The Detestable Task Of Doing Dishes

One of the least enjoyable aspects of cooking/food preparation is dirty dishes and the task of kitchen clean up. I am remarkably frugal when it comes to generating as few dirty dishes (pots, pans, utensils, plates etc) as possible. I will reuse utensils and mixing bowls (rinsing if necessary) for secondary purposes, but I am keenly aware of food ingredients which can be bacterial contaminants, such as eggs, dairy products, cooked legumes, meat etc. and will not reuse anything that has come in contact with them without a thorough washing.

Some food prep utensils don’t require (in my opinion) more than a quick rinse and a wipe with a clean towel. A washed and scrubbed carrot isn’t exactly laden with bacteria, so a peeler, grater or knife used on it shouldn’t require sterilization unless their next utilization will be major or minor surgery. Utensils used to transfer a dry ingredient such as salt or a dry herb can be merely wiped with a clean paper towel and placed back in the drawer. A lemon squeezer doesn’t need more than a rinse, does it?. Lemons are used as a cleaning agent, are they not?

I would like to place flowers on the grave of the inventor of paper plates. I will kill a tree in a heartbeat to avoid the detestable task of doing dishes. If only banana trees could grow in this climate. The banana leaf plates could simply be tossed into the compost.

Enough cannot be said for cleaning up as one goes. Hot soapy water on hand during the cooking process is the best way to minimize a lot of work later (whether it is your turn or not).

I was conscripted at a very early age into the lifelong responsibility of kitchen cleanup. The daily lists of chores on the side of the refrigerator demanded which child would perform which household task on that particular day. The responsibility of kitchen cleanup was delegated solely to my siblings and me. I had to help my older siblings do dishes since the time I had to stand on a foot stool to accomplish the task. My oldest brother wouldn’t let me wash because I was too meticulous and slow. He always made me dry and put away the clean dishes. I could never keep up, and to make sure I had to wipe each and every item with a towel he would periodically pour more water over the draining dishes to ensure they didn’t dry on their own. Is there any wonder I detest kitchen cleanup to this day?

Despite my frugality I am a lazy dishwasher. Seriously lazy. I can stretch a dishwashing task out for hours (Hey, I am retired. I can do that if I want to). I attribute that attribute (yes, it’s an attribute) to my high intellect and the many interests which easily distract me. I wash a few dishes and my creative mind is drawn to some innovative concept that pops into my mind and next thing I know I’ve spent so much time on research and development of an idea that the dishwater has gone cold.

When that happens I scoop out some of the soapy dishwater and reheat it on the stove or in the microwave oven (or on the wood stove). I am famous for letting the dishwater reheat for too long whilst absorbed in creative thought. Meanwhile the pot of suds might overflow with a loud sizzling sound causing me to abandon my profound intellectual pursuits and rush into the other room to alleviate a disaster.


I am meticulous when it is my turn to do dishes. The soapy water must be HOT & CLEAN. Nothing goes into the dishwater unless it is first thoroughly rinsed. Dishwater must not look like soup at the end of the task. If the dishwater starts looking murky with stuff floating in it, down the drain it goes. Seriously.

Yes there is a dishwasher which we use it on occasion when the volume of dishes overwhelms our emotional capacity. Mostly it sits idle, as I would if it wasn’t my turn to do dishes.


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