Frugal Life

Save Money Washing Dishes: 7 Easy Tips

Did you know that by being a bit more thoughtful, you can save money washing dishes? It's easy to change a few habits to start saving money every day. It may not fund your retirement or pay off your student loans, but every bit counts! #savemoney #frugallife #frugalliving #savemoneywashingdishes #dishes

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I know, how to save money washing dishes is a really random topic for a blog post. How much money can you really save by washing dishes differently? Well, maybe only a few cents at a time. But those cents, day in and day out, week after week, year over year, turn into dollars. Dollars that can fund your coffee habit, pay for a birthday present, or fill up your tank with gas.

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you know that I am a firm believer that every bit counts. Little changes can yield big savings, even if it may take some time. But that is time well spent if it helps you live the life you want.

So many people are so wasteful when washing dishes. To me, that’s just money going down the drain. By being a bit more thoughtful, it’s easy to save money washing dishes. By having the right tools, you can wash more efficiently, and by washing more efficiently, you can save money on soap and water. And that’s more cents that turn into dollars.

Hand Washing vs. a Dishwasher

If you have a dishwasher, you should use it to wash your dishes whenever possible. A dishwasher uses less water than hand washing, which will help you save money washing dishes. And it certainly saves time. But there are things you may not want to put in the dishwasher, for example fine china or crystal. Or you may have bulky pots and pans that don’t fit. It’s unavoidable that we have to wash dishes by hand sometimes, so when we do it, we might as well do it right to save money.

If you don’t have a dishwasher (my condolences) then it’s even more important you hand wash as efficiently as possible. With the tips I’m going to share, you’ll learn to save money washing dishes. Again, these savings won’t fund your retirement, but they will put a bit more cash in your pocket.

Tools of the Trade

As I discussed during my post on getting dinner ready in a hurry, as with any job, it’s important to have the right tools to get the job done right. The same is true of dish washing.

So what tools do you need?

Liquid Dish Soap

The obvious starting place is a good dish soap. Dawn is one of the most popular dish soaps for a reason. It gets the job done. I’ve also been very happy with Palmolive, and generally it’s cheaper than Dawn, though the scent can be a bit strong.

Don’t be tempted by the cheap dish soaps. Invariably they’re not as thick or strong, meaning you have to use more every time you wash dishes. This is one of those circumstances where spending a bit more saves you in the long run.

Sponge or Brush

Next you’re going to need a sponge or brush. Ultimately it comes down to personal preference. If you opt for a brush, avoid the ones where you put dish soap in the handle. My experience is that these often leak, causing you to use way more dish soap than you need.

If you prefer a sponge, check out these nifty reusable sponges. Rather than chucking your sponge in the trash when it gets skeezy, throw it in the washing machine instead and use it again and again. They’re a bit pricier than regular sponges, but since you can use them for so much longer, you’ll come out ahead.

For the Really Tough Jobs

You should also have some kind of steel wool, like SOS or Brillo pads. These remove the really stuck on gunk on your pots and pans much more efficiently than regular dish soap and a sponge.

And here’s an extra money-saving tip: cut them in half. The problem with steel wool pads is that after one use, they rust out, making them usually single-use products. Next time, don’t use an entire pad when you need to clean just one pot. Cut the pad in half and your box will go twice as far.

How to Save Money Washing Dishes

Before you even begin washing, scrape as much food off the plate as you can. And do dishes as soon as possible after eating. The longer food stays on dishes, the more it sticks, and the harder it will be to get clean, which means more soap and water.

For pots and pans with heavy scorching, before you start tackling with your sponge, fill the pot with enough water to cover the bottom, put it back on the stove, and turn it on. Once the water gets hot to boiling, use a spatula to gently scrape off the food. This will loosen the stuck on food making it easier to clean.

Save Water to Save Money

If you have a load of dishes to do, do not fill your sink with soapy water. This uses way too much water. Just wet each dish as you wash it. And be sure to turn the water off as you scrub your dishes. Doing so will save gallons of water, which means big savings. More than anything else I’m going to share with you, this is probably the most impactful way to save money washing dishes.

To save even more water, once your dish is clean and soapy, place it in the bottom of the sink instead of rinsing it right away. The water you use for the next dish will begin to rinse the soapy dish. Again, it’s these little tricks that add up over time.

Save Soap to Save Money

Last Christmas, a family member helped wash dishes after dinner. I was grateful for the help, but part of me was dying a bit inside by how much soap she used. Every minute or so she would give another big squeeze and keep washing. She must have gone through at least a third of the bottle of soap just washing seven place settings. And she kept the water running the entire time. My frugal self was trying to be appreciative for the help (and I was), but I was also developing a nervous twitch at the waste.

With soap, a little goes a long way, but you waste it if you squirt it directly on a dish. Instead, squeeze a bit into your sponge or brush and use it for several dishes. When you run out of suds, it’s time for another little squeeze. If you’ve been putting your soap directly on each dish you will be amazed at how much longer your soap lasts.

Go Forth and Conquer!

If you’ve been filling up your sink with water, and squeezing soap on to each dish, I guarantee that you are going to start seeing a big difference by following the tips I describe above.

By making a few small changes in your routine, you will see how easy it is to save money washing dishes. Again, it may not seem much, but washing your dishes this way is better for your wallet and the environment. And what’s not to like about that?

Happy washing!

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