Washing up - UPDATED

2 April 2009

I keep coming back to it, even though I don't have to, it's one of the daily tasks in my home that slows me down and focuses my mind on what I am trying to achieve. Washing up. It must be something all our ancestors did and I am pleased that even though my washing up is in a stainless steel sink, it is still symbolic of going back to basics.

I've read a lot of the research that says a modern dishwasher uses less water and energy than hand washing, but I don't believe it. I think that a conscientious and mindful person will beat a dishwasher every time. Nevertheless, this is not a post to convince you of one thing or another, it's just a report of what I'm doing.

There is a dishwasher here that is used when we're busy or when visitors are here, but washing up by hand, especially in the colder months when I use it to warm my cold hands, always draws me back. I add a small amount of hot water to the kitchen sink, tip in some homemade soap and dive in. It's a job best done when the radio is playing softly so I am aware of what I'm doing.

“Make the moment vital and worth living. Do not let it slip away unnoticed and unused.” Martha Graham

I don't want to use detergent, it's full of nasties, I don't want to use one of those lovely new natural products that don't contain nasties but do cost too much; I use home made soap. It doesn't lather up much, it doesn't need to, a good clean doesn't rely on lather. The lather you get from detergent comes from chemicals included to make those bubbles. Basically, soap is produced from natural products, and detergents are synthetic - the result of chemical reactions.

So I use my homemade soap to wash the dishes here. It's mild, contains no additives, just oils and lye, and as the glycerine is still in the soap, it doesn't dry my skin. I usually have a bottle of "liquid soap" made up which is using bits and pieces of leftover soap dissolved in water but I find this needs too much glycerine to keep it liquid and it's not worth it. So I'm happy using a bar of soap rubbed onto my dishcloth but I will make real liquid soap when I find a supplier of potassium hydroxide fairly close to where I live. If you know of anyone who sells it in Queensland, please let me know.

My tools of choice are a homemade dishcloth, preferably a thin one, a brush and the dish drainer. I think dish drainers are symbolic of my life now; just as my aprons, the chooks and the garden are. I wash glasses and cups first, then cutlery, then dishes and bowls, followed by pots and pans. It's a very simple process, most of the time it's enjoyable and it slows me down enough every day to remind me that a simple life is not a destination, it's a journey.

This addition is made after reading an email from my sister, I think you'll enjoy reading it. It adds to the washing up information and it tells you a little bit more about where Tricia and I came from. She said it was okay to add her email here.
: - )

rhonda, i really enjoyed todays post. do you remember washing up at grandma's? i have vivid memories of it and they all came flooding back after reading the blog. the kitchen sink was made of stone and the drip tray at the side was small stones put together with i don't know what - but it had a beautiful surface of small flat level stones - rather like what they put in succulent pots today. she also washed in the same sequence that you mentioned and i was always told to make sure that everything was dried properly and to dry the cutlery well so that it shined!

but what really started me off was the soap - sunlight in those days - and it was inside a wire cage sort of contraption with a handle and then was swirled around in the hot water. i wonder if you can still get them?

then the kitchen table is another memory of always helping to polish the table top with kiwi oxblood boot polish. i thought it was great when i was allowed to polish it with the electric polisher (which she gave me when i moved into cambridge park and it lasted many years!) that was a great kitchen - the old kookaburra stove and the little cupboard beside the stove.

the fridge however, was another matter - it always had a particular odour that thankfully i haven't encountered since. there was also a great oak sideboard - do you remember? i wonder what happened to all that stuff! love tricia

Crocheted dishcloths and scrubby patterns here. Knitted dishcloth patterns here. Knitting or crocheting dishcloths is a wonderful and practical way to develop your skills in those areas while producing something of value. They are good beginners projects because they're relatively fast, portable and easy.

I will be able to get back to my square knitting this weekend and I'm looking forward to it very much. Are you knitting along? I will make a flickr page this weekend for the photos - I've started that. I'm already a member of Ravelry so I'll go there on the weekend and see what I have to do to organise a knitalong.

Our latest swap, organised by Sharon and Rose is coming into its final weeks. You will need to have your parcels in the post by Saturday, April 25, 2009. If you're having problems with anything concerning the swap, please contact either Sharon, if you're in her group, on - cdetroyes at yahoo dot com, or Rose, if you're in her group, on rosmar at 1earth dot net. It's usually at the end of swaps that we have problems, so please help Sharon and Rose and let them know now if you're having any problems getting your swap done. I have no doubt the ladies will have a swap update soon so they can organise the final few weeks. I'm really looking forward to seeing what everyone has been working on.

"It may be when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work.
And that when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey."
Wendell Berry

Thank you all for your visits this week, for leaving a comment, and for being part of this blog. I hope you have a lovely weekend full of what you enjoy.