Inside: If you regularly think, “I hate washing dishes,” and the dishes don’t wash themselves yet (let me know if they ever do!), then you’ll love reading these 15 ways to make washing dishes easier and yes, even enjoyable.
I used to hate doing dishes. The only chore I hated less than doing dishes was sweeping and mopping the kitchen floor (I still hate that one, so if someone comes up with a way to make THAT fun, please tell me!).
As a homeschooling family of six, we generate our fair share of dirty dishes. When you have this many dirty dishes to wash on a regular basis, you have a choice to make: continue to hate doing dishes, or find ways to make washing dishes fun. Well, if not fun, more enjoyable at least.
In the last couple months, I faced that turning point.
I put my problem-solving skills to work and came up with fifteen ways to make washing dishes more efficient and yes, even therapeutic at times.
From one dish-washing hater to another, I feel your pain. Unfortunately, unless you decide to use paper plates for the rest of your life, the dishes will always be there.
It’s time to make the best of it!
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15 Ways to Make Washing Dishes Easier
1) Change your perspective on washing the dishes.
Instead of looking at washing the dishes as a chore you have to do that is a TOTAL DRAG (let’s face it – when I hate washing dishes, that’s how I see it), you need a perspective shift. I picked this tip up from this book that talks about how the Danish people reframe negative situations in a way that makes them “the happiest people on earth”.
Before, dishes to wash equaled:
- Time not doing what I wanted to be doing.
- Doing a chore that would need to be redone over and over again.
- Griping about my spouse who doesn’t always help with the dishes.
- Focusing on my own weariness from the day.
With reframing, dishes to wash equals:
- Thankfulness that I have food to eat.
- Thankfulness I can buy dish soap to wash them.
- Quiet time to think/pray/dream.
- Thankfulness that I have been blessed with a big family.
You get the idea. Changing how you see washing the dishes will start the process of washing the dishes being more enjoyable.
And hey, I used to hate running. Then I decided to run a half-marathon to lose some baby weight. By the end of that half-marathon, I loved running. Running was fun.
Maybe washing dishes can be fun one day, too. Maybe. (I’m not quite there yet – if you are, feel free to share in the comments!)
2) Limit the number of dishes you have to wash in the first place.
This was a recent revelation. I hit a breaking point where I was so behind on the dishes that I put away all the extra cups.
Every child was allowed to keep their camelbak and one additional cup.
We labeled their cups with a sharpie, but putting different colored rubber bands on each cup work well, or these individualized name bands are another great option (that support an entrepreneur – even better!).
We haven’t extended this rule to bowls and plates yet, but we probably should! Just from limiting the number of cups each person could have, I saw an immediate reduction in the number of dishes piling up in the sink.
Fewer dirty dishes equals less time doing dishes, and that’s a huge win in my book.
3) Keep dirty dishes somewhere other than the sink.
Before I discovered this bin, all of our dirty dishes piled up in the sink, and then on the counter next to the microwave. Yes, I know. In a lovely imaginary world somewhere, every dish would be put in the dishwasher or washed right away.
Back to your real life…
I wanted a place to put dirty dishes that would not clog up my sink. Because when the dishes pile up in the sink, I have absolutely no motivation to washes bigger items like pots and pans.
Now, extra dishes go in the pretty bin that can be easily moved from one counter to another or stashed in a lower cabinet out of sight. With an empty sink, I can quickly wash pots and pans right away.
Perfect for my small kitchen, and my sanity!
Seriously, it’s a total game-changer: get one and see for yourself.
4) Wash your dishes with a scented dish soap you love.
I used to swear by Dawn dish soap. It was my last and final hold out in the “all the evil chemicals” cleaning products department.
Then I found a Mrs. Meyer’s dish soap scent that I LOVED. Cue: angels singing.
I never thought I would say I enjoy washing the dishes, but now, I get pretty darn close to actual enjoyment. The smell is as close as I’m going to get to therapy these days (and cheaper, too!).
Unfortunately, this particular scent wasn’t available with Amazon subscribe and save, but I recently signed up with Grove Collaborative, it’s my new favorite delivery service! Along with dishsoap, I’ve purchased everything from glass spray bottles (for making all-purpose cleaner) to rubber gloves to microfiber cloths.
They are SO generous, and give you five (yes, 5!) free items with your first order of $20 or more, PLUS a free VIP membership for 60 days which gives you free shipping on orders totaling $15 or more.
You can always cancel if you decide it’s not for you, but I’ve personally found it well worth the $20 a year membership.
5) Hang something you love above your sink to look at while doing the dishes.
If you’re going to have to stand at your sink doing the dishes for an hour every day (if you’re a mom, this is realistic), you might as well enjoy the view.
I have Christmas cards pinned to a bulletin board to remind me to pray for friends and family. If you love art, put art. I’d love a window, but that’s not happening in our current place.
If you don’t have a window over your sink, try framing one of these prints. Uplifting words are my favorite way to decorate: they keep my spirits up throughout the ups and downs of motherhood.
6) Use a dish drying rack that suits your sink and kitchen counter space.
The size of your kitchen and the type of your sink will determine the drying rack you need. We have a double sink and a tiny kitchen. This over the sink dish drying rack is perfect for freeing up counter space. By using the dish bin I mentioned earlier, I keep the left-hand sink open most of the time for washing random dishes or using the faucet.
If space isn’t a problem, a dish rack like this one would be amazing! Simple Human is known for their high quality products. I envy you all that space. Just make sure you have a place to store it when it’s not in use…and if it’s never not in use, you also have one up on me.
7) Listen to audiobooks or podcasts or watch a show while you wash dishes.
This one is so easy, yet I forget to do it so often!
If you haven’t gotten hooked on podcasts yet, I’m pretty certain there’s a podcast for everyone. Some of my favorites have to do with simple living, blogging, and homeschooling. If those aren’t for you, ask your friends on Facebook for some good ones to add to your queue.
Audiobooks aren’t my thing, but my husband loves them. You can get two audiobooks for free when you sign up for a free trial of Amazon’s Audible. Even if you don’t decide to continue with a monthly Audible subscription, you can still buy cheap audiobooks on Amazon and play them through the Audible app.
For shows, we recently canceled our Netflix subscription. We were already paying for Amazon Prime, which has a great selection of movies and shows. We’re saving $108 a year without sacrificing much at all.
8) Use effective dish-washing tools that work for YOU.
Years ago, my husband and I were the college pastors at our local church. We frequently hosted college students, who quite conveniently offered to do the dishes after dinner. One night, a student remarked, “You have the best tools for washing dishes I’ve ever used!”
I never really thought about it before, but I realized that everyone prefers different dish-washing tools.
Some people love a good sponge. Others swear by a good dish brush.
Still others, like my parents, can’t live without their old-fashioned dish cloths and brillo pads.
9) Wash the dishes every night as part of your evening routine.
Some nights, it’s just not possible for accomplish this. I get it! There have been seasons in my mom life that I have let the dishes go.
But guess what?! They were right there waiting for me the next morning. And later that day. And that night, too.
As hard as it is to find the energy to do the dishes before bed, the more I make it part of my routine, the easier it becomes. Plus, walking into a clean kitchen in the morning is SO worth it.
Need help forming your own evening routine? Check out this course by Crystal Paine: Crystal knows her stuff when it comes to routines and productivity!
10) Empty the drying rack and dishwasher as part of your morning routine.
My kids empty the dishwasher together every morning as part of their family service. I make emptying the drying rack part of my morning routine.
Starting the day with an empty dishwasher and dishrack is an essential part of keeping up with the dishes. Plus, having nowhere to put your freshly washed dish is extremely annoying.
Adding this to my morning routine keeps the dishes moving, making it that much easier to do the dishes at night, too.
Guess what! Crystal has a course for morning routines, too (told ya productivity and routines was her thing)!
11) Treat yourself to new, pretty dish towels seasonally.
I love decorating my house with practical items we already need and use. Pretty dish towels make me hate doing the dishes just a little less.
Target generally has seasonal dish towels that I can’t resist (which is why I try to stay out of Target). If you happen to be there at the end of a season, those seasonal dish towels are anywhere from 50-75% off. For example, in early November, you can find fall dish towels marked down.
Otherwise, I also use and love these dish towels from Target Threshold. They come in several cheerful colors and are very absorbent. Speaking of which, non-absorbent dish towels make for a crappy dish washing experience: make sure the ones you buy are absorbent (my experience with all Target Threshold dish towels has been fantastic for years).
12) Keep your sink rims and faucets from getting grimy and disgusting.
Staring at nasty dirty grime while you’re washing the dishes is the opposite of fun: it can be downright nauseating. When you have time, get rid of that nasty sink grime with these simple steps:
- Spray all around the sink using an all-purpose cleaner.
- Use a toothbrush to get hard-to-reach nooks and crannies.
- Spray again, and wipe down the entire surface using a dish cloth or unpaper towel.
Once your entire sink surface is clean, keep it that way by getting a simple and pretty dish to keep your dish soap, hand soap, and dish brush. The clean sink plus the pretty dish will take your dish washing experience up a notch.
13) Know how to clean dirty pots and pans easily.
Soaking pots and pans generally does the trick for making them easy to wash, BUT sometimes that stubborn, baked on food just won’t come off without more scrubbing than any busy mom needs or wants to do, am I right?
This post has all the hacks you’ll need to remove burnt food off of pots and pans quickly and easily. Read it to make sure you have some of the items on hand, like magic erasers, dryer sheets, and cream of tartar (who knew?!) when you need them.
14) If you get really behind on washing dishes, use paper plates for a few days to catch up.
As much as we are trying to have a paperless kitchen, sometimes a mom just needs a break. There is absolutely no shame is using paper plates for a few days. Every so often, life happens. I have a big blog project, or we all get the stomach flu.
Whatever the reason, sometimes you just can’t catch up without a break from accumulating more dirty dishes. Buy yourself some paper plates and give yourself a break. Then you can catch up and breathe a little bit.
Keep a supply of paper plates like these ones on hand just for that purpose (make sure to hide them or the fam will probably use them all the time!).
15) Reward yourself for doing the dishes.
We are so quick to reward our kids for doing things well, and yes, we reward ourselves as moms. But I want to suggest that we start rewarding ourselves smarter.
Those evening and morning routines I mentioned? They key to making them happen is developing habits, and those habits can be developed faster through the smart use of rewards. Pick something that motivates you: a piece of chocolate, watching a show on Netflix, lighting a candle.
Only do that thing after the dishes are done.
Pretty soon, washing the dishes before bed will not only be a habit, but you might even look forward to it because of the reward that will follow.
Here’s to Actually Enjoying Washing the Dishes
When you hate doing the dishes, and dishes are a staple in your life (hello, motherhood), you have to find a way to not hate it. Even if you never see washing dishes as enjoyable or fun, you can make washing dishes faster and easier.
I hope these tips at least do that, at least. But I also really hope that they also help you kind of, sort of, actually enjoy doing the dishes.
Happy dish washing!