Our Best Tips for Life Without a Dishwasher

published Jul 17, 2014
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(Image credit: Andie Powers)

Not having a dishwasher certainly isn’t the worst problem you can have. But if you’re used to having one, switching to only hand-washing can seem like a major inconvenience. Following are some ways to make life without a dishwasher as painless as possible.

To make hand-washing less of a scrub-fest, make every effort to keep food from drying on dishes and pots and pans. If you can’t wash something right away, at least submerge it in or fill it with warm soapy water.

Wash as You Go.
To avoid dirty dishes plus a pile of dirty cooking utensils and pots and pans, wash what you use as you’re cooking. Make it a goal to sit down to your meal with no dirty dishes in the kitchen. If you can’t, soak what’s not washed.

Have Fewer Dishes.
If you’re willing and able to take drastic measures and cut the number of dishes to only what you need for your household plus maybe one or two extra sets for guests, this will force you to wash your dishes right away; if you don’t, you won’t have any clean dishes to eat from!

Stick to a Strict Wash Right Away Policy.
Washing dishes right away doesn’t just keep food from drying on them, it also sets the tone for how you’ll maintain your kitchen and kitchen sink. Seeing even one dirty dish in the sink makes it much easier to stick another dirty dish in there for later. But a clean sink makes you want to keep it that way. Wash that mug right now and you’ll probably find that fewer dishes pile up. Cleanliness begets cleanliness.

Put Washed Dishes Away Regularly.
If your dish drainer is full, it’ll create a backup. Make it a habit to empty the dish rack often, and you won’t have a backlog that might prompt you to leave a dish dirty dish in the sink rather than wash it. Sometimes these little mind games make the difference between maintenance and breakdown, even with something as seemingly small as the state of your kitchen sink.

Treat Yourself.
Speaking of mind games, giving yourself a little treat while you undertake a task that’s not exactly desirable can really help the medicine go down. For me, fantastic smelling dish soap makes me happy. I love Mrs. Meyer’s Geranium or Basil — and the soap is very concentrated, sudsy, and effective, which also helps accomplish the task at hand. Or you might try lighting a candle or putting on relaxing or energizing music — whatever helps! Any little reward ritual to make the pathway to a clean kitchen (a reward in itself!) pleasant.