The Most Important Step When Hand-Washing Dishes

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

There are lots of good reasons to hand-wash dishes — maybe you only have a few items to clean, or they’re too delicate to go into the dishwasher, or you need to use something again pretty quickly. Whatever the reason, there’s one crucial step that people often dismiss that’s actually the most important one! Do you know what it is?

Dishwashing 101

Let’s start with the basics of dishwashing: soap and warm water. Whatever soap you’re using, you want to make sure you use enough to really break up food particles. A sponge, brush, or microfiber cloth can help that process, too. And make sure you’re scrubbing for at least 20 seconds to make sure your surfaces have time to get fully clean.

Also, the warmer the water, the more bacteria you’ll kill. Wearing rubber gloves can help you to withstand hotter temperatures.

Got all that?

But none of these are the most important step — the one we often skimp on — and doing it properly is so easy!

The key is to let your dishes dry completely before putting them away.

This seems like an easy step, but too often we shove dishes back into our cabinets with a little bit of moisture hanging out in there. Just once that’s not a big deal. But if you do it too frequently, moisture can drip into your cabinets, warping the material and creating mildew, too.

At the very least, that water will evaporate and leave behind a water spot or little pool or residue in your dishes. Not pretty when you pull them out the next time!

The Best Way to Dry Your Dishes

How you dry them is up to you, but I’m a fan of air-drying dishes, since your kitchen towels can harbor tons of bacteria and probably aren’t all that absorbent anyway. We have the Boon Grass Rack (I’m not sure why, but every mom I know swears by this one!), but I’ve been eyeing this collapsible one by Black+Blum. My mother-in-law loves the microfiber drying mats.

Whichever you choose, be patient and resist the urge to put your newly clean dishes back into the cabinets still wet. Do yourself a favor and just let them dry!

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