Typically, the longer you wait, the harder it is to clean. Soils are more difficult to remove if they are allowed to dry and set, or stored in a dirty, humid or corrosive environment. Soaking can be the exception, but while soaking requires less physical effort, it is the most time consuming method of cleaning.
Soaking is often used to clean smallwares, utensils, and for larger equipment with stationary soak vats such as fryers and re-thermalizers. Soaking is an excellent pre-treatment method for loosening soils and preventing drying.
To optimize the process, begin by soaking items completely submerged in solution, until clean. This may take several hours. Remove, wipe off if needed and rinse thoroughly.