7 Reasons Why I Don’t Use The Dishwasher In My Chinese Home

All my life I’ve never liked using the dishwasher. Washing up by hand after cooking for one or after a meal with five others at home is something I much rather do and in fact, do every single day.

Most people around me baulk at my refusal to use the dishwasher. You eat your food in comfort at home, throw the dishes and cutlery in the dishwasher, turn it on, the mess and grime washes away. You don’t need to spend time washing up.

Garlic and Chinese Mun Shou Rice Bowl

Garlic and Chinese Mun Shou Rice Bowl

Growing up in a traditional-minded Chinese family, the dishwasher was never used. Instead it was used as a stacking and drying rack for clean dishes. These days I use the dishwasher to store my empty work lunch containers and banish plates that I never use.

I’ve only used the dishwasher a handful of times in my life. Whenever I did, I felt l there are so many better reasons to wash up by hand. Some of these reasons seem to be tied to being Chinese while other reasons are purely logical.

Here are seven reasons why I don’t use the dishwasher at home.

Garlic (1)

Garlic (1)

1. Washing by hand saves time and money

It usually takes about a couple of hours for newer dishwashers to run a full cycle. However you can’t fit all dishes and cutlery in a single dishwasher load all the time, and you could get the washing done by hand in one sitting in a shorter time. Coupled with the fact that non-stick items don’t always hold up well in dishwashers, trying to squeeze a 40cm frying pan alongside with a full-sized wok (which I love to cook stir-fried noodles with) in the dishwasher is virtually impossible. Inevitably some things have to be washed by hand.

Most days my household goes through around ten plates, more than a few bowls, pairs of cutleries, a number of cups and non-stick pots and pans. On the occasions cooking and dining a solo dinner at home, it takes me ten minutes to wash everything up. When it comes to washing up after housemates and rambunctious kids, that takes half an hour.

One can argue this is all very efficient. I grew up with the Chinese mentality to be efficient with time and money: do something productive with your time and save your pennies for a better tomorrow. This mindset is in part stems from values of Confucianism favouring thrift, self-discipline and an aversion to extravagance.

Don’t use the dishwasher, don’t pay a bit more on household water, heating and electricity bills. Don’t use the dishwasher, get washing the dishes over and done with right now. No need to unload the dishwasher later or get up a bit earlier in the morning to do it before work.

Garlic (2)

Garlic (2)

2. No dirty dishes lying around

The rule of thumb at my place is that the sink has to be empty at all times. That means if you use a plate or cup and don’t need it anymore, you wash it up by hand right away. Most Australian households tend to run the dishwasher once or twice a day – meaning dishes and utensils are left to pile up in the sink throughout the day before congregating for a shower together in the dishwasher.

A sink filled with dirty dishes is a lovely moist breeding bacteria ground. Growing up Chinese, I was taught to be a neat-freak like other stereotypical Chinese families. My upbringing included no wearing shoes at home, wrapping the remote control with plastic so as to keep it new and bleaching bathroom tiles once a week. Along with this my folks insisted dishes are washed the moment they are put in the sink. After all, cleaning is seen as auspicious in Chinese cultures, that is sweeping out the old and in with the new so to speak. Then again, not all Chinese are neat-freaks but that’s another topic of discussion.

Garlic (3)

Garlic (3)

3. Not everything fits

As mentioned earlier, not everything can or should be fit in the dishwasher. Definitely hard to fit a wok in the dishwasher without compromising room for other crockery if at all a wok can fit. Hot water corrodes non-stick parts of pans and warps wooden chopping boards, and high temperatures can cause knife handles to become unglued.

4. Cleaner dishes by hand

Sometimes dishes come out of a dishwasher cycle still greasy with stains still intact and white residue all over. This can be because of poor dishwashing cleaning: water temperature too low, wrong type of detergent for your water type, not enough water or your dishwasher is due for a clean. Some suggest to rinse or pre-wash your dishes first before using the dishwasher for a cleaner wash. But that means inevitably you have to wash the dishes by hand.

Notably many Chinese eat rice every single day with almost every meal. When dried on plates and rice-cookers, rice can be hard and sticky and so hard to wash off. Sometimes the only way to get completely clean is to soak these rice-stained utensils overnight and scrub with strength.

Garlic (4)

Garlic (4)

5. Small spaces

Many apartments are on the small side in Asia. These apartments tend to come with small kitchens and not all small kitchens fit an average-sized dishwasher. You can purchase a micro or portable dishwasher if you want but they aren’t cheap. So with no dishwasher at home in parts of Asia, it becomes habit to wash up by hand right after meals.

When I was based in Singapore, the various apartments I lived in didn’t come with dishwashers. Interestingly enough they came with double bowl sinks – lots of space to wash dishes by hand.

6. Quiet time

Washing up after dinner can actually be a time for us to slow down and take a break from the daily grind. Researchers from Florida State University studied the correlation between dishwashing and stress, and hypothesised people who engage in mindful dishwashing – focusing on water warmth and feel of the dishes – trigger a positive state of mind with mental inspiration increasing by 25%. As journalist Jay Rayner describes washing dishes by hand, it’s ‘engrossing, a perfect means to an end. It is the forging of order from chaos; an enforced pause in a busy day’.

I don’t mind household chores and washing the dishes is one of them. There’s just something about the mundane and routine that sits so well with me: things have their place. I’ve been known to wash up in the sink when I’ve finished eating first and others are still making merry over food at the dinner table. That’s perfect when I want to escape the chatter at a big Chinese family dinner, hole up washing the dishes.

Garlic (5)

Garlic (5)

7. A hard work ethic

When you do the dishes right away, you get it done. You don’t procrastinate and no more dirty dishes around. You’re productive, you’re hardworking and you know you can do something if you just start. It’s also a good example to set for others at home, setting the example that no task is too small to do. Most importantly, doing the dishes by hand right away sends the message that there’s nothing to be ashamed of doing household chores, A tidier life often leads to a less chaotic and more calming lifestyle.

*  *  *

People who don’t like washing the dishes have their reasons why. Maybe they rather do something else with their time. Maybe some are lazy. Maybe some find it embarrassing doing the dishes by hand, seeing it gross scraping food scraps off from plates and look down on chores like it’s a third world problem – tedious, dirty, time consuming. Notably over the last decade, dishwasher retail sales were markedly higher in Western Europe and North America; Norway has a culture of eating in making it a dishwasher-friendly country while some countries in the East simply find it hard to afford one. In addition parts of Asia many lack access to sanitation facilities, so when it comes to washing the dishes by hand, there’s probably nothing gory about that to them.

Garlic (6)

Garlic (6)

In Australia, many workplaces have a kitchen where everyone can prep food and eat throughout the day. All the places I’ve worked (big offices) had a dishwasher in the kitchen. While I like to clean the kitchen at home, the same can’t be said about the kitchen at work. So many people go in and out and it’s impossible to wash up after everyone, and so the work dishwasher gets a workout.

Not all of us like doing chores and many of us take turns doing chores at home. Traditionally washing the dishes and any chores is seen as a ‘woman’s job’ and men aren’t expected to help around the house (thankfully today this mindset is changing). The Council on Contemporary Families at the University of Texas studies family dynamics and in a study found women (in a nuclear family household) who wash most of the dishes find themselves in more relationship conflict. The council also suggested couples who share dishwashing feel more connected as a team.

Then again, sometimes couples and families want more time together and time together is precious. So why not just chuck the dirty dishes into an energy and water efficient dishwasher which some have argued doesn’t add too much to the bills, and have more time for themselves.

Garlic (7)

Garlic (7)

Cleaning up after a meal and doing chores around the house is really something I don’t mind doing. Most days I leave the house before 7am to go to work, don’t get home until after 6pm, cook for everyone at home with a pan and a pot and then wash up the grease laden, crumb and spittle strewn dishes and cooking utensils if someone else hasn’t gotten to it already. I like a clean house and get excited when I buy a new sponge or bottle of detergent.

There are certain ways on how to wash up as quickly as possible by hand after a meal at home. For instance, soak pots and pans while you are eating and then wash them. Have at cellulose and sponge scourer handy. Put the most soiled dishes at the bottom of the sink for a bit of a soak and wash the least-soiled first. Have a damp cloth handy to wipe off water and a dry cloth for drying.

That’s assuming you’re washing dishes indoors. There are different ways of washing dishes around the world, which is a topic for a post another day.

Do you use the dishwasher at home?

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164 thoughts on “7 Reasons Why I Don’t Use The Dishwasher In My Chinese Home

  1. I totally get what you’re saying about not using the dishwasher because of how many dishes you’re using daily in the house – You’d likely end up running a dishwasher every day, which would be a lot of energy and water used! Over here it’s just 2 of us so we run the dishwasher 1 time a week. Thanks for sharing more about your household – and I like the garlic pics, fun with photography! 🙂

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    • Using the dishwasher everyday doesn’t seem practical to me in the long run! For you two it sounds like using the dishwasher once a week works out great – and you can have more time to yourselves 😛 These photos were so much fun to take. Really enjoyed this afternoon of still photography with garlic and Chinese-household bowls and plates 🙂

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  2. I think washing up dishes by hand can almost be a bit therapeutic – I usually drift off and start to think about things that happened that day… Haha! We don’t have a dishwasher and I miss it sometimes, but I also find it annoying to wait filling up the dishwasher until it’s full to turn it on and I really don’t like taking out the stuff and put it back on the shelves. I agree with you, it’s better to do it frequently in small chunks to never have too much stuff lying around 🙂

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    • So agree with you washing dishes by hand can be therapeutic. You get the dishes done right away and if you’ve eaten well there isn’t much to scrape off the plates lol. Having to wait to fill the dishwasher up when you don’t use too many plates and cutlery in a day…doesn’t sit hygenically well with me at all 🙂

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  3. I grew up with a dishwasher in my home but haven’t had one since 2000; my apartment in NYC was too small and a boat is no place for a dishwasher. On our boat, The Captain does all the cooking and I do all the washing up and we are both seriously happy with the arrangement. Hugs from Medellin where we are getting ready to start our Colombia Road trip leaving dishwashing behind until we return to Amandla.

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    • Sounds like you and The Captain have a good arrangement in the kitchen. May The Captain cook many more dishes…and doesn’t make too much of a mess 😀 If we ever do meet again, we can swap tips about washing up and also you can tell me more about living in NY. It’s a city I’ve always wanted to visit. Maybe I’ll see you there one day but in the meantime, happy Colombia Road trip. Mr Wobbles wishes you and Amandla crew well 🙉💙

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  4. Hi M – I like your point about the quiet time to wash up after dinner.
    I heard a tennis pro did the dishes to calm nerves before a big game.
    and we just got a new dishwasher (have a funny story about this to come sometime in the far future) but the biggest thing that surprised us was how much longer it takes – so you are right that newer ones take longer – but it is also whisper quiet and we cannot even tell it is on.
    __
    oh and love the photos for this post – the garlic was such a lovely subject – and each photo has a different juicy take

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  5. Hmmm…you may have made me more Asian reading this Mabel. I have been an avid dishwasher user since living alone for nearly a decade now. I’ve become a creature of convenience.
    While I agree with many of your reasons, one thing I have noticed with elderly parents who have fading eyesight is that hand washing doesn’t always result in a better outcome in terms of debris left in pots, pans, and casseroles.
    Thank you also Mabel for using one of my favourite words. It gave me a thrill when I read it 😃👍

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  6. Yes. Unfortunately we use the dishwasher all the time. I agree – it’s a waste of electricity and water. These dishes often smell too if they sit in the dishwasher for more than a day while you save up to run a full load.
    I wish I could convince my family to wash dishes by hand after each meal. Just getting help clearing the table is sometimes a struggle.

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    • Aww, clearing the stable is a struggle for you :/ The smell of dirty dishes is not pleasant at all. Maybe one day you will convince your family to wash the dishes by hand. You could bribe them with a free meal out in exchange for helping you clean in the kitchen 🙂

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  7. I didn’t realize that using a dishwasher as a dish rack was anything unusual until I was in my thirties. My boyfriend at the time, who is from the Continental US, was living with my mom and I temporarily. When he discovered that we didn’t run it, I thought he was going to lose his mind! But since then, I’ve been in his childhood home many times, and understand that their evening ritual is to load the dishwasher after dinner.

    I think for families, and really, after you have a party or gathering when there’s lots of dishes, having a dishwasher is SO nice. It’s been my experience thought that friends help clean up and take turns washing dishes.

    I did some quick internet searching because I had this memory in the back of my mind that dishwashers use less water than hand-washing and based on what I can tell, dishwashers are more efficient. BUT! Obviously the dishwasher needs to be full, and newer dishwashers would probably do a better job as well. There are too many articles to post, but supposedly that’s the end to that debate, supposedly.

    The main reason why I don’t think Thailand has dishwashers in the home is they don’t have kitchens in many apts, if not the great majority. Older homes don’t even have a stove top,and the we don’t have hot water on tap. Some folks here despite being in a ‘modern’ apt or regular home run ‘bucket baths’ and don’t use hot water, if they do run a hot shower, the electric box has to be switched on.

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    • Lol that must have been something when your then-boyfriend discovered you didn’t run the dishwasher. Sounds like he adapted while he lived with you. That is so true some people’s evening routines is to load the dishwasher – it’s how they live their lives.

      I also didn’t realise using a dishwasher as a dish rack was a bit unusual until much later in life. When I moved back to Australia and after many years of living here again, it dawned on me Westerners rather dry their dishes on an actual dish rack. Some people here still try to figure out how I get by without using a dishwasher.

      Haha, when you have to wash up after a big gathering, it can be hard to clean up alright. A good workout for your arms XD

      How much water you use when you wash up by hand depends on how big you turn the tap on. Obviously if it’s a gushing torrential tap then you might use more water than if you would if you used the dishwasher. Also the dirtier the dishwasher, the more water you might use too.

      It is interesting how lives differ across the world. Along with no stove tops, a lot of older homes in parts of Asia don’t have air conditioning and hot water is so, so precious. Owning a dishwasher is probably the last thing on their minds.

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      • I do agree with you on all that you said in the article, Mabel. I spent almost 18 years of my life in Nigeria so, I did quite a lot of dish washing by hand. Actually, it has become one of my favorite chores. As for the how much water you use, you have just got to learn. For me, it is the same as saving some water when I brush my teeth and shower because if I do not, it means I will have to go fetch some more water. I mean, not all homes have a tap running of water- oftentimes, I have to go across the street or even father to get some water. So, unless you enjoy such travel as a kid, you economize (in my dad’s voice. Lol). That makes your trip shorter the next time.

        It is interesting though because most Americans have a different spin on this issue. To me, I feel like most people- teens and young adults in particular- care less about it because the thought is usually, “Worst case scenario will be to pay for it.” Also, it is because they are not the ones who have to pay the water bill anyway. A US school cafeteria is another great place you see this at play. I have been addressed as a conservative for turning off running taps on several occasion. It’s okay, I am glad to be called one in that aspect. Lol.

        I believe that in order to make this seem lesser of a task than many people see it, is to think of washing dishes by hand as a good form of physical fitness besides sports. It can help improve your wellness because it keeps you up and moving.

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        • You said it when you mentioned ‘not all homes have a tap running of water- oftentimes’, Oluwabukola. Not every house has a dishwasher, and not every house has running water. When you mentioned at some point in your life you has to save water while brushing teeth and showering, and go out to fetch more water, it really makes you think twice about using water. And you are so right in saying you just have to learn how to use water responsibly. Growing up there were times where I didn’t have running water living in Malaysia. I’d have to go out to the water tank that came around twice a day to get a few buckets to last me through the day. Even when it was raining, somehow I had to still fetch water.

          You also bring up a good point when you say some people don’t pay the water bill, and so don’t really think much about water usage. Good on you for turning off running taps. Not only does water contribute to our water bills but there’s also so much safe drinking and washing water available. In some places I’ve been to, it’s a no-no drinking or brushing your teeth from tap water because the water comes straight from the ground unsanitised.

          So agree washing dishes by hand keeps you moving, for scrubbing dishes to moving around to put cutlery where they belong. Thanks for this insightful comment 🙂

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  8. ‘You don’t need to spend time washing up (with a dishwasher).’ I actually dislike the time used to load and then unload it – at my parents’ place my brother insisted that they get a dishwasher for the second time the kitchen was refurbished (they have been at the same house since we moved to Sydney in 1990). It only gets used on Sundays, the same day I visit – maybe the extra load from my share justifies its use.

    I’m also used to washing the dishes. Living on my own, I *am* the dishwasher. It’s one of the few things I seem to do well, I remember the first Dusty Boots trip back in 2015, that was what I spent most of my time doing. Relating to point 1, I suppose dishwashers really only make sense for large families or groups. It would probably take me more than two weeks (not to mention owning the requisite crockery and cutlery) to fill a dishwasher on my own.

    I remember being traumatised in my first year of high school. Instead of washing dishes in dirty water, I would wash as I do at home – under a running tap. My ‘home economics’ teacher berated me for washing in this manner, claiming ‘that’s how you spread glandular fever!’ among other things. The fact that I still remember this incident after 25 years is probably an indicator of how much it has marked me. And not in a good way.

    On point 2: it’s probably not a reflection on any particular group or culture, but I often see unwashed mugs and plates in the sink at work. There’s always some people willing to take advantage of others.

    I don’t know about point 6, but I remember washing the dishes with my brother – I would scrub, he would rinse off. Sometimes with Dad instead. Looking back, those times weren’t bad. On retreating from big family dinners to wash up: it reminded me of visiting overseas relatives – it felt normal to wash up after meals but I would always be refused, ‘you’re the guest!’

    Point 7: Living alone, I still generally wash immediately, but I have noticed lately I will sometimes leave things for washing later. But I think more a case of needing to focus on something else immediately than necessarily being lazy about washing up.

    On dried rice: that’s the one thing that seldom got washed straight away – the rice cooker pot. Once the remaining rice had been put away (‘yesterday’s steamed rice is today’s fried rice’) the pot would be left to soak overnight for washing the next morning.

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    • I actually don’t think loading and unloading the dishwasher takes much time – because ultimately it takes so much more time for a cycle to run. Sounds like your parents and brother don’t mind using the dishwasher at all. I guess if they use the dishwasher every Sunday when you visit, they don’t use it all that much. Which means the dishwasher doesn’t get too much of a workout each week and potentially has a longer life.

      Lol, that is a good way to put it, that you are the dishwasher and probably a very good one too XD Over time you just get used to it if you wash the dishes every night. It would definitely not make sense to run the dishwasher without filling it up first, same with not filling up the washing machine before running a load.

      Not sure why your home economics teacher berated you for washing dishes in under a running tap. Everyone has different ways of washing the dishes, none of them totally wrong. I grew up in a culture where washing dishes in a sinkful of water was not the way to go. Rather either wash the dishes straight up under running water, or soak the dishes in a sink or bucket and then wash under running water.

      Unwashed items in the sink is a reality in many, many Australian workplaces. It irks me to no end. I guess it’s a reflection of how some of us are at home, and not so much as someone wanting to take advantage of another person to wash the dishes for them.

      Soaking the rice cooker pot is a good idea to wash it. I’ve found that if you don’t, you scrub a lot and sometimes you might even scrub off the non-stick layer of the pot.

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      • I was thinking in the context of relatively small loads – like what I’m used to – the effort of loading and unloading the dishwasher far outweighs just spending a few minutes doing it by hand. And that’s not even considering the actual washing time! That equation changes for larger loads, obviously.

        Nah, it’s mainly my brother who insisted – I think he doesn’t like washing the dishes. Even when I’m visiting there usually isn’t enough for us to fill the whole dishwasher so other things like the filters from the overhead air vents get squeezed in to try to make the most of the water/soap/etc. As you say, efficiency in mind. I probably didn’t mention the dishwasher only gets used on Sundays, when I’m there.

        I think that’s the key (I realise you said you wanted to keep this a separate discussion): washing in a sink full of water eventually makes that sink fill with dirty water (especially if there are a lot of food scraps). And then there’s usually no rinse-off stage, just let the dishes dry with the soap suds on. It’s probably okay in the end, but I think my mother really doesn’t like the washing-in-dirty-water idea.

        You mean, just being lazy? XD Every now and then I see a sign from someone similarly displeased at the lack of respect and try to passive-aggressively remind people to wash up after themselves.

        Yeah, I think that’s why my parents prefer to leave the rice pot to soak.

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        • With larger loads, you can certainly justify using the dishwasher. But I do think anything more than an hour to wash the dishes is a bit long. Some have also mentioned in the comments dishwashers allow you to wash dishes at a higher water temperature, killing more germs. For dish handwashers like ourselves, I am sure we have learnt to clean our dishes very clean 😉

          I actually have never heard of air filters from the air vents over the stove being put in the dishwasher. But I guess if it works, it works. To be honest I’ve always found washing these air filters by hand to be quite hard especially if you’ve been lazy and haven’t washed them in a while. Even after soaking them in hot water before scrubbing, it can be a hard scrub. So maybe you really are being wise to put it in the dishwasher 🙂

          That is true when you wash dishes in a sink full of water. If you’re soaking and rinsing in the same sink, probably not the best way to wash up. I have never heard of people leaving the dishes drying with soap suds on. Then again, I wouldn’t be surprised if people actually do that.

          We’re all entitled to be lazy XD

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        • With larger loads, you can certainly justify using the dishwasher. But I do think anything more than an hour to wash the dishes is a bit long. Some have also mentioned in the comments dishwashers allow you to wash dishes at a higher water temperature, killing more germs. For dish handwashers like ourselves, I am sure we have learnt to clean our dishes very clean 😉

          I actually have never heard of air filters from the air vents over the stove being put in the dishwasher. But I guess if it works, it works. To be honest I’ve always found washing these air filters by hand to be quite hard especially if you’ve been lazy and haven’t washed them in a while. Even after soaking them in hot water before scrubbing, it can be a hard scrub. So maybe you really are being wise to put it in the dishwasher 🙂

          That is true when you wash dishes in a sink full of water. If you’re soaking and rinsing in the same sink, probably not the best way to wash up. I have never heard of people leaving the dishes drying with soap suds on. Then again, I wouldn’t be surprised if people actually do that.

          We’re all entitled to be lazy every now and then XD

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          • I’m not sure that even mechanical washers get that close to boiling (would need to have its own heater) but it’s a fair point.

            It’s probably just a peculiarity of my family. They get washed pretty frequently – Mum doesn’t like the oil building up.

            It’s just what I’ve observed when washing up in Western culture. Dishes will go straight from sink to rack – but often there will be a dryer to wipe them down with tea towels anyway.

            Yeah, but perhaps not at others’ expense. XD

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            • We all have our own quirks. Oil build up can turn into hardened grease and oxidisd oil isn’t nice smelling. All the more reason to wash your dishes as soon as possible and air vents every now and then too.

              That is an interesting observation. Most of my Western friends use the dishwasher just like they use the dryer to dry clothes.

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  9. It has been said that the dishwasher is more economical than washing dishes by hand. I don’t believe that. I simply can’t see how that works. Being an eczema sufferer I can’t put my hands in the water without gloves so hubby has always done the washing up after dinner. I cook; he cleans up that seems to work for us.
    I guess any routine activity can be repetitive and meditative if we make it so. Great idea to use washing up in this way. You are right about Norway. They rarely eat out. But it didn’t explain Australian culture. I hear laments of having to empty the dishwasher!! First world problems have replaced the complaints of having to wash up.

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  10. I’m totally with you on this Mabel 🙂💜 We’ve never had a dishwasher and the idea doesn’t appeal to us. Washing up and drying the dishes by hand is something we enjoy sharing and doing together. When we have guests they always want to help, so when one is washing up and one is drying the others are on hand to put things away. It’s part a practical thing to clean everthing straight away and part a social thing. When I’m doing the dishes by myself I enjoy it as a mindful practice. It’s a lovely opportunity to say thanks for the food and the good things that happened during the day 🙂💖 xxx

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  11. Since I was a little girl, washing dishes by hand has always been something I enjoyed. With only the two of us in the house, we rarely run our dishwasher. I especially enjoy doing the dishes during the summer months. We have one of our hummingbird feeders at the kitchen sink window, so I can enjoy our little visitors while cleaning.

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  12. When I was a kid, my white siblings and I were the dishwashers (also the lawn mowers and babysitters). Even when we could afford a dishwasher later, our family was always so big that not everything fit. My siblings and I had to wash all the pots and pans. So I tend to think that if I have a big sink of soapy water anyway, I’d just as soon wash everything and save on electricity and more water.

    My husband is Chinese-American and he loves the dishwasher. We also live in SoCal, prone to droughts, and the dishwasher uses less water, plus it sterilizes dishes. This is important when you have dogs as your pre-wash, food debris-removal cycle (which also saves water). I’m still washing pots and pans by hand, but all the plates and utensils and glasses that fit usually go into the dishwasher.

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    • Exactly. No reason to run the dishwasher when you have such a small load. It’s similar to when you only run the washing machine when you have a full load – and with really stinky clothes you can always wash them by hand first.

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  13. Hi Mabel, I loved your images of the garlic in the pretty bowl and was curious how you would use it…then the chopped garlic! I loved the anticipation you built there. 🙂 I don’t mind washing dishes at all and it feels great to get all the bits of dirty dishes off the counter once and for all—at least for a while until the next batch of dirty dishes come along.The deal at our house is that the cook never cleans after a meal (I’m the cook). My hubby always does the dishes and he is very particular about loading the dishwasher. He does wash pots and pans by hand. But throughout the day it seems that I am putting dirty dishes in the washer constantly…
    Interesting post, Mabel. I agree with you on the idea of washing dishes by hand being more time efficient. Although I wouldn’t be able to convince my hubs. Plus keeps our hands clean and virus free if they’re in soapy water!

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    • Yes, it feels good to have a clean space until the next round of mess comes along lol. Seems like you and your hubby have a good arrangement in the kitchen, and he has turned you into a dishwasher user 😀 Then again, he doesn’t put pots and pans in the dishwasher so I guess that is a start…

      The garlic photoshoot was a lot of fun. Didn’t plan on using garlic until I was going through the kitchen for props and they seemed to work very well. There are so many faces to garlic 🙂

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  14. Interesting take on this topic, Mabel. I wonder if your dishwashers are much smaller than ours? We load only dishes and glasses and cutlery in ours, and we run it about once a week. We always hand wash pots and pans and other greasy or really messy cooking implements and containers. I also question whether dishwashers actually use more water in one run a week than it takes to hand-wash all the dishes every night? I’m only playing devil’s advocate; I really totally get your mindset, and personally don’t mind dishwashing by hand at all!

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    • That is a good question, if our dishwashers are smaller over here. Possibly since everything seems to be bigger in size over in the States compared to Australia 😀 You have a good point too – if the dishwasher is used once a week, you probably save on water compared to when you wash by hand every day. It’s very common here in Australia for homes to come with a dishwasher, and if there’s not one people tend to be surprised.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I have read that using a dishwasher saves energy because it uses less water. When I wash dishes by hand, I’m a water miser, so I’m not sure it applies to the way I do it, but–well, it’s what I’ve read more than once in newspapers and it sounds authoritative. I’m not sure what to make of it.

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    • Ah, you’re a water miser. Sounds like you know how to wash the dishes by hand with minimal water – not turning the tap all the way up. I actually like the sound of water-miser, and word miser really. Sounds like you know how to make a good routine.

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  16. Hi Mabel, I grew up with washing dishes the old school way. Putting warm hot water in one side of the sink. Wash and scrubbing then rises with warm water on the other side of the sink and put them in the dish rank to dry. Here at home we never had a dish washer and beside there no room to put one in. When I was in college the apartments I live in all had a dish washer. I did use a few times but like your number 4 reason, found out the dish washer sometime couldn’t clean the dishes that were dirty dirty or the dishes still had soap on them.

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    • Sounds like you know how to wash the dishes and are a big help at home, Michael 🙂 Putting the dishes in warm water before washing is a good way to get some grease and dirt off first, and make any dirt a bit easier to scrub away. Sometimes in college apartments you wonder how good the things work in there as they are apartments that have seen many people come and go.

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  17. Hi Mabel, I really like your first photo. The colours and textures are very precise and pretty. All of your points are really good. Especially the quiet time. I do find I am very much in the moment went I do dishes by hand. It is almost a zen experience for me. Interesting post and great photos!

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    • Thank you for your kind words, Erica. I had such a wonderful time putting these shots together. Glad you like the first one. Ah, you can definitely describe doing the dishes as a zen experience. It can be very calming if you want to do it.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. My friend I completely agree with you! We don’t have a dishwasher and I prefer it so much. I love cleaning with my hands and knowing I don’t have to wait. It’s so satisfying. I also love the images of the garlic! I miss you a lot. Great post! X

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  19. I love how you bring up otherwise mundane topics and write your interesting thoughts about them 🙂 I had never thought about this topic actually. I use dishwasher all the time, because unfortunately dish washing by hand is one chore that my husband absolutely hates, so we just run the dishwasher. I don’t mind washing up that much, but I only do that with pots and pans that can’t go in the dishwasher. In Nepal it’s an alien concept and I think even if people could afford dishwasher they’d just prefer hand washing anyway! I know because when one Nepali friend visited me here, she offered to hand wash all the dishes even when I told her she doesn’t need to as we have the washer. I think it has to also do with the Nepali cultural belief that leaving dirty dishes for too long is not a good/lucky sight. I can’t imagine throwing all that beautiful Chinese dishes into the washer though 😀

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    • Thanks, Pooja. There’s so much interesting things to observe about every day life. Haha, it really does sound like your husband will not wash dishes by hand. So interesting to know in Nepal people tend to wash dishes by hand. So nice of your Nepali friend to help offer wash up after dinner. Sounds like Nepali culture has similarity to Chinese culture – dirty things around the house isn’t a sign of good luck.

      Haha, I wouldn’t dream of putting those beautiful Chinese bowls into the dishwasher. They have been in my household for decades 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Even here in India, dishwashers are not at all common. While refrigerator and washing machines are ubiquitous, dishwashers are a rarity. In India, food preparation process uses lots of oil. Also, the traditional culture never advocated piling of dirty utensils. I guess Asians share something in common!

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    • That is so true, traditional culture never advocated piling of dirty utensils. I am guessing your home is relatively clean, at least the kitchen is free of dirty dishes 😀 It is so common for many Asians to wash dishes by hand.

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  21. Loved reading Mabel and I have never used or owned a Dish washer.. Like you I can not abide a sink full of dirty pots, neither can my hubby. We wash pans as we dish out, and as soon as the meal is over plates and cutlery are washed, dried and put away..
    I dare say if you had a house full of people a dish washer would come in handy, but I was brought up in a family of 7 and to be honest we children took it in our turns to wash and wipe pots.. We we were brought up that way..
    I would do dislike walking into a cluttered kitchen sink first thing in the morning with last nights supper pots crusting over.. 😉
    I have never had a problem with hand-washing and drying pots..
    The energy and time it takes to use one, within five minutes they are all done and dusted.. 🙂

    Loved your garlic photos too Mabel.. we didn’t grow any this year for some reason we forgot.. 🙂

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    • That is lovely to hear you and hubby promptly wash the dishes you finish your meals at home. Very proactive and why put off washing dishes when you can do them now and wash them right.

      Oh yes, why would you want to wake up and see a pile of dirty dishes as you are getting breakfast…and then trying to find a clean cup or plates as you are bleary-eyed trying to make breakfast 😀

      Ah, maybe you will grow garlic next growing season found. Garlic gives flavour to so many dishes. Thanks for stopping by, Sue. Hope the weekend is treating you well and many hugs across the miles as usual ❤

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  22. Mabel you so often get me reflecting on things I never would have thought about this. Like Lexie I wonder if our dishwashers are much larger and thus don’t need to be run very often. I too am playing a bit of devil’s advocate in saying that the water can reach far higher temperatures in a dishwasher than one’s hands would be able to withstand . From a cleaning perspective this appeals to me very much.
    On the other hand I can see the calming effect of washing dishes as we do our pots and pans and anything really heavily soiled. I would be interested to see the stats in our home of energy and water used in a dishwasher cycle versus what would be needed to wash sink fulls over the week. I can not stand dirty dishes in the sink so ours are in the dishwasher.
    You definitely have me thinking on this Mabel.

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    • Great reflections, Sue. Dishwasher sizes is an interesting thing to ponder about. You do wonder if dishwashers are generally bigger over in one side of the globe. You bring up a good point in saying diswashers allow us to wash dishes at a higher temperature – which could mean killing of germs and bacteria more effectively.

      That would be an interesting idea for researching – studying water and energy used in dishwashers compared with washing dishes by hand.

      I would not be able to have dirty dishes sitting in the dishwasher, so you are better on that than me lol.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. I have to disagree a little bit.
    The dishwasher gets the drinking glasses cleaner. You do the smell test on your tumblers, right?
    Every one in a while, wash all the glasses.

    Your wine stems, champagne gobletts, beer mugs, German steins, cognac glasses, sake bowls, mix-drinks glasses, whiskey shot glasses – including the boilermakers, beer bongs, beer shoot funnels, moonshine jars, etc.

    Ha. Like you drink that much. (Get it, pretty funny, huh?).

    Actually, yes. Wash your drinking classes (water) in the machine. Save up a load and wash em.

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  24. Who would have thought a post about dishwashing would be so interesting? Well done, Mabel. The only dishwashers available when I was growing up were the family. We used to take turns. One would wash and one would dry. If there were others over or it was a party, everyone would take a turn of washing and drying. It was a real social time. In my adult life, I didn’t get my first dishwasher until I was in my late forties, and that was only because there was already one in the house we bought. I resisted using it for a long time, but hub and son were both keen to use it as it was their task to do the dishes if I cooked, and I cooked most of the time. They soon started using it and we have continued to use it since. Now there’s just two of us at home so it doesn’t get turned on every day. And as you say, there are some things that aren’t suited to the dishwasher. Some pots won’t fit in, and I won’t put plastic containers and ‘special’ items in. If I’m the only one at home, I always wash by hand. I like the Chinese way of keeping everything clean.

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  25. I’ve never used a dishwasher in my whole life and I don’t think I know how to operate one either, lol. It’s just that I’ve been conditioned to wash my dishes by hand as it saves money. As the years passed, it became a form of stress reliever for me. I continued the habit even in Adelaide, which left my friends with a raised eyebrow because they learnt to use the dishwasher there.

    “Instead it was used as a stacking and drying rack for clean dishes. These days I use the dishwasher to store my empty work lunch containers and banish plates that I never use.” – yup, that’s what I did too.

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    • Haha, yeah, I think many of us in Asia are conditioned to wash dishes by hand. Saves money and also saves time by getting the dishes washed right away. Hope you didn’t end up washing all of your friends’ dishes while you were living in Adelaide.

      The dishwasher is really a great plate for stacking things. Usually comes with a great rack, great partitions to hold things in.

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  26. I use my dishwasher but, truth be told, when I’ve washed dishes by hand, I have found it a calming activity for my mental wellbeing. My reason for using the dishwasher is the dishes get cleaner because the temperature of the water is higher. They get sanitized. I like in the southern U.S. where the humidity can easily breed germs. The dishwasher helps alleviate this. If I lived in a more arid climate, I might choose to wash dishes by hand just because I think it’s good for mental health.

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    • That is great to hear that washing the dishes by hand is calming for you. Also that is a good point, a higher water temperature is better for sanitation. In humid areas it’s really important to leave things dry as you don’t want bacteria to breed in moist areas, even like some leftover water in a cup left out overnight.

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  27. I also wash dishes by hand. My apartment doesn’t have a dishwasher. My kitchen is small. I don’t have a lot of room and I don’t mess up a lot of dishes. As you mentioned, washing dishes gives me time to think. When I’m stuck on a story plot, dish washing gives me the opportunity to reset my mind.

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    • That is great you don’t mess up a lot of dishes. Washing dishes is really a good time to think. It may be a mundane tasks, but it gets you standing and moving around, and maybe that stimulates the mind. I hope Henry helps out with the dishes 🙂

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  28. I only have one reason for not using the dishwasher: I have never seen one in China, haha! I’m sure there are, but I’ve never lived in a place that had it.

    I’m now on holidays in Spain and here everybody has and uses a dishwasher. But, according to my mum, it’s not necessary in China because less pots are used (everything is done in one wok) and also no cutlery, only chopsticks. I don’t miss the dishwasher when I’m in China, indeed.

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    • Never expected dishwashers to be a thing in China haha! In Chinese culture indeed many things are cooked in one wok…like you’ll cook one dish in it and then straight away cook the next dish without washing it 😀

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  29. We use the dishwasher every day. Dirty dishes go straight into it, and it’s turned on after our evening meal. We don’t have any problems with dishes coming out dirty because I give the dishwasher a clean at least once a month. It helps get rid of all the grime and grease.

    I find the dishes do not come up as clean when washed by hand, especially cups and mugs used for tea and coffee.

    I’ll be honest with you and say I’d never be without my dishwasher, Mabel.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sounds like you are very much a dishwasher person and you know how to work your dishwasher right, Hugh. Dishwashers themselves do need a clean and good that you do that. It’s similar to refrigerators, ovens and washing machines. As long as it gets rid of grease and stains, you probably have got the dishwashing detergent and water temperature right.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I forgot to mention that our dishwasher also has an ‘Eco’ setting, so it uses less water and energy, Mabel. The dishes seem to come out just as clean, but that may be because of the make of dishwasher tablet I use. I only ever buy them when they are on offer. 😀
        It also has a setting for a one-hour wash. Excellent for when you can’t fit everything in.

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  30. Great post Mabel. I don’t use the dishwasher too much myself as there are only two of us and I like the dishes cleaned right after eating, lol. But especially on our winter rental vacations in Mexico where electricity is very expensive and we’re charged for it on top of rent. We’ve never ever used it there. Besides – when there are only a few of each plates, mugs and such, I’d need the dishes several times a day. 🙂

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  31. When I lived alone I washed all dishes by hand and later on living with my wife we did also the majority by hand. However now with two kids the dishwasher is a real timesaver and also saving us some money. After we got the dishwasher in our new kitchen water and electrical bills for the kitchen went down by 30%/ 40% for us.
    MIL didn’t use the dishwasher at all in the first years when visiting us and voila the costs jumped up again each summer.
    For a family the dishwasher is very usefull, but when you are single/ two person household it is easier and probably also a bit cheaper to wash by hand

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    • If your bills went down by that much, it must be some really good energy efficient dishwasher you are using.

      With MIL visiting any time she probably makes a mess in the kitchen all the time and you have to clean up, and the last thing you want is more cleaning. So dishwasher it is 😀 I hope MIL knows how to use the dishwasher properly now.

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  32. I must have been Chinese in a previous life. 😉
    We never had, and hopefully never will have a dishwasher. I find it an unnecessary waste of water and energy. And we – practically – never leave the dishes in the sink. Washing should be right after the meal is finished.
    🙂

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  33. I grew up before the invention of dishwashers. My sister and I or my mom and I washed and dried dishes together every night. On holidays or whenever we had guests, the women enjoyed gathering in the kitchen to clean up, put away the leftovers, wash the dishes, and talk and laugh while the men retired to the living room. I remember the washing of dishes as a pleasant ritual.

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    • Sounds like you’ve been washing the dishes for as long as you can remember, Nicki. It did seem like a woman’s chore back then but it’s great to see more men are every part of helping out with the chores at home these days. So lovely to hear you say washing the dishes is a pleasant ritual. It is if you learn to enjoy it 🙂

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  34. I’m with you, Mabel! We’ve had dishwashers over the years, but only used when we had a large family gathering. Our kitchen here is small and with only hubby and me, no need for one at all–even when we have a few guests. 🙂 Have a lovely week enjoying the peace and solitude of washing the dishes by hand… xo

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  35. I have only had a dishwasher once for 6 months in my life and it was wonderful hahaha! Anyway it is funny how different cultures wash dishes differently sometimes.
    Btw I have something important to say, since one week ago we are living in… Perth! If you ever come this way do give a shout and I’d love to see you 🙂 xx

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  36. Great to ‘read you’ again, Mabel – and I side with you 100% on this 🙂 In my place in Seattle, I have a dishwasher and I never use it. There is something calming about doing the dishes myself. First, I think i get them cleaner (although I use a lot of water, which isn’t very environmentally friendly), and mostly because when I do the dishes I have music on (or the TV), it is the perfect time to just relax. Meanwhile, when my family comes up to Seattle and stay in my place they use it all the time…it is their habit.

    Now, for the favorite part of your post…the photographs (great!!!) and the topic (even better!!!). Garlic is one of my favorite foods…a flavor I think is addictive. The way you arranged and lit your still life shots is excellent and puts the garlic on the pedestal it belongs 🙂 I hope the Australian winter has been good to you, and be happy that spring is on its way – take care, and enjoy the weekend.

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    • It always lovely to see you stop by with your philosophical reflections, Randall. I seem to be taking a leaf out of your book these days – not being all that active on here 🙂

      Some people in the comments have suggested a dishwasher lets you wash at a higher temperature, and so the dishes turn out cleaner. However, I do not double your hand washing skills at all. Sounds like you got a pleasant routine going with washing the dishes.

      Thanks for the nice words, so kind of you. Actually, I think the garlic is the best part of the post 😀 It was my first time doing still life photography and wasn’t planning on shooting just garlic until I was gathering the bowls. So excited for warmer weather ahead. Hope you enjoy your favourite season autumn or fall as you call it, and you take care too.

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  37. I must be part Chinese then! 😉 I don’t have a dishwasher and I never had, and I actually don’t plan to get one. 😀 I actually like washing the dishes by hand, it calms me and like you said, it shows that things can be done when you simply put your mind to it. Also it always feels like you’ve accomplished something even if you’re having a lazy day that you spend in bed reading a book. 😉 I’ve also heard that it’s supposed to be more hygienic, especially when your dishwasher gets older or fails to heat properly.
    I also insist on at least one of my double-sinks to be empty at all times because that’s where I get my water for my hot water cooker. And if one side is empty, why not the other as well? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  38. I grew up washing our dishes by hand. After I married we purchased a home with a dishwasher already there. I noticed if you had …say..Forks with egg on them as an example it didn’t remove all the egg. Also other traces here and there .. So I do the same..I use it as a drying rack now..I feel more comfortable knowing my dishes are clean…ALL of them!

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    • So lovely to hear you also wash your dishes by hand. Yeah, dishwashers aren’t always reliable and sometimes they just don’t work with the water or soap you have. Here’s to hoping your dishes continue to be clean all the time and you have a clean dish to use when you need one! 🙂

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  39. An interesting post, Mabel. I’ve had a dishwasher for decades and generally use it once a day. I also can’t stand to see any mess in my kitchen sink, so clean up as I go. I find most of my pots and pans fit in the dishwasher, but I obviously don’t put wooden utensils or ones with handles which heat would spoil. If my pots are going to sit in the dishwasher overnight, I use the nine-minute rinse cycle so it doesn’t smell nasty when I open it up in the morning. I know one shouldn’t, but I can’t help rinsing off everything before placing it in the dishwasher. I guess I’m something of a neat freak. 😀

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  40. Your reasons why you don’t use the dishwasher are similar to ours. We don’t use ours either. I really think it is a waste of electricity and hot water. Plus, I’m not nuts about the chemicals used in dishwashers. Every meal dishes are washed. I in particular enjoy washing dishes as I watch the birds in our feeders outside. Even when we used to use our dishwasher, never did we put pots and pans in. Always those were washed by hand. I find washing dishes relaxing and very satisfying knowing I touched everything used and I cleaned them myself. There is just something about that. Great post again, Mabel.

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    • I am with you on that one, not crazy about the chemicals used in the dishwasher. I also am okay with not washing my dishes at a crazy high temperature. You like watching the birds as you wash your dishes, and I’m sure they like watching you back too 🙂

      ‘I find washing dishes relaxing and very satisfying knowing I touched everything used and I cleaned them myself’ I really like this. And I also think you approach your art with this same mindset and that is what makes it so you and more than stunning ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  41. We use our dishwasher only very rarely, i.e., after a birthday dinner when we have to use a lot more dishes and such than usual. Even then, I find using the dishwasher to be more tedious than outright doing the dishes by hand. First, the dishes need to be rinsed (which I have to do anyway with manual washing). Then, they need to be stacked oh-so-carefully in the washer. Third, I need to wait two hours before the dishes are done and in the meantime, dishwasher noise permeates our house and, I agree with you, it can be quite bothersome. Last, I have to clean the bottoms of pans by hand anyway because the food crud that stick to it would need some serious and tough scrubbing if I want the pan to be shiny and clean. I think, washing by hand does a faster job and saves on electricity, too. Our bill jumps up whenever we use the machine.

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    • So agree with your comment on why you’d rather wash the dishes by hand. If you can hear your dishwasher all throughout your house, it might either be time to service it or it could just be the way it is. Scrubbing can be annoying and you have to be careful not to scrub too hard or else scratch your pots too much. Here’s to more washing the dishes by hand, Imelda. Hope you are having a good week.

      Liked by 1 person

  42. We don’t have one either. Although, at times I wish we had one, especially if we have guests. 🙂 Dishes don’t always pile up because we eat one meal (dinner) together. The days we order in there’s nothing to be washed. We take turns in washing, although I think I wash way more than Basil. 🙂

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    • So right that when you order in or get takeaway there is no washing up. It’s always a nice break from washing up. That is nice you and Basil take turns washing. I am sure you had a long day Basil will happily wash up all the dishes 😀

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  43. It’s simple. I live in an older house and there is no space for a dishwasher, so everything is done by hand. I agree with point 6 about quiet time. It’s kind of a ritual.

    Funnily the first time I used a dishwasher, I almost burnt myself. I didn’t realise everything would be so hot straight after a dishwash.

    Like

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