Friday, 30 January 2009

The gentle art of washing up

I wash up a lot, no two ways about it! I don't mind it in itself, just that's there's so much of it, but that's inescapable when you process a lot of food, cook and bake a lot, brew, make soap, etc etc. I have therefore evolved my washing up into a not totally unpleasant experience, and thought I'd share some thoughts with you all. I have no dishwasher, by the way, all done by hand.
First thing is to make the task as pleasant as possible. Hopefully your sink will have a view of some sort; mine looks out to the back garden - I can watch the wild birds feeding, see trees and plants, chickens and ducks when they're down near the house. I have a wrought iron plant stand underneth the window, and try to keep it stocked with flowering plants I can see whilst I'm working at the sink; I can also keep an eye on the weather for various reasons, eg washing drying on the line, etc. The sink - important that it's the right size for you; I have a large white Butler sink, sadly not the original which MrL dropped when re-furbishing that part of the kitchen a couple of years back, but a good replacement nonetheless. I have old taps, which are about to be replaced with old brass ones soon, I hope, but these are fine in the meantime. Draining - I have the original wooden boards here, but make sure there is plenty of room for draining dishes; choose a nice- to- look- at drainer if you use one of them; mine is wooden, brand new from the tip, still in its box.
Tools of the trade - again, I like nice things to use when doing this task; little wooden brush with replaceable heads - great for saucepans - nice dishlcoths, good washing up liquid, good efficient tea towels. I use Ecover if I buy, but am using homemade at the moment, will post the recipe later if you like. The other necessity is plenty of hot water; if there isn't much and the stove isn't up, I leave the washing up until there is, when I'm cooking and baking too, to make best use of the stove and heat. A washing up bowl is useful for just a couple of bits, to save water in filling a sink up. Again, choose one you like and will like to use.
I don't use rubber gloves as my hands are tough as old boots LOL - rarely get sore or cracked.
Fill your sink with water as hot as you can stand and a squirt of washing up liquid. Homemade liquid won't give you much bubble, but I find it does a good job anyway. Wash up in this order - glassware, cutlery, crockery, pots and pans. If you have a double sink, fill it with plain very hot water to rinse each item in before draining - prevents streaks and smears, and dries quickly. Stack washed dishes neatly, or place in drainer and leave to drain for a few minutes. Dry up straight away, or leave, as you wish. Cutlery benefits from immediate drying to prevent water spots and streaks, though. Buy the best quality tea towels you can afford - money well spent, or make your own from good linen or thick, absorbent cotton. Anything less will be like a limp rag after drying two cups and won't withstand the frequent washing required, and not worth the effort. Good quality cloths and tea towles will withstand frequent laundering too, and should last a long time.
Wipe down the draining boards/surfaces.
When finished, wipe around the sink, or give it a clean if it needs it. Finish off with a quick scoosh of cold water down the plughole to prevent bad smells from coming up through the drain. Periodically pop something down the drain too - I use soda crystals, just to help keep the drain clear. Some poeple like to dry their sink afterwards, but I don't usually bother - I'm happy if it's a)empty and b) clean! Finally, deal with the cloths and tea towels - into the wash if needs be, or hung up/spread out to dry.
I'm not a fan of plastic, but I do know there are a lot of nice things available now, especially the wacky rubber gloves you can get, and brightly coloured dish mops and brushes. If it makes the job more enjoyable, then go for it I say, and each to their own. Anything to make what can be dreary tasks more pleasant (although I would stop short of saying fun........LOL)

Sorry if I'm teaching grannies to suck eggs :), but all the above is borne of many years experience, both in domestic and commercial kitchens, and thought it might be interesting/useful to some.


Tea with Willow said...

I like this post Mrs L ... yes, I agree we should try and make this experience as enjoyable as possible! I must get myself a decent drainer, as I tend to pile things up on top of each other and then the whole lot is in danger of slipping to the floor!

I would be interested in the recipe for your homemade dishwashing liquid/powder.
Willow xx

LynnS said...

What a down-home and lovely post! The only thing missing is seeing you do this. I imagine your kitchen is well-used and filled with all of the assorted items to cook fantastic food from-scratch.

I, too, make my own soap/detergent!