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Non-Toxic Cleaning: Doing the Dishes

May 16th, 2012

Here at Chiot’s Run we typically wash dishes by hand. My dishwasher control panel went out about a year ago and we decided it was faster to wash everything the old fashioned way. I mix castile soap in a foaming soap dispenser (see instructions here) and use a Twist compostable sponge. I also keep a parmesan cheese shaker with baking soda at the sink for sprinkling in any pots and pans that need a good scrubbing.

Like most people, I have a collection of various bottle brushes and stainless steel scrubbers for kitchen and household cleaning. They certainly come in handy for washing water bottles and hummingbird feeders!

Scrubbing the dishes by hand really doesn’t take much longer that loading and unloading the dishwasher, at least for us here. We wash them as soon as we’re finished cooking/eating and then they’re done. No saving up a sink full of dishes here – one of my biggest annoyances is dirty dishes on the counter. I don’t want to see them. Having the dishes all washed and put away right away is also a great benefit to hand washing, no waiting for hours for the dishwasher to wash and no noise either.

What would the non-toxic cleaning series be without a proper automatic dishwashing detergent recommendation? So I ordered a new control panel and a new seal from Repair Clinic and the dishwasher was fixed for a fraction of what it would cost to replace it.

Up until a year ago when the dishwasher kicked the bucket, I used Ecover Automatic Dishwashing Detergent and was fairly happy. I purchased a container of Tropical Traditions Detergent Detergent with Enzymes, but the dishwasher died before I could use it.

It was used for the first load and I must say, I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Tropical Traditions detergent*. The first time I used it I was amazed at how spotless the dishes came out. We have hard water and the dishes have never come out this clean, ever. I’ve washed a few more loads with it and it has performed just as well each time.

What goes in my rinse aid dispenser? White vinegar, citrus infused if I have it. Even with our very hard water, it seems to work just as well as the store-bought varieties at a fraction of the cost!

I do use the high heat wash setting on my dishwasher. Since our diet includes lots of butter, whole milk and other high fat foods, the high heat setting is needed to help dissolve all the residue on the plates. The low-temp simply doesn’t work.

If your dishwasher isn’t doing a great job cleaning the dishes, think about cleaning it. Once a year, we take apart our dishwasher and clean all the parts, this keeps it cleaning perfectly. I can always tell when it’s needing a good cleaning. This step is especially important if you don’t clean all the food off of your dishes before loading it. You’ll also extend the life of your dishwasher saving you money if you take the time to perform yearly maintenance.

Even though my dishwasher is now fixed, I’ll continue doing most of the dishes by hand. For me it’s a great way to get some down time, I really enjoy looking at the tulip hillside and the woods while I clean. There are claims that washing dishes by hand uses more energy/water, but I have not found this to be the case. My electric bit went down when we started doing dishes by hand.

Do you do dishes by hand or with an automatic dishwasher?

*Disclaimer – I do have an affiliate program with Tropical Traditions, if you click through my blog to make your first purchase they give me a gift certificate. Rest assured, I have been spending my hard earned cash and recommending Tropical Traditions long before they offered a program like this.

Stocking Your Non-Toxic Cleaning Kit
Learning to Love Castile Soap
Make Your Own: Foaming Soap
Make Your Own: Infused Vinegar
Make Your Own: Multi-Purpose Cleaner
Make Your Own: Color Safe Oxygen Bleach
Homemade Whitening Scouring Scrub
Friday Favorite: Charlie’s Soap
Friday Favorite: Twist Sponges
and more to come

Reading & Watching

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.