Cross-cultural Adventures: How do you wash your dishes?

Our dishwasher broke. Earlier this year it was the dryer, which ended up becoming a little game for me of “how long can we hang dry all of our laundry to save up for a dryer before I break down?” The game lasted several months.

Now the dishwasher is broken. We’ll see how long we last.

As a child, our move from the north side of Chicago to the suburbs was one huge cross-cultural adventure. I had never seen so many White people in my life. I had never seen cornfields. I had never seen such a nice playground.

I had never seen a dishwasher.

And for most of my time at my parents’ home the dishwasher served as a giant dish rack. As far as I know my parents still rarely use the dishwasher to wash dishes.

So when my dishwasher made the loud screeching, groaning sounds and didn’t actually clean a single item I stared at my double sink and wondered. How do you hand wash all of your dishes? I grew up putting dishwashing soap on the sponge and scrubbing each item, re-soaping the sponge as needed while running as little water as possible. And then we would rinse each item in the hottest water possible while wearing gloves (I prefer the pink ones pictured because they are thicker and longer and pink). And then we put the wet dishes in the dishwasher to dry.

But I’m guessing that there is a different method to this madness.

How do you wash your dishes? Did any of you grow up using the dishwasher as a dish rack (and also for storage of pots and pans)?


  1. ladyfleur November 5, 2012

    My mother was a fill-the-sink-with-soapy-water and never-put-a-pot-in-the-dishwasher sort of dish washer. At my house we’re more of a soapy-sponge sort with my husband doing the majority of the dishes.

    Like my mother I never wash pots in the dishwasher. But I’ve bent a little on my mom’s tradition by putting serving dishes in the dishwasher and not turning on the dishwasher every single night. Then again, with six kids and two adults in the family, there wasn’t room for serving dishes or pots and we still filled it every night.

    (for the record, I’m a white catholic 40-something from south louisiana)

    • Kathy Khang November 6, 2012

      Thanks for the lovely image of your kitchens – pots, pans and soapy water. My mom never filled one side with soapy water; it was something I learned by watching my non-Asian friends in their homes. It’s been a week without a dishwasher, and it’s getting done. It just takes longer…and the kitchen stays messier. That’s OK. As long as there is just enough counter space to get my coffee made just the way I like it, we’ll take this day by day.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *