Off the Grid Tuesday: Let’s Talk About Dishwashers

When the topic of simplicity comes up, people become passionately defensive of their automatic dishwashers. They keep dishes from piling up in the sink. They use less water than hand washing. They cut down on time spent on housework. Isn’t life simpler WITH this machine?

In our case, the answer is a clear “no.” Here are the reasons why:

1. First of all, we use cast iron cookware. This should not be washed with soap, much less put in the dishwasher. So, we are already running the water and taking the time to wash after each meal. We’ve found that, since we wash them after each meal, we only need two pans.

2. If we were to place the remaining dishes in the dishwasher, we would either have to run it once a day and own more dishes, or run it after each meal. If we ran it after each meal, we would load it up with the spatula, 3 plates, 3 cups, and 3 forks. The dishwasher uses more water in a cycle than it would take to wash those items by hand. While it ran, we would not have access to those dishes, and we still have to load and unload them. It would require much more time and resources. If we ran it once a day, we would need to own 9 plates, 3 spatulas, 9 cups, and 9 sets of silverware. This would take up a crazy amount of cupboard space, and we would still be loading and unloading once a day.

3. This plan completely falls apart if we allow dishes to pile up in the sink. Only owning enough dishes for the 3 of us provides us with the motivation to clean them after each meal. It does not take more than 5 minutes–which adds up to less than 15 minutes a day! (We do own 2 more plates and forks, for when we have company, but we don’t use them on a daily basis). It is a matter of cleaning up right after the meal, as part of your routine.

4. Hand washing in small batches uses very little water–not even a sinkful.

5. The icing on the cake is that this is a routine that can follow us anywhere–to a hotel room, camping, in the motor home, and on the boat.

I know the situation is different with larger families and people who have company frequently, but I challenge you to do the math and give it a try. Try going a week or two without using your machine, and see if hand washing can be made into the simplest option for you!

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