The following post is from Joshua of Becoming Minimalist:
In November of last year, I made a bold decision.
I stopped using my dishwasher.
It may not sound like a bold decision to you (especially if you live without one), but to my family of four, it felt bold at the time.
You see, I always used a dishwasher. In fact, nearly every day of my life I have used a dishwasher. My parents used one. My grandparents used one. It’s been in every home I have lived in…. and when it wasn’t available (broken or kitchen remodelings), it was a source of great stress. Dishwashers get loaded, started, and emptied. End of story. Or so I thought.
The decision to start washing my dishes by hand was begun as just an experiment based on this zen story of washing your bowl that I decided to apply literally. It was a practice in mindfulness that was intended to last 1 month… that was 8 months ago.
The experiment became my life.
Today, we wash all of our dishes in the sink immediately following every meal.
Since transitioning to handwashing our dishes, we have seen a number of benefits to the practice:
1. Less Physical Clutter.
How often were dirty plates, bowls, and glassware left on my kitchen counter following a meal just waiting to be loaded in the dishwasher? Far more often than I would like to admit, that’s for sure. Each time, physical clutter was left on my kitchen counter, table, and sink.
2. Less Mental Clutter.
An unfinished project clutters the mind… always. Even when we were not in the kitchen, the pending responsibility of needing to clean the dishes was always hanging over our evening events. And we were specifically reminded every time we walked into (or even past) our kitchen.
3. Less Bacteria in Your Kitchen.
Dried food (on plates and surfaces) becomes a safe haven for bacteria. Eliminate them from your kitchen by not allowing them to gather in the first place.
4. Seamlessly Transition Between Activities.
Once the mind clutter of dirty dishes has been removed, we are freed to move from activity to activity, event to event, and room to room. We are allowed to be fully engaged in the present… however we choose to spend our evenings. There is no need to return to the past and finish the duties of our meal.
5. Dishes are Always Clean.
Ever need that one mixing bowl, pot, or cooking utensil, only to find out that it’s still dirty sitting in the dishwasher? Yeah, me too. Washing dishes after every meal means the dishes and cooking utensils are always clean and in their drawer.
6. Dishes get Cleaner.
Perhaps, the age of my built-in dishwasher has something to do with it, but I always hated pulling a bowl or plate out of the dishwasher that wasn’t all the way clean. And now I never do. Dishes are cleaned fully, everytime.
7. Wake up to a Clean Kitchen.
I hate walking into a dirty kitchen first thing in the morning. In the mornings when time is a premium, a dirty kitchen starts my day on the wrong foot… and in the wrong frame of mind as my first thought is almost always to blame my wife for not cleaning the kitchen the night prior. This inconvenience of dirty dishes and counters in the morning has almost been completely removed from our household.
8. It Takes Less Time.
It came as a surprise, but I truly believe that washing our dishes after every meal has taken less time than loading/running/unloading the dishwasher. After most meals, it takes only 2-3 minutes to handwash each item. Cups are a snap. And most plates are a breeze to clean immediately following a meal.
9. Example for My Kids.
My kids (9 & 5 years old) see parents who finish what they start, aren’t afraid to put in a little effort, and leave a room cleaner than they found it. And those are life disciplines that I hope they embrace every day of their lives as they get older.
10. It Brings Personal Satisfaction.
There is a level of satisfaction in life that accompanies working with our hands and accomplishing a task without the need for mechanical intervention. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against machines. In many ways, they allow us to accomplish and create more than we could without them. I’m just saying there is a simple satisfaction in reminding ourselves that we can still live joyfully without them.
To accomplish the task of washing dishes immediately after every meal, I use three items: a dish wand, a sink rack, and a towel. I wash, dry, and put away. The counters are wiped down when it is appropriate to do so. And with every practice in life, I own it – not the other way around. When we entertain or have a large meal that uses a number of cooking pots and pans, we still use the dishwasher.
It’s been a practical step of living intentionally. It’s been a process of choosing to question my life assumptions and live mindfully in all facets. In that way, maybe it’s more than I just never gave it an opportunity… maybe it’s more honest to say that I never chose to live intentionally and mindfully.
And maybe the 30-day experiment would work in your home as well…
Do you think you could go without your dishwasher for 30 days?
|Joshua Becker inspires and encourages others to live with less on his blog, Becoming Minimalist. He has also authored two e-books, Simplify and Inside-Out Simplicity. But more importantly, he loves his wife and two small children.|