My dishwasher is still functional. Kind of. I mean, it still disinfects my dishes and semi-washes them, provided I fill it about half-full, wash nothing but smallish items, and give each dish plenty of wiggle room.
But I know the truth: I know that this lovely modern convenience I’ve depended on so heavily for nearly a decade now is dying a slow and painful death.
I couldn’t have asked for a better dishwasher in the beginning. It could power-blast the worst of caked-on food gunk in those early days, but it has cleaned less and less well with every passing year until sometimes now it not only cleans poorly, but it leaves behind this gritty residue that reminds me of play sand, which might make sense if I was feeding my family sand for dinner every night, but since I’m not, I’m mostly just confused by it.
And I can’t forget to mention the freakish, unpredictable, completely untraceable leakage of water. It doesn’t happen often and doesn’t leak much when it does, but obviously that’s not supposed to happen.
I tried to do a little ‘dishwasher doctoring’ last summer and thanks to a fascinating video I found on YouTube, I managed to dismantle my dishwasher and clean out it’s internal filter. It was clogged with interesting things like bits of plastic, corroded rubber, and even pocket change, plus lots and lots and LOTS of nauseating soap goo.
I cleaned it all out. And it helped. Some. For a while.
Meanwhile, my dishwasher’s silverware basket started falling apart and had to be thrown away. The soap dispenser stopped latching, too. And I’m not sure the rinse aid dispenser has worked in years.
So why am I writing this rather than shopping for a new dishwasher? Believe me, a new machine is in my plans for the very near future, though I was hoping very much to hobble through till spring when my husband’s work begins picking up a bit more. We’ll see if we can make it that long.
But there are some things I’ve learned, particularly in the past 2-3 months of nursing my dying dishwasher. And I hope the lessons I’ve been taught will stick with me even when I am blessed again with a healthy, fully-functioning dishwasher.
First of all, I’ve learned that…
1. Having a really good dishwasher can turn you into a really messy cook.
If you cook often and if you cook things from scratch, you’re bound to dirty more dishes. That’s just the way it works. But I realize now that I was developing some pretty rotten habits even years ago, all because I had a powerful dishwasher that took care of most of my mess for me. Those bad habits have come back to bite me in the last couple of years.
When you can load up most of your mess in a good dishwasher, it can be a whole lot easier to be careless and uncalculated and really, really messy when you’re cooking. That wasn’t a problem when my kids were very small and when a couple of them were in school. We often ate quick, grab-and-go breakfasts and I was packing lunches, so the only meal I really cooked was supper. Making a mess and dirtying lots of dishes one meal per day really wasn’t so big a deal. I could still fit all of it inside the dishwasher!
But now I homeschool and we do more clean-eating and so most days I’m cooking three from-scratch or mostly from-scratch meals at home per day, which makes for lots more dirty dishes! Being a messy cook on top of that can mean some nightmarish clean-up when supper is done. It wasn’t unusual for me to literally spend hours in my kitchen and still leave dirty dishes in my sink when I went to bed, all because of some really bad habits I had allowed myself to begin developing years ago.
But I’ve learned…
2. When I’m cooking, I CAN do better job of cleaning as I go.
I would have told you I did this already, but it’s really been my dying dishwasher that has shown me that I’ve really not been so good at it after all.
It’s amazing how much a few simple habits can help cut down on the kitchen cleanup time. Starting supper prep with an empty sink makes a huge difference. I can fill one side with soap and hot water and then drop in measuring cups and dishes and utensils as I go. It’s pretty incredible how much time that can save. I can wash things while I’m waiting for water to boil or between stirs when I’m browning meat, and I actually accomplish much more in these little spurts of work than I ever dreamed possible! And washing pots and pans while they’re still warm is SO much easier, rather than waiting until the food inside has turned to concrete!
And when I take little steps like this, I really find that…
3. Not having a dishwasher, (or at least not having a good one,) doesn’t mean kitchen cleanup has to take a lot longer.
I’ve had people tell me they don’t have a dishwasher and they don’t want one and I must admit to you I’ve mostly just given them blank stares because I absolutely cannot fathom that. Like I said, we will have a new and healthy dishwasher at the earliest opportunity.
But at the same time, I fully recognize that much of my hatred for kitchen cleanup has been due to my own bad habits. I’ve allowed my kitchen to get out of control and for the dirty dishes to pile up in ridiculous ways. And that’s been MY fault.
Washing dishes and cleaning up my kitchen doesn’t have to take as long as I’ve allowed it to take. In fact, I can even believe those who have told me they can clean up their kitchen faster without a dishwasher. I believe they can! (Though personally I’ll still opt for a dishwasher’s help.)
4. I don’t really mind washing dishes.
Okay, that was a little hard for me to admit.
I was convinced I HATED washing dishes, that I despised kitchen cleanup almost as much as I hate putting folded laundry away. (And I. HATE. THAT.)
But you know, it’s really not so bad! I mean, when they’re really dry and crusted over it can be rough. And I still struggle a little when I have to empty all the gunk leftover in the drain. Blech! But especially if I make the family do the dish-scraping well, it’s really not bad at all. Washing dishes, even washing all of them, isn’t nearly so awful as I used to think. In fact, with a little music or, (my personal preference,) an audio drama or book going, I can semi-enjoy it.