Turns Out, Your Dish Soap Might Not Actually Be Getting Your Dishes As Clean As You Think

Some soaps just don't cut it.

Turns Out, Your Dish Soap Might Not Actually Be Getting Your Dishes As Clean As You Think
Hand pouring dishwashing liquid onto multicolored sponges

Most of us assume that scrubbing dishes by hand with soap and water is just as effective as using a dishwasher. Some may even prefer this method over using a machine.

Yes, those sparkling dishes on the drying rack might look squeaky clean, but are they actually disinfected? We were surprised to find out that many dishwashing soaps are not antibacterial. So if you’re washing by hand, your dishes could be secretly harboring bacteria.

To be honest, this isn’t really that big of a deal most of the time. However, if you have someone in your house who’s been sick or if you prepare raw meat on your dishes or cookware, then sanitizing your hand-washed dishes should be a priority.

Dishwashers might not get rid of all those stuck-on food particles, but they do disinfect your dishes. That’s because water temperature needs to be above 140 degrees Fahrenheit to kill off bacteria. This is a given with machines, but your hands can’t handle that kind of heat.

If you want to thoroughly disinfect your dishes when washing by hand, you’ll need to start with the proper dish soap. Dawn Ultra Antibacterial Dishwashing Liquid and Palmolive Ultra Antibacterial Dishwashing Liquid are two good store-bought options.

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You could also try mixing your own solution using one tablespoon of unscented chlorine bleach per gallon of water. When using this method, you’ll want to soak your dishes in the solution for a full minute before rinsing thoroughly.

Also, a silicone sponge—like this one from GreenLife—is a much safer bet than using a traditional sponge that’s probably teeming with germs. These innovative dishwashing net cloths could do the trick as well. If you refuse to part with your traditional sponges, it’s best to replace them often and be sure to disinfect them after cleaning sessions.

Speaking of dishcloths and cleaning towels, using a dirty one after drying your dishes could be counteracting your sanitation efforts. Be sure to wash them regularly using the hottest possible water and your washing machine’s “sanitize” cycle if it has one.

Our final tip when washing dishes by hand is to get the water as hot as possible and use a pair of heat-resistant gloves to protect your skin.

But remember, unless you use dishes to prepare raw meat or your someone in your household has been sick, it’s not necessary to go through this song and dance every time you hand-wash your dishes. Happy cleaning!

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