The holiday season is a time for joy, peace on Earth, and chaos in the kitchen. Unfortunately, dream kitchens don’t include a mess of dirty plates, glasses, utensils, and cooking implements. From baking up a storm to preparing grand holiday feasts, here are some helpful tips for tackling those dirty dishes that are an inevitable part of the celebration.
Don’t Let Dirty Dishes Pile Up
Kitchen sink sizes vary, but even extra deep, double bowl kitchen sinks are no match for a 24-pound turkey dinner with all the fixings. Instead of letting mountains of dirty dishes sit on kitchen island countertops, or leaving pots and pans to soak overnight in kitchen sinks, everyone in the family should pitch in and clean up immediately as you go. That also includes emptying the dishwasher after each cycle, as well as towel drying and putting away anything that is washed by hand.
Hand Washing Tips
- Dishcloths are preferable to sponges, because they tend to harbor less bacteria (when changed frequently), and they can be easily washed in the laundry room. WebMD recommends using hot water and drying dishcloths on high heat.
- For efficiency and to conserve water, fill clean kitchen sinks halfway with hot tap water and add a few drops of your favorite dish soap. Drain and repeat when the water gets cold or too dirty.
- Don a good pair of dishwashing gloves to help protect hands and prevent them from becoming dry and cracked. Nobody wants dishpan hands for the holidays.
- Start with glassware, plates and utensils, and leave greasy pots and pans for last. Don’t skip scrubbing high-touch areas like pot and knife handles and the outside of glasses.
Dishwasher Dos and Don’ts
- Group forks, spoons, and knives separately in the utensil basket sections of your dishwasher for easy unloading.
- Place dishwasher-safe plastic and delicate items like mugs and glassware on the top rack only.
- If you want truly clean dishes, avoid overcrowding the dishwasher with too many items and use the correct amount of detergent as directed.
- Place a sign on the dishwasher that can be flipped between “washed” and “unwashed” to let family members know the status of its contents.
In most cases, prewashing is not necessary with newer dishwashers. Instead of hand washing and running through a cycle, choose one or the other. If you stay on top of washing dishes and follow these tips throughout the holiday season, you can keep your kitchen clean and tidy just like the dream kitchens in your favorite home magazine or HGTV shows.
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