How Clean are Hand-washed Dishes?
Many modern homes are equipped with dishwashers that wash and dry the dishes using special dishwashing soap and finishing products that clean spots off of glassware and other specialty items. Not everyone is so lucky to have a dishwasher, however, and must hand wash their dishes. The big question for those people or for those who have a broken dishwasher is the question of whether washing dishes by hand is as safe and as clean as washing dishes via the dishwasher.
If done right, you can wash your dishes as safely by hand as you can do it in the dishwasher. The trick is to do the washing of dishes correctly so that the dishes become clean and dry clean. There is a special system called the “three bowl” system that involves the use of three sinks rather than the traditional two sink method. The three bowl method is what is necessary in order to ensure that the proper amount of germs is removed from the dishes.
Using the three bowl system, you need to have the first bowl contain water as hot as you can stand it and detergent mixed within the water. The second tub should involve hot water to rinse the dishes. The third tub should be a mixture of 1.5 teaspoons of bleach per gallon of water.
Wash the dishes in very hot soapy water and remove all obvious food debris. Cover all surfaces with your sponge, scrubber or wash cloth. Then rinse in running warm to hot water in a second sink or bowl. Finally soak the dishes for a small period of time and then allow to dry in a dish drainer. Continually replenish the first sink with hot soapy water so it stays hot.
Some people are really sensitive to bleach and undergo skin irritation or mucus membrane irritation when using bleach for sanitizing the dishes. In that case, you can skip the bleach and make sure that all the water in the three sinks is at least 170 degrees Fahrenheit the whole time the dishes are being washed and rinsed. Unfortunately, this is a really high thermal temperature that can burn the hands with extended exposure or with sensitive skin. Use a temperature gauge or thermometer in each of the three tubs of water so they stay high enough to kill germs.
Most people find this method of washing dishes time consuming and annoying; they prefer a dishwasher. The problem with a dishwasher is that it often leads to residual food debris on the dishes. It isn’t uncommon to find pieces of food stuck on dishes that needed some extra scrubbing not provided by the hand washing procedure. Some are concerned, too, about the residual soap chemicals from dishwasher-cleaned dishes. Dishwasher detergents often contain toxic chemicals that can stay on dishwasher-cleaned dishes and may be dangerous for both adults and children. Fortunately, they make non-toxic and biodegradable dishwashing soaps for dishwashers that can be used safely and conveniently for the dishwasher.
Just like hand washed dishes need to be washed at a temperature that kills germs, the dishwasher must be at a high temperature of greater than 170 degrees. If not, the drying cycle often successfully kills germs, even on residual food stuck on the plate.