03 December 2007

A little planning cuts dishwashing chores

Kris's hack inspired me to put a bit of thought into my own dish-and-silverware habits. It's amazing how much work one can avoid with a little planning.

If you're like me you hate doing dishes. I usually find myself 10:00 at night half asleep and grumpy loading and unloading the dishwasher wondering how on earth we were able to cover every inch of counter space with dirty dishes. So, I've been working on how to reduce the dirty dishes in my house in an environmentally-friendly way (which means no paper or plastic dishware). I came up with the idea of only using one set of silverware per day for preparing food. I put a glass cup by the sink and each time I use the fork/knife/spoon I rinse it off and put it back in the jar ready to use the next time. My rule is no getting extra silverware out of the drawer until the next day. I also use this rule for plates/cups and bowls. I just rinse them off after each use and let them dry on the dish rack. I do one load of dishes in the dishwasher every other night instead of every night.

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Eeeeeewwww.... This sounds like a good way to get sick. I'm just coming off of a week of the flu (myself, my two kids, and my mother in law), so I'm unwilling to do anything to compromise cleanliness. Besides, how is a bunch of glasses full of used silverware (one for each member of the family, presumably) any cleaner than a counter of dirty dishes?

Get yourself one of these:
http://www.surlatable.com/gs/oxo-soap-squirting-dish-sponge-and-refills-2.shtml
and actually clean your dishes. Then set them out to dry and reuse them at the next meal, if you must, but don't just rinse them off and let them fester. Ack.

I agree...it sounds a bit less than sanitary. Getting sick is not worth the load of dishes you save, in my opinion.

Its an interesting idea, and I've been meaning to institute something similar for cups in my house (my kids can easily dirty 4-5 cups a piece in a day). But I don't see how this is less work, with having to basically wash all your dishes by hand over and over (and do you ever wash the dishrack that holds your *almost* clean dishes?)

I'm not a germphobe, really!

The flylady.net plan of emptying the dishwasher every morning, and then filling it as the day goes by seems like less work, prevents putting the dishes off till 10pm, and gives you a neater looking kitchen. One day I will start doing that.

My kids pick a plastic cup at breakfast, use it for juice and keep using it all day for water. If neighborhood kids come over I pick different colored cups for them and make each kid remember which they've used.

A breakfast plate with only a bagel on it can be re-used for a sandwich at lunch. The bowl of pretzels from snack can hold strawberries at desert. Re-using dishes doesn't have to mean giving up sanitation.

The flylady plan for dishes is the only part I've been able to stick with reliably - becuase it helps so much!!

This does not seem sanitary. Especially if you have small kids. We may do a quick rinse with the soap-filled brush for plates that we used for sandwiches/wraps. We rinse out cups that we used for water and sit them by the refrigerator or sink and reuse. However, anything silverware used goes straight into the dishwasher. Any cups used for anything besides water goes into the dishwasher. Kids put their stuff int he sink and the next adult that walks by and sees more than 3 dishes, loads them up. We also make sure that we have the dishwasher organized with plates together, bowls together, forks in one silverware compartment and spoons in another. If there are too many bowls in there and just a few plates, we still know that the dishwasher needs to be run. Organizing helps with unloading quickly as well where my 3 year old puts his cups and bowls away and can help put away silverware.

It is especially not healthy to just rinse out plastic dishes after eating.

I don't know about leaving them on the counter, and I can't imagine silverware uses that much dishwasher space. However, I DO do something similar with cups as I KNOW they can take up a lot of space. DS was going through 6 sippy cups a day, and DH and I were each using 4 or five glasses. When you set one down and forget where it was, then find it later and don't remember how long it's been out... you know what I'm getting at. We were doing dishwashing loads just for the glasses! Now we each use one glass a day. After you drink your water/juice/milk, rinse it out and put it in the fridge. When you want another drink in an hour, go back to the fridge (where you would have to go anyway to refill) get out your cup, refill, drink, rinse, and return to the fridge. It's made a big dent in our dishes.

I am all for re-using a water glass throughout the day. I do that too and it makes sense to me. However, if the motivation for rinsing and re-using the same dishes is to save water, you're likely not achieving that goal. Most dishwashers purchased within the last several years are rather water efficient and will use less water to do a load (and actually get those dishes clean) than you will use rinsing them multiple times. As Jill points out, if you have eaten pretzels or other dry foods and can "clean" the dish with a quick swipe of the dish towel, go for it. But if rinsing is required -- put it in the dishwasher. You'll be doing the environment and your immune/digestive systems a favor.

I do the rinse-cups-and-place-them-in-the-refrigerator thing too, and it saves a lot of dishwashing as well as time looking for lost cups. For other dishes I just try to keep up with loading them into the dishwasher as we use them, instead of waiting until they pile up.

Has no one given thought to the fact that not everyone has a dishwasher, oh poor me I have to take 10 minutes and load the dishwasher, I am so tired.
Really come on.

Anyway, a nice easy solution is to simply wash the dish real fast, just an FYI, hot water and a small amount of dish soap washes the dishes much faster than loading the dishwasher ever could.

Even a family of 5 should have no more than 30 items to wash, 15 of those being silverware. And thats if the kids use a knife.

Our thanksgiving dishes took all of 15 minutes to wash up and that was after leaving them till the next day.

And for everyone lamenting about the germs, take a serious look at your keyboard one day, a rinsed off dish poses a much lower risk of germs than a keyboard that you have never washed.

Just think of how many times you used it while you were sick and all you wanted to do was sit in front of the PC and play.

Well, she did mention that she does this with utensils used to prepare food, not those that are used to eat. In that case, I don't think this is so unsanitary. I like to use the same spoon to stir my coffee all day, if possible, and also, if I cut up an apple in the morning, I might use the same knife to cut vegetables later for dinner.

Our boys have always used one sippy a day unless for some reason someone was sick and cups got mixed up. I just do juice once a day and water over the rest. We rinse them out between uses. That was just for me so I wasn't constantly pilling up cups.

The other thing we did was go down to one set of dishes. As a new couple we received a set of dishes, which we just added to our already combined dish ware. Wrong idea. Hubb is awful at remembering to do the dishes when asked, so they would pile up the next day until I got the chance to get to them. As he saw it, more in the cabinet, no need to get those done.

Out with the old dishes and down to just one set means we have to do the dishes or there won't be enough for the next day. Works out great. As for parties it means I actually use the china set instead of it sitting in the display cabinet gathering dust.

Our boys have always used one sippy a day unless for some reason someone was sick and cups got mixed up. I just do juice once a day and water over the rest. We rinse them out between uses. That was just for me so I wasn't constantly pilling up cups.

The other thing we did was go down to one set of dishes. As a new couple we received a set of dishes, which we just added to our already combined dish ware. Wrong idea. Hubb is awful at remembering to do the dishes when asked, so they would pile up the next day until I got the chance to get to them. As he saw it, more in the cabinet, no need to get those done.

Out with the old dishes and down to just one set means we have to do the dishes or there won't be enough for the next day. Works out great. As for parties it means I actually use the china set instead of it sitting in the display cabinet gathering dust.

I also reduced the number of available dishes a while back. At the time, there were two of us, so six of everything meant we had 3 meals worth of dishes. For a larger family, 1 meals worth would fill this dishwasher, but better that than a set in the machine and another set on the counter dirty! Which is what always happened with us, every single last item in the cabinet dirty, including keepsake tourist cups and such. Those all went to goodwill when I cut down the available dishes.

I also got firmly into the habit of washing overnight, and requiring people to pull clean dishes from the dishwasher, rather than from the cabinets. That way, the machine was part emptied already, and I had fewer to put away!

(I'll agree with the person complaining about dishewasher owners complaining of the 'work'! When we finally aquired one on moving, it took the girls and I approximately one day to adjust to the new workload and whine about it! due to further moves, I'm back to handwashing. But at least there are only 2 of us now!)

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