My Super Easy Hand-Washing Routine For Moms Without A Dishwasher

Most of my life, I’ve owned a dishwasher. 

Then, we moved into a two-bedroom apartment—with our three small kids to save money on living expenses—and the dishwasher didn’t work. 

So we had to hand-wash everything. 

And if you’ve ever had to hand-wash dishes, you know how it goes—the dishes only get done when you feel like cleaning them.

And they were hardly EVER done in our house. It’s kind of embarrassing to admit, but one summer our dirty dishes were so out of control that we had fruit flies everywhere.

I felt like I was living in a war zone. 

So, of course, if the dishes weren’t getting cleaned, that meant dinner was not getting made either.

And the funny thing is, we downsized our home to save money on rent, but we were spending most of the “savings” eating fast food and takeout almost every night.

Related: Why You Can’t Stick To Your Cleaning Plan

So how do you establish a dishes routine when you don’t have a dishwasher?

You could do this one of two ways: 

  1. Give your dishes a quick wash after every meal (which is what my grandma has been doing for YEARS!), or
  2. Throw all of your dirty dishes in the sink after meals. Reuse some of your dishes again (like for lunch) by giving them a quick wash so you’re not adding more dishes to the pile in the sink. And then, wash your dishes before dinner time, but keep the dishwater in the sink and wash your dinner dishes after everyone eats. 

I actually prefer the second method. I think I’d drive myself nuts trying to wash dishes after every meal since I have three small kids at home all day.

That way, when it’s time to make dinner, I don’t have too many dishes (about 10) to clean before I have to cook!

But if I need to meal prep, I’ll just use one side of the sink to keep my counters clear and start washing dishes as I’m cooking.

Or, if I need to throw something in the oven, I’ll do that first, then wash my dishes as it bakes. 

So, yes, there’s a bit of multitasking here but I promise it’s not as overwhelming as it is to wake up with a sink full of last night’s dishes and you have a full day’s worth of meals to get on the table. 

I’ve talked before about why this one habit will help you successfully keep your house clean. And honestly?

After years and years of relying on a dishwasher, I kind of prefer to hand-wash my dishes more!

The benefits of hand-washing if you don’t have a dishwasher that make it worth it:

1. Your dishes get clean the first time. It’s no secret that dishwashers have a tendency to not get everything clean. Some say it’s the dishwashing detergent you’re using and others swear it’s because you need to clean your dishwasher often. So knowing that I can get my dishes clean the first time using the old-fashioned way saves me time and less hassle.

2. Your dishes get clean faster. I spend no more than 15 minutes max when I hand-wash dishes. If it takes me longer than that it’s because I’m behind and cleaning two or three days worth of dishes. So hand-washing dishes is a lot faster than sitting around waiting for your dishes to get done (even though you know they may not get clean the first time).

It’s almost like waiting on your clothes to wash and then you have to remember to transfer them into the dryer before they mildew. And let’s not even get on the fact that when the cycle ends, your dishes are STILL damp. So basically, if you want to put them up right away, you better have a microfiber cloth nearby, which clearly defeats the whole purpose.

3. You don’t have to “wait” to clean your dishes. Because when you’re using a dishwasher, it’s best to wait until it’s full to run it. But if you’re hand-washing and you have an extra five minutes to spare, you can knock out those 10-20 dishes right away!

But, I will say that having a dishwasher comes in handy when you’re hosting guests. Luckily, though, I have friends and family that love to pitch in and help me clean my kitchen after our barbecues and other get-togethers!

How are you staying on top of the dishes?

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