Growing up, we had no dishwasher. Washing dishes by hand was the norm, and my first dishwasher experience was actually in college (I know, crazy). Maybe that’s how I’ve been able to master dishwashing techniques for time and water efficiency. Just don’t tell my boyfriend. Depending on your setup, you have options to create an easy-moving and time-saving dishwashing line of your own.

Two-Sink Setup

This is the ideal situation for an apartment with no dishwasher. Instead of getting the traditional drying rack that would go on your counter, you can purchase one that fits directly in the sink. I use this as a way to visually trick myself into making it seem like there are more dirty dishes, because I have fewer places to let them collect. In addition to the drying rack, you’ll need a drying mat for larger loads where you can let your cups dry off.

One-Sink Setup

With just one sink, you’ll need to make sure that you don’t let dishes pile up too high, otherwise washing dishes will be quite difficult. However, if this is the case, you can use a large drying rack and a bucket to utilize as a makeshift second sink. It may also be helpful to have a drying mat, which is very inexpensive and takes up virtually no room in your cabinet.

The Routine

Begin by setting up your drying rack and mat appropriately, and filling your sink up about a quarter- to half-way up with hot soapy water. Place all your dishes on one side of the sink, and the other will be where the clean dishes go: You don’t want to mix these up.

Start with the cups: They are the bulkiest, and usually contain the least amount of bacteria. Dunk each in the soapy water and set in the drying rack. Do about five at a time, and then rinse all of them at once. This will speed up the process, and the faucet won’t always be running. If you are using one, place all the cups on the drying mat once they are rinsed. After you are finished with the cups, you’ll still have the entire rack to work with.

Plates and bowls: These carry a decent amount of bacteria, which is why you want to wash them after the cups (so you aren’t spreading bacteria). Wash as many as you can before rinsing them, but your rack will soon fill up. Then, rinse with low-pressure water as you go, and try to keep the temperature as high as possible. End by cleaning all the utensils, and you’re finished!

Other Helpful Tips

When you are cooking a large meal, try to immediately wash all pots and pans so they don’t stink up your apartment. This will also cut down on counter space clutter, keep your kitchenware from getting stained quickly and keep your kitchen clean. Another rule of thumb is what I like to call the “no dishes left unrinsed rule.” Rinse everything of food and grease after use.