I suspect there aren't many people in the civilized world who go a day without leaving dishes in the sink, and it's tempting to go a lot longer than a day... For some its laziness, others its practicality. I'll be the first to admit I'm a pig. But whatever your reason, no one is going to talk you into doing dishes more often. So consider how much easier it will be if you apply some practical stacking tips.

    Universal Rules
  • Rinse. A simple rinse will get rid of 80% of the need for elbow grease later. Orange juice (with pulp) in a cup sitting is going to be impossible to clean later if you don't rinse it now.
  • Soak baby soak. Always leave water on the dish. Even plates have the capacity to soak. Soaking is the best way to get rid of those tough battles with cheese.
  • Stack one side of the sink. This is practical for several reasons. It leaves you access to the other side of the sink, assuming you haven't been stacking dishes for 2-3 days... But hopefully it allows you to access the faucet, or even the garbage disposal. Also, when you eventually begin washing your dishes it prevents the classic move every dish out of the sink onto the counter maneuver.

Pots and Pans
Simply put, your best course of action is to keep your pots and pans outside the sink. Keep them on the counter next to the sink, and definitely soak them.

Wood utensils and dishes are rare these days. But they're still around. Even cutting boards are often made of wood. I can't believe I have to spell this out, but for crying out loud you should never leave wood in the sink, and you should never soak it. I don't recommend putting wood in the dish washer, so this is the one item you're just better off washing right after use.

The easiest way to prevent a bunch of gunk sticking to your utensils is to put a handful of them into a cup full of soapy water. I also utilize this maneuver when I begin washing dishes. I collect all the utensils and put them into a cup full of hot soapy water and let them soak even for 3 minutes while I battle another dish. It makes a world of difference. This is even more true when you're going the dishwasher route.

There is no sayall rule when it comes to how you actually stack. I've already outlined how positioning will make the best impact. But with that said, put smaller stuff in bigger stuff... And don't stack cups inside of each other. I prefer the classic line of cups next to the sink. Since water is the most used drink, your cups are more likely to become dirtier when you put them into the sink. Bowls that have had milk products can't get dirtier, so straight to the sink with them and stack away.

Let's say you agree with my article, or at least the premise. How do you convince someone else in your living quarters to follow some of these basic stacking rules? Don't. You're either a smart dish stacker, or you aren't. I imagine that there's a positive correlation between bad stacking and procrastinating washing dishes. So if your spouse or roommate fit that bill, try to convince them to do the dishes once in a while with the classic quid quo pro tactic. "I'll do the laundry if you do the dishes, deal?" That will make for a better win-win scenario. Because if you actually have the tenacity to tell someone else how to stack their dishes, you don't exactly know how to choose your fights wisely.

Comments welcome:
(r) DonJaime says re Stacking dishes (how-to): "Civilized world"? Anyone who does this automatically creates an enclave of barbarism. And how are you meant to wash up if the sink is full of crap?
(r) NanceMuse says re Stacking dishes (how-to): Me? Leave dishes in the sink to do later? Never....never :-)
(r) DonJaime says I refuse to live in a world in which stacked dishes in sinks are unavoidable. No flowers, please.
(r) Mathlete says re Stacking dishes (how-to): I really wish this was common sense. Especially the stack one side of the sink rule.

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