When you’ve just finished a delicious homemade meal, the last thing you want to do is wash the dishes. It’s tempting to leave dirty kitchenware in the sink and let it soak until tomorrow for easier washing. However, allowing your pots and pans to sit overnight can cause serious problems beyond pushing the responsibility off to your future self. Here’s why you should start tackling your dirty dishes immediately rather than letting them soak.
What Are the Risks?
While letting dishes soak helps break down food particles, making them easier to clean, the process also creates microscopic bacteria that can survive on dishes for up to four days. This is extra true for dishes and utensils left to soak after coming into contact with raw meat, especially poultry — 65% of raw chicken sold in grocery stores contains E. coli, the cause of 95,000 cases of food poisoning in the U.S. each year.
The Best Method for Immediate Cleaning
The dishwasher is the quickest and most water-efficient way to sterilize dishes. If you have to wash your dishes by hand, use the two-basin method to limit cross-contamination and the growth of bacteria.
First, scrape the leftover food off your dishes. Fill one sink basin with hot, soapy water and the other with cold water. Then, place the dirty dishes in the soapy, hot water and scrub them clean. Finally, dip the dishes in the clean water to remove any soap, and place them on a drying rack to air dry.
Tips for Keeping a Clean Sink
The kitchen sink is one of the dirtiest places in your home, so experts recommend deep-cleaning it at least once a week with mild dish soap, a sponge, and warm water. Use a disinfecting wipe or a 1:1 mixture of baking soda and vinegar for a deeper clean, especially after handling raw meat and poultry. Be sure to replace sponges every two weeks — they also accumulate bacteria that can be passed from dish to dish over multiple washes.
Featured Image Credit: Liudmila Chernetska/ iStock