Maybe this is common in other households, but at least in Korean ones, there’s always a large plastic bowl or bin in the sink for soaking dishes. At my parents’ house, it’s an old kimchi tub that’s seen better days. For my kitchen, I originally went with a cheap plastic basin I got for a buck at Target. While my parents and I both own dishwashers, we rarely use them (again, maybe it’s an Asian thing), the philosophy being that handwashing is far superior. (Not to mention faster and more eco-friendly.) The tubs are crucial to this approach, because they allow dirty dishes to soak and therefore release whatever gunk is stuck to them more easily by the time you break out the sponge and the Mommy Hands.
While the cheap tub I got worked, I wouldn’t say it ever worked well. Its oblong shape (the thing is longer than it is wide) made it hard to submerge bigger plates, reducing its overall effectiveness. And it also always looked like a cheap plastic bin in our otherwise elegant farmhouse sink. Thankfully, one of my mother’s love languages seems to be sending me kitchen products she somehow knows I’ll use but never buy myself. For my last birthday, she sent me a Cuisinart air fryer–slash–toaster oven that’s since become a go-to for cooking in quarantine; this year, she sent me a sous-vide machine; and, just last month, she told me she was sending me something else. “It’s a small thing,” she wrote in a text ahead of its arrival. “I saw it at a friend’s house and knew you would need it!”
When I opened the box, inside I found a dishwashing tub from Joseph Joseph, a design-y English housewares brand favored by moms (including my own, who years ago sent me an early version of the company’s signature index cutting boards). Just looking at it, I could sense its superiority over my other soaking tub (which, admittedly, wasn’t hard to beat). The Joseph Joseph basin is square, making it much more accommodating for those large plates I couldn’t submerge in the other one, with pleasantly rounded corners that allow it to better conform to a sink. It also has a removable straining plug at the bottom that makes emptying it super easy, as well as handles, making it easier to lift (and move around) if the need arises.
My first use of the tub confirmed all of my suspicions: It fits perfectly in my sink (which is roughly 27 by 16 inches and 10 inches deep), taking up only half of it so I can use the other half for rinsing. It also has plenty of room to soak our family of three’s daily jumble of plates, coffee mugs, glasses, sippy cups, plates, bowls, utensils, and cutting boards, softening any lingering grime on them so that it more or less comes off with a few swipes when I go to wash the dishes. If doing a load used to take, say, 45 minutes, I’d estimate the Joseph Joseph tub cuts that down to 30 — which is not no time, but it’s 15 less minutes, and simply having a tub big enough to soak everything makes the process that much less of a headache. When I’m done soaking and washing, the tub itself is just as easy to clean — even stubborn kimchi and tomato-sauce stains come right off of our white one (though the dishpan also comes in gray, lime green, and blue, if you want a color that’s better at camouflaging muck). Like the other kitchen gear my mom sent me before it, I now can’t imagine life without the Joseph Joseph basin. And, because mom knows best, I’m now making a list of friends (who could use a little help in the kitchen) to give one to.
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