Life after the dishwasher

I've had a dishwasher most of my adult life. One of the first household tasks I taught my sons was to unpack the dishwasher - a job they both hated. About a year ago, I looked at my latest machine and asked myself why I had it. I couldn't come up with a good answer, so we gave it away. That was a great decision.

Now I wash up twice a day. Breakfast, morning tea, bread making and lunch items are washed after lunch, then I wash up again after dinner, although often it's just two plates and glasses because I try to wash as I go when preparing the meal. I'm still not happy with my soap/detergent and am still testing various products. So far I've gone from my homemade soap, to my liquid soap, to phosphate-free detergent, to an eco detergent. I think I may settle on my homemade liquid - it cuts through tea stains in a cup like nothing else, but it's the consistency of water and I waste too much of it. I'd rather use soap than detergent, mainly because most detergents are petro-chemical based, many contain sodium lauryl sulfate and are often packed with questionable ingredients. The eco detergents I've used are too expensive. Look here for the ingredients in Palmolive dish detergent. I could go on about the hidden ingredients in detergents for hours but I'm sure you get the picture. I'll continue my search but I'm pretty sure I'll end up back with the homemade liquid soap.

I know many of you will cite the studies done on hand washing versus machine washing, but I discount those because the major studies were sponsored or carried out by dishwasher detergent or dishwasher companies, so I believe they're biased. Certainly the most frequently cited study done in Germany reported that handwashing uses more water than dishwashers - mainly because in their study the people washing by hand left the hot water tap running. I don't know of anyone who does that. Anyhow, I'm not trying to convince you to do as I do, I'm just recording what I do and hope to get a discussion going about dish washing soaps and detergents. I wonder what you use.

My home made liquid soap.

We have solar hot water here so apart from the pump that delivers the water to the sink, there is no electricity or gas involved in our hot water. Nevertheless, I fill one sink with hot water for washing, and one with warm water for rinsing and I'm sure the way I wash up would use less water than a dishwasher. My main concern with dishwashers is the extremely caustic detergents used in them. I shudder when I think what happens when it all goes into our waterways and I don't want to be a part of it.

Besides, plunging my hands into warm water is theraputic and soothing. I enjoy life after the dishwasher, I use the space it used to stand in to house my ever increasing supply of recycled jars and bottles. They stand in there with a couple of extra dish drainers for when we have visitors. Are you washing by hand? If so, tell me what you use - are you in the soap or detergent camp?

Interesting info about soap and detergents


  1. I hand wash with a supermarket detergent. I moved into a house several years ago, but it had no space for my dishwasher which I gave away, and there is not enough washing-up to justify making space for a dishwasher. As long as the tea towels are clean every day, I'm happy to "wash and go"

  2. uhmmm I do that (leave the hot water tap on). I can't do the sink full of rinse water because that rinse water becomes soapy and I am just not happy with the level of clean that way. I do compromise. I wash the dishes and put them in the sink and then when the sink is full I rinse them and stack them, so I am not just running the faucet while I am scrubbing dishes.

  3. I buy the expensive eco options but if I had the time I would try making my own. I have three kids and work full-time maybe when the babies are a little more independant I can try it out.

  4. Well.. I use the dishwasher, but want to use my hands. As you are mentioning in your post: here they say that the machine uses a lot less water than washing by hands. That's the only reasons why we (my husband) still are using the washer.
    I like to get rit of it. I think it is also better for your marriage. Just the two of you wasking and drying the dishes, talking about the day, the kids, the finances..

    Yes.. we use the washer, but oohh.. how I lóve to give it away ;o)

    Greets from Holland

    By the way: love the way you think/write about all the chemicals we are using each day with using the dishwasher!

  5. I use my grated soap and washing soda to wash my dishes, it takes minute to dissolve but it gets rid of all the grease and dirt.

  6. I use a dishwasher but I'm trying to wash more of my large items by hand because they take up so much room in the dishwasher.

    I've been using castile soap at the kitchen sink lately. It's really watery and I wasted a lot at first but then I put it in an empty foaming pump. I diluted it with quite a bit of water first, about 10 to 1.

    I wish there were more unbiased studies on this and on similar subjects. But I guess no one makes money from people doing their dishes by hand!

  7. I remember when my great-grandmother got her first dishwasher. She didn't trust it to do a good job so she washed all the dirty dishes in soapy water before running the machine!

    I generally wash by hand as I go. The best eco-friendly dishwasher product I've found (in the U.S.) is called Bio-Kleen, but it's expensive. Plus, plain old soap and water cleans better!
    Hearth Cricket

  8. Morning Rhonda

    I don't have a dishwasher, and as I'm currently renovating and redoing my kitchen, the discussions with the cabinet makers has been interesting, as they try to convince me I need a space for the dishwasher, little drawers just for spices...$400 worth!...roll out plastic bins for my rubbish and compost...that I'd have to line with plastic bags because they don't come off to be washed. I'm quite happy with my old enamel buckets and bowls for compost and rubbish, thankyou.

    Anyway, dishwashing...I use one of the 'eco brands' is expensive, but a bottle lasts months, so it's only the initial outlay, but once the kitchen's finished, and I have benchspace again, I'm going to have a go at making my own.

    I wash up in a small bowl, so no hardship when my old sink was pulled out, and while waiting for the new one, and I put the water on the ornamentals. I wash up twice a day, after breakfast, and in the evening. I enjoy standing at the sink, hands in hot water, I can see up the yard now and watch the chooks and birds, a family of wild ducks waddled past my back gate the other day, I see the colours and light over the mountain, and weather coming much I'd miss if I put the dishes in a dishwasher and walked away.

  9. I wash by hand using a two tub system. I wash up after each meal and use just a smidge more than a gallon a meal, but that also cleans the tables, counters, chairs, and even the floor.

    My favorite thing to use is Dr. Bronner's liquid soap. I love it. I do keep a bottle of eco-detergent around for those really greasy, sticky messes. But since we're vegans, there isn't too much of that around anymore.

  10. We recently made this switch at our house. Our dishwasher didn't work very well, at least in part because we are on well water, and it is very hard. The detergent couldn't really do its job, and it left terrible mineral-scale on the glass. We finally just said to heck with it.

    When we started using Dr. Bronner's soap, it seemed not to work very well. Without foaming agents, it REALLY couldn't lather worth a darn in our water, and it seemed like we had to use a ton of it. The solution that worked for us was to mix up a solution of it in a spray bottle at about 1:10 ratio, then spritz the dishes with the solution and scrub them before rinsing them off. This REALLY cut down on our water use, since we don't have to draw a whole sink of hot water; just spritz, scrub, and rinse, for most dishes. Total water usage for washing is less than a few ounces, and I'm positive we're coming out ahead of the dishwasher, since what we'll do is put the scrubbed dishes in the (clean) sink, then rinse them all at once, so the rinse water from one dish falls on the others. They more or less get rinsed all at once.

    The time spent washing and drying is great family time too. A little activity to do together.

  11. hello rhonda ,down here in tasmania i use earth detergent for washing up...
    no animal testing
    Low chemical formula
    Australian owned and made
    grey water safe
    thats what i use for the dishes at 1.99 a bottle and a little goes a long way , but i make home made laundry detergent thanks to your fantastic blog we are doing so much from scratch this last year has been awesome for saving cash,i was frugal in ways before but not like i am now thankyou rhonda your blog has changed our lifes for the better in more ways than one :-)

  12. I didn't have a dishwasher until I did a major kitchen remodel after my 5 kids left home: couldn't afford it when I needed it! The *mother board* just went down and I'm not going to have it replaced...I'm washing by hand (it broke 3 days after the warranty expired!)...washing dishes is my meditation time! and I use homemade soap.

  13. I would gladly part with my dishwasher since I usually wash things before I put them in there anyway. My dishwasher simply doesn't cut it and I can't stand to take things out that should be clean and find debris still on them.

    I'm looking forward to reading about the alternatives to stand dishwashing soap.

  14. I have just started washing up by hand again as I have been at home more. I think things end up cleaner, i havent tried making detergent yet but thought i might try and get one of those old fashioned soap sver things and try that with homemade soap.

  15. We put our dish detergent in a pour-spout glass bottle 1/2 and 1/2 with water, which has cut way back on rinsing. Perhaps that would keep your liquid soap supply longer?

  16. We have recently moved into a house without a dishwasher. I prefer washing by hand. The dishes are cleaner, its a lot less chemicals going down the drain and I get to chat with whomever is helping with the drying up.

  17. I do a bit of both - my dishwasher is a small "apartment" size unit, even though I have a huge kitchen. However, I hand wash the larger items and more delicate items. I use commercial products because I don't have time right now to make any soaps, but I am collecting recipes and suggestions for the day when I will be able to make my own! I might add that my Grandpa owned a bar here for years and they also served food - sandwiches and "blue plate specials" all day. He had a washing system that I would love to try, but I don't have three sinks or the nifty brush stand - maybe one day I will find them! Karin

  18. There was a dishwasher in our home when we first moved in over 9 yrs ago...and I truly wasn't fond of it..and had my husband take it out.

    One dish soap that I use and really like is the Mrs. Meyer's. It is earth friendly and smells absolutely delightful! :)

    I think making your own dish soap sounds wonderful, though! I should try that, as I have made my own laundry soap. :)

  19. I have just begun to wash ALL my dishes by hand, after 40 years of having a dishwasher. I agree that those "studies" they have published have results that are skewed. There's no way I use that much water. Especially considering that I have to wash pots and pans that don't fit in the dishwasher. And then I have to rewash things FROM the dishwasher that didn't get clean. I use supermarket dish detergent but I'm not happy with it. It turns to nothing before I'm finished. Loved Mrs. Mordecai's idea of using a foamer.
    This castile soap that you use, is it of your own making? Would you share the recipe?

  20. I don't have a dishwasher. We wash everything by hand. I use Seventh Generation soap. But with a baby on the way, I'm wishing we had at least a counter top dishwasher! No room for one in our house. I'm not sure I'd get one if there was, but sometimes wish there was one!

  21. I have washed by hand for many years. I generally use Ivory dish detergent because anything else dried my skin really bad. I was thinking about using some of my homemade laundry detergent that I make with Fels Naptha...I am thinking it might be too strong on my hands. I DO NOT like to wear those awful rubber gloves :) I generally put the dirty dishes in the sink with the hottest water and let them soak a while before washing. I pile the washed in the other side of my 2 tub sink and then rinse all at once. I am sure that I could use less water, I will have to work on that. I have arthritis in my hands so putting them in the warm water feels good but it also makes it hard for me to do any hard scrubbing, that's why I let them soak first.

  22. I have been using a dishwasher whilst living at my aunt's house - whilst building my own house elsewhere, but wash by hand on site when building our new home - which will not have a dishwasher.

    My aunt and some friends think I'm mad not to have a dishwasher in the new house, but I don't like the commercial detergents .. and the fact that most people rinse the dishes before putting them in the machine. It seems so wasteful.

    We'll have a double sink, so I can wash in one half and rinse in the other.

    We'll have a reedbed sewerage system in our new home and I don't want to pollute it with chemicals.

    I use Ecover washing up liquid at present for handwashing dishes etc but I really want to make my own detergents / soap in the future (just like I want to make all my own soap, shampoo, toiletries etc).

    Has anyone tried soapwort yet? It's a plant and I remember hearing that the Bayeaux Tapestry was washed using soapwort root as it was the only thing that wouldn't destroy it but would clean it.

    Anyway, I'll try growing soapwort next year and let you know how I get on ;-)

    I too would LOVE to find some good recipes for dishwashing soaps.

    My only concern with not having a dishwasher is of those times when I'm rushing to an event or we have a lot of people around .. but it's so worth it not to be using harsh chemicals and more electricity that I'm sure I'll adapt ok.

    I do enjoy washing dishes by hand .. I prefer to just let them drain and dry naturally than be always drying with tea towels though.

  23. I use ecover washing-up-liquid and since i moved into my present house 4 years ago i decided not to bother with a dishwasher. The dishwasher in my old house never washed the dishes very well and would have to be put on twice needless to say my electricity bill was crazy. I wash the glasses and cups first under running hot water that then fills up my washing up bowl for the plates and then cooking pots.

  24. I don't have a dishwasher I have never found they did a great job and on occassion had to be put on twice to get a good wash, not good for the electricity bill! I use ecover washing-up-liquid and clean the glasses and cups first under hot running water which then fills the bowl for the plates and then for the cooking pots.

  25. I wash by hand and yes I too am dubious about the claims that the dishwasher uses less water. We have buckets in the shower where we salvage the first 'cold' water that comes out whilst the water is heating up and I then transfer that water to a basin in the kitchen sink for rinsing. So I tend to wash in hot water and rinse in cold. I still use store bought detergent though. I haven't gone into making our own soap yet - I'm wondering how to use cold pressed soap for washing up? I've only ever washed with liquid detergent. I remember reading once how in the olden days they used to have come contraption that housed the soap and you swirl it around in the water initially to 'soap' it up?

  26. I wash with eco-detergent b/c it's all I can get. I put it in a hand soap pump and squirt it into the water as I fill the sink to regulate how much I use--maybe that would help you, Rhonda.

    As to rinsing, I keep the faucet on the side of the sink I am washing on. When I begin with glasses etc I only have a couple inches of water in the sink. I wash each dish in soapy water then rinse each dish and turn the tap off in between, catching the water in the sink as I go, so by the end I've got lots for the pots etc. Because I do it this way I know I don't use more than 4 gallons washing dishes, since that's all my sink holds. My dishwasher says it uses 5-10. Plus it takes an hour.

  27. I love love LOVE my dishwasher- but I have a top of the line dishwasher with an awesome energy rating and I don't use commercial cleaners in it- just bicarb and vinegar- with the manufacturer's blessing!

  28. First off, I think if you build a home there should be a place for a dishwasher .. if for no other reason than for resale. Not building a space for one could be a deal breaker. That said, I would rip mine out in a heartbeat. It's only three years old and already the pump is starting to go bad ..and the heating element to sanitize is broken. It takes up space that could be utilized for storing my cast iron skillets. We have been washing dishes by hand for the past few months to see if it's possible to 'survive' without the use of the dishwasher ... yes, it's possible :) and we have a lot of dishes. I'm still looking for a green dish soap that is reasonably priced. I was using a so-called eco-friendly brand .. but stopped using it because they don't tell you all the ingredients it contains ... just what it doesn't contain. Will probably settle for Dr. Bronner's (castile)soap watered down with a pump bottle.

  29. We have no dishwasher and 6 children, it is feasible. However, there are always dishes stacked up to do. Today it was my post dishwashing cuppa. Opps.

    One solution for the overuse of the runny homemade soap, put it into a pump that they sell for hand soap. So many pumps per sinkful. I've done that with our commercial dishsoap to cut back on the use and its done well. It is also more attractive sitting on the counter than the jug from the store :-)

  30. I am handwashing with an eco friendly (like 7th generation brand, but cheaper) detergent. I had used a dishwasher up until a month ago. I thought I needed it because I have 3 children of my own (11, 8, 6) and I babysit three 2 year olds and an infant. But our dishwasher broke and we don't have the money to fix it or get a new one, so I'm just handwashing. But you know what? I love it!!! It is so relaxing and it gives me time to think. And most of the time, all the dishes are clean as opposed to sitting in the sink waiting to be loaded, etc. Right now, I'm using the dishwasher as a dish drainer so that I didn't have to go out and buy one. It works pretty well for that! LOL

  31. I've never had a dishwasher ~ our kitchen is way too small to fit one in! Even if it were bigger, though, I still wouldn't have one as I really don't mind washing-up. I find it very satisfying to have a pile of pots, pans and crockery on the worktop and gradually work my way through it ~ strange as that may seem LOL I use washing-up time the same as I do ironing: it's a time for me to let my mind wander and think about lots of things that perhaps I don't get time for when I'm busy doing other jobs around my home :-)

  32. We do a mix of dishwasher and hand washing. There's the stuff that doesn't fit in the dishwasher, and then there are dishes that will be needed in the next day or two that have to be washed by hand since the dishwasher only fills up weekly (only two of us right now). I do figure that the dishwasher saves water because I really dislike the hand washing method with a full sink of soapy water. I feel it makes my dishes dirtier than if I run the faucet as needed (not letting it run continuously, though).

    The eco-friendly thing that I do when washing is I use cold water 99% of the time. On the rare occasion that we cooked a fatty meat and did not drain/rinse the hot pan before the fat congealed I have to use warm water. Other than that I refuse to use anything but cold water. That does make hand washing a really uncomfortable chore in the middle of winter, though.

  33. Hand washing here! I use a natural soap you could eat and be fine. :) I cook a lot so I have a lot to wash, but I really don't miss the machine too much.

  34. I do use my dishwasher, but researched and bought as energy efficient and top of the line as I could afford. No dry cycle uses it's own heat/steam from water to dry. Never used the dry cycle in other dish washer before either. I am at the moment still using regular detergent but wish to try Nellie's just haven't found it locally, yet (saw it once). I don't put my good knives or pots and pans in there though. Since I feed raw to my pets, I want the dished sanitized more than with hand washing.

  35. We hand wash, mostly because we've never had a house with a dishwasher. 90% of the time we use the 'earth's choice' liquid because I feel better about using it, and it is quite cheap compared to other brands. I try and only do two main loads a day, and I'm trying to get my partner to do the same - he has a habit of washing after breakfast which bugs me, as there is only 3 plates, cups etc which can easily be done after lunch when it's worth doing the load!

  36. I have never had a dishwasher. I could afford to buy one, but I have a small kitchen and don't want to give up the cupboard space to install it. It would be nice to hide the dishes, but I don't really need one. When the kids were at home they took turns, now that theys have moved out and married I wash, my husband dries and we talk. My hands stained from canning fruits and vegetables come clean. There are lots of advantages. I wouldn't wash some of my pans, knives or my cutting boards in a dishwasher anyway.


  37. We have and use a dishwasher - its in the laundry so mum and dad (who live out front) can use it too. We don't use it too often, mostly on sunday evenings when the whole family get together for dinner(11 of us.)
    When I wash up I use Earth Choice as its cheap ($2) and grey water safe etc. They have a really liquidy one and a concentrate thats a bit thicker. I have one of those dish brushes with the replaceable heads - you fill the handle with the soap and it dispenses enough to wash with, without wasting it.

  38. Hi Rhonda - I have always washed by hand, and I have always got the children involved and brought them up to see that it was part of their participation in meal time to washup or at least help. I see it as a bit amusing when we have people to dinner and they just sit there and expect the washing up to do itself - I find that strange.
    In our last four houses we had dishwashers and I only used them about twice a year as I have always thought that they used more water and more expensive powders etc and more electricity to run.
    My husband and I use that time to chat and do a little job together or he does it after I have prepared the meal.
    Many a good coversation is had around a kitchen sink!

  39. We have a dishwasher and use commercial dishwashing powder although I would like to try some recipes for homemade dishwasher powders that are around. I also wash dishes by hand as not everything is suitable to go in the dishwasher. I think dishwashers are a great idea for busy (working mums) families. Unfortunately not everyone has the luxury of time to handwash dishes. But to those who can and wish to, go for it.
    I do make my own washing machine powder and I LOVE IT. I soak my teatowels and dishcloths in it and they come out looking fantastic.
    It's good to be working towards making little improvements.

  40. I've never used a dishwasher either. Sometimes I don't use soap, just hot water, but if it is a dirt load i use either ecover, of if i have saved enough soap ends i make a liquid/jelly soap and use it. The recipe came from an old pre-war book belonging to my grandmother - good for clothes washing too.
    put quarter of a cup of grated soap
    and 2 cups water in a pan
    on the cooker,slowly melt soap into water, but don't boil
    cool slightly and add 1 tsp (5 mls) distilled white vinegar
    Coll in the pan, then decant into a jar or bottle. I usually add a nice essential oil, too.

  41. I had a boyfriend years ago whose mother used to put sunlight soap in a soap cage. I thought it was very quaint and would love to have one. Has anyone seen them for sale? I looked on ebay with no luck.

    This one is in the US but I will keep looking.

  42. I wash by hand, what I use depends on where I am and what the water is like. On our block in Western Australia where we are on rain water I use soap in one of those old fashioned soap savers that you shake in the water, I have found though that it is not so good if you have hard water. Here in the flat in Tasmania I use eco friendly detergent which I just get the container refilled at the Health Food shop so that works out really well.

  43. My dishwasher broke down back in September. I decided I didn't care. I've been handwashing happily since. Dishsoap is an issue, so far I've been using several eco brands. They're ok, but expensive. I'd love to find something better.

  44. I hand wash. Wash in a basin, and rinse in the sink with hot water. I don't use any cold water and use washing up gloves. I throw a good splash of vinegar in my rinse water as well.

    I use detergent and I have used home made dishwashing soap, but found it fiddly and created quite a scum.

    Would love to find another option though

  45. I would just say, if you use soap, add a few drops of vinegar to the rinse water.

  46. I have been hand-washing for the last two years, after moving to a small cottage with no dishwasher. I really don't miss the dishwasher at all and I firmly believe that if one takes care to not let the water run, hand-washing is just as cost effective as a machine. And, too, I simply enjoy standing at the sink with my hands in hot, soapy water!!

    I do not make my own soap so there are several eco-brands that I've discovered work well and I buy whichever is on sale. I particularly like Seventh Generation and Seattle Organics All-Purpose Concentrated Liquid Soap because they get the job done with the smallest amount.

  47. I do use a dishwasher with store brand gel detergent however I would like to find a homemade alternate to this or at least a more ecologically friendly detergent. I also wash dishes by hand. Pots & pans take up too much space in the dish washer & I use many vintage dishes that I would never put in a dishwasher. I never use the heat cycle so as to cut down on the electric bill.
    For hand washing I am presently using "Bon Ami" liquid dish soap.The ingredients are as follows:water, biodegradable cleaning agents(from corn, coconut, and palm), epsom salt, natural essential oils of mandarin, tangerine, orange, thyme, and clove, citric acid, PH adjuster, & biodegradable preservative. It is in a bottle that is made from 100% post-consumer recycled PET plastic. This is my first bottle and so far I like it.

  48. I use my dishwasher and don't worry about it. I have severe skin allergies and have to be very careful with hand washing. I do had wash some things, but I generally use the dishwasher. I make sure it's full before I run it. When I do wash by hand, I don't leave the water running though.

  49. I use a solution made of soap nuts for hand dishwashing and for general cleaning. We don't have a dishwasher, and I don't miss it. I use soap nuts for clothes washing, and for the shower and handwashing, the same soap nut solution (with a little essential oil for fragrance).

  50. Hi!
    We have a dishwasher, but it doesn't clean well and has residue left behind, we also have hard water. So I handwash them using Dawn detergent, however I'm looking for alternatives that are safe. Have you heard of Shaklee products? I'm considering giving them a try, all natural and been around a long time.
    Have a lovely week.

  51. Rhonda add a little glycerin to the soap that is the foam or bobble maker. Feels more like it is doing something.

    Dr Broners is a very good soap with several varieties. Lots of jargon and print on the container it is real nice soap however.
    Careful of the peppermint one do not let it get in your eye!

  52. I have never had a dishwasher, I have 7 children and they have all learnt to wash and wipe up...I use the earth choice dishwash. After readin your post I thought I'd look at the ingreidents and to my horor it SLS in it....I will now be finding a new product...Do you use the bath soap you make for w/u in?

  53. Jill, I haven't heard of the Shaklee products.

    Old Diary, that is why I don't use Earth detergent.

  54. Hi Rhonda, I'm nearly 48 and I've never used a dish washer in my entire life. I'm the dish washer I find it very therapeutic washing dishes I do wonder where they all come from some times. We are on rainwater here so our water is even more precious. I use enviro care yes it's a little expensive but has no nasties. made here in W.A I brought a 5 litre container and it should last the year cost me $37.85. brought it in January and have just under a lire left. have been using it about 10 years now and extremely happy with the product.I've never owned a microwave either but that's maybe a another blog story.
    from simple living

  55. I am using the soap I made from your recipe, cut into small squares and put into a jar with some water. It doesn't look very pretty but it really works. I'm also loving using dishcloth making to practise my knitting and crochet stiches.

  56. I`ve yet to make my own soap, but I have never had a dishwasher and always washed by hand. I never leave the tap running! With only a single sink, the best way for me is to fill the basin with hot soapy water (my granny used to have a little gizmo plastic cage thing for putting soap in to swish around the water) and wash the dishes there, then have a seperate bowl of clean water as hot as you can stand to dunk the dishes in to rinse. Two bowls of water, that`s all. :-)

  57. I've never had a dishwasher, and never wanted one. I use Fairy Liquid soap as the cost of Ecover is prohibitive. I'd like to try making my own, as you do.

  58. I'm with Sherie. I've never had a dishwasher and never felt the least desire for one. Sorry Rhonda, but I'm not inspired by housework. I wash up by hand because I think it is easier, faster, and more ethical. I have a double sink that was recycled from my parents house about 40 years ago when they pulled it out when those in-sink garbage muchers became fashionable. I wash up in solar heated hot water (hot as I can) with a minimum amount of detergent, then rinse in a sink of hot water and air dry. I never dry up. I can deal with the biggest wash up after a dinner party like this, or just twoAnd even for a housework hater, there is something nicely meditative about washing up.

  59. Love this post Rhonda :-) Ever since my (still young) kids were old enough to start asking why we don't have a dishwasher (when they'd seen them in thier friend's houses), I've told them that we will never, ever get a dishwasher.
    My mum badly wanted one all her adult life, and so did my sister and I as kids, and when we finally got one, I hated it. It caused more fights between my sister and I as to who had to load an unload. I think now too, (I've realised as an adult), I missed the 10 minutes I spent with my sister each night doing the dishes, which was our job - I certainly wouldn't have told you that at the time, lol!! when we would ask my dad 'why don't we get a dishwasher?' he would answer 'why would I when I've got 2 already?", lol :-)
    I love the fellowship washing dishes brings, whether it's between siblings, a small or large group of friends, a family gathering, whatever - one of my most treasured memories is of the hour it took to do the dishes after the first Christmas lunch I hosted when we were married, and I was very pregnant with child #3. The kitchen was full of my aunty and cousins and sister and I, and I loved every second of it.
    I love it as a solitary activity, the feel of my hands in the water being productive, in much the same way as women of hundreds of years have been doing, the time it gives me to think and ponder. If the rest of my house is in chaos, simply doing the dishes can make me feel like I've accomplished something, and I've made a start on conquering the mess. It makes my kids co-operate, negotiate and spend time with each other, and I don't care how much mess they make in the process. It's something they can do for others, wherever they go, and I'm often the first to volunteer them for the task, lol!!!
    Thanks again Rhonda, for a lovely, thought provoking popst :-)

  60. Here in Argentina, dishwaters aren´t so common in our homes, so the usual is to hand wash after meals.
    I never had one and I survive ( I also have 8 kids)so I ´m sure you´ll too!!!
    I´m trying to be more "green" in my home tasks but I still wash with a soap bought at the supermarket, here there aren´t eco soaps and the so call "ecological" ones" are very expensive.
    Well I hope you understand my english.
    Thanks for being there giving us ideas of how to live simple!!

  61. I am 51 years old. I live in Kentucky, USA and for most of my life I have not used a dishwasher. I don't like them. PERIOD. I use Dawn liquid detergent because the others in my household can't seem to change to something else. I have also used a eco friendly product called Basic H. It is a Shaklee product and is fantastic. I don't know if it is available outside the USA.

  62. I use an eco brand because I have a grey water system. Our plumbing to the dishwasher was disconnected due to leaking and has remained that way waiting for a major re-haul. I don't mind doing the dishes by hand (even though i currently have to boil water to add to the sink!)
    The down side is that the house is open concept and there are always a few dishes on the counter - I used to be able to hide them in the dishwasher!
    It should be pointed out that, like the dryer, a dishwasher is one of the most electricity-heavy users in the house.

  63. When we downsized 3 years ago one of the biggest sacrifices for me was that our new little cabin had no dishwasher. I waffle between desperately wanting to get one (but where would it go) and thinking if I've gone this long then we probably don't need one. My 3 girls are getting older, and we've adopted a "you eat here too" policy to the dishwashing. It's working. When the chickens are out pecking around the garden fence, I don't mind too much standing there watching them while I clean up. We us Planet dish soap, it's my favorite "green" option I've found so far, but we tend to use too much since it doesn't foam like the old stuff. I like it though...

  64. We do not have a dishwasher. I have a double sink and after I wash each "load" (silverware,then glasses,then plates and bowls,then pots and pans)I put them in the second bowl,then rinse them off and put them in the strainer.I don't leave the water running,and I don't fill up the sink I am using to wash. I tried my own liquid dish soap,and had bad results-lots of grease that seemed to not rinse off the dishes properly.You could really see it on the glasses. I do use store dish detergent,but I have been thinking about using a more eco friendly product now that I am saving money in other areas ( such as homemade hand soap and laundry soap).

  65. I am 62 and have never owned a dishwasher. I don't mind washing dishes by hand, although Christmas, Easter etc. are a challenge because I have little counter space. the rest of the year, I find it quite soothing especially in winter when the hot water is nice on my hands (I always wear rubber gloves, though.)I use a large metal bowl to wash and rinse under the tap (which I don't leave running!)
    I have a old soap cage which I sometimes resurrect, but I find soap leaves the glasses smeary, so I go back to eco-friendly detergent.

  66. I use a dishwasher and I hand wash. I have a day care in my home. I do a lot of dishes. I use the dishwasher for the silverware, plates,cups, bottles, and plastic ware...All of the pots and pans I wash by hand.
    I admit to running my dishwasher twice to 3 times a day too. But with 6-8 kids, 2 adults, and the dishes of 4 dogs there are a lot of dishes in this house. I work more than 60 hours a week at my day care and that does not leave me much family time.
    I use a store brand dishwasher soap and I use Walmart brand dish washing soap.
    Because I have the day care my dishwasher has to be set at a high degree of 140. That is very hot. My dishwasher is a Kitchenaid and it works like a charm...I would not want to be without it. I do not have enough kitchen space to hand wash all the dishes I do in a day...

  67. I really love Mrs. Meyers for handwashing, though have bought the "regular" brands when money has been tight.

    We do use the dishwasher (five small children and work 3 days per week) for plates, glasses and silverware. I hand wash the pots and pans and plastics and baby bottles, along with bottle nipples and breastpump parts. I use the high heat option and just feel it keeps things a bit more sanitary. We can usually get by with one load on weekdays but usually need to do two on weekend days when we're all home for all three meals.

  68. I don't have a dishwasher. I always used to wish for one but now I wouldn't have one even if I could fit one. I only have a single small sink so my idea of luxury would be a bigger, double sink. I actually enjoy getting everything clean, it gives me time to think. Looking forward to getting help when the kids get bigger. I use a bought liquid. I like lots of suds!

  69. Hi Rhonda,

    I'd never bothered with a dishwasher until my mother-in-law insisted that she bought one for us. I used it for a few years until it broke down a couple of years ago and we couldn't afford to replace it, so we built a cupboard in its place and starting washing up by hand again.

    We love the social aspect of washing up together, and I've had some great conversations with my husband or son as we do the dishes.

    I'm still using supermarket gunk unfortunately, as I haven't found anything either affordable or that actually gets the dishes clean. I do want to find something better though.

    Water-wise, my dishwasher used 18 litres of water per cycle plus electricity, so washing up by hand is a big improvement, at least.

    Love, Tina

  70. Have you considered washing clothes by hand and getting rid of your washing machine as well, or is that one step too far at the moment? I imagine it would be very time consuming. Somehow, washing dishes by hand, rather than clothes, seems easier.

  71. One way to further reduce the water you use is to half fill the sink with your hot, soapy water and begin washing. As you wash, rinse over the sink you're washing in. By the time you get to the bigger pots you have a full sink. Its only the last few items you rinse under running water. I don't like to rinse in standing water as the soap isn't going anywhere but back onto the clean dishes.
    With four people in the home and homeschooled children (eating at home on and off all day) I would be a slave at the sink without the dishwasher so I'm happy to have it for now. I handwash onece in the evenings, things unsuitable for the dishwasher. If it was just the two of us, it would be different. For one thing, the dishwasher would take too long to fill and I'd be needing things that were still unwashed.

  72. Warm Greetings to you Rhonda,

    I live in Melbourne for some of the year and then on the backwaters in the tropical state of Kerala, India for the rest of the year,
    In india we wash the dishes by first add little water to the dish (we use stainless steel plates there, everyone does!) then add some ash and give the plate a good scrub with our hand, then rinse it, washing up is always done outside beneath the coconut trees in the shade, whilst watching the squirrels about on their business up and down the palms, and eagles circling above, it is truly a beautiful place for washing dishes!
    Wishing you a marvelous day!
    Wonderful Woman You Are!!!
    Warm Regards, Sita!

  73. very, very interesting! I think i will try it soon!

  74. although I use a dishwasher, several items get hand-washed, and I agree that it can be done quite frugally. Besides turning off the faucet after each rinse, I keep a gallon jug by the sink in which to pour water used on the 2nd & 3rd rinses of glasses, for instance. Also catch water that would've gone down the drain while waiting for the hot water to arrive. Then I use the reclaimed water on our newly-planted trees outside.

  75. Oh dear. I do use my DW. I pack it full every day, turn it on on my way out to work. Sparkling dishes await me each night. I do now use bicarbonate and vinegar only, but for me, right now, it's useful

  76. I use Earth Choice products. The dishwashing liquid is on the very bottom shelf at the supermarket and is quite cheap. It works a treat. Here's a link -



  77. I see this post is a few years old but just reading it now thought I would throw in my two cents. We don't have a dishwasher, we do all the dishes for our family and also our small dairy (hand milked cows, thus the milk pails, jars, cheese making pots, etc.) by hand. The only burden is carrying the dishes in from our home and the barn to the source of running water, not the washing up! I dislike drying with towels both because of the laundry and because I feel it is more sanitary to air-dry, but there isn't always room or time for this.

    As for the soap, for many years we used the "natural" soaps such as Bio-Kleen (here in the US), but then we ran out one day and realized….. why does it need to be liquid? And we started using the all-purpose bar soap we use for washing everything else (laundry, hands, etc.), simply rubbing the bar against the cloth or sponge a few times once in a while. It cleans and rinses very well and we are pleased to have fewer different products in our life (less to think of, keep track of, store a supply of…) . For a while we used large, inexpensive blocks of soap from an Indian store but recently I started making our own soap, free of colors or fragrances like Rhonda's (though we use tallow as the base oil).

    There are not many who value a simpler lifestyle or the work it entails and I appreciate your blog, Rhonda, as well as the comments that follow - thank you!

  78. After washing dishes all my life, we have just bought a dishwasher! I feel like I am going against enviro trends by doing this but after having a baby recently (second child) my kitchen is unmanageable especially as I cook all meals and sweets to avoid my family eating rubbish. I am very anti packaged foods and artificial preservatives. We rent an old house and on tank water so now after reading comments I'm unsure if our dishwasher will even wash properly. I use to wash my dishes with Herbon and now Earth Choice but because of the SLS that just gives me eczema and I have to wear gloves. When I run out of dishwashing liquid I use soapnuts from my laundry supply. I spend all day washes dishes and I am hoping the dishwasher will help give me more time for my family pursuits such as increasing my slow cooking reportoire, knitting, sewing and gardening. I will try Enviro Clean for my dishwasher and definately try bicarb and vinegar that someone mentioned because I use the latter to do most of my cleaning.


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