Thursday, March 06, 2014

California is in a drought.  My dishwasher is on the fritz.  While these two statements appear to have nothing in common on the surface, they certainly clashed in my mind and got me to wondering  . . . .
Would it be better for our state's water situation (and help me to achieve the recommended 20% reduction of water consumption) by continuing to wash dishes by hand?  *hmmm*  Two people, three meals plus a snack or two each day - this usually takes me a day or a little more to fill the dishwasher.  We have ample dishes and utensils to accommodate that.  Still there is always a little something that requires hand washing.  So as long as I'm hand washing, why not just do them all?
But that really didn't answer my question.  So I did what any able-bodied woman of the 21st century would do -  I consulted Google.  It seems that the answer is:  whatever you want it to be.
I found a study conducted in Europe that clearly concludes that hand washing uses gallons and gallons more water per meal than a dishwasher.  That study, however, makes it clear that the participants left water running in the sink the entire time they were washing dishes.  Even while drying and putting away!
I found an article, published by the manufacturer of a major home appliance brand, that showed in no uncertain terms that a dish washing machine is far preferable to the drudgery that is hand washing.  This article was quickly refuted as untrue in a rebuttal because it didn't take into account the cost savings from not buying that appliance in the first place.
The last article I read broke it down into actual cost per load of dishes, including buying the appliance, supplying and heating the water, and the electricity to run the dishwasher for a total cost of $3.80 per hour.  The author concluded that time spent with her family while the dishwasher did the work was far more valuable than that paltry $3.80.
That's when I stopped reading and paused to reflect for just a moment.  I spent time with my mom every day while doing the dishes.  We did so after every meal.  She washed.  I dried.  I could probably count on one hand the number of times I was allowed to wash.  Even into adulthood, I could not be trusted to do a proper cleaning.  So I dried.  And as I dried, I thoroughly inspected every item hoping against hope that I would find a speck of something that would let me send it back to Mom for a re-wash.  Those triumphs were rare, but I revelled each time.
There was a definite hierarchy to the order of things.  Glasses and cups first.  Next silverware went to the bottom of the sink while plates and bowls were cleaned.  Up came the silverware, one piece at a time.  Last but not least pots, pans and bake ware.  As we neared that final round, I was quietly surveying what might take an extra long scrub to remove debris then begin my campaign to soak.  Oh how I hated just standing there while Mom scrubbed and scrubbed with precision and dedication to detail like no other.  Most attempts were futile, but we would both laugh heartily at my perseverance just the same.
I can say with all honesty that washing (or in my case drying) dishes has never been my favorite chore.  I'm sure that for most of my teen years, my part was served up with plenty of eye rolls and heavy sighs.  But now the memories of the time Mom and I spent in the kitchen warm my heart and bring a smile to my face.
I never did find the answer to my original question - will I conserve water with washing by hand or machine?  What I have concluded is that time is our most precious commodity.  Whether we spend it at leisure or in mundane tasks matters not, it's that we spent it together making memories with the ones we love most.

15 comments:

WoolenSails said...

I am pondering the same thing. Mine died so I have been washing by hand and wondering if running the water while I wash is such a good idea, I need to get a dish pan to soak them in. I figured if I washed them that way, then took them out and used the hose to rinse with really hot water, it would be faster and use less water, lol.

I do remember doing the dish line in our house, one would wash, one dried and a few would put away since we had a pantry to walk to. We hated doing it, but we always seemed to have fun and chat about everything, so it couldn't have been all bad;)

Debbie

Paula, the quilter said...

My brother and I did the dishes. Most of the time, he skipped out and left me to do them alone. Yes, he got in trouble eventually, mainly because I stopped drying them. *grin* wonder memories.

Carla A Few Of My Favorite Things said...

Oh this story is very similar to mine, although it was my older sister and I who did dishes. I was the dryer. Lots of good memories!

Shakerwood said...

Such a lovely post.....

quiltsbycheri said...

<3

quiltmom said...

My mom had a dishwasher ( me and my sister) for many years. Even when she had a dishwasher it was more work to hook up the portable dishwasher than it was to do it by hand.
We usually still do the dishes by hand when I am home visiting rather than wait to fill the machine that is now built in-
She and my dad often do the dishes together now- He washes and she dries or I dry. I have to say I much prefer to wash..
I haven't blogged for awhile either- life just a bit busy this last while- perhaps one day soon after report cards..
Warmest regards,
Anna

Dawn said...

Sweet.
My grandmother washed, I dried, with the only type of towel she allowed in the kitchen...flour sack. Same order as you noted. After dishes, the towel hung to dry on rack in the pantry...

The Calico Cat said...

The same positive/negatives were discussed when we decided to use cloth diapers...

I think that anyone can make a case for either scenario.

We use the dishwasher (We have a pair of dish drawers.) to keep family harmony.

Karen said...

I think you could send your post to Good Housekeeping magazine for publication. Delightful read. I would take the dishwasher any day over hand washing. It gives me time for other things that I love to do.

Lori said...

Ah, that is very sweet. I'm sure many have memories of washing or drying while having quality time together.

Candace said...

I applaud you for your research, Libby! Very interesting! I'm with you in the end for sure! We have a fast wash cycle on our dishwasher that doesn't use much water and doesn't dry - no problem for our dry climate. We make sure to rinse what we put in first, then spend lots of quality time in the evenings together!
Cheers!

Dixie said...

Both of my grandmothers had automatic dishwashers that were never used. I have fond memories of drying dishes with them, and the fun chats we had while working on this chore.

Kathleen at Rose Prairie said...

Libby I remember something of the same but in my family we did take turns washing. We had the same order of what to wash when. Funny to read you did to. And I also look back on that with fond memories but you would thought at the time you had sent me to my death.

Blessedmom's Simple Home said...

My dishwasher has been giving us trouble for months. It has a mind of it's own, sometimes doing the drying cycle and sometimes blinking and telling us it will not cooperate this time. My appliance repairman has said that it isn't worth fixing, so I've decided that as long as it agrees to wash for me, I'll be happy to dry. We went 7 weeks without one back when there were 8 people living here, and I'm not ready to go back to that yet :) I hope all is well. it sure has been a mild winter here in Cali, hasn't it?
Blessings,
Marcia

McIrish Annie said...

My dad would necer buy a dishwasher.. Whenever we3 firls aked, he would alwyas say "why buy one when i have three perfectly food one sliving here."

Ir used to get us so mad but i do have find memories of ding the dishes with my sisters.
I lved your post!