Eight Turns

Da Goddess @ 18:32

Because my new home is teeny tiny, I don’t have the luxury of a dishwasher. At least, not a dishwasher run by electricity. It all comes down to me.

I’ll be the first to admit I’m not currently as diligent about getting the job done as I should be, but they always end up done eventually.

Because I’ve been trained well in the art of pathogen elimination (“we can’t be all ‘ooh! Pathogens…having a party'” as per the man who ran the food handlers’ course I had to attend to work in a restaurant back in my teens), I’ll fess up to having a bit of an obsession with making sure every dirty dish as clean as possible (this was something the former bf didn’t worry about & which often led to me rewashing anything and everything he handwashed during our time together). In order to do this, I’ve developed a ritual.

1. Hot water. Lots of it. This causes me an unwelcome level of agita as I have to turn on the water full force in order to get any heat at all to said water. I live in California. We’re notoriously droughty. But this is the only way for me to get my hot water and needs must.

2. Soap. I need an adequate amount of dish soap to ensure each item is properly cleaned. The former bf would notoriously use a single drop for at least half the entire amount of dirty dishes. That’s inadequate and one of the reasons I rewashed his work on a regular basis. As it stands, as much as I’m pinching pennies, I will NOT compromise when it comes to anything that could possibly make me sick. Food poisoning caused by poorly cleaned surfaces is not an option in my home. Thus I definitely use more than one drop of dish soap per item. I bought a large bottle of dish soap in January and, surprisingly (to the former guy), there’s still more than three quarters of that soap left (he considered anything more than that one drop wasteful). In fact, the smaller bottle I’d filled is still half full.

3. Cleaning utensil. I don’t use a sponge. I’d rather mainline pure clostridium than allow a disgusting petri dish of a sponge to touch anything my food will be in contact with. No matter how many times you run a sponge through the microwave or dishwasher (and, frankly speaking, if you have a dishwasher, just fucking use it, okay? It sanitizes beautifully), that sponge will never not be anything more than a pathogen delivery system.

So what DO I use? A brush. A glorious brush from the dollar store or IKEA. You don’t need to spend more than a buck or two for a brush. More expensive brushes don’t perform any better, they simply cost more.

Because brushes lack soft absorbent surfaces, they don’t retain bacteria or fungi the way a sponge does. That said, at least once a week, let your brush sit in bleach for a minimum of one minute to help eliminate any germs hiding in the opening where the bristles attach to the brush wand.

4. Friction is your friend. You don’t have to scrub hard if you have decent friction. Enough friction to create a good amount of bubbles. Bubbles help lift germs from the surface of whatever you’re washing, which then means they can be sent down the drain and away from your gut. (This same principle applies to handwashing as well, as does the amount of soap you use.)

5. Have some fun. Why not? If, like me, you’re stuck washing dishes by hand, it doesn’t have to completely suck. For me, it’s an opportunity to think about things or to let my imagination run wild about projects I’d like to tackle. It’s also prime music time. I put on music I enjoy and let myself just blank out for a bit…or sway or bop along with the beat.

5a. I also indulge my secret, deeply hidden OCD.

Every dish or glass gets the eight turn treatment each side. (Silverware and cooking utensils get a slightly modified eight turns, but I’ll spare you the details.) I hold the plate or bowl firmly by the edge, scrub quickly up and down (or back and forth, or side to side… however you need to imagine it to make it make sense to you) until I get a decent amount of bubbles in that linear pattern that looks lovely. Then, a quarter turn, repeat the scrub. Followed by several more turns with more bubbles. Basically, I end up doing, you guessed it, eight turns. I repeat the same process on the bottom of the plate, bowl, pan, etc.

Why eight? Four alone would seem inadequate. Five would be uneven. Six wouldn’t allow for every rotation to give equal attention to the surface of the item. Seven, again, odd. Eight turns means each direction gets two chances to get rid of food and germs. The twelve it would take to get each turn the equal number of scrubs just seems like overkill. I’ll do it if I must to get rid of everything bad, but this rarely happens.

Eight turns. Each side. Lots of suds (they don’t need to be big bubbles, just sudsy).

6. Rinsing. Hot water, obviously. Both sides, natch.

7. Drying. Make sure you allow your newly cleaned items on a newly cleaned surface, be it a clean towel or a rack. I use a metal rack because it’s the only option I have available, but it’s also what I’d choose due to the ability to sanitize it.

I allow the clean items to air dry. Towel drying has the potential to transfer icky, mean, nasty pathogens to everything you just spent a fair amount of effort to clean. Don’t let the pathogens party on your watch!


And there you have my insane approach to handwashing dishes. If I had a two well sink, I’d include a bleach dip. But I don’t so I can’t and I’m okay with it.

Do you have a specific approach to dishwashing? I would love to hear about it.


  1. Wow, I’d eat at your place anytime!! Some of my friends and family… ick.

    Our dishwasher broke a few months ago so I’ve been hand washing. I hate it. Loathe. But the dishwasher I picked out as a replacement seemed to be too expensive, so fuck it: I’ll hand wash til the man gets with the program! I do see the error in all this; I’m the one that suffers, not him.

    I use nothing but Dawn and yes, I use sponges. I’ve got a million new ones under the sink and change them constantly, but I can’t break the habit. I do air dry.

    Comment by pam — 2019/04/02 @ 04:53

  2. Do yourself a favor and get yourself plastic bristle brushes at the dollar store. You’ll thank me in the long run. I promise.

    When I was still with K, the dishwasher broke & the endless washing began. He finally replaced the dishwasher (check Costco, Lowe’s, & Home Depot — even Sears — for sales, including appliance combos as you often get incredible deals!) & I used that constantly until the day I moved.

    Now, I also have to wear gloves when I wash because my skin likes to dry and split with remarkable ease (I use O’Keeffe’s Working Hands hand cream to help my skin heal asap). It got especially bad in nursing school and in the hospital.

    I don’t mind washing by hand so much except when it gets hot because the sink is tucked behind a door. Blech.

    Anyhow, I appreciate you knowing my “pain” when it comes to having to wash everything by hand.

    I know I’ve mentioned it before, but brushes beat sponges every time. Imagine what’s growing in the sponge as fleas on your dogs. Except these fleas have the potential to make you exceptionally ill or even kill you. Even sponges fresh out of the package have a significant number of pathogens already in them. At least with brushes there’s a way to sanitize them that make them safe to use. With sponges, there are too many books and crannies and it takes ages for them to dry completely. They’re just squishy petri dishes. And most aren’t cute or funny like Spongebob.

    End of nursey lecture. Everyone has a preference. It’s hard to change the way you do things just because I’m nattering away about germs. (This is the second time I’ve had this conversation today, btw. Go figure.)

    Also, you’re welcome here any time. Just be prepared to eat with your plate on your lap while sitting on the loveseat, the floor, or on the edge of the cat tree. My place is ridiculously small.


    Comment by Da Goddess — 2019/04/02 @ 22:38

  3. The other convo I had about this today starts with this tweet

    Comment by Da Goddess — 2019/04/02 @ 22:49

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