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.






Strange Organizing Strategies that Work – Storing Food Containers


Does organizing your Tupperware cabinet make you crazy? Do you automatically cover your head every time you open the door to protect yourself from falling food storage containers?

I get it. I’ve totally been there.

I arranged and re-arranged and organized and re-organized that space so many times. It seemed that no matter what I did, the mess re-appeared.

How did I solve my tumbling container problem?

Short answer: I started storing my Tupperware and other food storage containers with the lids already on the containers.

Long (like, really long) answer: I accepted I had a Clutter Threshold. A clutter threshold isn’t the point at which stuff irritates me. It’s the point at which totally useful things turn into clutter.

Food storage containers are totally useful things. My husband (thankfully) lives off of dinner leftovers for his lunches. I can turn one meal into two (sometimes, three!) using these totally necessary kitchen items.

Once upon a time, however, I had too many of them.

I didn’t realize it was possible to have too many because they were useful. Because they were useful, any time I saw pretty ones at a garage sale or on deep discount at a store, I bought them.

Which increased the frequency (and the painfulness) of the tumbling.

My (hard-learned) definition of clutter: anything I can’t keep under control easily.

When I had way too many food containers, I had to get creative with how I stored them.

Lids here, sorted by size, and squeezed into some fancy contraption to keep them standing up straight.

Bowls together, nested inside one another, stacked as high as possible.

But then, I always needed the container in the middle of the stack.


And I never (like, ever) needed it in a slow and easy moment when I had the time or desire or energy to methodically pull out the teetering tower of containers, gently remove the one from the middle, and then neatly replace the slightly-lower tower.

And I was never patient about analyzing which single lid was the one I needed before pulling it carefully from its vertical home without sending the other 67 lids flying across the kitchen.


I’m a grabber, a finagler, an I-need-this-thing-right-now-before-I-run-to-do-something-way-more-interesting-than-maintaining-the-neatness-of-a-Tupperware-cabinet type.

How does storing food storage containers with the lids on help me live below my Clutter Threshold?

  1. The cabinet naturally stays neater. (I’d say “neat” but we’re still talking about me.) I reach into the cabinet and in one step grab the container I need. No digging, no matching, no need to rearrange.
  2. I’m forced to limit the number of containers I keep. Because significantly fewer containers fit in my cabinet when they are stored with the lids on them, I can’t live under the delusion that there’s no such thing as too many totally-useful containers.
  3. My home, overall, stays under control more easily because I have fewer containers. Because I don’t have an endless supply of containers for leftovers, I can’t keep shoving them into the fridge to grow science projects while they wait for The Big Fridge Cleanout to happen. Because I don’t have as many, I’m forced to wash them consistently and keep things moving.

I totally understand why the naturally organized person would never consider leaving unmatched pieces strewn and shoved in the cabinet in complete disarray when she spent hours perfecting her system for maximum-storage-in-minimum-space.

But I’m not naturally organized. I’m pretty much the opposite of naturally organized.

So I have to go with what works for me. For my unique brain in my unique home.

That’s what matters. What works. Not what should work. What does work.

And I’ve heard from so many of you who function better this way, too.

I’d love to hear what works for YOU, that might be contrary to what works for others!


Helpful stuff (some referral links included): 

If you suspect your brain might be closer to mine than to that of a naturally organized person, you need my book. It’s called How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind and it’s available wherever books are sold. Go here to read more than 100 reviews that will let you know if it’s for you.

If you’re desperate to declutter, but fear the fizzle of that determination, sign up for 30 Days of Decluttering Inspiration and get 30 days of ridiculously practical decluttering strategies delivered free to your inbox to keep you going.

I’ve actually now switched almost exclusively to glass food storage containers. I feel better about using them in the microwave and they don’t stain. These are similar to the ones I have.





Dealing with Rust Stains on My Stainless Steel Appliances

Dealing with Rust Stains on Stainless Steel Appliances at

About four years ago, I got stainless steel appliances.

I love them, but they are definitely hard to clean. To clarify, though, I’m not one to notice little smudges here and there so all appliances of any finish or color or type are “hard to clean” for me. I generally don’t see any issues until I know a guest is on her way.

For the first time.

Second and third time guests get a much more realistic view of our home.

I did the deep clean recently, though. On most deep cleans, I do a general wiping down and shinyfying, but I decided to get a little crazy on this one and try to deal with the small rust spots which didn’t go away with normal cleaning.

I scratched at one with my fingernail, and it rubbed off.

Yay! But I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my fingernails, so I grabbed my handy dandy go to cleaning scraper, an old credit card that I keep by the kitchen sink.

Seriously, I use this thing all the time, y’all. It’s plastic and doesn’t scratch, and is perfect for scraping burnt on food off of almost anything.

I tried all sorts of different ways, but here is what I found to work best.

Removing Rust Stains on My Stainless Steel Appliances at

Spray generously with stainless steel cleaner (this is my affiliate link to the kind I use on Amazon) and wipe off according to the cleaner’s directions, letting it sit longer according to how dirty your appliance is.

Once it’s clean other than the rust spots, spray the stainless steel cleaner generously onto the spot and then, going with the “grain” of the stainless steel, use the side of the plastic scraper or credit card (one you don’t need to ever use again) to scrape off the rust.

And that’s it.

Here are some before and after shots.

Rust Stains on Appliances before after 1 at


Rust Stains on Appliances before after 2 at

P.S. Do you know how hard it is to take pictures of teeny-tiny rust spots on stainless steel? It’s hard. Really hard.


If the thought of dealing with nitpicky stuff like this stresses you completely out because you’re overwhelmed with your house as a whole, listen to this podcast from a few weeks ago.

How to clean rust spots off your stainless steel appliances at



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