According to Caitlin Moran, people are divided according to “two diametrically opposite sets of belief” about how to load a dishwasher. But what about those of us who don’t own a dishwasher?
It’s week nine of my blog challenge to respond to my favourite columnist Caitlin Moran on various (largely) non-theatrical subjects of her choosing. You can read more about why I started doing this weekly blog here. As always, I encourage you to also read Caitlin’s original Times piece.
Growing up in the United States, my middle-class family always had a dishwasher; at least as early as my memory extends, we did.
I took household appliances of all kinds for granted. It wasn’t until I moved to London in the 1990s that I realised many homes didn’t have dishwashers. Not only that, but in many cases, no washing machines or no tumble dryers, no microwaves, no ice-makers, no toaster ovens, no coffeemakers, no electronic can openers. (Honestly, I used my first manual can opener at the age of 21, in a shared flat in Earl’s Court).
I used my first manual can opener at the age of 21, in a shared flat in Earl’s Court
More than 20 years later, the household this Londoner occupies still doesn’t have a dishwasher. Actually, scratch that. We do have a dishwasher, just not an electric one. The dishwasher is me.
Though I don’t enjoy washing dishes, given that my partner Peter does 99% of the cooking, it seems only fair that I should do the majority of the washing up. (Even if, I sometimes suspect, he generates maximum washing up whenever possible. Really, are that many pots and pans and utensils I don’t know the name of required to make a pasta dinner for two?)
In case you’re interested, I have one top tip for washing up by hand – kitchen gloves. No more scalding, much lower risk of slicing yourself on a knife that sneaks in with the rest of the cutlery when you aren’t expecting it. How wonderful. Why didn’t I stockpile these ten years ago?
My top tip for washing up by hands? Kitchen gloves
I don’t do all the washing up all the time, because sometimes, believe it or not – roughly 5%, I’d estimate – Peter actually wants to wash up too. He does enjoy it, or so he tells me. (He also enjoys ironing – everything down to sheets, underwear and socks – which truly boggles my mind.)
He tells me this has something to do with the fact that he’s half French. In fact, the statistics that I’ve found online suggest that dishwasher penetration in the UK is lower than in France and the rest of Western Europe in general. It seems that most Britons still consider a dishwasher a luxury rather than a necessity. Only about 40% of UK households have a dishwasher.
In any case, the no-dishwasher thing is definitely the norm in Peter’s family. His mum has had her new kitchen designed with, no dishwasher obviously, but sink and draining board installed on the island in the middle of the kitchen. Washing up, especially after big family feasts, is as much if not more sociable than preparing the meal itself. One person washes, two people dry, Peter’s mum directs where each item to its appropriate drawer or cabinet.
At this rate, even when Peter and I do move into a larger home – in the current one in SE1, there simply is no room to fit a dishwasher anywhere, let alone in the kitchen – I doubt that we will ever buy a dishwasher again.
I wish I could say that this was our small way of helping environmental causes. Sadly, various reports have shown that, if used efficiently (i.e. not run until they’re fully loaded), dishwashers use less water and less energy than washing up. I can say, in terms of easing my conscience in other areas, that as long I as keep doing my 95% of the washing up, I don’t feel guilty about only doing 1% of the cooking. It’s a win-win for Peter and me.
Until next week.
Caitlin Moran’s 6 rules for loading the dishwasher
For the 60% of Britons who do own a dishwasher, take heed of the correct way to do it, according to Ms Moran:
1. No pans in the dishwasher.
2. No chopping knives in the dishwasher.
3. No ashtrays in the dishwasher.
4. Place cutlery in the dishwasher handle up.
5. Milk bottles do not need washing before they’re returned.
6. Plastic ready-meal containers do not need washing before they’re recycled.