The Lost Art of Handwashing Dishes

I love my dishwasher, don’t get me wrong. But when we visit my parents at their cabin in Oregon, we, the humans, are the dishwashers. Other years, I would usually wash and my mom would rinse and put away, but this year I noticed my 8 year old daughter was old enough to reach the sink easily.

Photo by: Piotr Siedlecki

Photo by: Piotr Siedlecki

“Will you help us with dishes tonight?” I asked her.

“Sure, you want me to put the cups in the dishwasher?”

“Do you see a dishwasher?”

“Ahhh, where is it?”

“I’m looking at one right now!”

Initiation time. Hands in the suds. Begin.

Just the act of filling the sink with warm water, watching the suds build and swirling the washcloth is relaxing. But washing dishes with my mother on one side and my daughter on the other is top bubble.

My mother-in-law tells stories of doing the dishes with her own sister and singing their way through the duty. In our family we don’t sing so well, so we let Eva Cassidy do the deed for us on the iPod while our triple threat of hands scrub, rinse and dry.

Maybe it is the fact that cabin-vacation-life is more leisurely. At home, the post-dinner hour is filled with bath time, lunch packing, toy clean-up and home work. At the cabin the only thing waiting for us is a game of Uno or Battleship.

Back home, loading a dishwasher is a solitary job. I’ve got a system of organizing our funky shaped plateware and endless sippy cups for maximum occupancy. And don’t mess with the system otherwise everything flips mid-cycle and fills with murky water.

But standing elbow to elbow with my mother and my daughter, talking about the day’s huckleberry picking adventure and tomorrow’s sand castle building plans, makes the normally mundane chore a shared joy.

4 thoughts on “The Lost Art of Handwashing Dishes

  1. My first apartment in NYC did not have a dishwasher so for over ten years I did dishes by hand. Fast forward to present. Although my current home allows me the luxury of a dishwasher, I still enjoy washing dishes by hand. It was while hand washing my dishes that I did some of my best thinking and strangely enough during those times always recalled moments of my childhood. I still on occasion regress back to the olden days and wash my glasses by hand then lay them neatly on a towel to dry. There is something theraputic in that simple action. Even lovelier to enjoy the company of family by your side.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love this story. Feel the same way about washing clothes by hand. Sounds strange, but hand washing clothes used to be one of my favorite parts of long backpacking trips. It is satisfying, calming and as Kathy said above, very therapeutic. And now when we go to Greece I love the daily act of hanging clothes out to dry on the line.

    Liked by 1 person

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