Hand Washing Dishes

Joshua and I have been slightly annoyed with our dishwasher ever since we moved into The Wallow. Sometimes it doesn’t get the dishes very clean. It often leaves horrible water spots on the dishes. We can’t run the microwave and the dishwasher at the same time. And then we got a notice that there was a defect in the dishwasher that might cause a fire, but it wasn’t under warranty, so we’d have to pay for the repair. Ugh.

A couple of months ago, we decided to make the whole-hearted switch to hand washing. This has a lot of benefits for us, even beyond leaving behind the annoying washing machine.

First, it allows us to use actual soap for dish washing instead of special machine washing detergent. We use Dr. Bronner’s. This kind of soap (actual soap!) works a little differently, since it doesn’t have all the extra stuff mixed in, like foaming agents. We found that putting the soap in a big sink full of dishes didn’t give us a very satisfying wash. After reading around on the internet a bit, I came across an alternative suggestion that has worked very well for us. We put a little bit of soap in a spray bottle with water and spray the diluted soap directly on each dish, rather than submerging the dishes in soapy water.

The combination of hand washing and the soap-spray method means that we use much less water for dish washing now. Almost no water is used in the washing. We rinse with a bit of water and use excess rinse water for anything that needs to soak a bit. I’ve read various claims that hand washing uses more water than machine washing, but, really, I have no idea what these people are doing. Unless you’re leaving the water running the whole time, hand washing uses much less water.

Hand washing dishes is especially well-suited for a small family like Joshua’s and mine. In order to never make washing a big job, we are encouraged to wash dishes fairly regularly, sometimes immediately after each meal. With a dishwasher, for energy conservation, we would wait until the washer was full before running it. But since there are only two of us, it would take a couple of days to fill it up, which meant sometimes we’d want to use a dish or utensil and it would be dirty. Now, all of our dishes are pretty much always clean.

One of the best benefits of switching to hand washing is the togetherness. Most of the time, Joshua and I do the dishes together now. He usually washes, and I rinse, dry, and put them away. This makes dish washing… fun. Sometimes I’ll look at the dishes and think it will be a chore, and then we’ll get started and I’ll realize I’m having a lot of fun. We’re doing something together, talking the whole time, and just enjoying each other’s company. That definitely doesn’t happen with a machine washer.

We haven’t yet decided what to do with the dishwasher. Maybe we’ll use it for storage, although we don’t really need more kitchen storage. Eventually, we may take the washer out and turn the space into shelves or drawers or something. For now, it just sits there empty and unused and not at all tempting.

Do you hand wash your dishes? Any tips or tricks you’d like to share?