All you unfortunate souls who do not own a dishwasher, please raise your water-wrinkled hands. My hand is raised as well. In this Simple Solution post, I’ll share all the ways I’ve tried to minimize the pain of washing dishes by hand. Confession time – I started washing dishes by hand while I still owned a gorgeous, incredibly efficient, stainless steel interior Bosch dishwasher (at our old house). WHY THEN, you might ask, WOULD YOU WASH DISHES BY HAND? I had my reasons (I always do, as my husband would say).
- We had extremely hard water at our previous home. What’s the point of using a dishwasher if your dishes look in worse condition afterward? By the way, there is a (less frugal) solution for this – LemiShine. You can find it at Wal-Mart, and it does work.
- We were thinking about moving/building a new home, and I wasn’t sure the new place would have a dishwasher. I like to try out my hardships on a temporary basis before I have to live with them permanently.
- I really don’t mind washing dishes. And, I really DO mind emptying out the dishwasher. Let’s call this reasoning endearingly quirky (instead of illogically weird).
So, fast forward 16 months later, and here we are. We did move, and lived for 7 months in a tiny house (as in 330 square feet – we should have been on Tiny House Living) that did not have a dishwasher (although I have since seen people on TV who manage to squeeze one in in half that space!) Then we built our smallish living quarters (900 square feet); and, because we were on a budget, we decided to defer the dishwasher purchase to a later date because I have expensive dishwasher needs preferences – stainless steel interior, Bosch preferably. However, my husband did put in the plumbing for it – I reserve the right to change my mind on this issue!
Now that I’ve gone so many months without such a basic necessity of life (that’s a joke, people!), I’m quite used to it, and have ceased to window shop dishwashers for the time being. So here are some tips to make dishwashing easier:
Get a dish wand.
You can find them at Wal-Mart or a dollar store. They hold dishwashing soap in the handle. This way, you can quickly wash a couple dishes throughout the day so your whole kitchen sink area doesn’t get overfilled. Additionally, food doesn’t have time to cake on.
Minimize your dishes.
Assign each person in the house a glass or two. Cut back your plates, bowls and utensils to one per person. If you have 4 people in your house, keep out only 6 place settings. Keep the rest in an out-of-the-way cabinet (such as that odd one over the refrigerator that no one can reach anyway). If there are limited dishes to use, there are limited dishes to sit around in the sink. You are never more than 15 minutes away from having all the dishes done. I also recommend having only 1 set of mixing bowls, measuring spoons and cups, etc. for the same reason. I think it’s better to wash 1 set repeatedly, than to have 2-3 sets pile up.
Start with a Clean Slate BEFORE you cook.
This is hard. Many times I have gone into the kitchen to fix a meal, and feel like I’m already running late. It actually saves time for me to wash, dry and put away the dishes (less than 15 minutes), than it is to constantly be shuffling dirty dishes around, looking for that spatula in the drawer (but it’s dirty in the sink, arghhh!)
Keep up WHILE you cook.
Again, before I start cooking, I run a sink of hot soapy water. As I prepare the meal, I drop dishes in to soak (or to be washed and used again, like my measuring spoons/cups). If I have a few minutes of wait time while cooking, I try to wash those things up quickly. Usually my children do the dinner dishes, but they are so appreciative that “there’s not very many dishes!”, that it motivates me to see how many dishes I can get done before we sit down to eat.
Altogether, I estimate that dishwashing takes about 30 minutes a day for our family of 4 (unless we’re distracted or goofing off – then it takes all day long!) That’s with absolutely NO paper plate/plastic cup use (I really dislike eating off paper plates and REALLY don’t like plastic cups). This also includes drying the dishes by hand rather than air drying them on a mat/towel/dish rack. And, it includes putting the dishes away. So really, I feel like I’m not spending too much more time than when I had my gorgeous dishwasher. Plus, I never have those pesky few dishes in my sink that just didn’t fit in the dishwasher anyway that I’m either going to have to wash by hand or leave until the next load. Bonus, I truly believe I’m saving money (and that is always a bonus!) I bought a LARGE bottle of dish soap at Sam’s for about $8 SEVERAL months ago (maybe even a year – I should have written down the date), and I still have 1/4 of the bottle left. Between that and the $2 dish wand, and a few replacement wand sponges, I am way under $20 a year for the pleasure of eating off clean dishes 3 times a day, 365 days a year (wow, over 1000 meals a year – that’s a lot!)
In conclusion (because this is long enough), I really want to emphasize that Tip #2 is really the key to making sure the dishwashing job never gets too out of hand for me. I still have enough dishes to host Easter for 20 people; this just makes sure I don’t wait until all my dishes are dirty before I start washing!