Three ways to make doing the dishes suck less

I really hate doing the dishes. I know I'm not alone. But dishes have to be done, don't they? I think it was Ben Franklin who said something about two things being certain: death and taxes. I would add to that cleaning dirty dishes. And I know Amy Tan wrote  "If you can't change your fate, change your attitude" (I could cry right now if I really start thinking about The Joy Luck Club.)

That said, I wish it were as easy as just  becoming one of these dolls engaged in stop motion animation style dishwashing.

It's not that simple. A lot of times, I just wallow in self pity that it's my job to do the dishes. Of course, that's why you're here, reader, because psych 101 or a thesis on why Jesus is a Socialist doesn't really prepare you to be a scullery maid.

But, screw it, the dishes have to be done and who else is going to do it? As the great PJ O'Rourke wrote "Everybody wants to save the world, but no one wants to help mom with the dishes."  But doing the dishes sucks and maybe if you make it less sucky, people would help.

Ok. So why does washing dishes suck?

Problem number 1: There are so dang many dang dishes.

Solution: Have less dishes.

I can't tell you how many times I have stood in my kitchen, my fist raised to the heavens shouting "Curses!!" (a product of too much Wizard of Oz, maybe, but it gets to the heart of how I feel) because I'm washing these stupid hand-wash-only plastic cups we use and there are 17 of them. I have a large family, true, but that means that everyone used at least two cups since the last time I did dishes (one meal ago, tops) and many used three. And tbh, I don't use cups because I hate washing them by hand (I drink water straight from the bottle, sorry environment) so that means 5 people, no really 4 because my husband is still at work, used 17 cups in four hours. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.

Okay, I am always threatening to have a designated cup that each person is responsible for, a la the tin cups in Little House in the Big Woods. But all the cups look the same and  there never seems to be a realistic way for everyone to clean their own stuff when the sink is full of dishes and mommy goes ballistic when someone comes near the kitchen sink (severe misuse of sprayer combined with general interest in recreating a waterside in the sink with your barbie. My eyeball just started twitching.)

So I saw this nifty idea in a blog called beeinourbonnet.


It is a little tray with initialed coasters for each person's cup. I think I'm going to try it. You could also try color coded cups or maybe a specific cup that is easily identifiable for each person. But the result should be that there is one cup per person at a time. If they know that's their cup, they can use the coaster to keep it from falling into the hands of an angry dishwashing mommy or into the equally terrifying sink full of dishes. I'm thinking the same could be applied to a whole set of dished for each person. Okay, now I'm inspired instead of angry about the dishes. I think I'm ahead of the game already.

Problem Number 2. Stuff doesn't come clean.

Solution: There are a bunch of little tips and tricks to get stuff clean.

I don't need to tell you that soaking works. It is great for the dishes and great for you, because it is in effect a mandatory break from doing the dishes. Just be sure you come back to finish! I used to say we had to get the kitchen DYFS (pronounced DIE-fuss) clean. The question you ask yourself to determine if things are DYFS clean is, "If a representative of the Division of Youth and Family Services came through the door right now, would they take away the children based on the cleanliness level of the house?" So don't get caught with dishes "soaking" while you watch Game of Thrones and the kids play Grand Theft Auto. If you want to keep the kids, that is.

Also, there are a few old school tricks to try. I keep a razor on a high shelf in the kitchen for baked on cheese as well as food that gets stuck on your wooden spoons. I think that last one is also called whittling.

Problem number 3: You feel like a scullery maid

Solution: Grow up!

Real life should never be a pity party. Even if you used to be a high powered lawyer or award-winning journalist, and even if you still are at the height of your paid profession, the dishes still have to get washed. There is no shame in washing them. When they are clean you will feel better, and every time you look at that sink full of dishes you will feel worse. Guaranteed.

I also found this great compilation of dishwashing tips from buzzfeed to address all the other stuff that sucks about dishes.

This post originally appeared over at The Ill-Prepared Housewife. I put in Game of Thrones where it used to say True Blood. I never did make that tray with coasters. And I still hate doing the dishes, but I feel 10 percent less bad about it because I’m older and wiser. Also my husband now washes the cups.