Simple Changes: Organizing My Dirty Dishes

Yes you read the title correctly!  And yes, I’m probably insane! 🙂  But this is a change that really is helping me be a little more motivated to tackle the continual mess in my kitchen.

A few years ago, when I was washing dishes with a friend of mine, she told me a story about someone organizing her dirty dishes for her.  A man and his wife were dinner-guests in her home, and afterwards they helped her with the clean-up.  The man told her that he was an “expert dish organizer” and proceeded to stack all of her dirty dishes together according to type and size.  I asked, “did it help?” and she said that it did; however she also said that she didn’t usually take the time herself to do it.  At the time of this conversation I was intrigued by the idea, but also never took the time to do it.

But recently my kitchen has been a disaster zone pretty much all the time!  As soon as I finally get everything cleaned up, it is practically time to prepare another meal.  And if I’m unable to do them right after a meal for some reason (or if I’m being rebellious and simply don’t!) then they really pile up in a hurry.

So, a few of weeks ago when I was feeling very overwhelmed at the mess, I decided to organize them.  I pulled everything out of the sink and started stacking like-dishes together.  Then I gathered everything that had been left on the table, stove, and the other counter and stacked them with everything else.  After that I wiped all of the now-cleared counters and stove off and swept the floor.  So, all I had to do was the dishes.  I simply picked up one pile at a time and rinsed them, then loaded them into the dishwasher (yes, I’m a “rinse the dishes before loading” person!).  It was great because I could look at my dishwasher to see what space I had there and then decide “I’m going to load the plates next, or the cups, or whatever.”  When I ran out of room, I switched to washing things that I usually hand-wash, and actually just left the other “dishwasher dishes” for later once this load was done.

It wasn’t faster, but it felt less stressful to me.  And so I’ve started doing this more regularly.  I’ve even been trying to teach my kids that instead of putting their dishes in the sink to go ahead and stack them neatly on the counter.  So, now I don’t feel so overwhelmed when I look at the mess (even if it does get big)!  If I’m in a hurry, I can do a quick cleanup of the table, stove, clear counter space, and sweep the floor.  Then later when I return, instead of being greeted by an entire kitchen to clean, I know I just need to start rinsing and loading a few dishes.

I was talking with my sister a couple of days ago about routines and systems.  I said something along the lines of “finding a system that would work.”  Her response was that most house-cleaning systems will work if we follow them.  The hard part is finding one that you like enough to actually follow.  I thought this was insightful.  And so I have to say that this system of organizing my dirty dishes is “working” because I like it.

What system works best for you for keeping up with dishes?  

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4 thoughts on “Simple Changes: Organizing My Dirty Dishes

  1. Sounds like a good idea to me. Even if they’re dirty they are less depressing to look at if they are neatly organized.

  2. As I load the dishwasher I load similar things together. To me everything has a “home” in the dishwasher that pack it in neatly and precisely. When Randall does the dishes it drive me nuts. =) Well that is until I realize I didn’t have to do them or put them away!.

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