How to make yourself do the dishes

February 22nd, 2013

Appliance Talk Dishwashers Sinks Sinks, Taps & Water Small Appliances

It happens to the best of us.  There you are, having worked hard to cook up an amazing meal, and just when you’re sitting back and feeling really good about having eaten said meal…

…you notice the dirty dishes, piled up next to the sink like the Leaning Tower of Pisa (or possibly Mount Vesuvius).

When faced with a terror like this, it’s all too easy to panic, flee or otherwise give up, and decide to leave the dishes for later.  You usually feel pretty justified in this decision – after all, you’ve already done a bunch of work, and you wouldn’t want to spoil your post-meal good vibes now, do you?  You can always do the dishes tomorrow…

“Dirty dishes AND an old-fashioned gender role representation?  Ugh.”

The problem is, these dirty dishes don’t clean themselves.  And when faced with the pile the next day, it seems to have mysteriously grown in your mind.  This makes you even less inclined to tackle the task of doing the dishes, and soon you’ll find that the pile starts growing for real, as more meals get made and eaten and more dishes are added.

After putting the job off just a couple of times, you find yourself seriously considering burning down your house and starting again at a new place rather than doing the dishes, as it feels like this would be easier (PRO TIP: It is not easier, and don’t ever do this).

Or maybe that’s just me.

Long story short; doing the dishes isn’t an activity that everyone enjoys, but if it’s not taken care of, it can soon spiral out of control.

Here are a few motivational tips and techniques you can use to make life easier for yourself, and enjoy a kitchen that’s cleaner and easier to use:

Clean while you cook

Once you’ve done a lot of work cooking, then spent some time eating and relaxing, it can be hard to get back into the “work” mindset once again.

This problem can be beaten before it gets a chance to raise its ugly head by simply not allowing it to happen.  If possible, try to clean up your cooking utensils the instant you are done using them, right in the midst of your cooking.

Unless you’re preparing something particularly time-consuming and fiddly, there are often gaps in the cooking process where you’re waiting for something to boil, preheat or simmer.  These are the perfect times to get some of the washing up done in advance.  Since pots, pans and utensils are often among the toughest things to clean, tackling them straight away also leaves little time for food to congeal into place and become nigh-impossible to shift.

Of course, you’ll still have to sort out the plates and other dishes after the meal is over, but at least you’ll have given yourself a bit of a head start.

Whistle while you work

Well, not literally.  Unless you’re a particularly good whistler.  But if Mary Poppins taught me anything, it’s that a bit of music can make doing housework far more tolerable.

If you can’t whistle or carry a tune to save your life, stick your iThing on in the background while you get sudsy  – an iPad/iPod dock (such as the Altec Lansing model pictured above) can make this especially convenient.  Try not to get it wet while you work.

Get organised and be efficient in your cleaning

The less time you have to spend working on doing the dishes, the more time you can spend sitting around feeling accomplished that you got the dishes done.  So find ways to speed up that dish-washing process!

Various guides to housework recommend organising your dirty dishes before you wash, cleaning the glassware first (so that they get the freshest and cleanest water that won’t leave stains), followed by your less dirty dishes and utensils, and finishing with your very dirty dishes and utensils.  Maybe you’ve heard about a different system, but having a system of any kind should be help to work through doing the dishes.

Selected sinks include accessories that are designed to make washing dishes simpler – the food prep area on certain Franke sinks can also easily accommodate the next lot of dishes to be washed in your well-organised plan, and many different sinks come with drying racks designed to fit and match perfectly with their dimensions, so you won’t have to struggle with loading up a plastic rack from the cheap shop down the road.

Even if you just organise your dishwashing supplies (detergent, scrubbing brush, sponge, cloth etc.) into a handy drawer or basket for easier access (pictured above), every little bit helps.

Take time out to think

If some tricky problem in your life has been on your mind lately, and the washing up needs to be done, you may be able to kill two birds with one stone, minus the animal cruelty and misuse of geology.

Sometimes when a big decision or some other weighty matter is on our minds, everything else going on in life eats up the time we need to think it over and really get to grips with it.

Dish-washing, being a relatively straightforward and monotonous task, can be worked through without too much mental stress – it’s kind of Zen that way.  This means that while you’re busy scrubbing, you use this time to think over those matters weighing on your soul.

Hopefully, by the time the dishes are clean and organised, your mind will be tidy and ready to face its next challenge too.

Tag team those dishes!

Got a significant other?  A housemate?  Children?  An unsuspecting friend you’ve invited over?

Rope them into helping you out with the dishes.  Creating a little assembly line should improve your efficiency in the best Henry Ford tradition, and it gives the two of you a chance to talk.  Bond, if you will.  If it goes well, you may even be able to turn it into a regular part of your relationship.

If your potential dish-washing partner doesn’t seem keen on the idea, consult our blog on “How to get kids to do chores” – hopefully these tips should work equally well when dealing with children or adults acting like children.

Get rid of the dishes altogether

Remember earlier when I joked about burning down the house and starting again (seriously, don’t even think about actually doing that)?  A similar idea on a smaller scale could be just what you need to prevent you from having to deal with a teetering pile of washing up.

Once you’ve been living somewhere for a while, it’s easy collect more and more dishes and cups in the drawers and cupboards.  But how many of these do you actually use?  And how many of these do you really need to use?

If you live as a couple, but have dozens of coffee cups in the cupboard, you’re going to be far more tempted to grab a clean one when you’re in the mood for a cuppa than wash up a dirty one. The same goes for plates and other utensils.  If you put off doing the washing up until every single dish has been used, you’re going to be stuck doing a much bigger job.

If you were to donate all but maybe two or three cups and plates per person to the local op shop, you’ll still have enough to use each day, and it’ll be impossible to build up a towering stack of dishes to wash up.  Necessity will soon become the mother of getting the washing up done, as if you don’t get on with the job, you won’t have any clean plates!

Of course, if you have a family or regularly entertain, you may need every plate you can get.  Which means you may need an alternative option…

Use a dishwasher

Is it cheating?  Probably.  But as long as it works, who cares?

Pictured: an Asko D5434SS dishwasher

Depending on the arrangement of your kitchen, a standard, semi-integrated or fully-integrated dishwasher can do a lot of the work for you when it comes to keeping the place clean and organised.  Look through the selection available at Appliances Online to find the dishwasher that best suits your home.

  • If you feed many mouths, get one with a large capacity that can handle a high number of place settings.
  • If you have young children, look for a dishwasher that includes an antibacterial mode that’s perfect for keeping baby bottles free from germs and other nasties.
  • If you often prepare big, hearty meals that make a lot of mess, look for a dishwasher that can effortlessly cut through grease on your larger pots and pans.

For more information on what dishwasher to buy, consult our dishwasher buying guide.

Of course, now the trick becomes forcing yourself to stack the dishwasher each night…

Luckily, there’s a song to help you with that.

Mark joined Appliances Online in November 2011 and has since learned more than he ever expected to know about appliances. He enjoys looking for new and unusual ways for to solve everyday problems using typical household appliances. When he’s not toiling at the desks of Appliances Online and Big Brown Box, he tries to find time to write the next big bestseller and draw satirical cartoons, but is too easily distracted by TV, music and video games. Mark’s favourite appliance is the Dyson Groom Tool, as he loves the concept of vacuuming your dog. Google+

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *