I can’t remember a time where we didn’t have a dishwasher in our home. The hubs and I lived in an apartment for 2 years dishwasher free. Otherwise we’ve always had a dishwasher and always took advantage of it. There were those items that fell under the hand wash only category but for the most part we used the dishwasher for a majority of our dishwashing needs. In all the years of using a dishwasher, I never thought twice about the cleaning agents or the amount of water we used in the process of rinsing at the sink and washing in the dishwasher.
As we venture down the road of back to basics living we’re looking at all those things that became conveniences. One of the first conveniences I decided to take a closer look at was our dishwasher. My grandmother was dishwasher free in her home until I was born. She survived raising four children in a busy household. I knew if she could do it I could get by just fine with my tiny household of three. Even with as much canning, preservation, and homemade everything I do. My first thought was to rid the chemical use in our dishwashing process. I ditched the store box of automatic dish detergent and went with a borax, washing soda, citric acid, and kosher salt mixture. Whether it be the quality of our dishwasher, the quality of our water, or the homemade mixture used, all of the dishes turned out spotty and less than clean. I’d have to do a thorough rinse before running them through the dishwasher. In this instance, I was wasting water, time, and energy. Even with the store bought detergent I was still overusing water, energy running the dishwasher, and then there were the unknown chemicals used in the detergent.
After much thinking about it I decided to go completely dishwasher free. I use dish soap for washing and grease cutting. For scrubbing I utilize a baking soda, white vinegar and/or hydrogen peroxide mix. The rinsing process is a water and white vinegar mix. It’s been easy to adapt and at times I think it takes less time. Be honest; who puts their dishes in the dishwasher as is; hard and crusty thick leftover food, grease, and other particles? A majority of folks give a rinse before placing the dishes in the dishwasher, which is the same time you could have the dishes cleaned by hand.
Since we don’t own our home, I couldn’t just ditch the dishwasher for more cupboard space once we made the decision to go dishwasher free… instead of enlisted the help of the dishwasher as a drying rack.
Our process has been simple. I’ve got a double basin sink (if you don’t have a separator in your sink use a metal or plastic tub for rining). I plug off both sides. In one I fill half way with hot water and a little less than a tablespoon of dish soap. The other side I fill half way with hot water and a couple tablespoons of white vinegar.
I also utilize a towel at the bottom of the dishwasher to collect any water that drips from the drying dishes. If I did not utilize a towel, when I close the dishwasher door any water that dripped from the dishes will pool at the bottom of the dishwasher.
If I have some hard to clean items I’ll give them a soak, set them off to the side and wait till I’m done with the bulk of the dishes. I’ll use a couple tablespoons of baking soda and a couple teaspoons of either hydrogen peroxide or white vinegar to make a paste. This is an excellent scrubbing mixture and stain fighter.
For as long as it took me to rinse and load the dishwasher in previous times, I could hand wash the dishes and be done. This set of dishes (plus additional pans not seen here) took me roughly 25 minutes to wash and wipe down the kitchen and sink.
I’ve saved water from rinsing and running the dishwasher. I’ve saved energy, no longer having to run the dishwasher. I’ve saved money not having to buy more than one dish detergent and also saved money through cutting energy usage.
I’d like to find a good pair of dish gloves that are environmentally friendly and that will last a long time. My hands have become a bit dry but it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make for energy saving, money saving, and water saving. I would also like to find a homemade liquid dish detergent vs. buying a store brand. I want to know what goes into the chemicals I use. I know there are some green environment friendly options available but on a super tight budget our household cannot always afford the high priced green options.
It’s just one baby step in the many our family is taking getting back to basics. How has your family adjusted to taking away such conveniences as a dishwasher? Have you always lived without? Could you never live without the convenience of having a dishwasher? We’d love to hear from you if you have homemade dish soap ideas or other hand washing ideas.
Take the step and go dishwasher free!