5 Tips to Avoid a Sink Full of Dishes on Thanksgiving

published Nov 17, 2016
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(Image credit: Rachel Joy Barehl)

Dishes. Shudder. A sink full of dishes causes me instant anxiety. Don’t even get me started on the greasy standing water in dishes left overnight. It’s bad enough to have your family’s standard load of dishes waiting in the sink, but Thanksgiving really ups the ante with way more people and more food.

But there are some smart, savvy ways to avoid a whole heap of dirty dishes at the end of the night.

1. Do them as you go.

Don’t wait! Piling every tool, dish, and serving piece into your sink to wait for you until everything is said and done is a terrible way to spend the evening. Plus, you’re probably going to need to use certain items again at some point! (Unless you have a million tongs and wooden spoons?)

If you can, try to wash or move the prep dishes into the dishwasher before the food is on the table. (Bonus points if you run the dishwasher during the meal!). At the very least, wash the bulky stuff (all those mixing bowls!) to free up room in your sink.

2. Rinse and reuse.

When possible, rinse and reuse cutting boards, tools, knives, and bowls. Obviously you’ll want to take food safety into account and not mix things that have touched raw meat with other items. But that bread knife needs only a rinse in the sink; the cutting board you used to mince herbs needs just a quick brush-off.

3. Make stuff the day before.

The more you can make ahead, the less you have to do on the big day, which means there’s less of a chance that your dishwasher or sink will be overloaded. Tackle all those sides, biscuits, and pies that can be reheated ahead of time, and then the only related dishes you’ll have to deal with on Thanksgiving are the serving vessels and utensils.

4. Soak when necessary.

Instead of wasting precious time scratching or scrubbing baked-on grime off of your dishes, just let them soak. If you’ve got stubborn stuck-on gunk, refer back to these articles for tips on cleaning scorched food and stainless steel pots and pans.

Of course, soaking takes up valuable real estate in a sink. We’re just gonna throw this out there and you can take it or leave it: Consider letting bigger items soak in the bathtub.

5. Don’t be afraid to use paper plates.

So you’ve got 20 people coming for the big day? Do you even have that many dinner plates? If you don’t, don’t sweat it and use some cheap-but-pretty paper plates. Yes, they do exist. We suggest taking a look at sites like the following below:

With any luck, one of your relatives will offer to do the dishes for you. But just in case that doesn’t happen, you’re now prepared to do everything in your power to avoid the dish mound.

Do you have any smart tips for getting the dishes out of the way before they get really overwhelming?