Three Ways to Get Your Dishes Cleaner

Getting your plates, bowls, and silverware sparkling clean is easier than ever if you use the right detergent.

Opening dishwasher
Whether you wash dishes in a dishwasher or by hand, the detergent you use could mean the difference between clean and washing them all again.Wendelin Jacober

For many Americans, it’s likely that doing dishes ranks on the fun scale somewhere higher than a root canal but lower than, say, vacuuming the carpet in the car. Doing dishes is just not fun, especially when you get done and they aren’t as clean as you’d like. Throwing them in the dishwasher isn’t always the answer, either, as sometimes they don’t get sparkling clean in there either. These products will help you get cleaner dishes whether you choose to use the dishwasher or not.

Pods and Tabs

Cascade Platinum Plus Dishwasher Pods
These dish detergent pods work in both hard water and soft to make dishes sparkling clean.Cascade

The importance of the invention of the dish pod far transcends a few strange youngsters who decided eating them might be fun. Before the invention of pods, dishwashing detergent came in either powder, gel, or tablet form, and each had its good and bad points. Most modern detergent pods are better than all of them, plus they do away with having to measure, which was often ignored and resulted in too much or too little detergent used. The detergent contained in most pods is more concentrated than that found in liquid or gel offerings, so it delivers a greater clean while also using less product in each washing cycle—a true win, win. Plus, you don’t even have to unwrap them, just put them in the detergent dispenser, close the door and run your dishwasher as usual. Some pods include more than one kind of soap, plus a rinse aid to help get your dishes as clean as possible.

Rinse and Drying Aids

Finish Jet-Dry Rinse Aid
This rinse aid and drying agent removes spots and residues for a brilliant shine.Finish

Many people aren’t aware of this, but much of the problem with dishes not being cleaned after the dishwasher has run results more from the rinsing than the washing. While there are rinse aids and drying aids on the market, they are much the same thing. A rinse aid is a surfactant that reduces the surface tension of water. The surface tension is what makes the water bead up rather than spread out on the surface of dishes. Rinse aids prevent the water from forming into droplets and encourage it to drain from the surface in thin sheets. That helps reduce the number of spots left on glasses and other dishes by minerals that dissolved in the droplets. Whether or not a rinsing or drying aid is necessary or not is a personal choice. But if you want your dishes to look really clean, they will help you accomplish that task.

Old-Fashioned Scrubbers

Scotch-Brite Non-Scratch Scrub Sponges, Cleaning Power for Everyday Jobs, Stands Up to Stuck-on Grime, 6 Scrub Sponges
These non-scratch scrub sponges are safe for all cookware and make doing dishes by hand a cinch.Scotch-Brite

Washing dishes by hand, while not a fun task, isn’t too complicated. Put hot water in the sink with dish detergent, scrub them really good, rinse them with clean, hot water, and then dry them with a clean dish rag. Nothing to it, right? Where the problem sometimes occurs is not having a dish rag or sponge that is strong enough, or abrasive enough, to get all the yucky stuff out without also damaging your dishes, pots, and pans. Non-scratch scrub sponges are just the ticket to make sure you never have to send dishes back from rinsing or wash them again. Many have an abrasive scrubby side along with a spongy side for dishes that don’t need the extra work. Some are made of cellulose, which is derived from wood pulp. Such sponges are better at wiping and absorbing than foam sponges and can be sanitized in the dishwasher if you have one.