We're officially down another kitchen appliance on what will likely be a permanent basis. About three months ago it became apparent that our dishwasher was toast. The age of this appliance is uncertain; all we know is that it was here when we arrived nine years ago and it was old then :)
Once it became clear that it was futile to try and extend its life, the discussions began. Do we really need a dishwasher? I know a good portion of you will commence questioning my sanity right here (if you haven't already ::grin::). Just remember that when our microwave died roughly seven and a half years ago, we decided not to replace it and we've never looked back. We've been living microwave-free quite happily ever since then and I can't remember the last time I even remotely wished we had one.
One of the main reasons we really wanted to give this some careful thought (aside from the expense of replacing a major appliance) is that our kitchen is of the very-modestly-sized variety, which means cupboard and counter space is at a premium. We've been planning to do some renos to the kitchen anyway, and eliminating the dishwasher altogether would free up a large amount of space and allow us to have both more cupboard and more counter space.
Yes, having a dishwasher is convenient - to a point. I've always thought that hand washed dishes were much cleaner than those that come out of the dishwasher, with all their cloudy buildup and baked on crud that didn't quite come off during the washing process. Plus it's just plain hard on your dishes - glassware can get pitted or permanently clouded, plastic containers get warped. Not to mention the ongoing frustration of trying to find an environmentally-friendly dishwasher detergent that actually works *and* doesn't cost a fortune!
While there are certainly still days when I'd be happy to toss everything in the dishwasher and walk away, overall I haven't minded our return to exclusive hand washing of dishes. The dishes are all sparkling clean, for one. A couple of side benefits have also become apparent: Firstly, we are more likely to minimize our dish dirtying (by reusing a barely-soiled glass or plate) so we cut down on the amount of items being washed on a given day. Secondly, I'm having more in-depth conversations with my husband and kids. Doing the dishes is one of those household tasks that is naturally suited to being a two-person job. Since it takes more than a couple of minutes, we have time for more elaborate conversations rather than a couple of quick sentences scattered in here and there before we dash off to various activities. I've even found it to be a wonderful mindfulness practice (when I remember not to think of it in terms of how-quick-can-I-get-this-done). I have the time to be grateful for each dish, spoon and platter, to consider how it came to be mine (wedding gift, yard sale find, etc.) and to really appreciate its presence in my life (because who knows how long I'll have it, stuff is known to get broken once in a while around here!)
So here we are, now happily dishwasher- *and* microwave-free, and down to half the number of appliances found in the typical kitchen, which is fairly ironic since I'm sure we do more than twice as much cooking as the average family!
While I know choosing to go without a dishwasher might not be the right choice for every family, it's another example of how it can be helpful to think through what you and your family truly want and need before going out and buying something just because that's what everyone else has.