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Like many couples, my fiancé and I have a daily chores arrangement that has saved us hours and hours of arguments. The main hallmark of this arrangement is that I cook and he does the dishes. I don’t mind cooking, and (though it baffles me) he doesn’t mind doing the dishes, no matter how many I go through by the end of cooking a meal (always more than I planned).
I think I got the better end of the deal. Doing the dishes is so unpredictable, and it can sometimes take much longer than you think, thanks to unexpected hiccups: Food is stuck on to a pan that can’t be washed in the dishwasher. We’re out of sponges. We’re out of dish soap. It goes on and on.
However, there are a few simple items that can make all of the above problems a whole lot less stressful. Notably, a lot of these can also make your home more sustainable and environmentally-friendly. These tools mean you’ll spend less time running to the store at the last minute, less time standing in front of a sink, and more time spent enjoying a meal or just hanging out. Hard to argue with that.
If you’re looking to simplify your life and streamline your daily dishwashing habits, here are 11 items that might help.
If you’re familiar with the precarious stack of drying dishes, then this one’s for you. Trust me, it is much more satisfying to carefully arrange things to dry on an actual drying rack than it is to place plates on top of wooden spoons on top of frying pans on top of baking dishes. Plus, wouldn’t you know it, the dishes actually dry faster when there is airflow beneath them.
Buy: Home Folding Bamboo Dish Drying Rack, $23.75 from Amazon
2. A Monthly Style Sponge Subscription
Where does your sponge rest? On the edge of the sink? At the bottom of the sink (*shudders*)? It may seem like a small, pointless purchase, but trust me: Buying a specific resting place for your sink’s sponge will change your life. You can even get one that holds a brush, too. As an added benefit, your sponge will never sit at the bottom of the sink, soaking up dirty dish water for hours, ever again.
Buy: KESOL Adhesive Sponge Holder + Brush Holder, $12.99 from Amazon
4. A Zero Waste Kitchen Brush Set
If you’re looking to minimize how often you have to replace brushes, sponges, and soap, then it’s worth considering investing in more sustainable dishwashing tools. This one from Plantish Future on Etsy includes a sisal dish brush, a dish brush refill, and a sisal and palm pot scrubber.
Buy: Plantish Future Zero Waste Kitchen Brush Set, $17.39 from Etsy
Odds are you’ve heard someone talk about Scrub Daddy sponges before, because people are obsessed with them. They change texture based on the temperature water they’re in and don’t cause scratches while still being tough on food, stains—whatever. Plus, they have fun seasonal shapes (pumpkin sponge, anyone?), which doesn’t hurt.
Buy: Scrub Daddy Colors, $9.99 for 3 from Amazon
7. Reusable Bag Drying Stand
If you’re as sustainable as it gets and have switched over to reusable snack bags (great choice!), then perhaps you’ve been wondering how the heck to dry them. Boon Supply’s Reusable Bag Drying Stand will solve that problem.
Buy: Reusable Bag Drying Stand, $18 from Boon Supply
If you’ve ever tried to squeeze a sponge down a tiny water bottle opening, then you know it is often a lost cause (also, a little gross if you think about it). Make your life easier and use Bottle Bright tablets to clean water bottles and thermoses instead.
Buy: Bottle Bright Cleaning Tablets, $8 from REI
Though the combination of the words “food” and “scraper” is truly horrible in my opinion, it’s a tool that will change how you get tough stains and food off of dishes.
Buy: KitchenAid Scrapers Set, $7.99 for 2 from Target
10. A Positionable Faucet Head Attachment
Being able to wash your dishes as quickly as possible often comes down to how easy your faucet and sink is to deal with. If you’re not lucky enough to have a sink that already has a detachable, movable faucet, then invest in one. It might seem like a lot of work, but it’s easier than you think and will be worth it in the long-run.
Buy: 360 Rotate Faucet Nozzle Adapter, $8.99 from Amazon
11. A Stainless Steel Cast Iron Scrubber
To have a cast iron skillet is to love a cast iron skillet. But it’s not necessarily to love cleaning the cast iron skillet. Most of us have heard cast iron skillet horror stories. If you’re looking to keep your favorite pan safe but to get stubborn food off of it easily, consider investing in a stainless steel cast iron scrubber.
Buy: Cast Iron Chainmail Cleaner, $9.99 from Amazon