The Test Kitchen's Number One Secret for Washing Dirty Dishes with Ease
The team explains why they've brought this piece of advice into their own homes.
When you develop recipes for a living, you dirty a lot of bowls, spoons, pots, pans, and plates. That's why our test kitchen team employs an age-old trick to keep money from pouring down the drain. The mastermind behind this trick is our longtime kitchen manager, Gertrude Porter, who everyone calls Geri. Beside the sink Geri always has a plastic pint container of water into which she squirts a little dish soap. A long-handled dish brush is always there, immersed in the soapy water. When she's washing dishes, Geri dips the brush into the soapy water repeatedly instead of squirting more soap onto each item. This method works just as well at home as it does in a test kitchen-we know because some of the test kitchen team took Geri's ideas home with them.
Lauryn Tyrell, senior editor, says she learned everything she knows about washing dishes from Geri. Lauryn has a pint pot of water with a squirt of dish soap in it at home. For items that require more elbow grease to come clean, she uses a copper scrubber.
Editor-at-large Shira Bocar also uses Geri's technique at home, replete with dish brush, but she says she actually prefers sponges to brushes. And she has a savvy sponge trick: She cuts each sponge in half and uses smaller sponges. This means her sponges last longer and she doesn't feel wasteful when she recycles one. "It gives me better mobility for cleaning in smaller items," she adds. Shira has another cleaning tip: Her favorite product for cleaning stainless steel pans and baking sheets is Bar Keepers Friend. Lauryn also is a fan and as a result both have sparkling pans and baking sheets despite using these items almost daily.
Geri offers one final tip: When using pastry brushes (of which the test kitchen has many), she advises cleaning them as quickly as possible after use. Her technique is to soak them in her soapy water solution for a couple of minutes, then rinse them thoroughly with hot water, massaging the bristles to be sure they are clean and free of grease. Larger pastry brushes (with more bristles), may need dish soap squirted onto them directly then massaging and rinsing.