Dishwashing for Dummies

Living in a country that has been drought stricken nearly since its inception, you learn to not waste what until then you had thought was free.
Fresh water is a valuable resource, one that is all too scarce in the world today. Until I moved here, I always assumed that water was free and didn't take much care to save it. Many renters today don't pay for their water consumption, so they don't even realize how much money is being spent on water. However, even if one won't benefit financially from conserving water, doing so helps benefit the environment and the world as a whole.

In my thirsty country, they recently lowered the water allotment per person in each household, as well as raising the price for using more than the allotted water. Now is the time for us to learn to be frugal with our water, as minimizing water wastage will save us money in the long run.

I will be sharing a few different tips in a few different posts on how to conserve our valuable resource, H2O.

Conservation of Water and Dish Washing

Do you wash the dishes with the water running? Leaving the water running while soaping up dishes is a big waste of water and of money.
Here's how I, and the natives of my drought stricken country, wash the dishes in a way that uses a fraction of the water of the aforementioned way.

First scrape off any large particles of food into the garbage, compost, or garbage disposal. A dull knife is good for this.
When you're finished scraping, put all the dishes on the counter and clean out the sink.
Soap up each dish one by one, putting them in a stack in the sink after they're soaped. Organize the dishes so the largest, flattest dishes are at the bottom and the smaller, narrower dishes are at the top.
Take the top dish, rinse it over the soaped up dishes, then put it aside. You can leave the water running while rinsing off, as the amount of water saved if you turn the sink on and off between each dish would be quite miniscule, if at all.
Because the rinse-water went on to all the soaped up dishes, you'll need less water to rinse the rest of the soaped up dishes.

Then there is the really really frugal way of dish washing.
Take two large waterproof containers. Fill both with water.
Again, scrape the foodstuffs into the garbage, garbage disposal, or compost.
Soap up the dishes. Dip the soaped up dish into the first container to remove the suds and grime. Dip again into the second container, to take off all the residue from the first rise. Dry. Use the water from both containers to water the garden or to flush the toilet.

I've never tried the second way as it seems a little less hygienic to me than the first way. However, I do know what I'd need to do if push came to shove.

I am very finicky about not letting the water run while I wash the dishes. If someone is washing dishes and leaves the tap on, I will walk to the sink and turn off the faucet, I am that finicky.

Do you let the water run while washing your dishes? Would you ever try the 2 container method of dish washing?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. I was always taught to fill one side of the sink (split basin or use a tub if single) with soapy water then the 2nd with plain water. My family used to add a splash of vinegar or a capful of bleach to help sanitize the dishes. Restaurants are actually required by most states to put dishes, particularly silverware in a sanitizing solution after washing.

  2. We use two basins, one 1/2 full of hot soapy water, one 1/4 full of extremely hot clean water. The dishes get washed in the soapy side, rinsed in the clean water side. When the hot clean side turns soapy or merely warm, it gets dumped into the soapy side and I refill the clean side. I can usually get one draining board load full per basin of hot clean water, and adding the "cooled" water back to the soapy water keeps that from getting cold too. I think I end up using less than 4 gallons of water for approximately a dishwasher load of dishes, which is as good as the 'energy star' dishwashers out there, and way better than my ancient (and broken) dishwasher. I'd use even less if I used the stove to heat the water instead of letting it run till it got hot.

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