doing dirty dishes

Maybe after reading this, you’ll find a new appreciation for doing dishes, because let me tell you something: doing dishes in a dry cabin is THE worst.

I wanted to write about dishes around this time because Thanksgiving is coming up. And no matter who you are or how many people you’re having Thanksgiving with, people normally cook more food, more types of food, and have a LOT of dishes to do after.

As a reminder, a dry cabin has no running water. We have water jugs that drain into a five gallon bucket under our faucet-less sink. No water pressure, no hot water, just 60 degree water trickling from a jug. As you can imagine, the dish washing process is a bit of a hassle. We have no microwave here for heating water—mostly because we have NO extra space in our tiny kitchen for even a small microwave, and I also prefer heating things on a stove or in an oven.

When we first moved in, we quickly discovered dishes would be one of the chores we both hate most. We heated up a pot of water on the stove until it was boiling and would add it to some room temperature water in a larger container in the sink. There’s no bubbly hot, soapy water—after all, it’s water pressure that does that to soap when it enters the water. Thank God for those little stick sponges that you can fill with soap! Otherwise, we’d be adding soap to whatever sponge or rag we use. We soon realized we could use our coffee pot to heat up the water a little faster, so our coffee pot has many uses now! We’ll fill it up with 12 cups of water, and run it through—that way I can multi task. 🙂  You have a very limited time to do dishes ‘properly’ since hot water only stays hot for so long. It’s a real pain to have to heat water more than once when you’re doing dishes. It just makes the process that much longer. This happens more than I want it to. Since Logan and I both hate doing the dishes, we’ll let them stack up for a few days before doing them. It’s better that way anyway, that way we’re using essentially less water than if we did dishes every night. Because while we can only heat up 12 cups at a time, we still have to rinse the dishes individually with 60 degree water. We can’t really soak dishes in hot soapy water either, so we have to be extra aware once we’re done cooking or eating to rinse our dishes. Even then, sometimes food sticks. There’s not water pressure or one of those sprayer hoses, so we use our own strength and a paper towel ALL THE TIME to ‘pre-wash’ the dishes. Once you have your tub of hot water, you have to be careful to not get that water very dirty. Who wants to wash dishes with food-filled, cloudy, lukewarm water? Gross. This is yet another reason we sometimes have to reheat water, and thus start the whole process over again. Did I mention this is a pain!?

You can imagine the measures we’ve taken to cut back on dishes. I started buying paper plates. That’s been a lifesaver. I use aluminum foil most every time I put anything in the oven. I’ll reuse dishes (sometimes) for cooking. I’ve got a stainless steel and a cast iron pan I use, and those need to be seasoned with oil to work well, so if they’re not too bad, I’ll use them to cook chicken one night, and fish the next. Or to reheat leftovers. As one of my dry cabin friends told me in so many words, ‘you learn to accept more things that would otherwise be unacceptable.’ Living in our old house, we’d just wash everything every night. It keeps the kitchen clean(ish) and it was just one of those things. Now I’m okay with reusing the same coffee cup all week. Or the same plate. These things would be unheard of in our old house—not because it’s incredibly unsanitary, but because I just had the ability and quantity of cups to use more than one a week.

It’s funny because at our old house, we’d still bicker over who got to do dishes after dinner. And we had hot, running water. We even had a dishwasher! When I lived with my parents, we’d argue over who had to load or unload the dishwasher constantly! The thought of that now seems absurd to me! I don’t know if we’ll ever argue about the dishes again once we leave this house. I figure, this is kind of the worst of the worst dishes scenario.

So the next time you go to unload your dishwasher, or rinse off your dinner plates, or run the hot water to fill your sink with soapy goodness, I hope you think of this post, and realize you’ve got it made! Grumbling about doing the dishes is unnecessary, petty nonsense.

P.S. Thank you for putting up with this post. I realize it’s a bit negative and whiny, but this is one of the very real struggles of living in a dry cabin. I’d say it’s the biggest pain—(more than having to travel 30 minutes to shower and do laundry several times a week). I know I’ll never forget how much I hated doing dishes here, but I’m sure one day, it’ll be funny to read this again. 🙂

our cute vintage stove
our sponge stick!
my new best friend
our multi-purpose appliance

2 thoughts on “doing dirty dishes

  1. I love your posts..your way of life really does put things that drive us crazy in perspective. Can’t wait until the next one……what an adventure..I must admit, I am a bit envious except for the whole cold weather part…LOL!! Take care and Happy Thanksgiving!


  2. I love doing dishes, I love doing dishes, I love doing dishes – after reading this post and all you and Logan have to go through. I won’t complain any more about doing them and I will be thankful for the dirty dishes because that means we are eating every day. Thanks for making me appreciate one of the most domestic chores ever. Love you guys!


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