I’ve rarely seen a topic that can engender as much heated debate as method of dish washing. The biggest argument always seems to be the choice between air-drying and towel-drying.

Air-dryers claim their method is more hygienic, since no bacteria-laden towel ever touches the surfaces off of which they eat. For their part, towel-dryers eschew a germ-free existence for a kitchen counter that’s uncluttered by a dish rack; a piece of equipment, incidentally, that CAN quickly get at least as grungy as any dish towel.

But beyond the method of drying, the biggest differences seem to centre around the choice of equipment. At my office, we constantly bicker about the best method and the best equipment for washing up dishes. Equipment often gets thrown out in a passive-aggressive attempt to force others to wash dishes in a specific way. It can be pretty cut throat.

Let’s look at a few options:


The Dish Rag: This is what I grew up with. The dish rag is great because it can be used to wipe up counter tops, clean up spills on floors and stoves, and yet it still washes dishes without skipping a beat. It does have a tendency to get snagged on objects like graters and similar things with sharp picks, but it’s reusable and cheap. Keep it rung out and throw it in the wash every so often (with bleach if you’re worried about germs) and you’re good to go!

At work, we have plenty of these, and they get put to good use – but a lot of people don’t ring out their rags and they can get stinky pretty quickly.


The J-Cloth: The poorer cousin of the dishrag. The main benefit to using a J-cloth seems to be that it’s disposable. In a world where we already waste far too much, J-cloths seem a bit frivolous to me. Personally, I also find them too thin to ring out comfortably as well. No one at work uses these.

Sponge/Scrubby Sponge: The scrubby sponge (a sponge that has a green scrubby on one side for scouring) is my own favorite. I still use a dish rag for spills and counter tops, but this is my dish washing staple. The scrubby side is safe for Teflon materials, and the sponges are just big enough to hold comfortably in my hand so I can reach the bottom of the tallest glasses.


We don’t use these at work, but Junkii and I buy them in bulk at Costco.

I know, I know. They’re probably more wasteful than J-cloths.

Sponge on a stick: This is what we have at work – and it seems to engender a lot of hatred. It’s basically a sponge on a tube that’s filled with detergent. The soap is squeezed out onto the sponge as you wash. In my opinion, it’s ideal for a workplace. You don’t need to get your hands wet. You don’t need to fill a whole sink full of soapy water for one or two dishes.

Sponge on a stick

And yet, people here at the office seem to think it’s the filthiest piece of equipment going, and they constantly throw out the sponge when no one is around.

Brush: We have one of these at work, but honestly, it seems the least effective piece of equipment going. The plastic bristles don’t have a chance to get the soap to lather, and trying to clean oily Tupperware plastic with a brush is near impossible. And it doesn’t conform to tight spaces. You really need something more fibrous and flexible.

Plus they break down pretty quickly and you wind up throwing out a big hunk of plastic. Beyond that, they certainly don’t stay any less germ-laden than a sponge. The bristles tend to go black after only a few weeks. How gross is that.


Hmmm. I seem to have reached the end of this post without making a point, except to extol the virtues of the sponge/dish-rag combo. Oh well. So be it. I like what I like!

Oh, and in case you’re curious, I was raised a towel-dryer – but my first roommate converted me to air-drying for most hand-washed dishes. It’s just easier, and I’m nothing if not lazy when it comes to cleaning. Which is also why Junkii and I now rely heavily on our dishwasher.


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