How to Wash Dishes

This was an audition article–the client asked me to write a paragraph answering the question. I challenged myself to write a short blog post on such a simple process, and the client was impressed. I wound up writing several articles about washing dishes while camping. Two of them landed on the first page of Google search results. (Contact me if you want to see them).

So your dishwasher broke and you have a sink full of dirty dishes. And there’s your kid—who claims he doesn’t know how to wash them.  We have created this simple guide so you can send him to his favorite place—the internet.

How do you wash dishes? To wash dishes you need

  • Hot water
  • Detergent
  • A cleaning tool
  • A way to dry them

Although the process is simple enough, there are some variations to keep in mind. Let’s get started.

Hot Water

Generally hot water is best. Hot water works with the detergent to loosen the dirt that is stuck to plates. Some researchers have shown that cold water can also work if you combine it with a sanitizer, but unless you run a restaurant, you wouldn’t have the correct kind.


You need dish soap, otherwise known as liquid soap. You can get anything from something fancy like Seventh Generation to old reliable Dawn.  In a pinch you can even use hand soap, or so says Real Simple.

A Cleaning Tool

Simple enough, right? Here are some options:

  • Sponge
  • Sponge on a handle
  • Dishcloth

If your kid cannot find any of those, then hand them a roll of paper towels. They work in a pinch.

A Way to Dry Them

Dish towel works. We prefer the lazy way—air drying.

Brain Surgeon Not Needed

Now that you have gathered everything you need, it’s time to clean. This part seems obvious

  1. Fill the sink with warm water
  2. Squirt in some soap
  3. Put the dishes in
  4. Wash
  5. Rinse
  6. Dry

If your kid can’t figure it out, send him back to his favorite place–the internet–and have him check out the You Tube Video.   Thirty seconds into the commercial, he will be back at the sink telling you how boring it was.

At which point, it’s time for one of your favorite lines—I knew you could do it.

Bottom Line

Face it—your dishwasher is going to break at the worst possible moment. Knowing how to wash dishes by hand is a life skill every kid needs. They’ll thank you one day.

Or maybe not.

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