Skip to content

How To Hand Wash Dishes

2-Dawn soap - Washing Dishes.jpg

Let’s face it, washing dirty dishes by hand is not the epitome of fun. We can’t make doing the dishes feel like less of a chore, but with these steps we promise to save you the hassle, and give you more time for fun.


1. Gather Materials.

Before we get started, you’re going to need a few items: a sponge, a drying rack, and for best results, a concentrated dish liquid like Dawn®. Some people also prefer to wear dish gloves, but they are not essential.

2. To Hand Wash Or Not Hand Wash.

Check for labels and determine if the item can be washed by hand. Some items, like cast iron, may rust and require a special cleaning treatment.

How To Hand Wash Dishes

3. Save Your Drain.

To prevent a clogged drain and an expensive visit from the plumber, scrape off leftover food into the trash and transfer used cooking oils and grease into a separate container for disposal. Liquid grease congeals when it cools, blocking drains and pipes.


1. Load The Sink.

Place items into the sink from biggest to smallest. Start with the largest items (e.g., pots, pans, platters, and large bowls). Next, place in the smaller bowls and glassware, followed by the utensils. Remember where you place the knives. You’ll thank yourself later.

Pile of dirty dishes in sink and hand squeezing soapy sponge under faucet

2. Prep Your Sponge.

Dampen your sponge with warm water, then wring it out and add a few drops of concentrated dish liquid directly onto the soft side of the sponge. Scrunch it a few times to disperse the soap throughout the sponge and to create suds.

3. Work Small To Big.

Now for the “fun part”: scrub, rinse, and dry. Start with utensils, then move up to glassware, plates, bowls, and other medium-sized objects. The biggest dishes tend to be the dirtiest, so save them for last. Give them a good rinse before placing them in your dish rack to dry.

How To Hand Wash Dishes

4. Soak-off Baked-on.

Use a concentrated dish liquid like Dawn to soak baked-on messes. Most soils are loosened after soaking for 30 minutes, but for the toughest baked-on messes, you may need to soak them overnight.

5. The Post-Wash Wash.

Once all of your dishes have been cleaned and your sink is empty, rinse out the inside of the sink. If you have a strainer in the bottom of your sink, remove it and dispose of any food chunks into your garbage can.

How To Hand Wash Dishes

6. Air-Dry Until Dry.

There’s a concept. Let those dishes use the time-tested art of evaporation. Congratulations. You now know the correct way to wash the dishes. As for making it more fun, you’re on your own.