You probably dabble in dish-duty most days, but are you sure you’re doing it right? Is it better to hand-wash those plates or just toss them all in the dishwasher? Should you soak, pre-rinse or just dive right in? Is hot water enough to kill those cold and flu germs floating around your house? Since you eat off these things, technique is important! Here’s the right way to do dishes:
1. Keep a clean sponge. First things first: your kitchen sponge needs to be cleaned, and just soaking it with dish soap isn’t enough. Instead, microwave a wet sponge on the highest setting for two minutes to kill bacteria. Just make sure you let the sponge cool off before you use it again.
2. Check the water temperature. To kill most types of bacteria, water should reach 140 degrees Fahrenheit (read: scalding hot). The water in most dishwasher cycles will definitely reach this temperature, but the water from your kitchen sink may not. Inspect your hot water heater to see how hot your tap water can get. Water heaters are usually set anywhere between 120 degrees and 140 degrees.
3. Know your dish soap. Did you know most dish soap isn’t actually designed to kill bacteria? Its purpose is to lift dirt and grime off of surfaces so that the dirt can be rinsed away. Unless your dish soap has antibacterial ingredients, it’s not actually made to disinfect your dinner plates – that’s a job for hot water! Studies show that regular dish soap and hot water can clean dishes just as well as antibacterial soap, so it’s not always necessary to sprint to the store for some new suds.
4. Purchase a pair of rubber gloves. You want your water to be hot (see step #2), but 140 degrees Fahrenheit can scald you if you aren’t careful. Ouch! Most people can’t stand to wash dishes under scalding hot water without a pair of rubber gloves. So, if you’re washing dishes by hand, we recommend you grab a pair.
5. Soak with sudsy water. Fill up your kitchen sink with hot water and a few squirts of liquid dish soap instead of just lathering up a sponge to clean your dishes. Let them soak in this water before you start scrubbing. Not only is this more efficient, the dish soap will help sanitize the water.
6. Take extra time to wash silverware. All dishes are not created equal. Forks and knives can harbor more bacteria than plates and cups because of hard to reach prongs and grooves. Take the time to lather, rinse and repeat for your cutlery. You want those forks and knives to be germ free!