Dish-Washing and Efficiency

How to Cook
There is almost invariably a waste of effort in both the washing and the drying of dishes. This may be due to:
  • Poorly arranged dish-washing equipments.
  • Inadequate utensils for dish-washing.
  • Lack of forethought in preparing the dishes for washing and too many motions in washing and drying them.

Since dish-washing is one of the constant duties of housekeeping, efficiency methods, i.e. methods which accomplish satisfactory results with the fewest motions and in the least time, should be applied to it. The washing of dishes, invariably considered commonplace, may become an interesting problem if it is made a matter of motion study.2

For thorough and rapid dish-washing, the following equipment is desirable:

  • A sink placed at a height that admits of an erect position while washing dishes, and equipped with two draining boards, one on each side of the sink, or with one draining board on the left side;
  • dish and draining pans
  • dish-drainer
  • dish-rack
  • dish-mop
  • wire dish-cloth or pot-scraper
  • dish-cloths (not rags)
  • dish-towels
  • rack for drying cloths and towels
  • soap-holder or can of powdered soap
  • can of scouring soap
  • large cork for scouring; tissue paper or newspapers cut in convenient size for use
  • scrubbing-brush
  • bottle-brush
  • rack made of slats for drying brushes

Preparing Dishes for Washing.
If possible, as soon as serving dishes, i.e. dishes used at the dining table, are soiled, scrape away bits of food from them. The scraping may be done with:

  • a piece of soft paper
  • plate-scraper
  • a knife or spoon

The latter is doubtless the most commonly used for dish scraping, but it is less efficient and may scratch china. If it is impossible to wash dishes soon after soiling, let them soak in water until they can be washed.

Note the draining board on each side of the sink, the dish-cupboard in the upper left corner, and the rack for drying brushes below the sink.

Cooking Utensils
Need special care before washing, especially if they have held greasy foods. "Oil and water do not mix!" The grease from dish-water often collects in the drain-pipe and prevents or retards the drainage of waste water. This often means expensive plumber's bills and great inconvenience. Bear in mind the following cautions Before putting a utensil which has held fat into the dish-water, always wipe it carefully with a piece of paper. After wiping most of the grease from a pan or kettle, the remaining fat can be entirely removed by filling the utensil with hot water and then adding washing-soda. Boil the solution a few minutes. Fat and washing-soda react and form soap; hence the effectiveness of this method (This method should not be applied to aluminum utensils; washing-soda or any alkaline substance makes a dark stain on aluminum)

Utensils for Dish Washing

  • soap-holder
  • bottle-brushes
  • dish-mop
  • wire dish-cloths
  • plate scraper

Utensils used in cooking can generally be washed with greater efficiency if they are soaked before washing. Fill each dish or pan with water, using cold water for all utensils which have held milk, cream, eggs, flour, or starch, and hot water for all dishes having contained sugar or syrup.

Arranging Dishes
Arrange dishes and all the requisite dish-washing utensils in convenient order for washing, placing all of one kind of dishes together. Also place the dishes to be washed at the "right" of the dish-pan. Wash them and place the washed dishes at the "left" of the pan. A dish-washer invariably holds a dish that is being washed in her left hand and the dish-cloth or mop in her right hand. That there may be no unnecessary motions, the dishes should be placed to drain after washing at the left of the dish-pan. In this way there is no crossing of the left hand over the right arm as there would be if the washed dishes were placed at the right of the dish-pan. A cupboard located above the draining board at the left makes the storing of dishes an efficient process.

Washing and Scouring Dishes and Utensils
Fill the dish-pan about two thirds full of hot water. "Soap" the water before placing the dishes in the pan; use soap-powder, a soap-holder, or a bar of soap. If the latter is used, do not allow it to remain in the water. Fill another pan about two thirds full of hot water for rinsing the dishes. A wire basket may be placed in the rinsing pan.

Place the dishes, a few at a time, in the dish-pan. Wash the cleanest dishes first, usually in the following order: glasses, silverware, cups, saucers, plates, large dishes, platters, cooking utensils, then the soap-dish and dish-pan. In washing decorated china, use soap sparingly. Do not wash glassware in very hot water. Use slices of potato, finely torn bits of blotting paper, or egg shells to clean the inside of water bottles or vinegar cruets. Wooden-handled utensils or the cogs of the Dover egg beater should not soak in water.

If the cogs of the egg beater are soiled, wipe them with a damp cloth. Change the dish-water occasionally, not allowing it to become cold or greasy.

Wash steel knives and forks and place them without rinsing on a tin pan to scour. With a cork apply powdered bath brick or other scouring material to the steel. Again wash the scoured utensils, rinse, and dry. If there are any stains on tin, iron, or enamel ware, remove with scouring soap. Apply the latter with a cork, or wring out the dish-cloth as dry as possible, rub scouring soap on it, and apply to the utensils. Scrub meat, pastry or bread boards, wooden rolling pins, and wooden table tops with cold water and scouring soap. Then rinse and wipe the scoured wood with a cloth which is free from grease. If it is not necessary to scrub meat, pastry, or bread boards on both sides, they should be rinsed on the clean side to prevent warping.

Rinsing and Draining Dishes
Place the washed dishes in wire baskets or in dish-racks. If the former has been placed in the rinsing pan, the basket may be lifted out of the water to drain the dishes. In case the washed dishes are placed in dish-racks, rinse them by pouring hot water over them and let them drain again.

Drying Dishes and Utensils
If such dishes as plates, platters, and saucers are placed upright to drain and are rinsed with very hot water, no towel-drying is required. Glassware and silver should be dried with a soft towel. Towels made from flour sacks or from glass toweling are good for this purpose.

Coarser towels may be used to dry cooking utensils. To prevent rusting, dry tin, iron, and steel utensils most thoroughly. After using a towel on these wares it is well to place them on the back of the range or in the warming oven. Woodenware should be allowed to dry thoroughly in the open air. Stand boards on end until dry.

Care of Dish-Towels and Cloths
Use dish-towels and cloths for no other purpose than washing and drying dishes. It is a matter of much importance to keep dish-towels and cloths clean. To clean the towels and cloths soak them in cold water. Then wash in hot soapy water and rinse them well. Wring, stretch, and hang to dry on a rack, or preferably in the sun. At least once a week boil the towels. First soak, wash, and rinse them as directed above. Then place them in cold water and heat the water until it boils. Wring, stretch, and hang to dry.

Care of the Sink
If the sink is of porcelain or enamel, it may be cleaned with soap, but not with scouring soap or powder. The latter wears away the smooth finish, makes it slightly rough and hence more difficult to clean. Before applying soap to a sink, wring out the cloth used in cleaning it as dry as possible and then with the hand push any water standing in the sink down the drainpipe. Then apply soap to the cloth and wash the sink. "Do not let the water run from the faucet while cleaning the sink." If the dirt and grease on a sink do not yield to soap, apply a small quantity of kerosene. After cleaning, rinse the sink by opening the hot-water faucet, letting a generous supply of water flow down the drain-pipe so as to rinse the trap.

The drain-pipe and trap of a sink need special cleaning occasionally. This is often done by pouring a solution of washing-soda down the drain. If this is used, special care should be taken to rinse the drain with much hot water. As previously explained, grease and washing-soda form soap. If the latter is allowed to remain in the trap, it may harden and stop the drain-pipe. Because of the formation of soap and the possible stoppage of the drain-pipe when washing-soda is used, kerosene is advised. To use this, first flush the drain with about half a gallon of hot water. Immediately pour in one half cupful of kerosene. Let the kerosene remain in the trap for at least 5 minutes. Then rinse with another half gallon of water. Kerosene emulsifies grease and makes it easy to rinse away.

Suggestions for Personal Neatness in the Home
For both comfort and cleanliness a washable gown should be worn in the kitchen or the gown should be well covered by an apron. It is advisable to cover the hair with a hair net or cap. Rings are an inconvenience when worn in the kitchen. The hands should be washed before preparing or cooking food, and after touching the hair or handkerchief. It is desirable to have a hand towel conveniently placed.

Clean cooking means clean tasting. This can be done by taking some of the food with the cooking spoon and then pouring it from the cooking spoon into a teaspoon. Taste from the teaspoon.

Footnote 2: In case it is necessary for one to wash dishes at a sink which is placed too low, the dish-pan may be raised by placing it on an inverted pan or on a sink-rack, which may be purchased for this purpose.


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  Cooking Notes 2006