Dish it out
Holiday feasting means dirty dishes pile up fast. Cleaning them properly is in your hands.
If you build it, they will come. Same goes for the kitchen, especially at holiday time: The more food you make, the more pots, pans and dishes arrive at the sink in need of cleaning. For most of us, doing the dishes ranks pretty high on the list of undesirable chores. But no one wants unsightly scenes in the background while holiday meals take center stage. Rubbermaid can help with the right equipment and a few helpful tips to get the dishes done properly, safely and effectively.
Before donning the rubber gloves—a must for any major washing-up project—organize your dirty dishes. Start by scraping off any remaining food into a separate bin (preferably for composting) and, for the sake of water conservation, use a scraper rather than spraying each dish. (If you plan to use a dishwasher, make sure you’ve scraped off all remaining food thoroughly and do each wash ‘run’ by type: the glasses together, the dinner plates together, etc.) Sort and stack the dishes into groups for easier introduction to the sink or machine. Store cutlery, particularly dirty knives, prior to cleaning in a soap-filled glass or pitcher instead of soaking them in the sink, which should help avoid underwater cuts to your hands.
Soak pots and pans as soon as possible after use. There’s nothing more stubborn than the burned food that can seem welded to the insides of pots. Fill them to above the burn line with a mixture of fabric softener (which is more powerful than dish detergent) and hot water to loosen food matters.
If two sink basins are available, use one as the main washing sink with a liberal amount of detergent. Fill the second sink with clean, hot water to rinse off the suds—the hotter the water, the faster the dishes will dry. Change out the water in each sink frequently, particularly if it becomes at all dirty. Establish the washing in this order: Glasses, which benefit most from hot water (always use a dish brush to reach the bottom), followed by plates, silverware, serving dishes (like those for salads with oil-based dressings), and finally those pots and pans.
Air-drying is preferable, particularly with Rubbermaid antimicrobial sinkware, which not only protects sink and dishes from mishaps but also thwarts the growth of bacteria and germs, which can cause foul odors and stains. The vented sponge rest is especially helpful in this regard, since many sponges are in a constant bacteria-friendly state of dampness. Cracks and chips in ceramic dishes can also provide places for bacteria to grow. A cushioning sink mat like Rubbermaid’s Enhanced Sink Mat sits on the bottom of the sink, protecting your ceramic dishes and glassware from chips and breaks.
Fine china time
The holiday season means the good china and crystal will likely make a cameo. Manufacturers provide specific cleaning instructions for their products, and in many cases, simple cleaning guidelines can be found on the backs of plates. But here are a few general tips for hosts who take extra care with cleaning their best ware:
- Wash china as soon as possible after use, especially if coffee, tea or acidic foods that can stain the china have been served.
- Gently scrape to remove remaining food from the dishes using sponges or plastic rather than metal, wool or other abrasive scrubbers.
- Wash each piece of china individually.
- Use regular liquid dish soap and warm water to wash your china.
- Is clumsiness a potential factor? Line the sink with washcloths, especially while cleaning delicate crystal.
- Metal-rimmed china should not get too hot during washing, nor should it be handled until cool. Hot water can actually soften the rim; and handling pieces while they’re hot could cause warping or leave fingerprints on the rim.
- Metal cutlery can leave traces of light grey metal residue on fine china, which can often be removed with toothpaste.
- Always towel-dry fine china (once cooled down).
- Return your china to safe storage before the onslaught of other dishes and the pots and pans (see above!).