You'll likely be dealing with a larger-than-normal load of dishes on Thanksgiving, which may render your typical process ineffective.

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While paper plates and disposable flatware might be the easier choice with regards to cleaning, we all enjoy breaking out our best china and silverware come Thanksgiving. However, using these types of dinnerware can leave you with quite a mess; cleaning it up may mean missing out on time with loved ones, which could add another layer of stress to your holiday. To help you efficiently tackle the dishwashing process, we spoke with a professional who specializes in cleaning up after big events. Ahead, discover how to tackle the post-turkey load.

thanksgiving dinner party dirty dishes on table
Credit: Studio Firma / Stocksy / Adobe Stock

Song and Dish

There are a couple of different ways you can approach the dishes after your meal, says Shelleylyn Brandler, the founder of TaDa! Catering. "Enlist your guests to help with the dishes before dessert. Typically, my guests offer, so I do not even have to ask. We also have a dishwasher which makes the task easier," she shares, adding that she finds ways to make this chore fun. "I like to do sing-alongs and knock out the dishes to tunes everyone knows. You can call it 'dirty dishes and dancing' or 'song and dish.'"

Wait It Out

Are you uncomfortable asking your visitors to pitch in? If so, Brandler says to tuck your dirty dishes away and wait for a better time to dig into them. "Wipe scraps off plates and then stack them on the counter. Cover them with kitchen towels until you're ready to start washing," she says, adding that if you're going to go this route, you should still soak your cutlery. "However, I prefer to do all the dishes before dessert, so I do not need to think about it the next day."

Order Matters

If, like Brandler, you'd rather tackle the load sooner rather than later, she recommends using her tried-and-true method for dealing with a large number of dishes. "My order of dishwashing has always been: soak silverware and then wash plates, glasses, and pots and pans," she says. "Also, I soap everything up on one side of the sink, and then stack and rinse on the other side. A large dish rack is essential if you do not have a dishwasher."

Don't Knock Disposables

You don't have to go all in on either disposable or china dishes. Instead, Brandler advises mixing and matching. "There is no shame in some nice plastic cups and disposable pans for turkey, stuffing, and yams to offset the load," she says, noting to select high-quality, aesthetically-pleasing, and recyclable options.

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