3 Mind-Blowingly Easy Changes to Prevent Dirty Dish Pile-Ups For Good

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One of my least favorite chores for years was doing the dishes. I regularly had dirty dishes piling up in my sink.

And it really isn’t hard or even very time-consuming, so why did I detest it so much?

I disliked this chore even when I was only cleaning up my own dishes.

And with modern dishwashers always available to me, the big question was why did I hate doing the dishes?

These contraptions are supposed to make our lives easier.

Turns out, it wasn’t the washing that was so painful, it was emptying the dishwasher. For the longest time, I would spend a couple days waiting for the dishwasher to fill up. Then I would run the dishwasher. And I would spend the next several days procrastinating emptying the dishwasher, all the while, dirty dishes were piling up in the sink.

And I really disliked this tendency of mine. Feeling of guilt, filth and disorganization greeted me every time I walked into the kitchen.

“I should really empty that dishwasher. My house looks disgusting with those dishes in the sink. I need to get to it before it gets too bad.”

And after a couple more days of procrastinating, dirty dishes filling one side of the sink, I would need to spend half an hour emptying the dishwasher, rinsing dishes, and filling the dishwasher. Then I would get one or two more days reprieve waiting for the dishwasher to fill up and having a clean sink and the cycle would start all over again.

Until one day, I finalized realized it wasn’t the dirty dishes that were preventing me from having a clean sink every day. It was the clean dishes waiting to be put away.

So I had to solve that problem first.

And this is how that happened…

Make Emptying the Dishwasher 10 Times Easier and Faster

I was having conversation one day with someone who always has a tidy house. We were cleaning up after dinner, and putting dishes in the dishwasher. It wasn’t full, so I wasn’t going to run it. She said to me, “let’s just run it.”

It was foreign to me. What did she mean? Run the dishwasher when it wasn’t full yet?

Yes! That’s exactly what she meant. It took me a couple minutes to think through that. It kind of blew my mind. I guess I never considered that an option.

But I agreed. So we ran the dishwasher that night when I went to bed.

And the next morning, a miracle happened! I looked in the dishwasher and noticed there didn’t seem to be many dishes in it so it wasn’t going to take long to empty it.

I emptied the dishwasher as my coffee was brewing, and I have never looked back!

Gone are the piling dishes in my sink.

Gone is the feeling of dread thinking of unloading the dishwasher.

This simple change literally changed my life!

So that is my first tip and it may just change your life too. If you have had dishes piling up in your sink because you dread the thought of emptying the dishwasher, then run your dishwasher every night, even when it’s not full. You might feel like you won the lottery the next day when you open the dishwasher and it only takes a couple minutes to unload. I know I did!

Should You Run Your Dishwasher Even If It Isn’t Full?

If you look up this simple question in your web browser, you’ll find little support for running a dishwasher if it’s not full. However, most information available is based on the assumption you’re trying to save water and utilities.

And it really just depends on your habits and priorities. If I could get myself to empty a full dishwasher the morning after running it, I would never have switched to washing partial loads.

But as much as I wanted to have it done, I procrastinated.

Now, I empty every morning because I don’t dread the process. It takes a lot less time.

So, yeah, running the dishwasher every night is probably costing me some extra water and utilities. BUT, the dishes are always clean and in the cabinets.

I prioritize cleanliness and tidiness over economy and financial savings in this case.

Make Emptying the Dishwasher Less Annoying And Messy

One thing that has plagued me for years is the fact that dishwashers don’t dry all the water from certain glasses, containers, and anything that has flipped over unexpectedly during the washing cycle.

So you open the dishwasher, you pull out the top drawer because it’s closest, and as you pull out glasses, plastic containers and kids cups with wells in the bottom of the cups, you spill dish water all over the items in the bottom drawer.

This drives me nuts! And how about that balancing act we try to do to get the cup bottom full of water to the sink without spilling it everywhere?!

And I can’t count the number of times I’ve pulled out a glass with water trapped on its bottom and couldn’t quite make it to the sink without spilling so everything on the bottom got dripped on.

One day, I was tackling a particularly wet situation with the clean dishes. A couple items had turned over and filled with water and a couple kid cups filled with water on the bottom.

I was mentally muttering something to myself about why the heck dishwashers don’t actually dry the dishes, and why glasses and cups were made with that well in the bottom that insists on holding water when I started asking myself questions about how I could solve this problem.

After a couple minutes of thinking that dishwashers needed to be improved, I finally realized that while I couldn’t fix the problem of the dishwasher not drying everything, I could fix my emptying method to avoid getting everything wet when emptying the dishes.

It’s a simple fix, really. But it didn’t come automatically to me. I automatically want to pull out the top drawer first. It’s on top. It’s closest to me. Top to bottom. That makes sense to my brain.

But the solution is to empty the bottom drawer of the dishwasher first! If you empty the bottom drawer of the dishwasher first, then there’s no issue if the dishes on top drip and spill when you remove them because the bottom is already empty!

Simple right? Maybe you already do this. Maybe everyone already does this. I don’t know. But for me, this was a small change in routine that made a huge impact.

I no longer spill water all over the floor trying to avoid spilling water all over clean dry dishes. All the dishes in the bottom drawer get emptied, then the top drawer.

Any water spilled inside the dishwasher is just going back inside the dishwasher. No problem.

Make Emptying the Dishwasher More Enjoyable

Like any chore, the more relaxed and enjoyable you can make it, the more likely you are to do it regularly and frequently. And even though most items can go in the dishwasher, you’ll always have a few items you shouldn’t or don’t want to put into the dishwasher.

I have wine glasses that can technically go in the dishwasher, but I prefer to hand wash them. And vacuum sealed thermal coffee mugs and soup containers shouldn’t go in the dishwasher, so you have to wash them by hand.

One of the ways I’ve found I can make my dishwashing experience more enjoyable is by using matching refillable hand soap and dish soap bottles.

Take a look at the ones I designed specifically to be safe at the kitchen sink, beautiful to look at, and highly functional. You can see them here. I’ve designed several color options to coordinate with any décor style, and I’m proud of the durability and capacity of these bottles.

It just makes the job nicer when you have beautiful things to look at instead of just the backsplash wall or mismatched bottles of soaps.

Other things you could do to make washing dishes more enjoyable is to place a vase of flowers by your sink, hang curtains over your window that’s over your sink, use nice sink liners to keep your sinks safer and prevents scratches.

I also keep a small silicone draining mat on the counter at all times for cup, glasses and small items that need to be hand washed. It doesn’t take up much space, and it makes washing those delicate glasses faster when I don’t have to dig for a draining mat.

Putting It All Together

There’s psychology behind why we do what we do. And I had to dig into the real reason I wasn’t keeping up with the dishes. Was it really that I was too lazy? Was it because I found dishwashing to be too much work?

Not really.

The real reason was the emptying process.

And once I got to the part that I really didn’t enjoy, I was able to fix the problem. We will naturally repel from the things we really don’t want to do.

The hard part is figuring out why we don’t want to do it.

You know how preschool teachers get kids to enjoy cleaning up their toys? They sing songs.

You know the one I’m talking about. Clean up, clean up. Everybody do your share… (sorry if that song just got stuck in your head)

Well, that’s the same idea. Make it fun, and you won’t hate it. So maybe a song can’t trick you into thinking washing the dishes is fun. But think about what part you really don’t enjoy and see if you can fix it somehow. Plus, playing music in the background makes doing just about anything more enjoyable! Another great option.

I would love to know if you try these tips and whether they work for you. I have a friend I shared the tip about running the dishwasher every night, and she came back to me later and said it changed her life too.

If it changes your life, tell me! I want to know if the information is helping. If you found something else that helped you, share that too. There will be others who want to know that information as much as you do!


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