8 Tips That’ll Make Dish Duty Much Faster and Easier

updated Oct 7, 2020
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

Everyone has their least favorite kitchen chore. For lots of Kitchn readers, we hear again and again that it’s dealing with the dishes. (And these days, with many of us eating more meals at home than ever before, it seems like dish duty is futile.) If only there were things we could do to be more efficient and also thorough! There are a few things, actually.

We’ve come up with this list of some slightly surprising tips to help save time while doing the dishes. Give them a try and you’ll wind up with an empty sink and more room in your schedule for the things you actually want to do.

1. Get better dish soap.

It really could be that your dish soap just isn’t cutting it. If you’re in the market to try something new, know that a few Kitchn staffers have just fallen for Dawn Powerwash, which claims to cut through grease five times faster than other dish soaps. All you do is spray it onto a dish and wipe — no scrubbing needed, unless it’s a bigger-than-normal mess.

2. Use hot water. No, hotter.

Use the hottest water possible (see the next tip!). The hotter the water, the faster dried-on food will dissolve from dishes. The hot water also evaporates faster than water at cooler temps, which means faster drying time, too.

3. Wear gloves.

Gloves will protect your hands so that you can use hotter water.

4. But use cold water at the right time. 

While hot water can be a secret weapon against dried-on food, for the most efficient dish-washing process you need to know when to use cold water. If any of your dishes have dairy or starch residue (like potatoes), opt for cold water. Sticky foods like those will only become gummier and harder to remove when exposed to hot water.

5. Upgrade your sponge or scrubber.

You may need a better sponge or scrubber to go along with your new soap. These Scotch-Brite Non-Scratch Scrub Sponges are the bestselling sponges on Amazon and we like that they have a reinforced scrubby side. If you’re not a sponge fan, we love these Casabella brushes because they’re sturdy and can go in the dishwasher for cleaning.

Credit: Ghazalle Badiozamani/Kitchn

6. Always rinse your dishes. 

Here’s a super-simple way to save time later on if you don’t plan to do dishes right after using them. To avoid the extra step of scrubbing caked-on food residue every time you wash dishes, make a habit of rinsing your dishes thoroughly before you leave them in the sink. And try our soapy bowl trick, which is just a bowl of soapy water that soaks utensils and small tools until you can clean them.

7. Use salt to scrub away grease.

Because salt is both naturally absorbent and abrasive without being too harsh on dishes, it’s a great method for removing built-up grease from pots and pans. Before you start washing greasy dishes or kitchen tools, try rubbing a few pinches of salt on them first. You may have introduced an extra step to your dish regimen, but you’ll end up saving time in the long run.

8. Wash the cleanest stuff first.

Wash the cleanest items — like wine glasses and coffee mugs — first, then dirtier items like plates, silverware, and, finally, pots and pans. This way, you don’t dump all that gross pan stuff onto water cups that otherwise would have been a quick job.