Last month my husband issued a surprising challenge: could we go one week without using the dishwasher? He was fed up with finding bits of tomato sauce clinging to an occasional dish and wayward Fruit Loops spooning with spoons — not to mention sick of constantly empyting water-logged tupperware from the upper rack. He maintained that with handwashing we’d actually have cleaner dishes in the same amount of time or less.
He’d come up with this theory that the dishwasher is actually the ultimate procrastinating machine, tempting us with its bubbly mantra: “why wash now what you can rinse and stack for later?” Though it poses as a time-saving device, he argued that the time it takes to empty the dishwasher and recheck the dishes actually make it a time drain.
I begrudgingly decided to play along but only after the terms were fixed: he would handle all of the dinner plates, pots, pans, etc. I’d take care of the rest of the day’s dishes.
After he posted it on Facebook, something interesting started happening. We began receiving phone calls and emails from worried family members.
“Are you crazy?”… “Do you need a new dishwasher?”…
“Are you being forced to wash all of the dishes by hand (while barefoot in the kitchen)?”
“Have you tried using a rinse aid?”…
“No, really, Sis: Do we need to take up a collection to get you a new dishwasher?”
I couldn’t believe what a stir it had caused! But I was even more surprised by what happened to our kitchen and to me that week:
1.) We never had any dishes piling up in the sink.
2.) We never ran out of silverware.
3.) We became noticibly more frugal in our use of water glasses.
4.) I actually felt happier — washing the dishes after every meal was sort of… well, cleansing. I had an odd feeling of productivity that carried into other tasks around the home and even in my professional work. (Save us all.. ME — a Domestic Goddess?!)
5.) I had the feeling that my husband and I were both sharing the burden of housework.
6.) The difference in time, if there was any, was negligible. It was just spread out throughout the day rather than in one grand emptying/rewashing ceremony.
7.) I learned the true secret to a happy marriage: while it’s ok to loudly critique the dishwasher’s inability to get all of the gunk off, a little more tact is required when assessing your husband’s handiwork.
The following Monday morning I noticed my husband — out of years of habit — load his coffee mug in the dishwasher. I didn’t say anything. After all, the competition was officially over.
But that didn’t stop me from feeling a little guilty later on when I scooped up the rest of the breakfast dishes from the sink and plopped them into the “procrastinator.” I needed some sink space for the lunch plates!
Somehow the magic was gone… but while it lasted, it was grand!
I guess my husband was right. Quelle surprise! (And by the way, so was my mother: I started using a new dishwasher detergent with a rinse aid and those dishes are sparkling again — even if they do sit for a while in the machine.)
There’s one thing I know for sure: No freaking way my sweet-talking hubby can convince me to take the same challenge with our washing machine.