How to Live Without a Dishwasher

Dirty Dishes Waiting to be Washed

Strangely, even more than the TV or the dryer, it’s the confession that I don’t own a dishwasher that has people stepping away from me at parties.  They must be really attached to this particular appliance!

Alan and I have never had a dishwasher.  Even when we were running our B&B and doing four-course dinners  for 12, I would do all the dishes by hand, easily and a lot more quickly than a machine ever could.  Seriously.  The guests had to be at the theatre at 8PM and we would have all the dishes done and the rooms turned down by 8:20.

I’ve just never seen the point of adding electricity to a job that really doesn’t require it.  Washing dishes really just needs a bit of soap and water.  Maybe some elbow grease, if you’re in a hurry.

And I’ve read about the studies that prove that the newest, most energy-efficient dishwashers use less water than washing by hand, but how many people own one of those, compared to the older, more inefficient models?  And how inefficient are the hand-washers in these tests?

To wash dishes efficiently by hand, start with an inch or two of water in your sink.  It’s you and the dishcloth that will be getting things clean.  The dishes don’t need to be totally submerged.  So, a couple of inches of water and then TURN OFF THE TAP!  Wash your first dish, give it a quick rinse and then TURN OFF THE TAP!  This is how you save water.

By the time you’ve done a full load of dishes, the sink should only be half to three-quarters full.  I’m guessing most dishwashers out there use more water than that.

To say nothing of the energy requirements required to get the water up to full-sterilization heat.  Which most of us really don’t need to completely sterilize our dishes between meals  to stay healthy.  If you happen to be in a household where someone’s immune system is so compromised, or they are so contagious that unsterilized dishes will pose a danger, you’ve got much bigger things to think about and can stop reading now.

The rest of you might just want to give this some thought.

But what about the hellish amounts of time it takes to actually do the dishes?

Well, with practice, it takes less and less time.  It’s also the kind of repetitive work that’s conducive to dreaming.  And if you live with others, two people plus a sink full of dirty dishes equals a chance for some great conversation.  You can teach your kids responsibility and environmental awareness, reconnect with your partner, make big plans.

All that for a squirt of dish soap and a few minutes of your time.

And if the sight of dirty dishes on your counter is more than you can bear, you can get a bus pan at your local restaurant supply to stack them in.  You don’t have to own a restaurant to shop in these places.   Which is what makes them so dangerous.

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4 Responses to How to Live Without a Dishwasher

  1. Dish washing by hand is more effective than machine. You are sure of its cleanliness. And I agree that when its repetitive, it doesn’t make any more effort. :-)

  2. Thanks Walter! I forgot about the letdown of opening the dishwasher door and finding food still on the plates!

  3. Just found your blog and I love it!

    I really enjoy washing dishes. When my hubby and I cook, we start by filling the sink with hot soapy water. Then we wash as we go. That’s always a nice jump-start to getting the job done. Also, some of my fondest memories growing up are washing and drying dishes after supper with my siblings.

    You’ll enjoy this… we rent our condo so it came with a built-in dishwasher, of course. So, here’s what I did. I took out the rolling bottom rack and set a large plastic litter-box on the bottom (right on top of the water spinner thing). Voila! I have a recycling center! Yup… It’s a nice out of the way spot to throw all the empties in until recycling day. Oh, and leave the top rack in because it works well for holding flattened cardboard.

    Thought you’d get a kick out of my repurposing story. ;)

  4. Patti, you are BRILLIANT!!! I love it!
    Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing that!

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