In the 12 or so years that I've been living on my own, I've had to wash a lot of dishes. I'm not complaining, mind you. I like to cook, and it's hard to do so without mussing up a few utensils, pots, and pans. While I could make the boyfriend wash them, I usually don't. (I know, you think I'm crazy.) The thing is, I kind of like washing the dishes. (Now you must think I'm completely bonkers.) After all these years of being sans dishwasher, I've devised a system for what some may feel is an arduous task...
Before you even think about putting soap on that sponge, you've got to start stacking and sorting. I try and put like things together. All the bowls go in a stack, all the plates in a pile, all the glasses are relegated to one side of the sink. I collect all the utensils in a glass or a bowl. This is for two reasons. One, so you don't end up with mangled garbage disposal spoons, and two, because you're going to wash all the silverware and utensils first. This gets them out of the way so you can move on to bigger things, and so they're not in the way and falling all over the sink as you're shuffling dishes around.
Next, we're going to move on to the big, but flat items. For me this is usually cutting boards, cookies sheets, or the lids to large pots. I have a small sink, so my goal here is to just get stuff out of the way. Once washed, this stuff goes towards the back of my dish rack.
Now, we move on to plates. Big plates first, and then smaller plates. Next, the bowls. Large bowls first (when I say large here, I mean cereal size, or slightly larger - we're going to get to mixing bowls later), then small. Next, we'll move on to glasses. I usually wash mugs of the same or similar size first. Once they're in their designated section of the dish rack, other glasses can be stacked on them. Wine glasses are a different beast altogether. I will sometimes leave these on the counter until I'm done washing everything else. Once they're washed I'll let them dry on a towel. I think they're too delicate for the dish rack, and I'm afraid they'll break under the weight of larger dishes. (I suppose it's a good thing we don't drink wine that often.)
At this point, you may have noticed that we've left out the pots/pans/mixing bowls. I save these items for last. They're easier to wash once everything else is out of the sink (they also make a good vessel for things that might need to soak), and usually can be stacked over everything else. If there simply isn't any more room left on the dish rack, I'll lay a towel down on the counter and give them their own space to dry.
Next, we'll turn off the water, and set the sponge on the edge of the sink, because WE'RE DONE. The sink should now be delightfully empty, and the dish rack full of sparkling clean dishes.
Now wasn't that easy? This little "system" may not seem very revolutionary or spectacular, but it lends some order to the dirty dish disarray that can happen in a kitchen sink. Knowing that I've got a set plan of action before I even turn on the hot water makes it that much easier for me to tackle.
So how do you wash your dishes?