Tuesday’s Tip: Beating the Dishwasher Blues

January 25,2011
Sweet Pea Chef
Jessica Efird( )

Jessica, aka the Sweet Pea Chef, is a former U.S. Senate staffer/weekend gourmet turned full-time mom/family gourmet. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband and two sons.

I read about it on Facebook and hear the common groans amongst parents.  If I were to chose the top two most common parenting complaints (and this is wholly and completely unscientific), I would have to place a crown on Queen Dirty Laundry and King Dirty Dishes.  What is it about these two chores that has moms and dads throughout the country moaning and groaning and carrying on, often like a toddler who is sleep-deprived (yours truly, at times, included)?

Laundry and dishes, dishes and laundry, laundry and dishes...the cycle is endless, and hence, in my humble opinion, the reason that parents everywhere would rejoice if a laundry or dish washing fairy were ever discovered.  The monotony and frequency of these two tasks makes them both seem like endless parenting drudgery.  And despite a good attitude (“aren’t we blessed to have so many clothes to wear!” or “thank you God for the food we have in our bellies!”), even the most optimistic parent can understandably get frustrated with the tasks from time to time.

I know it is not solely in our home that as soon as I fold dozens of piles of laundry or empty the dishwasher that in a seemingly blink of an eye the hamper and sink are full again.  And while the laundry is outside the realm of cooking and the kitchen, I thought I would give you a few tips for today’s Tuesdays’ Tips to help tackle the dishwasher with a little more ease.

First, always begin on the bottom rack of the dishwasher.  Why?  Gravity, my friend.  If you pull out the top rack first, no matter how carefully you pull, chances are you will have water dripping from the top to the bottom, increasing the amount of hand drying you might have to do.

Second, try to focus on zones in your kitchen.  Instead of moving in order of your washer, do all the plates at once, cups at once, etc.  Especially for items that aren’t a mere arm’s reach from the washer, you can stack a few items and carry them in one trip to the cabinet in which they are stored, reducing your trips back and forth.

Third, for a little inspiration, set a timer for 5, 6 or 7 minutes.  A friend gave me this tip a few years ago, as a way to help me realize how little time it takes to perform this chore.  I know sometimes it feels like a constant, never-ending cycle of unloading, but putting a tangible amount of time on the task helped me recognize how short a job it is.  Once I knew that usually 5 minutes is all I need to unload, it felt less cumbersome:  “five minutes and I’ll be done in a snap!” instead of “all I do all day is unload and reload!”

I hope this three-for-one Tuesday’s Tip will help you tackle your dishwasher with a little more ease.  It won’t end the dish cycle, but then again, if you have dirty dishes, you had food to eat...