Washing dishes by hand: suggested method

Some people fill a sink and add liquid dishwashing detergent. Bad idea – most tap water has too many divalent cations, which inhibit the cleaning process. San Diego is ridiculous in this respect with about 400 ppm dissolved solids. In addition, the sink is badly contaminated with bacteria and mold to begin with -and liquid detergent does not kill gram positive bacteria or molds- and over time the grease from dishes and utensils re-contaminates the so-called just cleaned plates and utensils. Moreover, the dishes themselves add bacteria, mold, and food to feed them. What a dumb idea this method is!

Much better way: Make a dilute dishwashing solution as follows. To 1 gallon of distilled water (the cleaning power of water and aqueous solutions is reduced by divalent ions), add 1 tablespoon of >98% pure soda crystals (available from pool supply stores as alkalizing agents, most of the 2% impurity in soda crystals is water) and add 1 tablespoon of liquid detergent. This makes a pH 11.5 solution, which increases the activity of the liquid detergent, making up for its 256x dilution. The idea is to leave precious few residues of soda crystals and detergent on the dishes.

Transfer to 4 one quart spray bottles. Spray dishes and utensils one at a time, clean with a sterilized sponge, pre-soaked in this same soda crystal-liquid detergent dishwashing solution, rinse many times, put in rack to dry. Towel dry before the tap water dries on the dishes.

Turn off the tap water during the scrubbing to save on water. When a sponge begins to streak dishes with grease (it has become saturated with grease), change to a fresh one, or take time out to clean it.

To sterilize sponges, do not use the microwave. Hard to time properly. Can dry out the sponges too much and catch on fire. If not microwaved long enough, not effective at eliminating bacteria. In addition, the dry heat of the microwave bakes the debris into the sponges: very bad idea.

Rinse the sponge. Clean any particles out of the sponge by adding baking soda to the sink, and scrubbing with the sponge. Rinse well. Add to a small pot. I wait until I have 3 sponges to do this. Half-fill with water. Bring to a boil. Rinse the sponges well, squeeze dry several times (twist the sponges), and set aside for future dishwashing.


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