09 November 2009

On Washing Up

So, I thought I'd start at the end - specifically, at the end of the meal, at the task I like the least - washing up. As one of the poor unfortunate backwards souls who does not have a dishwasher, washing up is generally a manual affair. All kinds of fun skin conditions make this a particularly joyous activity for me, generally leaving me with bleeding cracks between my fingers, so I tend to avoid it as much as possible. Traditionally, washing up is a fairly prescriptive affair - first glassware, then cutlery, then crockery, and finally pots and pans, then everything gets rinsed, dried and put away - but I feel that, for the time poor and/or slack among us, there are a few nuances in the washing up process that should be examined...

  • Not everything needs to be washed immediately, Sure, anything fat based or protein based is not going to improve upon sitting, but really, washing up does not need to be a daily activity. A quick rinse under the tap before leaving things on the side of the sink generally suffices for a day or two (so long as you don't eat off them until they have been properly washed! Nobody likes e.coli...). That said, if it starts to smell, or if anything with more legs than you has started to show interest, it's definitely time to do a load of washing up. If you're going to do this though, make sure you keep anything dirty well separate from anything clean, or you'll end up spending the night with your head over the toilet. Not a fun way to spend the evening.
  • Anything with dried on food should be separated from anything without dried on/baked on/generally stuck food. The largest (water holding) item with stuck-on food should be filled with hot water and detergent, and as many smaller items with dried on food as possible should be left to soak in it before you start the dishes. Leave washing these items til last.
  • Traditionally, cups should be washed early in the load. This rule, however, does not apply to anything that is structurally integral to the pile of washing up. Leave these til later.
  • If the washing up water is not crystal clear, do NOT put any sharp knives in to soak. Keep a hand on the handle at all times, and make sure you're aware which side is the sharp side. It's harder to be lazy with fewer fingers.
  • Drying up is generally optional for anything ceramic - very little harm will come to it from letting it drain on a draining board. Some of my dishes have never actually seen the inside of the cupboard - they just rotate from one side of the sink to the other. It's probably a good idea to dry anything steel (to prevent rust - even in stainless steel), bone or glass that you have any kind of attachment to, though.
  • Make sure you wipe down the joins between your sink and the wall once you've finished. It's a favourite mould hidey hole - and it's much easier to prevent than cure.
Yes, I am a slob. But you knew that.

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