Well, we all know the one trick that truly makes washing dishes less painful: a dishwasher!
But seriously, folks: Washing a sink full of dishes doesn’t have to be all drudgery, especially if you keep these key tips in mind.
FIND THE SOAP AND CLEANING TOOLS YOU LOVE (YES, LOVE)
I don’t feel proud of this, but many brands of “natural” dishwashing soaps? Can’t stand ’em. They’ve got no staying power—you have to keep pouring more on your sponge, and it all ends up feeling like a waste. I prefer something like Palmolive. But your mileage may vary! The point is to find something that makes dishwashing easy, even enjoyable, for you. Something rosemary-scented, perhaps, like Mrs. Meyer’s—the favorite of Epi associate food editor Anna Stockwell.
This goes not just for soap but for the tools you use. Anna’s been going on recently about how these dish brushes made by Iris Hantverk are so pleasurable to use that it makes her actually look forward to washing dishes. And the Epi Test Kitchen parted with its list of favorite cleaning tools here, offering suggestions for specific brands of paper towels, dish gloves, soap, and scrubbing sponges that they’ve found to be particularly useful.
GET A COMFORTABLE SURFACE BENEATH YOU
If you’re looking at a pile of dishes, you’re also looking at standing in one place for a while—so it best be a comfortable one. Shop around for a foam or gel-filled kitchen mat. You’ll be doing your feet and back a favor.
WHILE YOU’RE COOKING, CLEAN AS YOU GO
Working for a few years in professional pastry kitchens left me with a couple enduring lessons. First, it is possible to get tired of sweets after a while. And second, clean as you go. Take the time to do it and you’ll thank yourself later, every time. It reduces stress while you’re cooking if you can wash a couple of pots and pans in between making the meal—one more thing out of the way, figuratively and literally. And you’re creating space in the sink for later on, when you’ll dump a bunch of dirty plates in it.
DO THE DISHES TODAY, NOT TOMORROW
In other words, don’t leave a pile of dishes in your sink so that you’re greeted a load of dirty, crusty dishes in the morning. Do it after dinner! There’s just one caveat: if you’ve been drinking, leave the wine glasses, and anything else that’s particularly fragile, till you’ve sobered up.
FIND GOOD MUSIC AND/OR GOOD COMPANY
No need to wait for your guests to leave—as long as you keep their glasses full, it’s still a party, even if said party has migrated to the kitchen sink. Combine this with a stereo playing good, energizing music—or even just an iPhone in a bowl—and you’ve got the ingredients to clean up the party, and keep it going at the same time.