Why I Won’t Wash Dishes Without Gloves

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Marcin Moga)

Even as an ardent home cook who produces more than her fair share of crusted casseroles and sticky sauté pans, I’ve never minded washing up — in fact, I find it kind of zen. When I’m at home, that is. Because every single time I offer to wash a friend’s dishes, I’m tripped up by the absence of what I view as essential as a sharp knife: a sturdy pair of dishwashing gloves.

As a frequent host of get-togethers, I know first-hand how much work goes into them: Even the crappiest dinner party requires a certain level of planning, cooking, and — no matter how savvily you deploy one-pot meals and disposable plates — cleanup.

With that in mind, I like to think of myself as the ideal dinner party guest. When I arrive at a friend’s gathering, I offer my services to help set the table, serve the meal, and, of course, wash the dishes after dinner.

This time of year, when the calendar is dominated by huge feasts that result in heaps of sullied plates and smudged glasses, having a dishwashing game plan is crucial. For someone like me whose tiny New York City apartment doesn’t count a dishwasher among its amenities, plenty of hot water and a robust set of gloves is pretty much the extent of it. But as my scrubbing stints in friends’ and family’s kitchens has proven time and again, people just don’t seem to be into the gloves. And I cannot fathom why not.

After many years of cooking and cleaning, dishwashing gloves have become indispensable to me. I don’t understand why more people don’t use them, and I want to spread the gospel.

3 Reasons I Believe in Dish Gloves

Here, then, in order of importance, are what I count to be the three most compelling reasons to slip into a pair before you tackle your next round of dirty dishes.

1. They keep your hands clean and dry.

Yes, the obvious, but I can’t believe how many dishwashers (the people, not the machines) submit themselves to the scalding water and general ickiness of glove-less washing. Just think of the dirtiness of the dishes! With a gloved hand, you can valiantly take to the greasiest pot or tackiest pan, swiping away stuck-on gunk without worrying about getting any of it under your fingernails.

And then there’s the question of the water: With the amount of dishwashing that I do, my hands would dry to desiccated husks without the protection of gloves. With gloves, no matter how many dishes I have to tackle in any given week, my hands remain soft and supple — not dried out and flaking from endless ablutions of hot H20.

2. They protect your hands from super-sharp kitchen knives and gadgets.

I’m not saying that you should recklessly plunge your hand into your sink just because you’re wearing a dishwashing glove, but in the general hustle and bustle of dishwashing, the gloves do keep vulnerable fingers from getting nicked. The same protection goes for other sharp kitchen tools, like graters and peelers.

3. They’re cheap.

Even with the extensive wear and tear through which I put my dishwashing gloves, they last a pretty long time — I’d estimate that I have to replace them every two months — making them quite cost-effective.

My favorite gloves, Playtex Living, are sold on Amazon in a three-pack for less than $10. That means that a year of comfortable gloved dishwashing will cost you less than $20. Although, can you really put a price on this little luxury?

Sold! But what kind should you get?

Now that I have — I hope — sold you on the idea of dishwashing gloves, it’s time to talk about what kind to get. Forget the flimsy, one-size-fits-all yellow pair sold in plastic baggies in the supermarket — they’re ill-fitting and quickly start to tear. What you want to look for are sturdy gloves that come in a range of sizes, to ensure longevity and comfort when you’re wearing them.

By far the most important attribute in a dishwashing glove is an extra-long length that can be folded down, creating a cuff that catches water so it doesn’t dribble down your arm. The Playtex Living gloves I like do this, plus they have little channels that direct water into the cuff.

If you want to go extra-fancy, you can look for lined or flocked gloves, which feature a soft cotton interior, but even I find that a little over the top. And that’s coming from a woman who just wrote nearly 800 words about the merits of dishwashing gloves.

Do you love dishwashing gloves as much as I do?