Make you Fink on Friday

Why I hate dishwashers

This supposed labour-saving device promises so much but delivers so little – and I like doing the washing-up anyway

‘Dishwashers are where your vital kitchen stuff goes to hide.’ Photograph: Alamy

In certain circles it’s akin to admitting you find Jim Davidson’s gags funny, only it’s slightly more baffling. It’s like saying you think fax machines are better than email or that the safari suit is the last word in sartorial elegance. It is a last hurrah for the luddites; an outbreak of domestic piety. None of that troubles me. Even at the risk of having my middle-class licence revoked I am out and proud: I hate dishwashers and I don’t own one.

At dinner parties, which of course is where these things are discussed, guests who had offered to help clear up find themselves standing in the middle of my kitchen, paralysed with fear when they realise helping means “washing up”. Then they do the sidehead sympathy thing at my wife, who pulls her “see how I suffer” face. I really don’t care. For here is the undiscussed truth. Dishwashers are where your vital kitchen stuff goes to hide. Whenever I’ve used one – in a holiday let, for example – I have discovered that anything I want is in the dishwasher, dirty, because it wasn’t turned on. So you get out the things you need and wash them by hand anyway. Ah, say my friends, the solution is two sets of everything. What? To make a labour-saving device work you need to buy twice the amount of crockery? And where are you supposed to store it all? Why, in the dishwasher of course.

Then there’s the feel of plates and glasses that have been through the bloody thing, that sickly-squeaky, dry-skin-on-linoleum feel of the over-soaped. If it’s worked, of course, for it doesn’t always.

Dishwashers promise so much and deliver so little. The only thing worse than a dirty plate is a half-washed one that’s been baked in the dishwasher, leaving skidmarks on the porcelain. Not forgetting those items that either won’t fit or are too greasy for which you have to fill the sink anyway.

And here’s the thing: I actually like doing the washing-up. It’s engrossing, a perfect means to an end. It is the forging of order from chaos; an enforced pause in a busy day. Plus it’s a brilliant domestic task to give your teenage children. Watching a 13-year-old boy up to his elbows in Marigolds is very special indeed. Watching him fill a dishwasher just wouldn’t be the same. And doubtless he’d forget to turn the bloody thing on, which would mean that the next morning all I’d have is a cupboard full of dirty plates inconveniently placed close to the floor. I mean really: who needs that?



7 responses to this post.

  1. Finally, someone else who hates dishwashers! My problem the couple of times I had one wasn’t that the dishes didn’t get washed, it was that we never put the clean ones away. This problem resulted in the dirty dishes cluttering up my kitchen until I was the one to put things away and then begin the rinse, scrape process to put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher. I also found that we used certain things faster than others which left us reaching into the dishwasher to pull a spoon or glass out to wash it before the entire load was full enough to run. It’s a headache I don’t want around and like you once start I remember I love washing dishes, there’s something soothing and natural about having my hands in water.



  2. >lsf, not in favour of them myself. I don’t consider washing dishes a hobby, but it is so much easier to wash them than use one on these, I find them a total waste of resources to make, a total waste of electricity to use, and a total waste of time.




  3. Posted by Alex Jones on February 8, 2013 at 9:04 pm

    I will keep with the old fashioned method of hand washing dishes.



  4. To me, washing dishes by hand is a “zen” thing … sometimes I meditate, paying close attention to the feel of everything, sometimes I just think. We need more time to just think. Funny how folks seem to shy away from simply being quiet with their own thoughts. Also, it’s just hubz & myself and we don’t dirty that many dishes so … I’d have to use every dish in the house before I had a full load to wash. Right now, my dishwasher (which came with the apartment) serves nicely as additional “cupboards”. 🙂



    • >SF, a zen moment, now there’s a new twist on an old theme. I can’t say that I’ve ever been ‘lost in reverie’ over the dishes… Maybe I’m missing out on something here. 🙂

      I have less dishes than you, Lixo doesn’t generate many…

      I didn’t know you lived in an apartment; I did for a while in Copacabana, hated it. Got to have a house.




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