How to Sanitize Old Dirty Dishes

Whether you find an old box of dishes in the attic or at an estate sale, the beauty and special character of these dishes may be unmatched by anything else you currently have in your cupboard. Rescue these old dishes and put them back to use, but first you should properly wash and sanitize the old dishes. Use a three-step process to wash each dish thoroughly.

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Sanitize old dirty dishes to prepare them for use.

Step 1

Fill one sink with warm water and add three or four generous squirts of dish-washing detergent to the water. Agitate the water to form suds.

Step 2

Fill another sink (if you have a double sink) with very warm rinse water. This water must be 140 degrees F. Check the temperature of the water with the digital thermometer. If you cannot get the water hot enough, add boiling water until the water in the sink reaches 140 degrees F.

Step 3

Wash each old dish in the warm, soapy water until clean.

Step 4

Rinse each dish in the warm rinse water and stack the dishes on the counter after you rinse them. Drain the rinse water from the sink.

Step 5

Fill the sink again with warm water (exact temperature is not important this time). Add 1 tbsp. chlorine bleach and 1 tbsp. white vinegar to each gallon of water in the sink. Swirl the sanitizing water around with a long-handled spoon to mix the ingredients well.

Step 6

Place the dishes into the sanitizing water for a minimum of two minutes. Remove the dishes from the sanitizing water and dry them with the dishtowel.