The Great Dish Debate – Which Side Are You On?

The event that launched this new phase of my life was…washing dishes by hand. I know. It sounds ridiculous but it is true. Something as simple as performing the very first chore I was allowed to do as a child brought a profound sense of satisfaction that is all too unfamiliar in homemaking these days.

Washing dishes is one of the most maligned of household chores. Who (of a certain generation) could forget Madge and her wisecracking Palmolive commercials from the late 1960’s?

In all fairness, when this began I was doing a favor for my friend Captain Housekeeper. He had just done a how to video for his new housekeeping website and You Tube channel and wanted honest feedback. I watched the video and then was intrigued by the process and washed a load of dishes just as he instructed. Maybe it was my hands doing a familiar yet long abandoned task or maybe it was the soothing feeling of the hot water against my skin, I’m not sure, but whatever the source, I found pleasure in this simple task.

I finished the dishes, dried them, put them away and then told Drew he had done a great job of teaching folks how to wash dishes by hand. But something in the experience stuck with me.

I collect and use vintage dishes. Whether it is a midcentury modern aqua and gray or pastel floral I have a variety of things to suite any mood. I treasure these things and want to care for them in the best way possible. Dishwashers in the home were not a thing when most of these items were made. Hand washing was the way to care for them. I love the tradition of this as well. Crochet and knit dishcloths and handwoven tea towels also make the process fun.

What I discovered is that there is something quite nice about taking a small stack of dirty dishes and gently washing away the residue of a home cooked meal. Am I beginning to sound a bit too romantic about a basic chore? Maybe. But that is just my point, it is all about the mindset. My mindset had changed.

  • I find it satisfying to work with my hands.
  • Two people don’t generate many dishes…wash, dry and put away.
  • I focus on the feel of the water, the scent of the soap and how clean things look and feel when I am done.
  • I am caring for my cherished belongings.It suits me.

Now, I do own a dishwasher and I do use it. I use it when we have company or during holidays or if one of us is sick. And this brings me to my next topic. The controversy over hand washing vs machine. Basically the divide is over one of two items: the sanitation of the dishes or water usage. If one were to research this topic online…and I did…one would find a variety of rants and raves about how inefficient and dangerous it is to hand wash dishes. And, of course, there are also all the articles on which method is more green. Visualize me rolling my eyes. I am not worried that I can destroy what God created by hand washing my own dishes.

So, which side of the debate are you on? How long has it been since you washed dishes by hand? Maybe you don’t want to wash everything by hand, but why not give it a try? Buy yourself some special towels and soap and just enjoy a bubble bath for your hands while getting back in touch with a simpler time of life.

Have fun today – it’s never coming around again.