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Of the many modern inventions found in homes today, few may be as highly regarded as the automatic dishwasher. With the push of a button, the days of handwashing dishes became a memory for those who could afford such a machine. For the rest of us, however, it is still the same old routine of filling a sink with soap and water and laboriously scrubbing our dishes, pots, pans, silverware and glasses. If ever there was a competition for least favorite household chore, dishwashing would probably win, hands down.

But it doesn't have to be like that, if you used the same time and energy saving techniques that professional dishwashers have used for years. Dishwashing in a professional restaurant is generally considered by outsiders to be menial labor, but within the confines of a busy kitchen, a good dishwasher's services are invaluable. Here are a few tips on how to handwash your dishes at home without wasting time or water.

1. Organize your dishes. Pile your large plates with large plates, bowls with bowls, glasses with glasses and so on. Be sure to scrape out any remaining food before stacking dishes tightly. (a good rubber scraper works well for rough scraping.) It is much easier to use the same cleaning motion on the same type dish than to wash whatever comes up from the depths of the sink next. Although professional dishwashers do have the benefit of powerful automatic washers, they still organize each 'run' by type of dish. Glasses are washed together, large plates are washed together, silverware is washed together. If your drainage area is limited, it is much easier to wash the same dishes and then stack them together when dry, making room for the next run. Separate sharp knives from the rest of the silverware, to avoid any accidents later.

2. Set up a two or three sink arrangement. If you have three sinks available, use the first one as your main washing sink, filled with detergent. Fill the second sink with clean hot water, to remove soapy water. The third sink should be your sanitizer, filled with hot water and a capful of bleach or a commercial sanitizer. The dishes should be clean straight out of the first sink, rinsed of remaining residue in the second, and left in the third sink for a few minutes to fully sanitize them. If you have two sinks, wash the dishes in the first sink, then fill the second sink with hot, sanitized water. Rinse the dishes with a sprayer before submersing them into the second sink. Allow the dishes to air dry. Change out the water in both sinks frequently, if the water temperature lowers considerably or if the water becomes extremely dirty.

3. Soak your pots and pans. If you have a pot with burned food stuck to the sides, put a mixture of fabric softener and hot water in it, until it reaches the top level of the mess. This will break up the sticky, burned food better than dish detergent would. For food that isn't actually burned, but still coated on the sides of the pot, use a paint scraper for more leverage. Professional dishwashers often use heavier gauge steel wool or copper scrubbers to clean up the worst messes. Whatever you do, do not allow food to completely dry in a large pot. Cleaning a pot full of dried food is three times harder than cleaning a fresh one.

4. Plan ahead for the best order of washing. Even the best grease-cutting dish soaps will eventually give out. Once you have your dishes organized, plan to wash them in an order that will not harm the next set you wash. Wash glasses before you wash a greasy set of pans. Wash plates before silverware- the silverware can handle dirtier water. Plan water changes after particularly dirty dishes- for example, salad bowls that contain oily dressings. Water temperature is another factor. Glasses do better in cleaner, hotter water. Plates can handle cooler water, if the water is still fairly clean. Silverware can survive anything, as long as the sanitizing water is clean and hot. Pots and pans are the most forgiving, wash these items last.

5. Wear protection. Rubber gloves are very useful- they protect hands from harsh chemicals, hot water and smelly food while also improving grip. An apron will protect clothes from food stains and excessive water. Sweat bands around the forehead will keep hair out of the face and make the hot and humid environment a bit more comfortable. Keep a few clean gauze pads around, to aid with accidental cuts. Broken glasses and sharp knives can cause bad injuries, so keep an eye out for them.