Dishwashing secrets and shortcuts

Even if you're lucky enough to have a dishwasher, there are plenty of times when you're going to need to hand-wash pots and dishes-which naturally seems a straightforward enough chore, and we all have our own process for completing the task. But while it's easy to assume you know all there is to know on the subject, there are actually all kinds of little tricks and shortcuts to getting things spotless. Here, via Martha Stewart, a re-cap:

If you've got several things to wash at once, use a plastic dish tub rather than washing items individually under the tap which saves time, energy, and water. Fill the tub with really hot water and a squirt or two of dish soap (it's more economical than applying and re-applying soap onto a sponge). The hotter the water, the better shot at your glass and silver drying streak-free.

Wash goods in order of fragility-and filth. This means starting with glassware, and moving onto plates, cutlery, serving pieces, and last your pots and pans. Drain the tub as needed and rinse five or size pieces of dishware at a time, with really hot water. Start from the underside of a plate or glass and rinse the eating or drinking surface last.

To tackle stubborn stains on cookware pour on a bit of salt (ideally shortly after cooking, which makes the spots easier to remove), which is naturally absorbent and abrasive. Rub it on with a dry sponge until the greasy bits are all gone. If you're dealing with an exceptionally dirty pot, put it back on the stove and use it to boil a mixture of water and ¼ cup baking soda. Remove it from the heat and let it sit for an hour before scraping down its surface with a rubber spatula to loosen all the spots. Then wash as usual.

Use cold water to remove starches and dairy products, since both get gummier in hot water.

Scrubbing bottles is a lot easier if you soak denture cleaner in them overnight. Use an old nylon toothbrush to get into all the nooks and crannies of the vessel.

To keep water runoff in check under your drying rack, use a baking sheet with a 1" lip on all sides. The metal is more mildew-resistant than a rubber tray or dish towel.


Related: The dos and don'ts of loading your dishwasher