I tried to save energy and water.
Honestly, I gave it my all. But I’m through with that philosophy — at least when it comes to the dishwasher.
For years, I ran the dishwasher only when it was completely full. I
had high standards. My standards were not as high as say, the super-competitive guys loading the dishwasher in the film Rachel Getting Married, but there were principles involved. Principles!!
My high standards didn’t pay off. Some water and energy may have been saved, but our kitchen was a freaking disaster. Every day.
The timing was always wrong. The additional hours it would sometimes take to get those few extra dishes to fill the machine would knock our entire kitchen out of sync.
The dishwasher would invariably need to be run when it was time for a load of laundry or someone’s shower. This may not sound like a big problem, but we live in a rented house with questionable plumbing and a crookedly installed dinosaur of a dishwasher. If we run large quantities of water through the pipes all at once, the dishwasher can’t drain properly, and it leaves a puddle of dirty dishwater on the floor.
It took me a while to figure out why this didn’t happen every time I ran the dishwasher. Someone even came out to “fix” the leak. He took one look at the geriatric machine and said, “Aw, come on!”
He did his best; he studied it and changed a seal, but the periodic leaks continued, and I realized it was the plumbing. If I time the cycle well, it won’t leak.
So, besides waiting for fullness, I had to wait to run the dishwasher until after the shower, or the laundry. We would run out of clean spoons, cups, bowls and other crucial items. The used dishes would pile up in the sink, on the counters, and even on the stove (!) before I could get the machine run and emptied.
Sometimes, if the boys couldn’t find an open space for their dishes on the counter, there would be plates ever-so-precariously balanced on the tops of glassware — eek!
Plus, it looked like I never cleaned the kitchen at all. There used to be five of us in the house, and though we’re down to just four now, we’ve got growing boys, and that means constant eating and constant accumulation of dishes.
Maybe someday I’ll have one of those cool new dishwashers with separate small “drawers” that you can run individually for small loads, or even just a newer, more efficient machine. Renters can’t be choosers; they can only be practical.
I decided to trade my standard of a full dishwasher for the standard of a clean kitchen.
Now I run the dishwasher once a day. I run it when the time is right, even if it is only mostly full.
Such a simple change, but what an effect. The sink is empty, the counters are clear, I have space to cook, and there are dishes in the cupboards when we need them.
I would have given up my high standards sooner, if I had known it would be this much easier.