If there’s a sight we’ve all gotten used to lately, it’s a pile of dirty dishes.

We’ve spent months eating more meals at home, and our kitchenware is getting more use than probably ever before. But just because we’ve mostly accepted this doesn’t mean that we’re necessarily ok with it. After all, washing dishes was never popular—and as a mom of two, it does feel like I have a part-time job in soaking and scrubbing. 

Even Christopher Brugman, executive chef and food and beverage director at Castle Hot Springs in Arizona, says he’s overwhelmed by the endless rotation of dirty pots, pans, and plates gracing his home’s sink these days. While his resort, which was named on Condé Nast Traveler’s Hot List 2020, waits out the pandemic until late summer, these are his three tips for making dish washing as painless as possible.

Create Meal Components in Batches

If there’s one secret to making this job a little easier, Brugman says, it’s planning ahead. This is one of the most fundamental aspects of cooking, and it can help you eliminate a lot of dishes before dinner is even served. 

“If you can plan your meals somewhat, you’ll see a huge decrease in dirty dishes,” he says. 

Chop onions and garlic for multiple meals in one go, make a big batch of roasted veggies to mix into more than one dish, and comprise a few sauces ahead of time. This way, you only have to wash all of your prep tools once, rather than deal with an onslaught of them every time you’re hungry. 

Add Suds As You Go

Planning ahead is not always possible, and when that’s the case, rinsing as you cook can really help. “I’m a big fan of pre-washing,” Brugman says. “I don’t even take the sponge out for this step. I just drop a little bit of soap in each vessel and run some water over it.” 

Sure, you could tackle a pile of dishes once dinner’s done, but this is a great compromise when you simply can’t stomach it. As long as you rinse any debris off, you can either finish the job more easily later or let the dishes sit overnight.

Get a Washing Buddy

Because washing dishes is often an arduous solo task, Brugman and his wife typically tag team the process after their meal. “I’ll wash and rinse, and she’ll put everything in the dishwasher,” he says. “We tend to do these things together, because it’s so much quicker and more enjoyable. We open a glass of wine, have a conversation, and knock it off the list.”  

If you can, enlist a buddy to divide and conquer so that this task is finished in half the time. If you live alone, then this is your chance to call a friend as you wash up. Even though they can’t pitch in, they’ll be a much-needed distraction.

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