Washing dishes is apparently one of the many household skills that has been lost, left behind in the 20th century I guess, though it’s possible to watch YouTube videos to learn how. (And here’s a rather fun overview of methods for handwashing dishes.) But I’m no longer the purist I was when I wrote the following in my first book, Home Ecology:
A dishwasher probably saves time for a large family and certainly keeps the kitchen a lot tidier, but there are sound arguments against having one. You need more crockery, have the hassle of rinsing and loading and unloading, and miss out on companionable chats over the washing-up. …[they] use large amounts of hot water, as well as considerable amounts of energy for drying.If you have one, look out for biodegradable washing powder–one is under development–and in the meantime cut the amount you use to a minimum. Choose the economy setting, and turn the machine off when it gets to the dry cycle–open the door and pull the racks out to air dry. The dishes are already hot so this takes very little time.
A friend pointed out at the time that a dishwasher makes one far more likely to entertain, and since I heartily believe in eating with friends as well as family, I’m now a very keen user of my dishwasher. I do try to maximize its usefulness by filling every corner, as you can see in this photograph. Of course this kind of packing can backfire – just one piece blocking some essential stream of water and one has to put everything through another cycle. Meanwhile, I was just reading an article about China, where “domestic [i.e., Chinese] consumption” is supposed to be the key to a strong future economy. It said, “Home appliance sales growth falls: [04:52 May 30 2011] Sales of home appliances in April were up 18.5 percent year-on-year, although the rate of increase was 17.9 percentage points less than last April’s, according to a report by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.” via Home appliance sales growth falls – GlobalTimes.