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Washing Dishes

I enjoy doing dishes. Sounds weird, I know. Let me articulate. When I was growing up, none of the houses we lived in had dishwashers. I take that back. They actually did have dishwashers. Their names were Rebecca, Daniel and Michael. We didn’t have the modern appliance variety of dishwasher first patented by some guy named Joel Houghton in 1850. Apparently, Joel wasn’t married or he was a henpecked husband trying to weasel out of the after-dinner chore common to all domesticated humans.

My mom was a full-time homemaker. Her children, like most, did plenty to make her life miserable. We dirtied up her clean house; we produced never ending piles of laundry; we literally ate her out of house and home. My dad was a pastor so he was gone a lot. In order to offset his absence, my mom conscripted her children into a small army of sullen, uncooperative non-volunteers. Every Saturday morning she would make a list of jobs for each of us to complete before we could go outside and play with our friends. A typical list looked like this:


1. Make bed and pick up clothes

2. Clean upstairs bathroom

3. Sweep kitchen and dining room floors

4. Take garbage out to burning barrel

In my dad’s defense, when he was around, the one job he always performed was doing the dishes after supper. And he was good at it. Once our meal was finished, we three oldest kids would call out the jobs we wanted to do. Dad always washed. One of us dried. One of us put away. One of us would get the broom out and sweep the kitchen floor and wipe off the table.

Dad worked methodically from left to right, dirty dishes piled neatly on the left counter. He would squirt pink Liquid Lux into the left sink and fill it with water which created a nice foamy layer of bubbles on top. My brother and I would fill up the rinsing tub in the right sink with the hottest water possible. While waiting for dishes to dry, we would have a contest to see which of us could leave his hand in the hot water longest before yanking it out. There was some yelping during that game along with some scalded skin. It didn’t take our squad of damage control experts very long before the kitchen was spotless again.

My wife and I moved into our first small home a couple years after getting married. That kitchen had a dishwasher. Looking back, I don’t think we used it more than a handful of times in the eight years we lived there. I was so used to doing dishes by hand that I just stuck with what I knew. For me it was a mundane, relaxing task. Like my dad, I was fast and efficient. It took a lot less time for me to wash, dry and put away the dishes than it would have taken to rinse them, load them into the dishwasher, wait for the cycle to end and then put them away. Call me practical. Of course, each of our subsequent homes had dishwashers and as our family grew, so did the volume of dirty dishes. I stepped away from the sink and began to utilize this modern marvel of convenience.

So where are we going with all this talk of washing dishes when there are so many other pressing questions facing mankind? Questions like:

1. Did aliens from outer space build the pyramids of Egypt?

2. Is Bigfoot real?

3. Are there actually UFOs?

4. Is global warming caused by cow flatulence?

5. Should anybody on television ever be allowed to use the phrase ‘existential threat’?

(All those questions, however, pale in comparison to the question I really want you to think about.)

6. Is there a right way and a wrong way to load the dishwasher?

A. Yes

B. No

C. Maybe

D. I don’t care

E. None of the above

F. All of the above

G. I’m hungry

Hint: The answer to the first five questions is B. No. The answer to the sixth question is A. Yes! Yes! Emphatically YES!! There is a right way and a wrong way to load the dishwasher!

In our home, I do a lot of the cooking and I usually clean up after meals. My wife pitches in with cleanup when the mood strikes her, and I just let her do her thing. I learned long ago not to criticize the way she folds my shorts and underwear or the way she loads the dishwasher. Those things don’t matter that much to her. They do matter to me. (When she’s not looking, I typically refold all the clothes and rearrange the dishes.)

Here are some basic guidelines for properly loading the dishwasher:

First: wash all large bowls, pots, pans, expensive cooking knives and wine glasses by hand.

Second: glasses, cups, small bowls and larger utensils go in the top rack, filling from back to front.

Third: Plates, cutting boards and smaller serving bowls go in the bottom rack, filling from right to left.

Fourth: silverware goes in the rack with sharp knives handle up and the rest handle down, separated by utensil. This makes for ease of sorting and putting away.



I admit it. Some people might consider me to be slightly anal retentive. However, I’m nothing compared to this guy!

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1 Comment

Liz Nitardy
Liz Nitardy
Sep 05, 2023

Even though I was in the second wave of kids in our family, linked with Peter, I, too, remember life before and after a dishwasher. Mom had saved $400 piano teaching money to purchase that baby. And I remember the feeling of relief I had when it was installed, thinking that perhaps this would cut down on the time that mom spent on her feet in the kitchen. In fact, it didn't cut down the time she spent in the kitchen at all. She just spent her time doing different things and more of it. She would say frequently how much she appreciated that dishwasher. It had a butcher block top it was on wheels.

This was sure a fun…

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