreaded task of washing the dishes. Well, you may be surprised to learn that the benefits from dishwashing go beyond clean dishes. Washing dishes helps strengthen the family bond and also fights stress.
In a 2015 study published in Mindfulness, researchers looked at whether washing dishes could be used as an informal contemplative practice that promotes a positive state of mindfulness. It was concluded that those who wash dishes mindfully showed a greater state of mindfulness, accompanied by an increased positive effect.
You can wash the dishes by hand or use the dishwasher, whichever you prefer. Irrespective of which method is used, many of us don’t wash our dishes properly. We make mistakes that can lead to a variety of problems, from an illness to a flying cockroach infestation.
Here are some of the mistakes you are making every time you wash dishes.
1. Using a Dirty Sink or Dishwasher
You wash your dirty dishes in the sink or a dishwasher, but what happens when you forget to clean the sink or the dishwasher itself? Your sink and dishwasher need to be cleaned from time to time or you will end up making your dishes dirtier than before.
The germs that reside in the sink or dishwasher will travel to your dishes, and cooking and eating on dirty dishes will cause you to fall ill sooner or later.
When it comes to your sink, after doing your dishes, clean it daily with baking soda and vinegar or vinegar and salt.
To clean your dishwasher, run it empty on the hottest setting with a shallow dish filled with white vinegar, which acts as an antibacterial agent. Do it once a week.
2. Using Too Much Soap
Using too much soap to wash dishes is another big mistake many people make.
Using too much soap while hand washing the dishes means you will have to use extra water to rinse them. This is nothing but a waste of water.
If you use a dishwasher, too much soap can make your dishes look cloudy. This means that the soap does not get rinsed off properly. It eventually ends up in the food you serve and ultimately in your mouth.
To properly clean the dishes, simple hot water with a touch of soap is more than enough. Also, avoid soaps or detergents with bleach, triclosan or other harsh antiseptics, as they can contribute to creating drug-resistant superbugs.
3. Not Rinsing the Dishes First
It is very common to have food particles on the dishes, but putting the dishes in that condition in the dishwasher is not a good idea.
It is very important to scrape food off of your plates before putting them in the dishwasher. This will help the machine do its work more efficiently and effectively. Also, it will prevent bacteria and other microbes from growing inside the machine and help keep it sanitized.
Even if you are washing the dishes by hand, rinsing them with water first will help make the task less messy. Also, your sink won’t get as dirty.
4. Using a Dirty Sponge
Using a dirty sponge is another dishwashing mistake that many of us make.
The sponge that you find very handy to wash your dishes with is a breeding ground for germs, making your dishes anything but clean. When you store the damp sponge after getting your job done, it starts collecting germs and bacteria.
So, try to keep your sponges as clean as possible by washing them with an antibacterial soap after each use and putting them in the sun for some time to dry. You can also put your damp sponge in the microwave for 30 seconds.
It is also recommended to avoid using plastic sponges, as they are harder to clean. In fact, try to use sponges made with natural fibers.
5. Not Washing the Towels
If you are washing your dishes by hand, it is likely that you are using towels to dry them. Using a towel is fine, but if the towel is damp or not clean, then you are making a big mistake again.
If you have used a towel to dry your hands or the counter, it shouldn’t be used on the dishes. For drying the dishes, always grab a new towel and put it in the laundry after each use.
Instead of a towel, you can use a drying rack. A drying rack helps lift the dishes off the counter and allows for proper airflow while they air-dry.
6. Overloading the Dishwasher
If you have the habit of packing too many dishes in your dishwasher, this is something you must avoid doing.
Overloading the dishwasher means that the machine is not able to do its work properly, leading to unclean dishes and leftover soap residue. Even the most expensive dishwasher will not be able to thoroughly clean plates that are too close together.
Moreover, if you have fragile glassware and dinnerware packed closely in the dishwasher, then you are increasing the risk of breakage.
There should always be enough space for the water inside the machine to move freely. If needed, run two separate loads through the dishwasher.
7. Not Emptying the Food Trap
When using a dishwasher, you must empty the food trap at regular intervals. Not emptying the food trap is another dishwashing mistake that you should avoid making.
Too much debris in the food trap will block adequate water flow and make the dishwasher significantly less efficient. This, in turn, will result in dirty dishes.
Also, too much food debris will lead to mold and can cause severe mold allergies.
So, clean the food trap every few weeks to help your dishwasher function properly.
8. Putting the Wrong Items in the Dishwasher
Many people make the mistake of loading the dishwasher incorrectly or putting the wrong items in the dishwasher.
You have to put each item on the correct rack. Some items are safe to wash only on the top rack of the dishwasher. For instance, put bowls on the top rack of the dishwasher and face them toward the water sprayer. Also, glasses and large utensils should usually go on the top rack. Meanwhile, plates, pots, and pans should go on the bottom rack.
Check your dishwasher manual before using it. The manual provides diagrams for the most efficient ways to load your washer. Following the guidelines will allow your dishwasher to perform well.
Tips to Avoid Other Common Dishwashing Mistakes
- Use a stiff scrub brush with water when you clean cast iron pans.
- Never put wooden items in the dishwasher.
- Do not soak wooden items in the sink for hours. Instead, wash them right away to prevent the wood from cracking and swelling.
- If you’re washing the dishes in a sink, conserve water by turning off the tap while washing each individual dish. Also, use a small bowl of water to rinse the dishes, instead of rinsing each separately with running water.
- Always remember to close the detergent compartment of your dishwasher before you start the cycle.
- Make sure your water is hot enough while running the dishwasher. Even while washing dishes by hand, try to use bearable hot water.
- When washing glassware, never ignore the spots on them. Noticeable spots mean you have hard water.
- Except for butter knives and other dull knives with a solid handle, keep knives out of the dishwasher.
- Hand washing the knives helps keep them sharp and prevents damage to their handles and seams.
- Proper kitchen cleanliness and dish sanitation are important to prevent the spread of harmful bacteria.
- Don’t just wipe off cutting boards or knives. Clean them with hot, soapy water after each use. You can also use lemon and salt to deep clean wooden cutting boards.