How To Wash Dishes in a Single Sink: Clean and Tidy

Many people grew up with double sinks, dishwashers, and other conveniences. If you just got your first single sink, then you’re probably curious about how to wash your dishes. The good news is that it’s easier than you think. Even without the second basin, handwashing dishes is simple. It might take a couple of minutes longer, but you’ll be done in no time with a few tips. I’ll walk you through the process so you can get your dishes scrubbed and put them into the drying rack without any headaches. Learning to do dishes with just one basin is a skill everyone needs since you never know where you’ll end up. From camping trips to new homes, sometimes you don’t have the amenities you’re used to. Fortunately, you won’t need that second basin anymore, even when you have it available. 

How do you wash dishes in a single sink? To wash dishes in a single sink, you need to scrub all your dishes and then rinse them. You can separate dishes into a portable basin easily for convenience or leave them on the counter and wash a few at a time. So long as you get all the food and soap off, it doesn’t matter how many basins you use to finish the chore. 

Steps To Wash Dishes in a Single Sink

Washing dishes in a single sink is easy, and I’m happy to explain how it works. There are some steps here that only apply to a larger number of dishes. However, the process is the same for all the dishes. Please keep in mind that soaking dishes is omitted because this technique assumes you’ll only need to soak dishes if you can’t finish them all soon after you eat. Below is the list of steps. 

  1. Organize Dishes- If you only have a few, then you can skip this step. Use a collapsible tub to hold the extra dishes. When you have a lot of dishes, it helps to set them in smaller batches for individual loads. 
  2. Set Up Drying Rack- You’ll need a place to put the washed dishes to dry. If you’re scrubbing them for the dishwasher, then skip this step. Otherwise, make sure you have a drainboard or towel to soak up the water that will drip down. An integrated dishrack with a drainboard or over the sink drying rack is an excellent solution. 
  3. Stopper Your Sink- You’ll want to add a small amount of hot, soapy water for scrubbing. If you’re using a separate washtub, then make sure to plug that and put water in there instead. Likewise, if you have a large single sink, it’s best to put your washtub down inside the main basin. 
  4. Scrub The Dishes- When using a washtub, you can set the scrubbed dishes right in the empty sink. Otherwise, please leave them in the hot soapy water as you scrub. Once you have a small load ready to rinse, you can move on to the next step. Pro-Tip: Always use the hottest water you can stand without hurting yourself to clean, rinse, or soak dishes. 
  5. Wash Your Sponge or Scrubber- Always clean your sponge after doing a load of dishes. 
  6. Drain and Rinse- Pull your stopper and rinse the dishes. If you had a separate washbasin, then you don’t need to change the water yet. Rinse each dish thoroughly in running water. Pro-Tip: Use your bare fingers and your eyes to confirm that each dish is clean. Leaving food particles on dishes can lead to food poisoning, cross-contamination, and bacterial growth. 
  7. Set Dishes to Dry- Using a drying rack, set up all the dishes so they can dry easily. Remember that dishes that touch during drying can trap water between them. Your dishes will dry fastest with air moving around them. In fact, you can even set up a small fan to dry dishes faster. 
  8. Repeat- If you still have unwashed dishes, repeat the process as often as necessary. If you run out of space in the drainer, it’s okay to leave some for later. 
  9. (Optional) Hand Dry- Using a small hand towel or kitchen towel, you can dry each dish individually. Make sure to get all the water out before you put the dishes away. If you leave moisture, it can become a breeding ground for bacteria or mold. It’s faster to stop and hand dry a load or two of dishes if necessary than it is to wait. Plus, food left on dishes will dry out, making it harder to wash later. When you have a secondary tub, you can soak unfinished dishes there while your first load or two dries. Pro-Tip: The longer you soak dishes, the more likely you are to promote bacterial growth. Soaking should only be for dishes with a caked-on mess or those you can’t finish until the others are dry. Keep the soak time to a minimum, and try not to let the water get cold. 
  10. Put Dishes Away- Now, you can put your clean, dry dishes away. 
  11. Cleanup- Once you finish the dishes, it’s important to clean your sink, counter, washtub, scrubbers, and towels because dirty water and food particles can get on all these things. I recommend using antibacterial soap, followed by a thorough rinse and fully drying your surfaces. 

A Veckle Over The Sink Dish Drying Rack can save space in a smaller apartment or house or double your dish drying space by freeing up a counter for a second dish rack. This easy to set up, the non-slip drying rack is perfect for single sinks and handwashing dishes. Plus, you can use it to store dishes in a home with too little cupboard space. Best of all, this model has a soap holder so you can still reach your dish detergent easily. See the incredible Amazon reviews by clicking here. 

Farmhouse Sinks

Farmhouse sinks, also known as apron-front sinks, are among the most popular styles of single basin sinks. Doing dishes in this style of single sink is extremely easy. Because they tend to be both wide and deep, a farm sink is ideal for using a second collapsible tub inside. 

The style is instantly identifiable because the front of the sink is flush with the counter all the way across. Rather than sitting in a hole cut into the countertop, this single sink style slides into a gap in the countertop. The look of these sinks is unique and can be very aesthetically pleasing regardless of your decor style. 

Most often, these sinks are porcelain, but they do come in other materials. The only downside to a farmhouse sink is that they tend to sit flush with the counter, and it’s easy to drop a glass dish into them as a result accidentally. To avoid broken dishes, set them further back from the sink and pay closer attention to that area as you work in your kitchen. 

A set of Sammart Collapsible Dishpans are fantastic for doing dishes in this style of wide-open single sink. Since you have a pair, you can use one to hold unwashed dishes, and the other can sit inside for washing. Furthermore, since they collapse, these washtubs are easy to store. The drain plug in the bottom also makes it easy to empty when you’re done. Find out more on Amazon when you click here. 

Tips And Tricks For Single Sinks

Not only is it easy to learn how to do the dishes in a single sink, but they can do everything a double sink can do with minor adjustments. Using a washtub or an over the sink drying rack help you make the most of a single sink. However, there are other things about single sinks that might surprise you. 

Did you know that you can use a disposal when your sink has one basin? A surprising number of people are under the impression that you need two drains for this, but one will do just fine. Furthermore, having a second drain doesn’t improve or change the way your disposal works. 

When you have minimal kitchen space, downsizing to a single sink is a great way to get more counter space to work with. You can use a sink cover and an over-sink drying rack as well. Without a dishwasher, you’ll certainly have more cupboard space. However, if the over-sink drying rack isn’t enough to dry all your dishes, consider adding an in-sink drying rack as well. 

I recommend the Progressive Collapsible Over-The-Sink Dish Drainer from Amazon. With enough space for eight ten-inch plates, you’ll have plenty of room to dry when you’re done doing the dishes. The adjustable design fits over most sinks. Plus, this drainer is surprisingly durable. Have one delivered to your door by clicking here.

Final Thoughts

Single sink dishwashing used to be the only way people ever did the dishes. Before dishwashers were the norm, the upgraded double bowl or double basin sink became popular because it allowed people to soak dishes in one side and rinse in the other. However, with dishwashers becoming ubiquitous, there’s no real need for the second sink basin.

Especially when you wash dishes immediately after eating, you don’t need a soaking basin. Likewise, if you’re giving the plates a pre-scrub before putting them in the dishwasher then you also don’t need two sink bowls. The extra space could be more counter space or a larger single sink. 

If you’re remodeling a kitchen, you may notice the single basin sinks are less expensive, and they make a wise investment. Now that you know how to avoid the downfall of the single sink, there’s no reason to avoid them. 

Aron Blake

I am the lead copywriter on Homezesty and the Webmaster. I have a lot of experience in home renovations and the creation of style. I enjoy writing and sharing my tips on how to create the best living environment. My Linkedin Profile, My Twitter Account

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