Living the Simple Life Without a Dishwasher

Living the simple life without a dishwasher in the kitchen, means washing a lot of dishes. In our home, we hand wash everything in the sink, plates, glasses, pans and utensils.

Here are my simple easy tips and tricks for enjoying the process of hand washing dishes and living life without a dishwasher.

Vintage Wire Dish Rack

Growing up Without a Dishwasher

Growing up, I lived without a dishwasher. For the most part, it was my duty to hand wash all the dishes. I grew up in a home with eight people, and my mother cooked all our meals from scratch. There was no shortage of dishes.

A few years after getting married, my husband and I moved to Mississippi while he attended seminary. It was there, living in an apartment, that I experienced what living with a dishwasher was like. I fondly remember thinking how great it was that I would never hand wash dishes again.

Vintage Metal Wire Dish Rack

Disadvantages of a Dishwasher

When we recently remodeled our kitchen, I intentionally designed it to leave out the dishwasher. I have been asked many times, “where is the dishwasher” well, the answer is, I do not have one. Here are a few reasons why I chose to not have one installed in our kitchen.

Vintage Dish Drainer

Time Consuming

I found using a dishwasher more time consuming than hand washing our dishes. It was the time of rinsing the dishes, loading it correctly so everything would fit, waiting on it to go through the cycle, and then having to unload it before starting the process all over for the next meal.

Having to Fit the Dishes In

Cooking from scratch means using a lot of dishes. Once a meal was complete it was always a hassle to get everything to fit properly.

Not Everything Can be Washed in a Dishwasher

Some of the things that should never go in a dishwasher include, sharp knives, nonstick coating cookware, cast iron, stoneware, wooden cutting boards, wooden utensils and utensils with wooden handles.

Re-Washing Dishes

Many times the dishes never came out of the dishwasher clean without pre-washing. So, many times I would have to re-wash the unclean dishes.

Tips for no Dishwasher

Benefits of Hand Washing Dishes

Stress Relieving

Washing dishes by hand has become a stress relieving experience for me. Being at the kitchen sink, looking out our windows, and pondering on my thoughts has a way of relieving the stress that I may feel.

Saves Energy

Dishwashers consume a lot of electricity by heating the water to wash the dishes and the heat to dry them afterwards.


Generally, the view out my kitchen window causes me to feel relaxed. I often watch the birds, leaves blowing in the wind, butterflies flying through the yard and I see the beautiful blooms on the flowers. There is always something captivating in nature to relax my mind.

Life Skills

I enjoy washing dishes by hand but many times I have help in the kitchen from the children. It is an essential part of our home that everyone helps with the task of cleaning up. Washing dishes is often a time of teaching life skills, important conversations, and time with my children.

Old Fashioned Dish Drainer

Tips for Life Without a Dishwasher

Hand washing does not have to be the dreaded chore for each day. It can be enjoyable and it can become a task that you look forward to doing as part of your daily life. Here are a few tips for handwashing dishes that we follow in our home.

Clean as You Cook

This is one of the tips that I share in a post I wrote called, Daily Habits for a Clean and Tidy Kitchen. In our home, I clean as I cook. Before I begin to cook or bake, I first run my dishwater in the sink. Then, I wash up the dishes as I have time while waiting for meals to cook or bake.

Wash Dishes After Every Meal

There are very few rare exceptions for not washing the dishes after every meal in our home. As soon as a meal is finished everyone begins the task of cleaning up. There is satisfaction in walking out of the kitchen knowing that everything is washed, dried and put away.

Not Using a Dishwasher

Get Rid of the Clutter

In our kitchen, we have very little on the counters. It seems that anything close to the sink can take up to much space and make hand washing dishes more difficult. It also takes time to wipe down items close to the sink that may become dirty or get wet while working.

Vintage Wood Cheese Box by Sink

Make it Beautiful

In living life without a dishwasher, I believe in making the task of hand washing dishes beautiful. This can be done by using wooden brushes for scrubbing dishes, having a pretty dish drainer, and using special linen towels for drying the dishes.

On the back edge of my sink, I have a vintage cheese box that I use to hold the hand/dish soap in a pretty pump jar. I also store some of scrubbing brushes and ocassionally a bouquet of flowers from the garden.

It may seem like simple touches, but it makes a difference in the way that I view my daily tasks.

No Dishwasher Hacks

Essentials for Life Without a Dishwasher

Dish Drainer

A dish drainer will be the most important item to purchase for hand washing. There are many versions on the market to choose from whether they be wood, metal or plastic.

Living Without a Dishwasher

Aesthetically, I prefer to use a wooden dish rack or a vintage metal one. Wooden dish racks are nice, because most of them will fold up and can be put away when not in use.

Recently, I purchased a vintage metal dish rack which is more of a primitive style. My metal dish drainer is from eBay. To find one similar, try searching for these words:

Farmhouse Dish Drying Rack

I really like the metal and wood style of the vintage dish racks. However, one of the draw backs is many of them don’t have a bottom drainboard.

In our home, I layer a linen towel over the top of a dish drying mat. Then, those are layered over the top of a wooden cutting board. It is very important to hand dry the dishes right away if using this method. Otherwise, the towels begin to smell and the cutting board can warp.

Once, the dishes are hand dried, I put them away. Then, I hang the linen towels to dry on a wall mounted drying rack.

Wooden Scrub Brushes

Using a long-handled wooden dish brush is wonderful for cleaning dishes and pots. Not only are they functional in the kitchen, the wood scrub brushes look beautiful stored on the counters. It’s the perfect match for where function meets aesthetcally pleasing.

Antique Iron Dish Drainer

Linen Hand Towels

Linen towels are my go-to towels for drying dishes because they are inherently anti-microbial, and stay fresh longer because it dries quickly. Towels made of linen are able absorb water without leaving behind lint on plastic, glass, and crystal.

In our home, my special linen towels are stored in a pretty antique basket that sits on the shelf. Again, this is where making housework more beautiful than it has to be, makes the task more enjoyable.

Farmhouse Kitchen Sink Storage

Dish Soap

I love all-natural dish soaps that have a pleasant aroma and that often double as our hand soap in the kitchen. Instead of storing our dish soap under the counter, I like keeping it in a pretty jar in the vintage wooden cheese box that sits on the back of the counter by our kitchen faucet.

Living life without a dishwasher does not have to be a dreaded daily task. With a few easy, simple tips, it can become a task that is enjoyed.

I value homemaking. While taking the extra steps to create a beautiful space to work in may seem insignificant, I believe that it has a profound meaning to my family. I find joy in working in my home, for those that I love.

I hope this post inspires you. Whether you wash dishes by hand or whether you prefer to use a dishwasher to create a beautiful enjoyable space in your home.

Hand Washing Dishes
Our Life Without a Dishwasher

Thank you for sharing!

37 thoughts on “Living the Simple Life Without a Dishwasher”

  1. I have a dishwasher mainly because it was already in our house, but I wash a lot of the dishes we use by hand too. I absolutely have to clean up the kitchen as I cook like you mentioned as well as have to rewash some dishes because the dishwasher left them dirty. Modern conveniences aren’t always quicker or better. ?

    • I know many who love their dishwasher but I would agree that they aren’t always quicker or better. I can definitely be out of the kitchen long before a dishwasher finishes.

      • Of course & you don’t have to empty & put away. When I saw you were not having a dishwasher, I thought smart girl. You have another cabinet for storage.

  2. With it just being my husband and I, it takes forever to fill a dishwasher. I never had one growing up and always enjoyed doing dishes.
    Now I cook and my husband washes!
    I’d love to find a wooden box like you found, I’ll have to keep my eye open when I visit the antique shops.

  3. Sarah:
    Beautifullll, Pics, I am one who cannot luve without my dishwasher, Pots and Utensils
    do wash by hand, the awesome dishwashers out there now, are very energy efficient, fact
    is Dishwasher (s) use 3.5 gallons of Water,
    as Hand washing uses 5 gallons., Appliances now are designed so much better than before, mine yes does have all the bells and whistles.

    Once ya get down the art of loading
    It is fast, and I know our Dishes are washed
    better than myself, as in Water Temperature, etc.

    Thank you

  4. Another recommendation for a “drain board” is to sew one. Using your linen towel as the top, then sew an old absorbent towel to it (kind of like a quilt). Then that replaces the wooden board underneath and it looks lovely. As does your whole house renovation. You and your family have really been working hard. Thank you for sharing. Would love to see more of your barn also!!

  5. Thank you so much! This is a beautiful writing on hand washing dishes. I truly loved it. You are very inspirational! Thank you for your writings.?

  6. I went through a period of about 10 years without a dishwasher. I complained and fussed about not having one. My pastor’s wife set an example of praying while washing. Praying for the person who ate on the plate, thinking of them and the privilege of knowing them. That was well over 40 years ago. I hope to always have this spirit of service. Always enjoy reading your blogs. Warm regards.

    • Oh, this is so beautiful! I love this idea and I now plan to incorporate into my routine. Thank you for blessing me today.

  7. I love this more than you could possibly know. I’ve always seen dish washing as a meditative process. Two of my children do as well. My husband likes having a dishwasher and I do use it on occasion for things I don’t want to hand wash but, this was written I think, Just to me and the really appreciate that. Many blessings from Montana.

    • I am so blessed that you loved this post. I almost thought against posting it, wondering how many would care. But, I have had such a great response!

  8. Hi Sarah,
    I’ve always love hand washing dishes too, although I do have a dishwasher. So much gets hand washed though. I love the peacefulness of hand washing the dishes, being alone with my thoughts or chatting with someone while doing them. I can definitely live without a dishwasher so when mine goes, it probably won’t get replaced. Mine works well and I don’t have to rewash dishes normally, but you just can’t put everything in a dishwasher and have to wash by hand anyway. Loved seeing your beautiful photo’s of the kitchen items. You guys have worked hard and it shows in your home and how far you all have come. Hugs, Brenda

  9. I had a dishwasher for a few years, and when it broke down, I never got around to replacing it. I soon found out, it takes 30-45 minutes for me to clean dishes and kitchen after a meal with or without a dishwasher. Dishwashers absolutely do not save any time. And there something about looking at all the clean dishes sitting there in the dish drainer and feeling the satisfaction of a job well done.

  10. I loved your post. I find the older I get the more I don’t mind washing dishes. I too, hate unloading the dishwasher. I can’t say I have a tidy kitchen at all times. You inspire me. Thank you. I always enjoy your blog posts. Thank you for taking the time to encourage us to live “a simple, God focused life”.

  11. Thank you for this post! I have a family of eight and no dishwasher, with no space for one either. I don’t know anyone else without one! Your dish washing setup is lovely!

  12. I’ve never had a dishwasher in my life. I only know one other person in real life who doesn’t have one but she is moving soon. 🙂 Anyway, I have a question. How do you keep your glasses from becoming cloudy? Mine are horrible. Sometimes I clean some with vinegar and I think it helps some. But I wish I could just keep them nice every day. Thanks !

  13. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this post! Recently, my dishwasher broke down and we are waiting a couple of weeks for the needed part. I have started to notice that on some level I am actually enjoying hand washing the dishes. I wasn’t even sure why, because I’m ashamed to say that for large portions of my adult life I almost resented certain aspects of housekeeping.
    As I get older, and I come to appreciate the fact that having a home to care for is a beautiful blessing denied many…I have progressively begun to find more joy and satisfaction in simple daily chores.
    Coincidentally, we have just bought a house that needs work, specifically a down to the studs kitchen renovation, and I have been deep in the throws of planning and design. So, as I find myself hand washing dishes presently, and having read your post, I am seriously considering foregoing the dishwasher, and incorporating your lovely accessories.
    Thank you for your touching expressions, your beautiful images and for putting my inarticulate thoughts into words.

    • Thank you for taking the time to such a sweet response. I think you are right, it is a blessing that many miss out on. Best wishes with your remodel.

  14. I love articles like these. Thanks for sharing! I notice as well that since I have upgraded to better, prettier, pots and wooden spoons I like hand washing much more.

  15. When I was a brand new believer, a kind pastor’s family would have me over for meals and for the first time in my life, I saw how washing dishes together could be a worthwhile activity instead of drudgery to be suffered through. Everyone pitched in with cleaning up after the meal and it was a social time and built up relationships. That was almost 40 years ago now! Recently our dishwasher was failing to get the dishes clean so I decided to start handwashing everything instead. I’ve been trying to help everyone see that washing dishes together can be a good thing. My family isn’t convinced yet, but I think I’ve seen my husband and one of my son’s warming up a bit to the idea, lol!

  16. I am so thrilled to have stumbled upon this post! When we moved 5 months ago, I decided not to use the dishwasher in our home. It was new but just smelled musty/moldy. We are a family of 6, but I only keep 8 of each plates/cups/utensils/bowls. We cook everything from scratch, and our pots/pans amount to one large stock pot, one 13 inch cast iron skillet, one 5 inch cast iron skillet, and the inside of the InstantPot. My husband is pretty sure I’m crazy for removing the dishwasher a few weeks ago when we started an unexpected kitchen update (leaking sink…it spiraled). I’m swapping it out for a huge kitchen sink, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. But, finding this way of life discussed anywhere online has been challenging. Every time I’ve seen someone pose the question, the responses have been “NO! DON”T TAKE IT OUT!” Everyone is advising to leave it in (resale, security, etc) and just store dishes in it until that fateful day when you *have* to have it. Huh? I’d rather have a great cabinet with drawers. haha! Thank you so much for sharing the beauty of doing life this way. Even with four tiny kiddos underfoot, life at the sink really has been so pleasurable. And you are right, IT IS FASTER/LESS WORK!

    • Thank you so much for this sweet comment. So many have questioned where ours is and I don’t even think about how life would be with one. I am so used to doing it by hand that it is just a normal enjoyable way of life for me. I am so thankful that you are enjoying it as well.

  17. We also have no dishwasher, I am researching the debate between one and two compartment sinks. I see you have a two compartment, what sink is it?? I am so conflicted!

  18. I’m a preacher’s kid who grew up sans dishwasher. Mother and I had some of our most important talks over the sink. As an adult I have rarely had that appliance and rarely miss it. The exception is on Dish Days (DDs) when I bring in the next season’s dishes and stow the past season’s china. Typically packed in milk crates, I bring them in from storage and load them in the dishwasher or a sink of soapy water. The retiring pattern gets packed into the vacated milk crates and schlepped back out to storage. While the cupboards are bare I clean them and put down new shelf paper. Soon linens are changed and the table is set for the new season. DDs happen at least 3 times annually – April (blue and white Willow or Blue Danube), August (Black Pheasant by Stafford), and December (Pink Willow – same as the blue but with burgundy pattern). My glasses stay the same – Wexford – in all sizes and shapes.

  19. Sarah, thanks for the tips on living sans dishwasher. I’ve had a microwave and dishwasher all my life and only started trying to make do without 6mo ago. Good idea that for odious chores, add as much that you love into it (music, tools, etc) as you can. Because at the end of the day, cleaning the kitchen for an hour a day adds up to a chunk of our lives. (:

  20. No dishwasher here either! I always dreaded emptying and loading for my mom. One thing that I do is I keep a spray bottle with Dawn and water right at the sink I spray all the dishes a little bit before washing and it makes the job super easy

  21. My family and I haven’t had a dishwasher in over two years, and it certainly has brought its ups and downs. I have struggled with a set up that works for us. I feel like I have tried everything. I am so thankful I came across this blog post. Your photos are beautiful and I am feeling very inspired. Where do you buy your linen towels from? So you lay a wooden board and cover it with a linen towel? Do you use a wooden dish rack as well?


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