The Reality of Handwashing Dishes for a Family of Five


I am one dedicated slob blogger, y’all.

Unless you’re brand spankin’ new around here, you know how I feel about doing the dishes. I don’t love it and never will, but I know for a fact (from experience) that doing the dishes is THE thing that will get any house going on its deslobification process.

And NOT doing the dishes is (logically) the very best way to produce the opposite effect on a home. The re-slobification or continued slobification of a home.

But I know that not every person in the world has an automatic dishwasher. I also know that people who don’t have dishwashers don’t like listening to people who do have dishwashers. I’ve written about that before here: 5 Truths about a Clean Kitchen that Are Still True if You Don’t Have a Dishwasher.

I based that previous post on my own week-at-a-time experiences cooking daily but not having an automatic dishwasher at my parents’ place where we stay at “the lake.”

But last summer (I do NOT know why it took me so long to write this post!), I went further and did some official research. Like, science project type research. Like, take pictures and write-down-data-after-every-meal-for-the-entire-time-we-were-there research.

I was all in.

Partly it was for y’all. Mostly, though, I just need (again and again and again) to eliminate my own excuses. I am awesome at coming up with amazing excuses, even when I know exactly what needs to be done.

And being on vacation is the very best excuse ever (ever, ever) for not doing the dishes. And being on vacation without a dishwasher (other than my own two hands) is even better than the very best excuse.

What I did:

I wrote down the meals we ate and the time it took to handwash the dishes we used for each meal. Occasionally, I also wrote down how I felt about it.


I recorded what we ate so you can get a real idea of the time required for the type of cooking. They’re all simple meals, but I don’t get very fancy at home anyway. (See my recipes here.)

Timing myself doing tasks I dislike is my very best strategy for combating my T.P.A.D. problem. Time Passage Awareness Disorder. I talk about that here.

We used paper plates and cups. I don’t use paper products at home, but we were on vacation. And I’m not that dedicated.

How Long Does It Take to Handwash Dishes?

Day 1:


Meal: Ribs and Chicken Breasts on the grill, fruit and buttered noodles.

Dishwashing time: 9 minutes (for real)

Day 2:


Meal: Pancakes and Bacon (bacon was cooked in the oven on a cookie sheet covered in foil)

Dishwashing Time: Less than 10 minutes, including drying and putting away the griddle and the cookie sheet because I couldn’t balance them on the drying rack.

Includes time spent trying desperately to balance the griddle and cookie sheet on the drying rack to avoid having to dry and put them away immediately. Also included wiping down the counters.

Note from myself: “It turned 9:30 as I looked at the clock.” I assume this means I started at 9:20. And was intent on being clear that this took LESS than ten minutes. Including wiping down counters.

Did you catch that I also wiped down counters? OK. Good.


Day 2, Meal 2 (I assume we picnicked for lunch like usual): lasagna, salad

Time: 13 Minutes. This included putting away breakfast dishes and drying and putting away two cookie sheets.

Notes to myself: I was excited about the disposable pan for the lasagna. I did NOT want to do the dishes. I wanted to go to bed.

Day 3:


Meal 1: Biscuits, bacon, and eggs

Time: 6 Dread-Free Minutes including wiping down cabinets and drying and putting away the large skillet.

Notes: “No dread, 6 easy minutes.”

Meal 2: OUT TO EAT Wahooooo!!!

Day 4:


Meal 1: Waffles and bacon

Time: 10 minutes “including washing a tray from the ‘island.'”

Thoughts: Obviously, I felt quite the martyr washing that tray. That extra tray. That tray we technically didn’t eat off or serve from. Rude tray. Dared to get dirty.


Meal 2: French Dip Sandwiches, Salad

Time: 9 minutes with help (from my kids), “including wiping up of splashed counters/floors from overzealous washing”

Thoughts: I wrote down that this dishwashing included 5 mugs which we used for the “dip” part of the French Dip Sandwiches. I assume (months later) that I had someone dry those mugs and put them away since they aren’t in the photo.

Day 5:

Biscuits, eggs, leftover sausage.

Notes: forgot to time or take photo.

But I did clean it up. And even without knowing exactly how long it took to clean up that particular meal’s dishes, I know for a fact it was way (WAY, way) less time than I’d have needed if I hadn’t done the dishes after each  meal for the previous four days.


Clarification #1: Yes, I noticed (while writing this post, obviously not before taking pictures) that the cabinet door is open behind the dish drainer in some of the photos. It happens in my world.

Clarification #2: I’d normally pull the family in on these dishwashing sessions, but I was so focused on timing things that I guess I forgot. They didn’t complain one bit about being forgotten. And honestly, it would have probably taken longer to have them help since we weren’t in “our” kitchen.

Clarification #3: We do not eat such huge breakfasts every day in our normal lives, but while on vacation at the lake, Hubby makes big breakfasts. It’s his thing, and we all love it.


I have preached the “One Day’s Worth of Dishes Takes Ten Minutes” thing so much (do you have my book?) so it was gratifying (and told-ya-so smirk-producing) to prove that the concept is still true when handwashing. Obviously, using non-disposable cups and plates would add time.

I would LOVE for you to time yourself doing one day’s worth of dishes today (however you do them) and report your time here in the comments.






One Good Thing Leads to Another (or Vice Versa)

One Good thing Leads to Another

I’ve been on a green smoothie kick lately. To the point where I actually crave them. To the point where I made extra to give to a friend who suffers from health problems so she could see if they make her feel better. I don’t have health problems, but they make me feel better.

She’s on a kick now, too.

Do you know the most intimidating part of daily smoothie-making? (Now that I’ve realized I really CAN’T taste the spinach/kale and don’t have to hold my nose on the first sip.)

The daily using of the blender/food processor. Which means counting on that food processor to be clean.


Because if it’s going to be a daily habit to make a smoothie, it also has to be a daily habit to wash the blender.

After about a week of the strangely-addictive drinkable veggies/fruits, I had a moment of profound thankfulness that this new habit is even possible for me. Pre-blog, it wouldn’t have been. I might have tried a few times, but after a few days of digging out and handwashing the blender, and more than a few days of not bothering because I didn’t feel like excavating the very-possibly-slimy blender from the pile of dirty dishes, the smoothie habit would fizzle.

Yay for this habit making it almost a month now because the dishwashing habit has made it almost seven years now.

But since I know that no good habit is unbreakable in this house, I also appreciate how the smoothie habit encourages me to stay on top of the dishwashing habit.

There have been a few days over the last month when I almost justified not running my dishwasher before heading to bed. There weren’t enough dishes to justify a load (an old excuse I’ve proven wrong time and time again), or I was convinced I was too tired. But seeing the food processor in the sink urged me to load and start the dishwasher. I know (from experience) that it will only take me five minutes to load the dishwasher, and I know (from experience) that I’ll love the feeling of being able to take the food processor out of the dishwasher and make my smoothie without any hassle at all.

Good Habits make other good habits easier

One habit lets me do the other habit.

The other habit encourages me to keep up with the first one.

And that’s how it goes. So (so so so) many homemaking tasks build upon one another. Getting laundry under control opens my eyes to the reality of our family’s clothing clutter. Keeping up with dishes lets me try new recipes in my clean kitchen. Ready-to-go freezer meals free up time for decluttering.

Yay for one good habit helping out another.


I get my smoothie recipes from Simple Green Smoothies!




One Good Habit Leads to Another



Taking a Minute to Straighten the Bathroom Counter (Like, an Actual, Literal, for-real Minute)

one min bathroom counter at

“I need to let the plumber into my master bathroom.”

Little strikes terror into the heart of a slob like those words. Even a vastly-improved slob. A vastly-improved slob whose bathroom had returned to slobbiness while she wrote a book about how to not be such a slob.

Anyway, this is the before pic of my bathroom counter:

one min bathroom counter before at

Yowser. Obviously, I hadn’t been doing that “Check the Bathrooms for Clutter” thing.

Because I figured an emergency-bathroom-cleaning was good material for a slob-blogging post, I took a photo of the time on my phone before I started. 8:09.

I slid things that go in the drawer into the drawer. I threw trash in the trashcan eighteen inches away. I hooked the hangers onto my closet doorknob without even taking a step. I moved the iron to the cabinet where it goes (directly under the counter where it was sitting).

At 8:10, it looked like this:

one min bathroom counter after at

Seriously. In case you can’t see the phone, here’s a closer pic:

one min bathroom counter one minute at

One minute. ONE minute.

Don’t worry. I’m properly horrified at myself for not doing this sooner. Or daily. When it takes less than one minute, and which allows me to actually clean the bathroom when it needs an emergency cleaning instead of just straightening it and hoping the plumber forgets to wear his glasses.


And by 8:23, I had also straightened Hubby’s sink, cleaned the shower, and straightened the out-in-the-middle-of-the-floor-chair-which-we-pile-up-with-good-intentions so Mr. Plumber’s first impression would be less horrific.

One Minute Bathroom chair before after at

These are the moments when I really want to show people the before pictures so they can know I really did do something before they showed up.

But I also want them to think this is my “I HAVEn’t cleaned!” bathroom.

What can you do in one minute in your home?

One Minute Bathroom Counter pin at



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