More than just a Dish Washing Discussion



Resource conservation gets a lot of play in the small space living movement. I have to concur that my lifestyle definitely can conserve resources. At least some of them.


Like dish soap.


I posted the above photo on my Facebook profile with the caption:

“It’s been over a year and I’m just now finishing a bottle of dishwashing soap. We use it for hand washing too.”

One of my endearingly witty friends commented:

“Hopefully it doesn’t mean you never do dishes or wash your hands….”

At least I think he was being witty. And endearing.

Of course we wash our hands. Pretty regularly. Dishes – weeeelllll, they get washed a little less regularly. (Please note that “a little less” is kind of like the opposite of hyperbole – a litotes maybe?) But, when we’re in a groove, we do dishes about once a week.

Crazy, right? I may or may not explain more about the infrequency of dish washing. For the record, I wasn’t super “on it’ when I lived in conventional housing either.

When we lived in a regular house we went through hand soap and dish soap fairly regularly and it got me to wondering why, here on the boat, we didn’t use nearly so much.

In a house, we had the large, Costco-sized jug o’ dish soap on the corner of the sink rather than a the petite, elegant bottle currently gracing our dish washing space. That giant bottle takes up too much counter space. My hypothesis is the smaller bottle causes less soap to come shooting out, hence effortless conservation! It’s easier to get just the right amount for hand or dish washing. I don’t know about the kids, but I use just a couple of drops on my hands and it seems to suds up just fine.

Two other significant differences are, in my opinion, our overt water conservation and a significant change in dish washing method.

Because we are not connected to a constant source of water, we have to fill tanks. This causes us to be very aware of water usage. The sink never gets left running. A smaller stream of water is used when rinsing soapy hands or dishes. It helps you see you don’t need as much as current¬†practice indicate.

When washing dishes, I don’t load up a sink of dishes and let them sit in soapy water and then forget, have the water get cold and then refill the sink with new hot water and new soap. We don’t wash a water glass after just one use. “Clean enough” is often, clean enough. If i fill the sink to do dishes and I can’t get to it before it cools, I’ll boil some water in my handy dandy electric kettle and add it to the cooler water.

In the house, with unlimited hot water, I often didn’t fill the sink with water. (I’ve always hated sticking my hands in the water. I have weird sensory issues.) I’d run the water and wash/rinse as I went which of course diluted the soap in my dish cloth quickly. Now, I fill the sink on the left and then put the dishes to be rinsed on the right to be rinsed.

It’s funny the things that strike you, such as dish soap usage. I’d love to know from you what things you’ve noticed in your lives that are different from past patterns or different from the American norm.

2 thoughts on “More than just a Dish Washing Discussion

  1. Diana B

    I love your ‘clean enough’ comment. I am big on not washing something just because it got pulled out of the cupboard. I’ve been known to pull out a spoon to measure sugar than dust it off and put it back in the drawer. I’ll do double/triple duty with a knife before washing it. My knife & cutting board sit out on the counter most of the day and continue to get used w/o washing (unless they are used for raw meat or a food that leaves a lot of residue/mess).

    I have unlimited water, but I try to conserve as much as I can! It’s just good practice!

    1. outofthebilge Post author

      Hey Diana! Thanks for swinging by and commenting! I handle VERY LITTLE in the raw meat department here. People may not be safe from cheese goo on a knife here but they are TOTALLY safe from hamburger residue! haha!


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