Friday, 13 August 2010

Hand Washing Dishes

Washing dishes is a familiar daily task, and probably the first bit of housekeeping we learned to do. It's also one of the easi­est to make more environmentally friendly and more efficient. Using a nontoxic, biodegradable dishwashing liquid, such as those from Ecover or Naturally Yours, is a simple first step. Avoid products labeled "detergent"; this indicates they are chemically derived. Making your own dish soap is another option. Pick up a natural sponge, like a cellulose sponge, a sea sponge, or a loofah, and you've detoxi­fied your entire dishwashing process in two steps or pans with burnt-on food and let them sit while you do the other items. But don't use baking soda on aluminum cookware — it can discolor the metal.

It's best to have two basins, one for washing and one for rinsing. If your sink has only one, use a dishpan for the rinse. Fill the first basin with hot soapy water, and the second (or dishpan) with very hot clean water. You only need about two table­spoons of dishwashing liquid. One to three tablespoons of distilled white vinegar in the rinsewater can help prevent spots if your home has.

Try to wash dishes as soon as pos­sible after meals. If you absolutely can't get to them right away, soak hard-to-clean items in hot water with a little baking soda. You can also sprinkle baking soda on pots

Sponge Options

There are biodegradable alternatives to standard plastic sponges. The best choices are sea sponges (found at most natural food stores) and biodegradable cellulose sponges. A large, unused bath loofah cut into smaller pieces makes a good scouring pad; you can also use a wood scrub brush with stiff, natural bristles. To disinfect sponges and scrub brushes, wash them in soapy water, then place them in boiling water for three to five minutes.

hard water; a tablespoon also helps cut any grease in the rinsewater.

Put the silverware in the bottom of the soapy water. Scrape any remain­ing food off the dishes into the trash or your compost bin and put the dishes on top of the silverware. Use a rag to wipe out greasy pots and pans and put them on the counter.

Wash glassware first, rinsing in the hot water, then china, and then silverware. Replace rinsewater when it cools or gets dirty. Pots and pans are next. Use a scouring pad or scrub brush and more dishwashing liquid if needed. It's best to let everything air-dry, with the excep­tion of some glassware and crystal. If you can't wait, use a soft linen dish towel and dry items in the same order you washed them.

Dish racks get dirty, too — it's good to get in the habit of washing yours occasionally, just before or just after doing the dishes. Wash as you would a regular dish and make sure to let it dry thoroughly.

Sparkling-clean crystal and glass­ware is one of the greatest joys of a dishwashing job well done. Even those who own automatic dishwash­ers often choose to hand wash such items to avoid spotting or scratch­ing. Some tips for the best results:

Wash glasses and crystal first, in clean, hot dishwater.

Distilled white vinegar in your rinsewater prevents spotting; the mix can be up to one-third white vinegar for glassware.

Slip glasses into hot water sideways to prevent cracking.

Crystal should be hand dried and polished with a soft cloth.

If your drinking glasses are cloudy, soak them for an hour or so in warm distilled white vinegar, then scrub.

Cast-iron cookware is durable and efficient, and even adds a small bit of necessary iron to your diet. And using cast-iron cookware lets you avoid nonstick chemicals such as Teflon. A recent study showed harmful particles and gases were released from nonstick pans after just a few minutes on the stove top. Cleanup is easy, too: Use steel wool to scrub any stubborn stains, then rinse. Dry cookware over low heat to prevent rusting, and rub with vegetable oil to reseason. Do not soak cast-iron pots or pans.


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