Every time I do the dishes by hand, I scald my hands, but if I use cold water, the dishes don't get clean. This is extremely inconvenient, especially when I need to clean them fast, rather than soaking them. Is there another way to clean my dishes?

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    You really don't need to use hot water to wash your dishes clean. I used to think that way, being from the US. But now that I've been in the Philippines for the last 6 months I've learned better. Most people don't have hot water here, just cold taps. The water isn't really cold, it's tepid. I have been using a Philippine brand of dish soap that cuts the grease better than Dawn and fast, with just cold water. The main thing is to not let your dishes sit out. Do them right away and you won't need to let them soak or need hot water. Commented Dec 31, 2014 at 17:12
  • Wouldn't using dish washer an easy solution? :D
    – Rohit5k2
    Commented Dec 31, 2014 at 21:30

8 Answers 8


Lots of people have mentioned rubber gloves. I agree, but I found while doing dishes in restaurant quantity, (EG, for way longer than you may be doing dishes at home), It would get a lot easier if I filled the gloves with cold/tepid water after putting my hands in, then put a hair tie around my wrists to hold most of it in. It feels a bit weird at first, and you'll splash some out the top necessitating a refill if you're doing it for long enough, but it lets you work with fresh from the tap hot water without any real concern for burning yourself.

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    Huh. That's an original one. I don't think I ever would have thought to do that. Is this something you came up with yourself?
    – Shokhet
    Commented Dec 31, 2014 at 16:47
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    I honestly don't remember how I figured it out, but it's something I've been doing for years since then; It makes dishes a lot less of an endurance test, that's for sure!
    – Sidney
    Commented Dec 31, 2014 at 17:10
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    This is interesting. Good hack! Commented Dec 31, 2014 at 20:46

The dishes will get clean if you use water that's the hottest you can handle. Eventually your heat tolerance will improve also.

One thing you can do is put the dishes into a sink full of super-hot water, with some grease-cutting soap, and let them soak until the water is cool enough to handle. This will break down whatever's stuck on, and make it easy to wipe off. The whole thing usually takes 20 minutes max, for me. Not a slow process.

Wearing rubber gloves isn't the best temperature control, but can help keep the hot water directly off your hands, which will minimize absorption, which causes 'raisin fingers'.

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    Although this works, I don't really see this as much of a hack. +1 though, because it's actually a pretty good technique. If I had 15 rep, I would upvote yours. Soon. Commented Dec 31, 2014 at 3:51
  • raisin fingers increases surface area, and thus the effects of hot water, so it's worth avoiding even if only for that reason. Commented Jan 18, 2015 at 8:22

Although it's not much of a hack, rubber gloves usually do the trick for me.

If you really want to crank the water temperature you can get extra thick ones, or wear two pairs. That's what I used to do when I was working as a dishpig in a restaurant. If you have an old pair that has a hole in it this is a good way to give it a second life as the inner pair.

  • Nice. I'll check that out later tonight. Almost a full sink :3 Commented Dec 31, 2014 at 1:03

Where I live we use a dishwashing brush. The trick I use is filling the sink with hot water and dishwashing liquid and while it's filling up I put in the dishes one by one.

Then I use the dishwashing brush to lift up the top dish till one side is above the water. I then grab that side of the dish with my free hand and use the brush to clean the dish, not forgetting to also clean the part you initially grabbed.

I continue with the stack of dishes and by the time I'm done with the dishes the temperature of the water has decreased enough that I can safely put my hands into the water and do the rest.

I never put in an entire stack of dishes, always one by one because otherwise they may stick.


A bit off topic, but you will eliminate this problem, and the risk of scalds from too hot water in the shower, if you simply set your water heater temperature to a level that is not painfully hot. You will also save quite a bit of energy and money by doing so.

  • You won't conserve energy if the lower temperature means you will have to do your dishes in 2 sets because of too cold water.
    – Pieter B
    Commented Jan 1, 2015 at 0:55
  • I can't see this ever happening with a normal person doing dishes at home. It certainly does not for me, and I've had my water temperature set that way for more than a decade - and I do usually do my dishes in several sets, because there is not room for all of them in the sink at once.
    – jamesqf
    Commented Jan 1, 2015 at 18:25

This is really more of a general water-, detergent- and space-saving solution for doing dishes by hand in a single-tub sink, but it solves this particular problem too as a side effect:

Get a spray bottle and a sponge. Fill the spray bottle with water and mix in a small amount of detergent. (Most dishwashing detergents sold today are labeled as "concentrated". You really don't need much.) Follow this workflow:

  1. If the dishes have a lot of leftover food or other gunk stuck on them, rinse most of it off first. Use a brush for this. For really difficult cases (say, burnt and dried oatmeal stuck in a kettle), try soaking. If you're just washing coffee cups or something like that, you can skip this step.

  2. Pick up the dishes one at a time. Spray some detergent mix onto the item you're washing (you can do this in advance to let it soak a bit) and rub it on with the sponge. This will take off most food stains, including some (like old coffee stains) that are difficult to remove otherwise. Make sure to wash the whole surface, including the outside of the lip for cups and glasses, and clean the sponge under running water if it gets too dirty.

  3. Rinse the detergent and rubbed-off dirt off the dishes. You can do this one at a time, immediately after washing, or you can stack them up and do a bunch at once. This is also the step where, if you like, you can use hot water to kill off any remaining germs (although detergent is really a pretty fair germicide all on its own).

The trick here is that you don't really need to use any water, hot or cold, for the main washing step, except for what's in the detergent mix. (Well, you do need some for cleaning the sponge, but not much, and it doesn't need to be hot.) If you're used to washing your dishes in a big tub of hot water, it may not sound like this method could possibly work, but give it a try — it really does.

The main weakness is that the spray-and-sponge method deals well with things like grease, coffee and lip stains on cups, but not so well with things like thick coatings of starchy sauce. For those, you really need the initial pre-rinse step.

If you insist on using hot water for the final rinse (which might make sense, if you're, say, doing this in a shared kitchen, and there's a stomach bug going around), one way to avoid getting your hands in it is to put the dishes in the sink, pour the hot water over them, and then drain it by pulling the plug. Or just use rubber gloves.

  • Great use of a spray bottle! +1
    – Shokhet
    Commented Jan 1, 2015 at 23:55

Got a bowl or a plastic container among your dirty dishes?

Use it to make a soap solution that lathers up. Use the hottest water that feels comfortable. Don't let the tap run. Scrub a couple of dishes, pile soapy ones together, then turn the tap on to rinse them. I find this way more comfortable (and water-wise) than constantly moving my hands in a stream of hot water.

The same approach, but filling the sink, is also done in commercial kitchens that don't have industrial dishwashers, with the extra step of a diluted bleach rinse.


Take some ice and put it in a pair of plastic gloves or disposable kitchen gloves, then put another pair of gloves over the first to keep the cold in the plastic glove.

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    I think this works better. The water-in-glove hack does work. However, this method keeps in the cold longer supposedly. I will check this, right now actually. I just realized I have a full sink. :) Commented Jan 3, 2015 at 2:58
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    I hope this helps you! @JamesLynch Commented Jan 3, 2015 at 2:59
  • @JamesLynch Have you tried both solutions? ....If you did, I'm surprised at your conclusion -- water can move around and cover the whole hand ("more surface area," for you physics people), where ice more or less stays in the same place....I mean, I won't argue with you if you tried both (I haven't tried either), but I'm curious.
    – Shokhet
    Commented Jan 4, 2015 at 1:46
  • Sorry, I just got on about five minutes ago after giving this more thought and trial. I did conclude that the water method is more effective, so I'm fixing that now. Commented Jan 4, 2015 at 1:51

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