The prosecution: Penny
Chris only gives the dishes a quick wash, but says my soaking technique is unhygienic
Chris, my partner, washes up like a scummy student – he gives everything a quick rinse with a soapy cloth, rather than let the sink fill up and leave the dishes to soak. It’s irritating.
I wash up like a normal person: I fill a sink with hot water and washing-up liquid, and scrub the dishes in order of what needs the least attention. Glasses need a quick wipe and then they’re put aside, while the cutlery has a nice little soak at the bottom. You finish with the pans. If at any point the bubbles are not sparkling white, the water is dirty and needs to be refilled. I then move the dishes to the drying rack, without rinsing them off. In my opinion, this is the cleanest, most hygienic way of doing things, because everything has a little bath in the sink.
Chris says that because I don’t rinse them, my dishes are covered in suds and dirty water. But there’s no need to rinse if things have been scrubbed properly and left to drip-dry. His way of it also wastes water as the tap is kept continually running.
We got together five years ago, and when we met I’d say “Why don’t you fill the sink, let things soak and wash up properly? It’s not hard.” I still won’t listen. It’s come to a head recently as we’re getting our kitchen redone and we disagree over what kind of sink to go for. Chris wants two sinks so you can have space to rinse dishes separately from the rest of the washing up, whereas I’d like an elegant one-bowl sink to do a big soak.
As a child in the Guides, I got a badge for washing up, so I can’t be that bad at it. I was also a kitchen porter; I know how to wash dishes properly. I try to hold my tongue when I see Chris lightly rinse things under a tap and then claim it’s clean. We’ve spent nights Googling our different styles, trying to find others online who wash up like us. I’ll find examples that prove that I’m right, but then so does Chris.
I hate watching water run down the drain: it’s just how I was brought up. Rinsing is pointless – the important thing is to scrub the dirt off in the first place. Chris needs to wash up the traditional way.
The defence: Chris
Plates need rinsing; they aren’t clean if they’ve been soaking for ages in a sink full of dirty water
I have the tap running while I wash up. I scrub the dishes as I go, then rinse them under the tap to get off all the grease and scum, then they go in the draining rack. Penny likes to take dishes out of the dirty water and put them straight on to the rack, which is incorrect. Taking soapy dishes straight out of the sink to dry means you’re later going to eat from a dish covered in dried soap scum and dirty water. You have to rinse. You’re not going to take a spoon and dip it in dirty sink water and stir your coffee with it, are you? That would be crazy.
Penny says my way of washing up is a crime against the environment because I’m being wasteful by letting the tap run. I suppose that’s true, but hygiene is my main concern, whereas waste is hers. I tell Penny: “Plates just aren’t clean if they’ve been soaking in dirty water for ages and not rinsed off.” And also, most of the time you’ve just eaten off them, so they don’t need soaking anyway. She doesn’t listen. But if you’re not bothered about rinsing your plates and dishes off, why wash them at all? Why not just carry on eating from them again and again?
Penny’s method takes longer and doesn’t achieve as good a result. I usually do a bit more of the washing up, but when it’s Penny’s turn for her I watch her take dishes out of the murky water and place them straight on the rack. Occasionally I’ll say, sarcastically: “I can’t wait to eat breakfast off that grimy plate tomorrow.” Usually I don’t say anything, though. I value my life too much. I’ve also been a kitchen porter in a curry house – and rinsing was everything there.
I’ve no problem with soaking things in hot water, but it’s what you do afterwards that worries me. Penny needs to rinse them off and finish the cleaning properly. We’ve reached an impasse about the sink in our new kitchen. Our current sink has a large main bowl and a small side sink for rinsing. I think we should get another two-bowl sink so we have somewhere to rinse the dishes. Whichever one we choose, though, I won’t be filling it with dirty, soapy water.
The jury of Guardian readers
Should Chris wash up Penny’s way?
I’m with Chris on this – except there’s no need to leave the water running while you’re washing crockery and cutlery. And pans may require a soak. But afterwards, everything should be rinsed for a hygienic result.
Both Chris and Penny are convinced their method is The Right Way. They both need to take a deep breath and accept that whoever’s washing-up gets to do it their way. For the future, a double sink would be extremely useful, regardless of whose method they use!
Chris is innocent. Soaking and (proper) scrubbing both result in clean plates, but the soap bubbles and sink water are dirty, so they need rinsing off. Also, if you have to refill the sink, you’re not probably saving much more water. You may want to consider a dishwasher for your new kitchen.
Chris is right. Dishes should always be rinsed with clean water as a final step. Soaking is not necessary as long as dishes are washed promptly to avoid bacteria buildup from stuck-on food.
Chris is innocent – rinsing is essential, although Penny’s soaking method has some ecological merit. Why not combine the methods by soaking dishes first, then rinsing them quickly under running water? But after arguing about this for years, and with a new kitchen planned, why not invest in a dishwasher, to save time, water and, crucially, emotional energy?
You be the judge
So now you can be the judge. In our online poll below, tell us: should Chris adopt Penny’s way of washing up, or is his method better?
We’ll share the results on next week’s You be the judge.
The poll will close on 12 May at 9am BST
Last week’s result
We asked if Jim should rein in his video game habit because it annoys his wife, Marlene.
36% of you said no – Jim is innocent
64% of you said yes – Jim is guilty
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism