liquid dish soap
dish cloth (I like these better than sponges because they can be thrown into the laundry every day. Sponges collect bacteria.)
sponge on a stick (for glasses. You can buy these in the cleaning supplies aisle.)
plastic scrubbie (get one that is safe for Teflon)
dishpan and dishrack
or dishwasher and dishwasher soap
spray bottle with diluted cleaner such as Pine Sol
If you have a dishwasher, unload it and put away the clean dishes. If you don’t have a dishwasher, empty out your dishrack.
If you have a dishwasher, load it with dirty dishes (rinse first) and then run it.
If you do not have a dishwasher, fill one side of the sink with hot, soapy water. (Just a squirt will do.) If you have only a single sink, fill the dishpan with hot water to rinse the dishes.
Start with glasses and cups. These are usually the least dirty of the dishes. (Start with the least dirty of the dishes.) Use the sponge on a stick to clean the inside of the glasses. Do NOT stick your hand into a glass glass… I have a large scar on my thumb from when a glass broke while I was washing it.
Rinse the glasses and cups in the rinse water in the dishpan OR under hot, running water in the other side of your double sink. Running water is better and cleaner. I usually rinse a batch of dishes at a time. Seems to save water.
Now wash plates and bowls, using the dishcloth. Use the plastic scrubbie on tough spots. Feel with your fingers to make sure the bowl or plate is clean. Make sure you wash the bottom, too! Rinse the plates and bowls and put them in the dishrack.
Now it’s time for silverware. (You can also wash silverware before doing the bowls and plates.) Never put a sharp knife into a sinkful of water! I keep sharp knives beside the sink and wash them one at a time. I usually don’t put them in the dishrack, either. I keep a separate towel to lay the knives on, and then I dry them and put them away when I’m done with the dishes. Wash the rest of the silverware, rinse it, and then put it in the dishrack.
You might want to change your water now, especially if it’s dirty or cold. Drain the sink, rinse it a little, and then fill the sink again with hot soapy water.
Now wash the pots and pans. If you have anything tomato based or that has touched raw meat, save it for last. Keep the dirtiest pots and pans for last as well. Rarely are dishes dirty enough to need “to soak” over night. Give pots and pans a good scrub with the plastic scrubbie. Whatever it is will probably come up. One way to make sure that you won’t have to soak dishes over night is to rinse them immediately after using them, and allow them to soak in soapy water while you eat. (Never reuse that soaking water! Drain it and rinse the sink and start anew!)
Rinse your pots and pans. You might have to dry some of these and put them away if there isn’t enough room on the dishrack. Generally, it’s more sanitary to let the dishes dry overnight. You can always add “Empty dishrack” to your first five.
I know this page is about washing dishes, but I just want to remind you that you’re not really done until you have sprayed and wiped down the counters, the stove, and the microwave (inside and out.) And, of course, you’re not done if you leave the sink dirty.