Washing Dishes

Inspired by Jenny McCutcheon of Exconsumer and Leo Baubata of Zen Habits we have very recently stopped using our dishwasher.

We took the huge stacks of hand-me-down dishes from the dish drawer and put them in an out-of-the-way cabinet.  Each of the four of us chose a plate, mug, large bowl, small bowl, and utensils that we placed in the dish drawer.

After each meal, we wash, dry, and put away what we used.  Additionally, while cooking, we wash the dishes we use instead of letting them pile up.

Are the kids on board?  Actually, yeah.  And because of the way the conversation unfolded at the dinner table the night we made this decision, they actually think it was their idea.  I’d love to know how that happened…and how to make it happen more often!

Why I like our new method:

  • I think we use less water and energy.  I use about 1 sink of hot water each meal.  I use a pitcher to catch the cool water while I wait for the hot and pour it in our water filter to drink.
  • The dishes are always clean when we need them.
  • The kids are pitching in with chores more.
  • Dish washing actually seems more appealing and like less of a chore.  It’s a more deliberate act.  Granted, maybe it’s just the novelty…

A week into this and I think we’ll keep it up.  I’m interested in seeing if our energy and water bills are any different this month.  And it will be interesting to see if we can more permanently pack away (or even get rid of) most of the extra dishes!

10 responses to “Washing Dishes

  1. Thanks for linking to Jenny’s post on my blog, So Much More Life. I appreciate it.

    I’m glad to see so many people who are ditching their dishwashers as I have done and as Jenny has done. I don’t read Leo because he doesn’t allow comments on his blog, but I had heard he made this decision too. We all need to plan what to do with that big whole we’ll have in our cabinets once we actually eliminate the machine entirely!


    • Hi Gip, thanks for the note…enjoy your blog. This no dishwasher experiment has gone very well so far…this weekend will the first where there will be extra people dirtying dishes as my family will be over. We’ll see how that goes!


  2. Hi Jill! Thank you so much for linking to my guest post at So Much More Life and my blog!

    I’m so glad that you tried ditching your dishwasher.

    It’s been almost a month (I believe) since we stopped using ours and I haven’t wanted to stop yet. In fact, I’m kicking myself for not trying it sooner. 🙂

    Keep us posted on how you feel about not using the dishwasher in a few weeks — after the novelty wears off. 😉


  3. I’ll wash my own dishes Sunday! 🙂


    • Thanks for the link, Evan. Hopefully the proof will be in the pudding…as in, the power/water bills. Before it seemed we were often doing both – there were always those wooden spoons that would not go in the dishwasher, or the nice knives, or the kids’ lunchboxes that needed to be done before we ran the dishwasher, or containers used for food storage that would take too much real estate if we put them in. It seemed we were often filling a sink nearly every time we ate anyway, so doing all of it by hand seemed like an easy switch…”The sink is already full of soapy water, so why do do the plates while we’re at it?” But I don’t know…and having not bought either my dishwasher personally nor the water heater (both came with the house) I’m not totally up on their efficiency.

      You are totally right not to assume that it will be “greener” this way…and my intuition may prove me wrong. If so, I’ll have to decide if what has become kind of a nice, simple, satisfying way of taking care of things is worth it if the numbers prove it’s not as sustainable. Thanks again for the link!!


  4. Pingback: Friday Favorites! | Ex-Consumer

  5. vagabondingparttime

    Congrats! 🙂 I’ve always thought the enviro advamtage was unclear, but as you posted in your above comment, I dig handwashing for the simple, satisfying part. We’re all about completing the cycle with everything around the house- pick something up- put it back, make a mess doing something, clean it up before moving on to something else. Keeps the living space(and headspace) clear for a more enjoyable existance. Cheers!


    • Thanks for the feedback. I really dig the “completing the cycle,” closing the circle feeling this practice gives me. The real advantage environmentally can come when you can say, “Hey – no dishwasher + fewer dishes needed = smaller kitchen needed = smaller house needed.” But that doesn’t happen over night… I look forward to checking out your blog…



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