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A question for people who do their dishes by hand

Discussion in 'Your Vintage Home' started by PrettySquareGal, Jun 29, 2017.

  1. PrettySquareGal

    PrettySquareGal My Mail is Forwarded Here

    My vintage house never had a dishwasher and I have been content doing them by hand for many years. I would like some suggestions for vintage-y and/or elegant dish drying racks. Presently I have a wire rack but it's not gentle on my more fragile dishes and china. Normally I dry my dishes by hand after they are all in the rack--it's kind of like a temporary resting place to do an initial drain. All of my dishes are vintage, too. I looked into coated wire racks and they come with microbial chemicals in them now, something I don't want. I don't want another metal rack. Bamboo gets nasty quickly from repeated soaking.

    Does anyone have some vintage/antique examples for inspiration, or a current product you can recommend?
  2. HanauMan

    HanauMan A-List Customer

    I've always wash my dishes by hand too and use a stainless steel drying rack.

    I have seen wooden drying racks but I would think that the water will damage / rot them over time.
    You may wish to source a vintage drying rack, the wire ones with a coating from the 1940s - 70s came in many colors, mostly pastel reds, greens, blues and yellows. As long as the coating is intact the core metal wire should be sound and free from bacteria.

    By the way, I have never dried my dishes by hand, I always leave them to air dry.
    PrettySquareGal likes this.
  3. vitanola

    vitanola My Mail is Forwarded Here

    wooden racks have always been popular, for they are gentle. I use a rack which my grandfather made for my grandmother sometime before they moved from New York to Cleveland during the Bank Holiday.

    Dishes with heavy gold trim benefit greatly from being hand dried, as does silverware.

    I generally make up my towels from common cotton Huck. This absorbent fabric is woven in 15" selvege widths, perfect for hemming into kitchen towels.
  4. I have a bunch of old towels that were liberated from the Pullman Company long ago, and they make dandy dish driers and general household work cloths.

    I used to have one of those Swedish wooden racks, but it eventually rotted and fell apart. I then dug my grandmother's old coated-wire model out of a box in the cellar, and I'm still using it today. Never had any complaints with it.

    For soap I used to use Octagon bar soap, but it's been discontinued. I switched to a Mexican brand called "Zote," that comes in a gigantic white brick-like block and lasts about seven months before I have to replace it.
    vitanola likes this.
  5. vitanola

    vitanola My Mail is Forwarded Here

    I cut the pink Zote bars into 3/4' slices for use as hand soap.

    Our water is hard, but when washing dishes a little Washing Soda and some Zote or Lirio bar soap grated into the water does the trick.

    My grandfather made his rack out of some tropical wood, and grandma always kept it oiled. I still do, and it appears that it will survive indefinitely if maintained.

  6. If they still have the Pullman company logo they might be worth a bit to collectors or those who have restored old railcars for private use.

    I confess to being a lazy lout at home who loves his modern Bosch dishwasher, but when I am a guest I always volunteer to at least help with dishes after being served a meal, and this really scored points when I was a house guest in Russia. Apparently Russian men expect to be waited on hand and foot by Russian women, and the lady of the house had never had such an offer before I visited. Cultural differences are, ahem, interesting.
  7. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

    Last summer we served breakfast for twenty, later that day we all went to an afternoon vintage dance gig and later that evening, we descended upon an Italian restaurant. It was a well planned day, but my guests were astounded that we don't have a dish washer or a drying rack. We have two sinks, one is filled with hot water & washing up liquid, the other, tepid water. The dishes are washed in the hot water, rinsed in the cool and laid out on tea towels to drain off before being wiped dry and put away.
    belfastboy likes this.
  8. St. Louis

    St. Louis Practically Family

    That's the way I do it -- I stack up two or three towels on the counter, wash the dishes, and lay them or stack them to dry. I don't have room for a separate dish rack. Works fine. I agree that any good porcelain or china with a gold trim ought to be washed by hand. Anything with a bakelite handle should also be washed by hand.

    I get Zote in a local Asian grocery store, and I use cotton dish cloths. I have enough so that I can wash them every day. I think that's much more hygienic than using a sponge. I don't have a microwave, so I couldn't disinfect the sponges anyway.
  9. PrettySquareGal

    PrettySquareGal My Mail is Forwarded Here

    I pour boiling water on my sponge every day when I boil the water for tea.
    St. Louis likes this.
  10. I've never lived with more than three other people and now it's just my girlfriend and me, but I've always just washed and the dried the dishes by hand even in rental apartments that had dishwashers.

    The few times I've seen them in use, the effort of pre-washing off the dish, loading the dishwasher, having it run for an hour or so (and sound as if all hell was breaking loose) and then, drying off the dishes afterwards (they were never fully dry) was genuinely more effort and steps than just washing and drying the stuff by hand.

    We just put soap on a scrubbing brush, run hot water, scrub, occasionally reapply soap, rinse off, put the dishes on the counter next to the sink and dry with a dishtowel immediately (hence, no need for a drying rack - we don't have room for one anyway) and then put them away.

    Depending on if we've cooked or are eating leftovers and how many plates are involved - for two people - we can wash-dry-put-away in five to ten minutes most nights (fifteen is a rare but happens occurrence). To be fair, we usually wash-dry-put-away whatever we can as we cook / prep, so the total time would be greater if we save all the dishes, pans for the end.
  11. PrettySquareGal

    PrettySquareGal My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Since I started this thread I came up with a new system--I place a dish towel over my metal wire drainer which acts as a buffer and helps speed up drying!
    St. Louis likes this.
  12. Seb Lucas

    Seb Lucas I'll Lock Up

    I've lived in places with dishwashers but they are too much work. I have always washed by hand.

    The traditional way of air drying without a rack is to put cutlery standing up in a large glass or mug to dry and to lean dishes up agains an overturned cup or glass. You can generally wash for 5 people doing this on a single sink. Saucepans are turned upside down. A proper iron frying pan/skillet is never washed, only rinsed under hot water and quickly scrubbed so as not to lose the seasoning. Pat dry with a paper towel.

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