Portland, Oregon / 11.5.17

Who would wash dishes in their tub?  Well I did for over a month during my kitchen remodel.  Not only was my kitchen being remodeled but so was my laundry room.  My guest bathroom sink was too small so it left the guest bathtub.

There is more to hand washing dishes than a sponge and dishwashing liquid.  I wanted to ensure that during this time without my Miele dishwasher I would have clean, sanitized dishes.  After doing research I learned hot dishwasher water sanitizes dishes, nothing else.  A dishwasher that has a sanitizing feature uses an extended hot-water rinse to kill germs. The National Sanitation Foundation has set a standard that dishwashers that kill 99.99% bacteria must reach 150 degrees Fahrenheit during the final rinse.

Bathwater, on the other hand, normally gets to about 110-115 degrees.  I considered using an electric kettle to fill my bus tubs with boiling water, but quickly learned it would take kettles and kettles of water to fill the tub a few inches high.  Now what?  After more research I learned a little bleach in the water will kill germs.  Perfect!  Here is what you need to wash dishes in a bathtub:

  • Rubber kitchen gloves that go up the arms
  • Kitchen sponge
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Standard bleach
  • Two or three* bus tubs (I went to a restaurant supply company and bought them for under $4 each)
  • A dishwasher drying rack
  • A stack of kitchen towels
  1. Place one bus tub near the faucet in the bathtub
  2. Place drying rack on the other end of the bathtub
  3. Keep gloves, dish detergent, bleach, sponge, and kitchen towels in tub area
  4. The second bus tub is to haul dirty dishes to and from eating area to bathtub.  *You can have a third optional bus tub dedicated to hauling clean dishes back to your eating area.
  5. According to Clorox’s website on sanitizing dishes:
    “The correct procedure for sanitizing dishes with Clorox® Regular-Bleach is to first wash and rinse dishes, glassware, and utensils. After washing, soak for at least 2 minutes in a solution of 2 teaspoons of bleach per 1 gallon of water, drain and air dry. Do not use on non-stainless steel, aluminum, silver, or chipped enamel. It’s important to wash and rinse the dishes first before applying the sanitizing solution because the organics coming off the dishes would react with bleach active, decreasing the concentration.”

I highly recommend removing as much food debris and red sauces as possible on dishes before they head to the bathtub.  Unlike your kitchen sink that oftentimes has a garbage disposal, a bathtubs’s drain is not made for large amounts of food debris and may clog (another problem entirely).  This suggestion isn’t fun, but it’ll save potential headaches later: scrape dishes well and rinse stuck-on debris outside with a garden hose.  I know right?  Horrible, messy, wet, gross.  A kitchen remodel is a finite period of time so this is a short inconvenience.  Plus, just think what your neighbors will say about you as they peer across the street watching you hose off pots and plates on your front lawn!

What if it is snowing and you cannot use a garden hose?  Here is another unpleasant way to avoid clogging your bathtub drain.  If your washing bus tub is filled with loose food debris carefully empty the water into the nearby toilet and flush.  Again, not a pleasant picture, but the goal is to avoid clogging your bathtub drain.  I did this a few times and it worked fine.  Just pour the water carefully as you don’t want to break out the mop and bucket (another problem entirely).

Good luck if this is in your future.  Just know that I washed dishes in my bathtub for about about five or six weeks (I cannot remember exactly how long, as it was all a haze).  My dishes were clean, I got a cold around week three, and no one else got sick in the family.