Why I Have to Run my Dishwasher EVERY Night

Why I Have To Run My Dishwasher Every Single Night at

I’ve mentioned to a few people that I run the dishwasher every night, and empty it every morning.

They think it’s strange to not just wait until it “needs it.”

They don’t understand because they’re normal.

I’m not.

I have to make myself run it every night for two reasons.


First, by running it at night, I’m able to empty it first thing in the morning, leaving myself no excuse to let dirty dishes pile up in the sink all day long because there’s no room in the dishwasher. Or, if I run it randomly during the day, I may or may not have the time (or the occurrence of thought) to empty it, leaving me in basically the same situation.

Second, if it isn’t a non-negotiable for me, I tend to assume that there aren’t enough dishes to fill it, and so I don’t bother to put the dirty dishes from the counters, or the table, or the computer desk, or the coffee table in it. And generally, I’m wrong.

Knowing that I have to run it every single night (because I’m a slob, and I’m compensating for how my slob-brain works) means that I go gather up every dish in the house in an attempt to fill it full. Generally, I do fill it full. Since we don’t use paper plates anymore, and as a germaphobe I don’t like to drink out of a cup if I can’t remember for sure that it was mine, and I can rarely remember if it was mine . . . we have lots of dishes at the end of a day. There’s also enough room for the bigger stuff that I used to have to hand wash because the dishwasher was completely full with cups and plates.

Occasionally, there are days when it isn’t full, and generally that’s when we’ve been gone. If that is truly the case after every last dish has been gathered, and I can justify that the next day won’t bring an overabundance of dishes, I won’t run it. But I can only make this decision after I have made every attempt to get it full. And at that point, at least there are no dirty dishes lying around!

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  1. 1
    NorCalMom says:

    I have the same rule. Most nights it is full, sometimes REALLY full, and sometime not so full; but it gets run each night. I empty the dishwasher while I brew my morning coffee (reward). It has become a habit and I think I like it that way.

    Plus the kids know that it is time to get up when they hear me unload the dishes. No need to go in and wake them up!

    • 2
      Michael Bohlman says:

      After reading this I think I will try doing My dishes this way ,because after cooking 3 meals a day and feeding 7 cats and 1 dog ,I have dishes all over My house nere the P.C. the TV everywhere and the sink is always full ! And I am Retired ,I must Be a slob !!!

  2. 3
    mom2priceboys says:

    I'm proud you are only running it once a day. It seems with the kids home and I am creating 3 meals a day plus desserts and countless snacks, I am running ours more like twice a day.

  3. 4

    Honestly sometimes it's like you're inside my brain LOL

    I'm with you!

  4. 5
    Lenetta @ Nettacow says:

    Yes, I think that little bit of wasted water from three open plate slots is so worth not having a huge mess tomorrow!

  5. 6
    NorCalMom says:

    I have two awards for you, so stop by when you can and pick them up.

  6. 7
    Absentminded Mother says:

    I was wondering about this since it takes me a day or two to fill mine up. My husband took away a lot of dishes because he got tired of cleaning them. It hasn't really helped us because now we run out of dishes and the dishwasher still isn't full. I wish I could install a smaller dishwasher, then I could use that space to store a garbage can or something more useful. LOL.

  7. 8
    Going Cerebral says:

    LOL @Lenetta….'so worth not having a huge mess.' you're SOOO right about that!

    we had to replace our dishwasher a couple years ago due to various damage done by mice while we were gone (yes, we've found where they were coming in and have sealed it off). I researched and found a dishwasher that served us well, within a price point we could do, and the best water conservation. I think a full pots/pans load on sanitize uses 5-7 gallons max. That's less than I would use hand-washing.

    this is a habit i'm working on getting back into. part of my problem is that i've been battling my kids about emptying it. i need to get proactive and just empty it myself for a month or so….get us back on track.

  8. 9
    Anonymous says:

    I could have written your post! I think you would be surprised how many people do this ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. 10
    Jenifer says:

    I have just subscribed to your blog, I find it inspirational. We are a houseful of slobs…but we know it..that's the first step, right?

  10. 11
    todotada says:

    I run mine for the same reason. I've just started a blog for the same reason as you too – however, I've decided to be totally anal and list everything – I like ticking things off ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. 12
    Lisa@BlessedwithGrace says:

    You know, I TOTALLY get you! I think it is a great idea and helps you stay on top of things. Because I am so much that "internal slob".

  12. 13

    I run my dishwasher everynight too…cause it's full. lol
    I love your humor here.

  13. 14
    Mary @ Giving Up On Perfect says:

    That makes so much sense to me! I run mine about every other day, but at least once a week, I get completely behind and have a counter full of dirty dishes. Maybe I need to do it every night, too…

  14. 15

    I'm really enjoying your writing style! Consider me your newest subscriber.

    We have a tiny dishwasher, so our family of 3 needs to run it pretty much every night as well. I like to have it emptied before bed if I can so that my husband can put his dirty breakfast dishes away himself ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. 16
    Nony (A Slob Comes Clean) says:

    Thanks for commenting everyone. It's so nice to know I'm not the only one!

    Welcome Kacie! Thanks for subscribing.

  16. 17
    VanderbiltWife says:

    I think I should consider doing this! Maybe if I ran some of the bigger things (that I HATE to wash) they wouldn't sit out for days. I mean, of course I would never do that. Ick.

    My dishwasher is kind of old and nasty, though, and not everything gets really clean. Any suggestions?

    • 18

      vinegar in the bottom of the dishwasher helps with ours and it’s very new.

      • 19

        I know this is old but I’m curious about this idea. Do you just pour a couple of tablespoons of vinegar in the very bottom of the dishwasher under all the dishes? We rent an apartment and the dishwasher is kinda old and the bottom is a little rusted and sometimes things don’t look that clean so I was wondering if this would help.

    • 21

      finish sells a dishwasher cleaner for the machine that I use once a month. It is supposed to help clear out the pipes and bottom of grease/oil/grime. I also take out the filter every couple of weeks – you would be disgusted at the little bits of food that accumulate there. My washer arms also come off and I found a couple pieces of onion that had gotten in there and was blocking the spray.

    • 22

      You can clean it with lemonade koolad or citric acid. Mine won’t clean well unless I put just the right combination of stuff in it. Right now it’s sun (previously cascade with dawn) dishwasher detergent about a Tbs. of citric acid and a few drops of dawn. The brand of Dishwasher detergent is important in mine with the generic stuff I usually have to rewash a bunch of them. Cleaning the filter on the bottom is also important.

  17. 23
    Nony the Slob says:

    Vanderbilt Wife, I would just give it a shot and see. ANother advantage that I've found to running it every night is that things seem to get cleaner because they don't sit for as long and the food comes off more easily. Maybe that would help with your older dishwasher.

  18. 24

    I’m going to be adopting this rule starting today. No more excuses. Like you it just slips my mind. Unlike you I procrastinate on emptying it, not on filling it. Must stop it. With six of us there are plenty of dishes and I will STILL end up washing the large pots by hand but that’s ok.

  19. 25
    Sharon Jacksack says:

    We run it every night for a different reason – ANTS! Particularly in the summer months, if we leave the dishwasher til the next day, the dishes and the inside of the dishwasher will be crawling with ants. (Ick.) So full, part full, or even nearly empty, we will run it in the evening just so we don’t have that nice little surprise waiting for us.

  20. 26

    Oh wow… I just found you via Raising Arrows, magically found this specific page right away, and can’t believe what I am reading! I have never known anyone who ran it until it was stuffed full, but the last few days of looking at yet another growing, festering pile of dishes on the counter I started to wonder if I couldn’t just run it every night. I quickly dismissed the idea, after all I should only run it when it’s full, right? I feel so free to try this now! Thank you thank you thank you!!!!!!!!!

  21. 28

    We run ours every night, too, and throughout the day! I have four children at home with me during the day (we homeschool, too) and my sink is never empty. Much like our laundry room, there’s always SOMETHING going on in the kitchen!

    God bless you in your work – all of it! I enjoy your blog and regularly laugh aloud as I read your posts.

  22. 29

    i know, i’m still WAY behind on your blog, but i can’t stand the thought of missing a single daily post!
    this is so funny reading your post and all the comments. see, nony? you’re definitely not the only one of us out there!!! ๐Ÿ™‚
    i have started running mine every night…IF it’s pretty full. clarification….there are only two of us in the house most of the time, so if i know that i can go another FULL day before it is full, then i will wait till the next night. but the key here is running it at night. then you wake up to a whole bunch of clean dishes….talk about multi-tasking…. you’re working while you’re asleep!! haha!! then in the morning, i put my big mug of tea in the microwave and race to see how many of the dishes i can get put away in the 3 minutes that my tea is brewing. we have to make it fun, right? i can usually get almost everything put away….unless it is an unusually silverware-heavy load. ha!
    and for those of you who haven’t tried it, you should definitely try putting your pots and pans in too!! even if they don’t come completely clean, they are usually a LOT easier to finish up by hand after the run through the cycle.
    nony- you’re doing so great!!! i’m so proud of you!! you are an inspiration to so many~ thanks for being courageous enough to share!

  23. 30

    Nony…. it’s a little late, but if you wanna remember your own glass anytime, take a colored rubberband and put it on the glass around the middle – my mom and sis and I all drink unsweetened tea, so every time we have a family get together, i use a rubberband to remember which glass is mine… it’s been working for more than 10 years!!! ( my mom has 12 matching glasses, so its easy to get confused, at home, there are regular cups, and then I have my own “straw cup” so there’s no mistaking. )

  24. 31

    We run it even if it’s less than half full to keep a routine. It takes less time to empty too! This never happens now with so many kids so hand washing the extra dishes-uses waaay more water than one load in the dishwasher.

    You can always throw in the stove top pieces , the vent/fan cover for the stove top, little glass knick knacks, toothbrush holders, soap dishes, metal soap holder thingys, coffee pot parts, glass microwave tray, sink plugs, scrub brushes, the removable beverage holder from the car, children’s plastic toys, any piece of the high chair and straps you can fit, dishwasher safe wall hangings, dishwasher safe light fixtures, containers for organizing the pantry or fridge, etc. I know someone who puts in flip flops but I can never go There.

    Please, not the sponge unless you microwave it for 2 minutes after!

    How pathetic is my Saturday night!!!!!

  25. 32

    My partner and I have an ongoing thing, where she doesn’t want to run it until it’s full, and I say it has to run when EITHER the top OR the bottom is full. For us, the top is always the limiting factor, because we use a LOT more plastic stuff than glass/metal and if she waits until the bottom is full, too, we are left with a sink full of greasy plastic. This every night this sounds like a great idea.

  26. 33

    Shanna – Why not the sponge? I thought running the sponge through the dishwasher was the way to sanitize it?

  27. 34

    Just googled it and found an article saying that microwave or dishwasher are the best ways to clean a sponge, and are equally effective. Whew!

  28. 36

    I’ve also gotten into the habit of running mine because, like Shirley, I like the idea of accomplishing something while I sleep AND because I do NOT unload the dishwasher! My kids do it right after breakfast every morning. I’m probably crazy, but I would rather wash everything by hand than have to unload the dishwasher, fortunately my kids do a great job and even the two year old helps. ๐Ÿ™‚

  29. 38

    This idea has been a lifesaver. I have a 2 month old and a 2 year old. Waking up to a sink and counter full of dirty dishes was awful. I had no motivation to cook, because I had to clean everything first. I’ve started loading and running the dishwasher and doing all the handwashing before bed. My husband is so happy that the kitchen is staying clean….ish, and he is putting the dishes away before I wake up. My kitchen is clean every morning and it’s just wonderful! I cook, I have motivation, and time to do other things, like track down the 5 million duplos and return them to their rightful spot. Thank you so much!

  30. 39
    Sherrie says:

    I just had to THANK YOU for this awesome tip. We have been doing this for almost a month now and I am proud to say that it has inspired us to branch out to other chores and do other decluttering. I unload the dishwasher every morning while I make coffee and then the rest of the family adds their dishes throughout the day. The last adult to bed turns the dishwasher on. And the most amazing thing–last week I went to bed early with a horrible headache. I woke up the next morning and went to the kitchen and it was CLEAN. That has never happened before–Thanks Nony!

  31. 41

    Saw the title and thought, “You have kids, that’s why!” LOL I have some MOM glasses/mugs that everyone knows are for me only. The range from a funny saying to a special Disney mug the kids got me. I do the same for the kids, too. I buy character cups at Wally’s, and everyone’s cup is different. It isn’t perfect, but it helps. When they were small we designated colors.

  32. 42
    Zookeepr says:

    Ran across this on pinterest….I LOVE PINTEREST, anywho….if we used this dishwasher…which is rare because it is only hooked up to the cold water, so we use it for rinses occassionally, we would have to run it 2.5 times a day. Yes we fill it at every meal and since we dont do a formal, need dishes, lunch, we really only fill it half full at that time of day. It would be overful by end of dinner so it has to be run before dinner just to hold dinner dishes to allow am empty sink to wash dinner pans.
    Anyway we handwash everything and wash dishes quite constantly. I cant stand disposable anything, such a waste of money and landfill space….so its a trade off we deal with. We are a house of 8 people.

  33. 43

    We have 10 in our family (my dh, me, and 8 kids ranging in age from 13 to 1.) My husband doesn’t want to run the dishwasher more than once, so we fill it completely and everything else gets hand washed. Dishwasher is started by him when he goes to bed. I would almost prefer to run it twice a day BUT it must be admitted that having a routine is a huge help. We get up to a dishwasher full of clean dishes, our 7 year old puts away the silverware, our 8 year old puts away everything else. These 2 also take turns clearing the table and putting stuff in the dishwasher. Our oldest 3 wash big cups, pots and pans, and plastic bowls. I guess it works pretty well, though often we do have a counter full of dirty pans and bowls during the day, but at least the place looks clean when I get up. Briefly :-).

  34. 44

    I know this old and there are a ton of comments, but I just wanted to chime in. We are a family of six, and if I want to keep the kitchen clean, I have to run the dishwasher twice a day. I empty it first thing in the morning, and then load all the breakfast dishes and start it. Then at lunchtime I empty it and fill again with the lunch dishes, which usually are very few since I’ll use a paper towel as a plate if I can. Then I can load the dinner dishes and start it again that night. Running it this way keeps the huge pile out of the sink and off the counters. I love having a clean kitchen. Sometimes, if I cook or bake a lot, I’ll have to run it a third time. But that’s fine with me…I hate having to hand wash.

  35. 46

    totally do the same,looks like you got more ladies agreeing with you than not

  36. 47

    I am so happy to know that people do this! I get so tired of dishes piling up and it seems like, in order to cook, we have to wash dishes by hand before every single meal. My wife and I both work full time jobs and since I leave at 5am and get home closer to 730pm, she cooks on the days I work and I cook when I am off. Often times we get into arguments because dishes are not clean and I hate having to wash dishes just so I can cook. Even though running the dishwasher every single night may cost a little bit more in the long run, I think it will be worth it. It might even motivate us to keep the rest of the house cleaner, since dishes will not be as much of a chore. Anyway, glad I found this and, again, I am glad I will not be alone in running my dishwasher every single day.

  37. 48

    I’ve just started doing this based on this post, and it’s already helping me immensely! My kitchen is one of the biggest problem spots in my house, and I realized it was largely because I was running the dishwasher whenever I felt like it, which usually meant when it was absolutely full to the brim with tons of extra dishes piling up in the sink. Also, I run it without the heated dry, so I would have to let it sit and dry for quite a while (with more dishes piling up) after running it, plus my 18-month-old always wants to “help”…anyway, it was a recipe for madness. We also have a TON of dishes because my two kids and I are home all day, my husband works from home, and I love to cook and bake and do everything from scratch.

    Over the past few days that I’ve been running it every night, it’s been totally full because I can often fit that extra big pot that otherwise would just sit out for a day…or two…before I finally washed it by hand. Plus, sitting all night dries out the dishes so I can unload them first thing. I do it while the kids eat breakfast, so no one hangs around trying to help. It takes me less than five minutes to unload, and then I can load the breakfast dishes immediately.

    It’s such a small thing, but my kitchen looks SO much better already! I don’t know why I waited this long – one or two empty bowl slots are hardly going to make a difference, and things are already feeling far more sane in my house. I can’t wait to go through the rest of your site!

  38. 50

    Ha! I thought I was the only one who did this! LOL I know this is an OLD post, but I laughed so much when I read it. Sometimes I feel a little guilty when I run it in the evening if it’s not totally full, but it’s one of the routines that keeps my kitchen company ready virtually all the time. It’s the only room in my house that company ready all the time, but one step at a time, eh? We also never go to bed without the kitchen being spotless. Everything is wiped down, the sink is rinsed and wiped out, papers are straightened (even if it’s just into a neater pile-o-junk) and no dirty dishes are allowed to hang around. It makes such a huge difference in my day to wake up to a clean kitchen!

  39. 51

    Ok I am proof you can teacher an old dog new tricks. I am going to start doing this today. I’ve always thought you had to hand wash pots and big bowls so there would be more room for the small things. Now I realise just put everything in and run it once at night. This is brillant..

  40. 52

    We have been doing the dishes this way (And running one in the middle of the day) for about 2 months now. It has made a huge difference in our home! ๐Ÿ™‚

  41. 53

    I’m at a different place in my life since I’m divorced and my kids are grown. I had to give myself permission to run it at lease once a week. And not worry if it was only half full but I was running out of a particular thing. If you all are washing daily, running the dishwasher once or twice a week is not wasting all that much water! Also, to let myself know if the dishes inside are clean or dirty, I keep the door locked when they’re clean, unlocked when it contains dirty dishes. This may be obvious to “normal” people, but it’s a little thing that really helps me. Although my boys would still ask “clean or dirty” when they still lived at home.

  42. 54

    I am also going to adopt this practice. I hope it works.

    Do you have any ideas for laundry? Thanks.

  43. 56

    I have been doing this since getting my very first dish washer, I love getting up in the morning and the kitchen is clean, very rare to not need to run it at night round here, I don’t stress too much if it’s not always packed to the brim lol

  44. 57

    {Kathy} Yep. This is right on the money. These kind of routines will save your soul the next morning. I am also known to run it after all the breakfast dishes are in just to INSURE that I can run it after dinner with no problem.

  45. 58

    I love, love, love this habit the most! I think it makes the most difference in my attitude and the state of the rest of the house. I run mine every night, if it’s not quite full I just spread the dishes out so there is more room between them. On the few occasions where I forgot to start the dishwasher the night before, I didn’t know what to do while the coffee was brewing and ended up wandering in circles.

  46. 59

    Yea! You are the best ๐Ÿ™‚

    A suggestion for the cup thing: I bought some colored hair bands (not for hair!). Each person has a different color and puts the band on their cup for the day.

    LOVE your blog ๐Ÿ™‚

  47. 60
    Jessica says:

    Your dishwasher method is something I have been following for nearly 5 months now.
    I have my son “Un do” the dishwasher each time. That saves me SO much time!
    It helps SO much and my self esteem soars as a result! I am not perfect with it, but when I am on point with it, WOW! What a difference!

    I go to bed with a nearly clean kitchen and I am ready to get to work on lunches, etc. without nasty sink and dishes in the morning! Yippee!

    I can run this house ๐Ÿ™‚

  48. 62

    Nony, You didn’t mention another good reason for running the dishwasher every NIGHT. That is when utility rates are the lowest, if we are talking bedtime.

  49. 63

    i’m really having a hard time with this one. not because i don’t think it’s a good idea, but because i get up to go to work at 330 in the morning. so unless i get up at 3 instead of 330, the dishwasher doesn’t get unloaded until (at the earliest) 2pm. if i even feel like doing it after working all day. and by then there’s already either half a day’s worth of dishes piled in the sink, or hubby’s washed any new dishes by hand, and there’s an overwhelming pile on the drying rack. hubby grew up without a dishwasher, so he doesnt’ “get” using one– even if both sides of my double sink are piled up, with dirty pots on the stove, and more dishes on both counters, he still thinks it would be easier to wash them by hand. but since he leaves to go to work when i get home, who do you think ends up stuck with it most of the time? on the bright side, both kids (2 and 4) like helping me unload and reload it.. it’s just the matter of finding the time and energy to do it…

    • 64

      Even when I don’t get it unloaded first thing in the morning, it still makes a huge difference when I run it every night and then unload and reload at the first possible point in the afternoon or evening. It’s really about finding whatever works for you and your lifestyle.

  50. 65

    OH. MY. GOSH. I just started this…literally 2 days ago. it has already started to make a huge difference. i think i’m going to try the unloading it while i make my coffee, so then i get a reward when i’m finished! i work nights, so, our dishes from the day and the dinner dishes, from my husband and kids, PILE UP! he’s horrible about cleaning up after cooking. there have been times that i come home and i can’t even turn the faucet on in the sink, because he’s played jenga, dishes edition, and if you move one thing, the whole pile comes tumbling down! i even threw away a pot the other day, because he had let it sit for so long, that it had maggots in it! thank God it wasn’t one of my Paula Deen pots! anyway…great post! you have gained a new slobby follower! p.s. found you on Pinterest!

  51. 66

    I may not be able to run the dishwasher every night, but the dishes are definitely loaded and the counters are now clean every night! Before learning this trick from your site, I had the same thought, “I have so many dishes to do. I’ll do them tomorrow.” Magically, they piled up. There isn’t a magic dish fairy that takes care of it (boo and dang).

    Since this change, my fiance now understands that it is becoming my “pet peeve” if dishes are out and about at the end of the day and not “contained” in the dishwasher. It will also drive me nuts if it is totally full in the dishwasher and he didn’t start it. My house is starting to clean up because of this small change. Thank you so much!

  52. 68

    What suggestions do you have for people who don’t have a dishwasher?

  53. 71
    Robin Hudson says:

    I do this too because my parents easily dirty enough dishes to fill it ALMOST every day. Now if I could just get the darn thing to actually clean the dishes! Sick of pre-washing.

  54. 72
    Upstate NYer says:

    Be sure to place your sponges in the top rack when you start the dishwasher at night. It gets the gunk off and disinfects them too!

  55. 73

    I am so bad at this! I know I need to do it and I’ll do it for a few nights then I tumble off the wagon. Why can’t I make myself do things that will ultimately make my life easier. Ugh.

  56. 74

    I’ve recently put away all but 6 plates and sets of silverware (we have large and small plates, same for silverware-and I have 6 of both sizes) for our family of 5. I also bought etching cream and etched the initial of each of my kids onto a glass. That way there is no grabbing a new one because we don’t know if that one is really theirs or not. I found that if I run a quick wash rather than a full cycle wash at the end of lunch, and again after supper, I’m having much less mess in the kitchen. I would always wait until I had a really full load, and then end up having a ton that didn’t fit, and so there was still mess on the counter even after I had loaded the dishwasher. Reducing the number of dishes, and running the dishwasher more often has really helped.

  57. 75

    I know this is an old column, but I thought I would reply to the idea that you can’t put plastic in the bottom rack: yes, you can! SOME plastic is heat-proof, and so is silicone, so just treat like glass or metal. But when you want to put more delicate plastic on the bottom (like large bowls or storage containers), just turn the setting to HEAT OFF on the dry cycle. I stick big plastic cups down there, too. And I am one to wash disposable flatware, too! But please note: if your dishwahser does not have a way to turn off the heated dry, then don’t put normal plastic on the bottom rack.

  58. 76

    This works SO well for me! Now I no longer feel guilty about running a partially full dishwasher, since I feel SO on top of things now that I awaken to a clean dishwasher every morning! Even when I am tired at night and want to hit the hay, I get cranked, because…This way, I know for sure that I have clean small spoons to feed the dogs, and that my coffeemaker parts are ready to go! Saves time, streamlines my process (I am a process geek), but most importantly, I feel really good in the mornings! Many thanks, Nony ๐Ÿ™‚

  59. 77

    My problem is that because it is a new habit, I forget to do it. So I have just sent myself a reminder to find a sticky note to post somewhere that I will see at night before bed so I remember to clean up the kitchen and start the dishwasher. (And to actually wash the hand wash items that I tend to leave for … um … a long time.) Here’s hoping the sticky note works so I can finally progress to Step Two of the 28 Days to Hope for Your Home!

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