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Job Certification for Kids: Dish-washing

Updated on August 11, 2014

Standard House Rule:

It is the responsibility of every household member to bring their own dishes back to the kitchen and rinse them in the sink when they are done using them.

Step 1: Responsibilities for Dish Washer Duty

Step 1:

Go around the house and gather up all the dishes. Bring them to the kitchen.

“Why do I have to do that, when a Standard House Rule states that everybody should bring their own dishes to the kitchen?”

This step must be taken because of the “anybody, everybody, somebody, and nobody” rule. When it is anybody’s job, everybody thinks that somebody else is going to it. This often leads to nobody doing it. Because of this, there is always the chance somebody forgot to bring a dish to the kitchen. The person ultimately responsible for doing all of the dishes is the person on Dish-washing Duty. So it is expected of them to go around and check the whole house for strays.

“The WHOLE house?!”



Regardless of house rules, it must be accepted that some household members will eat and drink while watching TV in bed. Sometimes they will even take food and drinks into the bathroom with them. They may even take dishes into the garage, or into the front or back yard. A good Dishwasher in “seeker” mode will scope out all of these areas and learn the favorite locations where a missed dish can often be found.

A Dishwasher on Duty is responsible for gathering all the dishes and completing the task quickly and efficiently. Once the task is completed, they can bring up their concerns with other household members and remind them of the Standard House Rule.

Making it fun. Go into "Seeker Mode"

“Boring” and “tedious” thoughts and feelings can make any chore seem very

      l   o   n   g     and     b   o   r  i   n   g ,

Focus. Become the hunter. Your prey: that stray dish.

Avoid the pitfalls of tedium by sidestepping the bad thoughts and feelings. You may find yourself thinking, “This is so stupid…” That kind of thinking leads to a long, boring outcome. Instead, jump up onto the balls of your feet and prepare for action. Pep yourself up as you would for a sports event. Take several deep breaths and look around expectantly. Focus. Become the hunter. Your prey: the stray dish.

while enthusiastic thoughts can make them fun and fast. These thoughts and feelings are completely under your own control if you choose to rein them in.

Finding dishes is only boring and tedious if you go into it thinking that way. The Dishwasher must throw away all the inhibitions that stop them from doing their job well, and at this point, go into “seeker” mode. Finding dishes can be a challenge, like early training for detective work. When a person is assigned Dish-washing Duty, they need to show enthusiasm, and begin the chore determined to complete it. A person that goes into a chore acting disinterested, bored and tired will probably end up having to redo the chore several times.

Remember, it is in your power to control your “bored” feelings. You can make it fast and fun.

For instance:


The photos above show some examples of missed dishes.

All three examples are in plain sight, and were likely missed due to a Dishwasher with a bored, disinterested mindset. A person who does not to want to do this task will move very slowly and look carelessly.

The first example is a dish that has been overlooked because the Dishwasher is not in the proper mindset. Here, they are thinking, “I didn’t leave it there!” or “It isn’t mine!” This is an example of the negative thinking that will stop you from completing any chore properly. Dishwashers are responsible for every dish that is out of place in the house. When in “seeker” mode, every stray dish is your prey. It doesn’t matter who put it there or why. Simply collect it and move on.

The second example is a dish that has dropped to the floor and rolled under a bed.

These are frequently missed because dishes aren’t supposed to be lying on the floor. They are supposed to be sitting on tables. (Actually, they are supposed to be taken to the kitchen.) The Dishwasher in “seeker” mode isn’t thinking of this. They are on the hunt, and will check odd places for any trace of prey. Like any good hunter, over time, they will learn where their prey can most often be found.

The third example is lying on a bookshelf.

These are missed for the same reason as example two. It isn’t where it is supposed to be.

Step 2: Responsibilities for Dish-washer Duty

Step 2: Rinsing

Rinse all the dishes in the sink. If food is stuck to the dishes, use a dishrag or scratchpad to remove it.


Figure 1: Dried food.

A scratch pad is used to remove a bit of dried-on food from a dish. Rinsing dishes immediately when taken to the kitchen will make the job much easier, as the food will not have time to dry and stick to the dish.

Figure 2: Thick liquids

Thick liquids like milk and gravy will dry out and harden inside the dish if they are not rinsed out right away. Rinsing the dishes ensures they will come clean when washed, even if the machine isn’t started until later.

"Why should I have to do this, when the Standard House Rules state…"

This step must be taken because of the “anybody, everybody, somebody, and nobody” rule…

"…okay, I get it; the answer is the same as it was for the first question. But why do I have to do this at all? Why use a dish-washing machine if you need to wash all the dishes by hand first?"

Rinsing does not clean or sanitize the dishes, and it only takes seconds if it is done right away. However, if the dishes are left sitting around the house or in the sink all day, it may require a bit more labor to scrape off the excess food that dries hard and becomes stuck to the dish over time. This is especially true for milk or gravy. Hardened foods can be difficult to get off and often will require being rewashed again by hand. That is why it’s best to rinse the dishes immediately.

"Why do I have to do this if I’m getting ready to wash them by hand in the sink, anyway?"

You want your dishes to be clean, with no soap or dirt residue on them. Washing your dishes in clean soapy water is better than washing your dishes in water that is already contaminated with oils, gravy or juices, and has chunks of old food floating around in it.

The first sink shows soapy water filled with un-rinsed dishes. Compare to the soapy water in the second sink, which is filled with rinsed dishes.

Both sets of dishes will come out looking “clean”.  Which dishes would you prefer to eat from?
Both sets of dishes will come out looking “clean”. Which dishes would you prefer to eat from? | Source

Bonus Points?

Have a look at the Manufacturer’s Handbook for your dishwasher to learn more about how it works.

Reading the appliance manual will add a level of certification to your Dish-washing abilities.

(A higher level of certification means higher compensation for privileges or allowance. It also means more responsibility.)

Step 3: Responsibilities for Dish-washer Duty

Step 3: If using Automatic Dish-washing Machine:

(Step 3 for hand washing dishes continues further down in the article.)

Load the Dishwasher.

Place the dishes in the dishwasher. The glasses go in the top rack, the rest of the dishes go in the bottom rack. Load the dishes neatly in rows.

"Why do I have to do that? Why can’t I just stick them in the dishwasher however I want?"

Have a look inside your dishwasher and look at how the water sprays the dishes. The manufacturer designed the machine with the racks the way they are for the best cleaning performance. When dishes overlap or lay on top of each other, they behave like umbrellas, and stop the water from reaching the surfaces of the dishes beneath them. Those dishes would have to be rewashed, which is a wasteful use of water and energy.


Figure 3: How water sprays the dishes on the top rack

The white bar underneath the top rack spins and sprays water upwards at the same time. The water jets upwards, inside the cups and glasses, and also sprays around them. The spray shoots out over the top and comes back down to clean the top side of the dishes.

Figure 4: Some examples of improper loading and rinsing.

Note that one of the glasses in the picture above (front left) wasn’t rinsed. That glass will probably have to be cleaned again by hand.

What's wrong with this picture?


How many things can you see that could go wrong in the picture above?

Some possible answers:

Dishes may rattle against each other and break.

Dishes will be filled with dirty water when the washer is opened.

Not all surfaces of each dish will be washed.


Figure 5: How water sprays the dishes on the bottom rack

The black bar spins, spraying water upwards at the same time. The water jets upwards. The spray shoots out over the top of the dishes and comes back down to clean them on all sides.

The black wire that surrounds the grey drain (and garbage disposal) is a heater, used to heat the water to higher temperatures, and during the heat drying cycle. Heat is also used if the machine has a special cycle for pots and pans. These cycles can get hot enough to melt plastic dishes.

What's wrong with this picture?


Figure 6: Improper Loading of the Bottom Rack

How many things can you see that could go wrong in the picture above?

Some possible answers:

Dishes may rattle against each other and break.

Some dishes cover others so that not all surfaces of each dish will be washed.

Glasses should go in the top rack, (but it’s okay to put one or two on the bottom if needed).

Pots and pot lids should be done separately – the metal can get very hot and damage other dishes, especially plastic ones.

Figure 7: Top Rack Loading

An example of a top rack that has been loaded evenly with properly rinsed cups and glasses. The open ends are all facing downwards.

Figure7 and Figure 8: Proper loading techniques
Figure7 and Figure 8: Proper loading techniques | Source

Figure 8: Bottom Rack Loading

An example of loading bowls into the bottom rack. The water will clean the inside of the bowls because the even distribution and the space left open between each bowl will allow the water to pass between them.

The end you put in your mouth should be the cleanest.
The end you put in your mouth should be the cleanest. | Source

Loading the Silverware

Figure 9: Silverware Rack

The silverware goes in a rack which is made specifically for silverware. Place the silverware in the rack so that the handles point at the bottom of the rack.

"Why do I have to load the silverware like that? When I take it out, I will touch the parts of the silverware we use to eat with! That will get them all dirty again."

The reason for putting silverware in the washing rack with the handle down is based on gravity. The end that touches the food should be the cleanest part of the utensil. Gravity inside the dishwasher causes the water to drip down. As the water runs down, it picks up more dirt and soap and carries it until it drips off the bottom. This leaves any leftover soap or dirt at the bottom of the utensil. The dishwasher will do a thorough job of cleaning; this just ensures that the portion you eat with is the very cleanest.

Silverware racks are generally designed to open, or come out of the dishwasher. You should be able to remove the silverware from the rack by the handle. When taking the silverware out of the dishwasher, open the silverware rack so you can pick the silverware up by the handles in order to put them away, or shake the rack to get the silverware to slide out before handling it.

Always wash your hands before putting clean dishes away.

What's wrong with this picture?


Figure 10: Incorrect loading of silverware rack.

What can you see wrong with this picture?

Some possible answers:

Most of the silverware has been loaded upside down so if there is any standing water or food particles left in the rack, the end you eat with will be sitting in it.

One knife hasn’t been properly rinsed.

A spoon hasn’t been placed in the rack completely and could fall out of the rack and drop into the bottom of the machine.

Step 4: Responsibilities for Dish-washer Duty

Step 4: If using Automatic Dishwashing Machine: Add Detergent

Once the dishwasher is properly loaded, fill the pre-measured cups with dish detergent. These cups can usually be found on the door of the dishwasher. The cups are pre-measured by the manufacturer. Fill both the covered and uncovered cups evenly to the top without heaping. Make sure the cover clips closed and doesn’t open.


Figure 11:

An example of pre-measured detergent cups found inside a dishwasher.

Very little detergent is actually needed to wash a load of dishes.

"Why do I have to be careful when measuring the detergent?"

"Why can’t I just pour a heap of it into the cups?"

"And why does the cover have to close, when part of it is left open anyway?"

There are many reasons to worry about the amount of soap to use.

At the microscopic level, soap helps to elevate the dirt off the plate, so that when the plate goes through the rinse cycle, both the soap and the dirt slide off together. Too little soap, and the dirt will not pick up off the dish and slide off into the water. Too much, and the soap will take longer to rinse off, so there is a higher chance of leaving soap residue on the dish.

Dish detergent is stronger than hand washing dish soap. It has extra detergents and enzymes that work to break down particles of food. If the dishes aren’t thoroughly rinsed, these detergent residues can mix into the food you eat later.

Also, using too much soap isn’t good for our environment, and we must take our environment into consideration now more than ever. Too much soap puts more detergents into our water systems.

As for the detergent cups, the closed portion will hold some of the detergent back until the lid pops open later in the wash cycle. This allows the detergent to be distributed throughout the wash and not just at the beginning of the cycle.

Note: If you run the dishwasher using heat cycles and a plate or silverware comes out of the dishwasher with a bit of food still stuck to it, that bit of food can be considered “clean”. Wipe it off with a clean rag. You do not need to rewash the dish.

Step 5: Responsibilities for Dish Washer Duty

Step 5: If using Automatic Dish-washing Machine: Turn on the Machine

This part must be determined by you and your family, based on how your household decides to use their dish-washing machine. There are usually several settings on the dishwasher. You can set it for washing pots and pans, to dry the dishes with or without heat, or to run with extra rinse cycles. Heat settings will help to “sterilize” the dishes, ensuring that bacteria and viruses on the dishes are killed while using no heat to dry will save energy.

Dish-washer control panel

Settings on a dish-washer. Some machines have many options.
Settings on a dish-washer. Some machines have many options. | Source
Settings on a dish-washer. Discuss which ones to use with your family.
Settings on a dish-washer. Discuss which ones to use with your family. | Source

Responsibilities of Dish-washing Duty: Hand-Washing in the Sink.

The following are instructions for hand-washing dishes. Whether you have a dish-washing machine or not, you will need to read and learn about how to hand-wash dishes.

"Why do I need to read about hand-washing dishes when we have a dish-washing machine?"

Some dishes simply will not fit in the dishwasher, and so will require hand-washing in a sink. Some households prefer doing all the pots and pans by hand. Sometimes there aren't enough dishes to justify running a dish-washer.

Perform Steps 1 and 2 as discussed above.

Step 3: Responsibilities for Dish-washer Duty

Step 3: Hand-Washing Dishes in the Sink: Fill sink with warm water and add dish soap.

Liquid dish soap is very concentrated, so only a small squirt of soap needs to be added to the water in the sink. Read the instructions on the bottle for exact amounts of soap to add to the water.

"Why do I have to worry about the amount of soap I use? Isn’t more always better?"

There are many reasons to worry about the amount of soap to use. Knowing how soap works makes the reasons easier to understand.

Food is sticky. Plain water alone will not wash all the dirt off of a plate because the food particles tend to cling to the surface. Soap helps to remove the sticky aspect. It lifts the dirt away from the plate so that when the plate is rinsed with water, the soap and dirt will slide off together.

Using too little soap will not lift the dirt away from the surface of the dish. The dirt will not slide off into the water with the soap. Using too much soap will take longer to rinse the soap away. Soap residue left on the dishes can mix into the food you eat later.

Using too much soap also isn’t good for our environment. Too much soap means longer rinsing times, which is a waste of water. Too much soap also puts more detergents into our water systems. We must take care of our environment now more than ever.

Step 4: Responsibilities for Dish-washer Duty

Note: Our grandparents often referred to the friction we use to clean by hand as “elbow grease”. When something wasn’t clean, they would say, “You didn’t use enough elbow grease!” Elbow grease can also be referred to as physical activity, or exercise, which recent studies have found is actually good for you. Exercising while doing something productive serves more purpose than running on a treadmill or going to a gym, both of which cost extra money to do. Cleaning the house is a free work out, and has the perks of making your entire family happier and healthier. Changing your perspective on household chores will make you more willing to participate, and you will also find them much more pleasant to do.

Step 4: Hand-Washing Dishes in the Sink: Washing

Place the dishes into the warm soapy water and use a washrag and scratchpad to carefully scrub off all surfaces on the dish. A scratchpad can be used to scrape off the more stubborn food, but this can usually be avoided by rinsing the dishes in advance. If food will not come off because it has been cooked onto the dish, do the other dishes first and let it soak longer in the soapy water. Make sure to wash every surface, front and back, and remove any remaining bits of food that are stuck to the dish. Wash pots and pans last, as they will need to soak longer to loosen any cooked-on food.

"Do I have to actually scrub them? Why can’t I just dip the dishes in the soapy water and pull it out? That’s what a dish-washing machine does!"

Dish-washing machine detergents clean differently than liquid hand dish soap. Our hands are organic, just like food, so if we used dish-washing detergent to wash our dishes in the sink, we would need to wear gloves. The cleansers and enzymes in the machine detergent will strip away all the natural oils and eat away the skin on our hands. Our hands would quickly become very dry, red, sore, and eventually start to bleed if we used machine detergents to hand wash the dishes.

Hand dish soap is much gentler, and some even have ingredients to help keep your hands soft. Because of this, it requires more physical labor to make sure each dish is clean. You will be required to scrub away the dirt using friction, rather than rely on strong enzymes and detergents to simply wash them away.

Step 5: Responsibilities for Dish-washer Duty

Step 5: Hand-Washing Dishes in the Sink: Rinse with Clean Running Water.

Rinse each dish thoroughly using fresh running water. Place the dish in a drying rack. Continue washing the dishes until the drying rack is full.

"Oh, so I don’t have to do them all?! I just have to fill up the drying rack?"

When the drying rack is full, you will simply switch tasks from washing to drying. Dry the dishes in the rack and put them away, then return to washing when the drying rack is empty. Doing this also allows the remaining dishes to soak longer.

"But I can let the pots and pans soak overnight? They have cooked-on food!"

The chore is not completed unless it is completely finished. No dishes should need to for more than half an hour, especially if they have been properly rinsed right after use.

"Why can’t I just let them air dry?"

Leaving them in the drying rack leaves the chore incomplete. Each chore you do must be done completely if you are to be compensated for it.

"Why can’t I get someone else to do it for me?"

You can.

It is okay for the Dish-washer to do this. This is called delegating. The Dish-washer is still responsible for the entire task of washing the dishes, but they can “hire” others to complete parts of the chore for them. The Dish-washer will be in charge of “managing” these “employees”, and will pay the “employee” part of whatever compensation has been agreed on to complete this task. (Compensation is also known as privileges or allowance.) This compensation can be negotiated between the Dish-washer and the person they “hire”.

Step 6: Responsibilities for Dish-washer Duty

Step 6: Drying and Putting the Dishes Away.

This part of the chore will require some hand drying regardless of how the dishes are cleaned. For a dishwasher, when the cycles are complete, open the door and check the dishes for water. Use a clean, dry dishtowel to remove all of the excess moisture from the dishes as you put them away.

"Why do they have to be dried completely? Can’t they just finish air-drying in the dishwasher?"

Letting them air dry in the dishwasher with the door slightly open is an option. However, this often ends with the chore being left incomplete. The chore is not considered finished unless it is done completely.

"Why can’t they just finish air-drying in the cabinets?"

Moisture in the cabinets and drawers causes the shelves and drawer bases to warp. A water-proof drawer or shelf liner can be put down to prevent this, but the dishes should still be dried thoroughly before being put away. Dust constantly settles throughout the house every day, including in drawers and cabinets.

Note: Don’t store dirty dishes inside the dishwasher for too long; this is also an invitation for mold, mildew, and bacteria to grow inside the machine itself. If you have very few dishes, it might be more cost effective to simply wash them by hand.

Dust contains germ particles, and spores from plants as well. Moisture in the drawers and cabinets will encourage these organisms to grow – this is where mold and mildew comes from. Drying your dishes thoroughly prevents this from happening.

"Why do we have to put them away at all? People can just open the dishwasher to get a clean dish if they need it."

Dishwashers should only be used to store dirty dishes until you are ready to start the machine. Putting clean dishes away prevents confusion on whether the dishes in the machine are clean or dirty.

Putting the Dishes Away

Every household puts their dishes away differently, but it’s common for the glasses, cups and bowls to be stored in the cabinets upside down, to prevent dust and other particles from getting inside the drinking and eating part of the dish. Also, families vary greatly on their preferences for where they want their dishes kept. Some may hang their pots from the ceiling, while others store theirs in a drawer under the stove. Your family may need to write their own individual instructions for this portion of the chore.

"Why do I need to put the dishes away in a specific place? Why can’t I just put them all into one cabinet?"

Putting things away in specific places is called organizing. It makes for a much happier household. Keeping things always in the same place makes them easier to locate when you need them. You have probably been frustrated when you haven’t been able to find your keys or shoes. If you always hang your keys on a keyboard, or take your shoes off by the door, you will always be able to find them quickly when you need them.

The purpose of doing household chores is to make things easier for everyone who lives in the household.

Organizing is part of doing every chore, and every chore must be done completely.

NOTE: Compensation may be in the form of an allowance, or privileges such as a special outing, or computer and video game time.

Step 7: Responsibilities for Dish-washer Duty

Step 7: Completion

When all the dishes have been washed and put away, wipe down the kitchen counters, the stove top, and rinse away any debris that is left in the sink. Make sure that the garbage disposal is empty.

Survey your work. Look at what you did. Doesn't it feel good, to know that you did this job to the very best of your ability?

Report that the task has been completed. At first, you should report this in person so your work can be checked. Over time, this can be recorded by initialing a chart.

"A Chart? Why do we need to have a chart?"

Charts can be very useful. Their purpose is not only to remind you of what tasks need to be completed each day. At the end of each day, the tasks on the chart can be tallied to determine the amount of compensation. At the end of a week, that tally can be quite impressive.

Households may choose to award compensations weekly, every two weeks, or monthly. All household members should agree to these terms and go over them together as a family.

To obtain your official certification status, take the quiz below. You will need to score better than 60% to become certified to do this household task.

Certification Test: Dish-washing Duty

view quiz statistics


If you scored better than 60% on the test above,

You are now CERTIFIED to perform the duties of Dish-washer on Duty.


If you complete your duties as written, you will begin to feel a greater sense of well-being and satisfaction in yourself, and you will notice a happier family atmosphere. What can be better than that?

Any compensation should just be icing on the cake.


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