Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

One Quick Tip: Two Surprising Tools for Washing Impossible Dishes

April 10th, 2013 · 16 Comments · Tips

Do you have a Mt. Dishes at your house?

It’s an unfortunate hazard of the real food household, but it has to be conquered. Often.

Anything to make it an easier process is welcome, like my One Quick Tip to make dishes more tolerable for my husband.

This quick tip is about what’s under the sink (besides my triple threat natural cleaning supplies):

One Quick Tip - Best Free Dish Washing Tools Ever

If you’ve read Kitchen Stewardship for very long at all, you know I’m famous for uber long posts.

This One Quick Tip series is an attempt to write a super short, quickly helpful post that you can pin and share and use right away in your kitchen (or sometimes the rest of the house).

You can follow the One Quick Tip pin board so you don’t have to read the longest posts in the world but still keep up on the tips, things that speed your day along, increase nutrition in the kitchen, or make life more manageable in some way.

One Quick Tip: Free Dishwashing Tools to get in the Nooks and Crannies

Don’t you hate it when you can’t get that last bit of dried on egg salad out of the crevices in a lid or the nuts stuck in your chopper because nothing reaches that far? Bottle brushes are too big, your fingernail isn’t long enough…

Here’s what you need in your dishwashing tool tub (mine is my old community bathroom caddy from college dorm life!) alongside the plastic scraper and green scrubby for cast iron, steel wool for stainless steel, bottle brushes and veggie scrubbers:

toothbrush and skewer stick for doing dishes

That’s a toothbrush and a wooden skewer stick.

When you are ready to toss an old toothbrush, run it through the dishwasher instead. I have one in every bathroom for getting the gunk out from around the bottom of the faucets and the caulk around the sink, and in the kitchen it also helps me get places like this:

toothbrush for doing dishes

And when this has stuck-on parsley from making chicken stock:

toothbrush for doing dishes

And even making sure the hilt of the knife doesn’t start a petting zoo:

toothbrush for cleaning hilt of knife

They’re awesome for cleaning out bathroom sink drains, too.

The other item is the skewer stick, which is an even more inspired idea, for the truly impossible places, like this one:

skewer stick to get in nooks and crannies on dishes

That chopper is great for chopping small batches of nuts and cranberries for homemade muffins, but those ground nuts sometimes get so jammed in there that even the strongest spray of water doesn’t dislodge them. Skewer stick. Awesomeness.

It’s also good for poking dried up cheese out of graters, and this job:

skewer stick to get in nooks and crannies on dishes

Lovely mildew in my water bottle lid. I’m sure I’ll probably die a horrible death because I won’t use bleach on that stuff, but I did soak it in some antibacterial essential oil and water mixture after I took this picture, and hydrogen peroxide is next. It feels good to scrape it out with the skewer first though!

The last item in my dishwashing tub, that remains easily accessible under my sink, is that repurposed Parmesan cheese bottle full of baking soda, great for shining up the sink, countertop stains, cleaning the stovetop, and soaking really burnt-on pans of gunk.

Now you can make a pin board for tips and share this greatness with the world.

What are your best (cheap and free) dishwashing sanity savers?

Don’t forget, the probiotics teleseminar is tomorrow night at 9 p.m. EST. Register for free and get the recording even if you can’t make it live.

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16 Comments so far ↓

  • Kelly

    For stuck-on crud, when baking soda isn’t enough, try salt. Usually on pans, I just use salt to begin with. (and isn’t that what’s recommended for cast-iron, instead of washing at all?)

    Lemon juice is a good degreaser.

  • Diana

    Ooh, I love the skewer idea for that little chopper! I use it to make mushrooms unnoticeable and, for certain picky family members, onions. And it’s insanely hard to get clean sometimes :) I’ll be trying that next time!

    To get baked-on egg off of glass pans, I’ve had good success with making a mixture of cream of tartar and white vinegar and swirling it around the pan. Let soak a few seconds, and the egg comes right off! It doesn’t take much–maybe 1 teaspoon cream of tarter and a small glug of vinegar. (I bought the CoT in bulk so it was much cheaper.)

  • Amy S

    I hate doing dishes. Sometimes I remember to rinse out my travel mugs before letting them sit on the counter for days but usually I don’t. Eventually the plastic gets stinky from the milk. Soap doesn’t get rid of the funk. One day I decided to let the mug soak with a mixture of baking soda and water. When I got around to washing it (see above), the odor was gone. Next time I tried it out on the lid too. Worked great for stink-free coffee.

  • Helen

    Oh yes, I always save toothbrushes! They are perfect for around the bathroom faucet for sure.

    What do people use in their toilet bowls? I make most of my cleaners from baking soda, vinegar, Dr bronners, etc. But there is just something about squirting that gel up under the rim.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    I use a spray bottle of straight vinegar and a good brush! :) Katie

  • Susannah

    My best tip is time. I soak utensils in a large yogurt tub till night dishes. A while pipe cleaner folded in half cleans straws from kids’/sport cups (I have a ox of them in the drawer. Those blue non scratch scrubbers work for everything! I cut them in half or easier handling. For those occasional burnt pans that won’t scrub off, I pour baking soda, add water and cook on the stove.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    A pipe cleaner! That’s what I add to my box for those darned sippy cup straws! Thank you! :) Katie

  • blessed

    Helen–re: toilet bowl: I use dishsoap! Biodegradable stuff from Costco, hopefully that’s better than chemical cleaners. I use it to scrub down the shower too. . . got the idea from, which is just full of encouragement for anyone looking for better ways to clean. It’s not about tips and tricks per se, but about concepts like Keep it Simple, and You Can Do Anything for 15 Minutes, etc. When you follow her advise, cleaning really does become quicker and less of a psychological burden. : )

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Love Flylady! I haven’t taken the time to get my system back up and running since we moved…um…15 months ago. :/

    But she’s great! :) Katie

  • Tonya

    Parmesan cheese bottle for baking soda…brilliant! My box is always getting knocked over under the kitchen or bathroom sink.

  • 'Becca

    We can’t stand Parmesan cheese, so we didn’t have that type of bottle, so I made this cute repurposed container for the baking soda instead!

  • Julie

    We use old credit cards (or insurance cards, sample ones from the mail, whatever…) as a scraper. It works really well.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Oh, my goodness, love that! :) Katie

  • Julieanne

    I’ll often use a nut pick to get to the hard-to-clean spots in a few kitchen items. That nut pick is used regularly for all kinds of things…and never for removing nuts from shells. Ha!

  • Julieanne

    Oh, the other thing I’ll use is a baby bottle nipple brush. I use this to help wash out metal decorator icing tips. Works so well!

  • Earth Day Repurposing: 101 Ways to Reuse Your Trash

    […] for getting around the bottom of your sink faucets, along with rims and ridges while doing dishes (another surprising dishes trick!) I never throw a toothbrush away until I’ve used it to clean – just toss your […]

Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.