Jenny’s Take On Ditching The Dishwasher
This is a guest post from Jenny McCutcheon of ExConsumer.
A couple of weeks ago, I was inspired by Gip’s post titled, Does A Dishwasher Fit Into A Simple, Minimalist Life? I had already been considering taking a break from my two to three times per week dishwasher habit just to see how it went. Gip’s post challenged me to finally take action and ditch my dishwasher for a week to see what happens. As I write this, it’s now Thursday in the week following the dishwasher ditching challenge, and I’m surprised to say that I still haven’t used my dishwasher. And I can barely tell the difference.
Dishwasher Usage History
Before I tell you about my experiences living life dishwasher free, let me tell you more about my dishwasher usage before starting this challenge.
I live in a house with three other people — my husband and two sons (six and 18 months). We’ve made it a habit over the past year to only run our dishwasher when it’s full to the brim, which usually happens about every three days. We also use the “eco” setting on our dishwasher that’s supposed to use less water and energy than the “normal” setting. I’m not sure if it does, but it always made me feel a little better to press the perceived better-for-our-Earth button.
Before starting this challenge, these are the things that annoyed me about using our dishwasher:
- Consistently running out of spoons and bowls because the dishwasher wasn’t full enough to run, but we had dirtied all of the spoons and bowls.
- Having to remove the dirty spoons and bowls from the dishwasher and hand wash them so we could eat breakfast.
- Having the dishwasher wake me up at night because it is SO LOUD and runs for several hours — even on the “eco” setting.
- Unloading the clean dishes from the dishwasher. This is probably the most annoying to me. The problem with waiting to run the dishwasher until it’s full to the brim, is that it takes a looong time to unload. Attempting to do this as a toddler is trying to climb inside the dishwasher — before making a run for it with the knives he grabs — makes unloading the dishwasher a cause for real stress in my day.
Hand Washing Experience
Going into this challenge, I thought the mornings would be pretty stressful. Getting two kids breakfast, one ready for school and myself ready for the day can be a little overwhelming at times. Add a new chore — hand washing dishes — on top of that, and I was prepared for some rough mornings. What actually happened surprised me.
I briefed my husband about my plans to try a week dishwasher free on the Sunday before the dishwasher fast began. He rolled his eyes and shrugged his shoulders as he often does when I’m proposing a change that directly affects his life.
On Monday morning when I came downstairs after my shower, I was shocked to find that my husband had already fed our sons, and hand washed the bowls and spoons they used! I proceeded to eat my breakfast, and hand wash my bowl and spoon. It surprised me that it took me the same amount of time to hand wash, dry and put away my spoon and bowl as it would have to rinse them and put them in the dishwasher. Only now I wouldn’t have to unload the dishwasher.
As the days progressed, I found much of the same thing. There was no real noticeable increase in time to hand wash, dry and put the dishes away. This isn’t what I expected at all.
This isn’t to say that there weren’t any drawbacks to hand washing the dishes. Here is a brief list of the pros and cons I discovered while hand washing the dishes:
Hand Washing Pros
- We never ran out of bowls or spoons.
- We used less water, energy and soap.
- We didn’t need to unload the dishwasher.
Hand Washing Cons
- Our big Sunday breakfast dirties lots of dishes. It takes longer than I’d like to clean up after this meal.
- When we’re tight on time, we leave dishes on a towel on the counter to air dry and I don’t like the site of dishes out in the open.
- Hand washing all of the silverware at the end of a meal is a bit tedious.
We’ve decided to continue to hand wash our dishes for now. It’s amazing how little of a difference hand washing our dishes has made in both time and convenience. If anything, I feel like it has saved us both time and money overall. I’ll be interested to see what ditching the dishwasher does to our electricity and water bill in the coming months as well.
Jenny offers lots of interesting comments and advice on buying less, saving more and being free at ExConsumer.