7 Kitchen Survival Tips for Life Without a Dishwasher

no dishwasher
Daxiao Productions under Creative Commons

When looking for an apartment last year, I had two dreams: a dishwasher, and a washer and dryer.

My years in college without either of these appliances showed me how these little luxuries make life easier. Long story short, apartment after apartment fell through for my fiance and me in the weeks leading up to our wedding.

One month before our wedding, we found a place in our budget and desired location. The caveats? No washer and dryer. No dishwasher (and, I’d later realize, no garbage disposal).

It’s not been as bad as I anticipated, and life without a dishwasher is teaching me some good lessons.

1. Establish a Good Rhythm

One of my goals for this month is to not have dishes lingering in the sink. Because I work from home, I have an opportunity to clean up breakfast dishes before I start my workday.

However, working from home also means dishes pile up throughout the day as I make lunch, make tea and start dinner.

If I don’t keep dishes in the sink to a minimum during the day, I find myself overwhelmed by the mess when 6 p.m. rolls around and it’s time to start dinner.

2. Attack Your “Trouble Spot”

I actually don’t mind washing dishes. I do mind drying and putting them away.

It’s too easy to just keep adding dishes to the drying rack without returning them to their homes in the kitchen.

The problem? Eventually, I’ll have no room for clean dishes, so I can’t wash the dishes in the sink. It’s a vicious, sudsy cycle. Before every meal and bed, I try to make myself put those dishes away.

3. Know How Many Dishes a Recipe Requires

This is something I’ve learned to do this year. There’s nothing worse than wearing yourself out making a new recipe, then meeting a sink full of dishes you didn’t expect.

I’m all about trying new recipes, but I like to know what I’ll face when the cooking is over.

4. Use Gloves

Nothing makes me feel more like a 1950s housewife than donning my gloves to wash dishes.

To be clear, I don’t use them because I have a beautiful manicure to preserve. I use them solely because having my hands in hot, soapy water for prolonged periods multiple times a day takes its toll.

5. Clean as You Go

When I’m cooking a meal, I try to wash dishes while I’m working . Even just washing a measuring cup while the onions saute and soaking a pan before dicing the peppers adds up in the end.

6. Make It as Fun and Productive as Possible

Turn on some music. Above your sink, tape a Scripture verse, poem or song you want to ponder.

Invite your roommate, spouse or child to come in and talk with you (or invite them to join in, if that’s your style).

7. Keep Disposable Plates on Hand

There are very good times to use paper plates and cups and plastic cutlery.

Hosting a large group of folks for a meal or snacks, going to an event immediately after a meal and simply wanting to be with my husband after a long day of work are all instances when I unashamedly pull out my stash of paper goods.

Using disposable dishes on occasion gives me the chance to focus on enjoying my company over a meal instead of dreading the work ahead.

Although life without a dishwasher has its frustrations, it’s been a really good thing for me in this first year of married life.

I am learning sound kitchen management principles and I am reminded daily that modern appliances are luxuries, not necessities. Until the day I need to purchase a box of Cascade, I’ll turn up the music, don my gloves and wash away.

This post was originally published at abigailmurrish.com. Abigail Murrish is a food and agriculture writer who lives in Ohio with her husband. She encourages her readers to know their food, eat well and show hospitality.