Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I’ve Got a Bone to Pick… Dishwashers

Okay. My dogs can lick my dishes cleaner than my dishwasher cleans them!  After all that holiday baking and cooking, I ended up washing all of my dishes by hand.  And you know what? That’s not a bad idea. I see several problems with dishwashers today:

  1. One batch takes two hoursTWO HOURS! I don’t know about you, but I usually have more dirty dishes than will fit in one load. Do you leave the rest with crusted-on food? Or, do you rinse them all by hand and wait two hours? (Which by then, you have more dirty dishes and still have dishes sitting on the counter.)
  2. Every single person I know washes their dishes before they put them in the dishwasher, anyway. What’s the point? Why not get out the drainer and finish the job? Some of my best childhood memories are doing dishes with my family. I used to do impersonations—John Wayne, Elvis Presley, Barbra Streisand—and I’d practice while I dried the dishes. We shared our day and our hopes for the future.
  3. Since they banned phosphates from dishwasher detergent last year, my dishes haven’t “sparkled” again. There’s some sort of buildup left on them. I’ve even tried Lime Away and CLR, but even that hasn't helped.
  4. I live in a drought state. If I have to wash the dishes by hand, and then wash them in the dishwasher, and then wash them by hand because they didn't come clean, I feel like I’m wasting a lot of precious water. I have trouble with washing items to put in the recycling bin as well. Which resource is the least valuable to waste?

My obsession for not wasting water comes from growing up on a farm. Water was our most precious commodity and came from a well. We washed our clothes by hand and hung them outside, did our dishes by hand, and took our bathes in less than two inches of water (even sharing the same bath water). As with any farm, we always seemed to be fighting about water rights.

I remember one day, a man came around our farm. He asked my father if he had a dishwasher. My dad replied, “Yes. I have a left-handed, belt-driven dish washer.” Of course, that meant my mother. She was left-handed. The man looked confused, rubbed the back of his neck and left. He didn’t get the joke, but my family laughed about it for years.

My mother didn’t mind doing dishes. When she got married, her first set of dishes were heavy paper cups and wooden spoons they’d got from an icecream shop. And my mother-in-law still washes her dishes by hand. She says she loves doing them. LOVES it. Why? Because she grew up during the depression era when even dishes were scarce. She’s thankful for a dish to wash.

Did you include your dishes in your prayers of gratitude this Thanksgiving? Hmmmm. It wasn’t at the top of my list, but I must admit, I am thankful. And I’m thankful for water. Just saying.

Cindy A. Christiansen
Sweet Romance, Comedy, Suspense...and Dogs!
Fly into a good book at:  www.dragonflyromance.com

123RF Stock Photo


  1. I grew up washing dishes and to this day, I still wash my dishes by hand. We don't own a dishwasher. In fact, our house/kitchen is so small, there isn't even room to put one! (Might harm us when it comes time to sell, but I'm hoping we'll sell to some eco-conscious person who also likes washing dishes by hand).

    When I was in high school, my parents moved and the house we bought had a dish washer. It didn't take long for us to discover we didn't like the dishwasher (too loud, ran too long, didn't get the dishes 100% clean) and that it used an insane amount of water. It got to the point we ONLY used the dishwasher on special occasions--like at Christmas time or other big celebrations. And we still ended up washing half the dishes by hand.

    I personally don't see anything wrong with washing dishes by hand. I think if people started doing a few more things "the old fashioned way," they would appreciate what they have a lot more.

  2. I hear ya. My mom has a poem on her kitchen wall.
    "Thank God for dirty dishes
    They have a tale to tell.
    While others may go hungry,
    We're eaty mighty well."
    and your Dad's joke reminded me of when I told a co-worker(were eco=conscious as well) that my husband had bought me a solar powered clothes dryer. She remarked, that it must have been expensive. "I just said,"Naw, the store,gave him a great deal on 320 feet of it."(lol)
    Thanks for the memories.

  3. Yes, still washing the dishes by hand, and still hanging clothes on the line. Nuthin' wrong wit' that at all! :)

    Great post, Cindy!

  4. I grew up washing dishes by hand but when we moved to apartments they always had dishwashers. Give me the dishwasher and keep the handwashing. Yes I might rinse the food off but handwashing actually uses more water. I hate messing with washing the dishes but will do it if I have to lol.

  5. Cindy,

    My sister and I took turn doing dishes for a family of nine. I swore then and there, I would have a dishwasher when I married.

    After three years of marriage, we got one. But guess what. I still did most of the dishes by hand. Like you, I rinse everything off first. So what's the use.

    This second dishwasher we purchased in 1997 has probably been used two dozen times.

    Hubby is always complaining since I increased my writing time, "Why don't you load them in the dishwasher to save time?"

    I admit I've stack a few dishes in there. But, when I need something I still open the dishwasher to retrieve and wash it. LOL. It still hasn't been turned on in weeks.

    So, what's the use. I guess the dishwasher does hide dirty dishes when they pile up. Ha!

    My biggest gripe is you can't put plastic-handled knives or wooden spoons in there. And I don't think it's good for pots, either. That leaves glasses, bowls, plates, etc.

    Great post. One of my bones to pick, too

  6. I grew up washing dishes. Once I was married, though, I used a dishwasher. I am very thankful for my dishwasher right now with three little ones underfoot and more chores than I have time and energy. However, I fully intend to teach my little ones to wash dishes by hand, how to hang laundry and the basics everyone should know.


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