100-Year-Old Directions for Washing Dishes

Here are some hundred-year-old directions for how to wash dishes: It is not difficult to wash dishes although many people make it a very disagreeable process. The necessary apparatus include a plentiful supply of hot water, a good soap, ammonia or borax to soften the water, a gritty soap or powder. Have a pan for […]


Washing dishes

Sherry posted this great piece on how to wash dishes. I thought it was a wonderful explanation of something that many of us consider to be a routine and mundane task. Frankly, I think that it is brilliant!

I am reblogging Sherry’s post now because over Passover, we do not use our dishwasher.

We also have the pleasure of enjoying many festive meals with family and friends.

I have not yet begun to cook!

Consequently, this is the one time of the year when I must wash everything by hand and I have lots of cooking and therefore lots of dishes to do.

It has taken me a while to figure out a good routine for doing dishes.

I consider washing dishes to be both an art and a science.

In general, I wash dishes with soap and borax acid. I soak the cutlery in soapy water so that they are easier to clean, before I wash them. 

In addition, I also try to conserve water. So, I use one bucket to wash the dishes and another bucket to rinse them with. Then, I dry them on a dish rack, or place them on a towel.

When I really have greasy dishes, I have been known to use ammonia instead of borax. Ammonia is good for cutting grease. 

I believe the borax and ammonia extend the soap’s ability to clean and dissolve grease. But, I do not however, use borax and ammonia at the same time.

Washing dishes in order — not me

I do not wash the dishes in any particular order.  I wash the easiest, fastest and most critical items first. Then, I work my way through the mound of items from there. 

My Passover plates from my mother

This usually translates to mean, first the plates are washed (because they are the fastest) then the glasses and then the cutlery. After that I wash the pots. I dislike washing the plastic containers so I prefer to leave them until the end. 

Really dirty pots, I soak over night and wash in the morning. If they are really, really dirty, I add dishwasher soap, bring the water to a boil and then let it soak until cooled and scrub and scrub and scrub. Sometimes I use borax or baking soda to scrub the pot better.

Washing dishes on Shabbat and holidays 

I am writing what I do to wash dishes on Shabbat and Yom Tov (holidays). At the risk of repeating myself, I humbly submit that my expertise is in cooking. Please be aware that I am not an authority on the finer points of Judaism. If you have any questions, please consult your local rabbi.

Basic Rules For Washing on Shabbat & Yom Tov

One is not allowed to wash dirty dishes or cutlery, on the Sabbath or Yom Tov unless you will need them then again on the same day.

So, right after using any dishes, — before any food particles become dry, I rinse the dishes off using cold water. I also rinse out any pots that were used, and if they are really dirty, add water and then liquid soap to the pot to soak them.

On Shabbat, I often wash the dishes used Friday night that I will need for lunch the following day. I take hot water from the urn, pour it into a cup and then pour it into a bowl. After that, I add liquid soap and borax to the hot water.

On Shabbat and Yom Tov, we only use a plastic pot scrubber to wash dishes. So, I dip the scrubber dip into the warm soapy water and wash each dish, adding more soap to the sponge as needed. Then, I rinse the dishes with cold water.

On Yom Tov, one is permitted to wash dishes that will be needed for the same day. So, using the plastic pot scrubber, I wash the dishes, etc. in a bucket filled with soapy water and borax, and then rinse them.

What can I say? I take washing dishes very seriously!

Thank you Sherry for your excellent post on washing dishes 100 years ago!

Happy Passover to all!

27 thoughts on “100-Year-Old Directions for Washing Dishes

  1. lynne hoareau says:

    Great post Carol. I must say, I do not like seeing dirty dishes around. Even when I am cooking, as soon as that pot or whatever is used and dirty it gets washed, so by the time it is dinner time, it is just the plates and then one or two other dishes that are dirty.
    When going up, washing dishes was a family thing. My mom always cooked, then either my mom or dad would wash the dishes, my brother and I took turns (one week at a time) one would have to dry the dishes and then the other would have to put them away. My mom and dad had this washing ritual, rinse dishes first to get the food off, hot soapy water in the one sink, and the other was the rinsing water for after they were washed properly. First glasses, and mugs, then plates, then casserole dishes, pots and lastly the knives and forks (this usually ended up with having to have fresh water by this time) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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