It’s been years since I’ve lived in a place with a dishwasher or laundry machines. Sometimes it’s frustrating to find many well-meaning cleaning and organization tips or checklists offered up online that assume I have these easily available for my personal use.
“Put all dishes in the dishwasher before bed. Unload in the morning before going to work.” I’ve daydreamed about how amazing that would be! Rather, dishwashing is a constant chore. If I wasn’t already tired from cooking food, I’d probably be tired after washing all the dishes from both preparing and consuming food.
“Wash a load of laundry every day. Towels on Monday, sheets on Tuesday…” In my world, washing anything requires two things: quarters and an open machine. Laundry day has been postponed many times due to the need to acquire just one more quarter. I’m fortunate enough to have laundry machines in the building next to mine, but there’s only three for thirty apartments. I’ve spent a fair number of Saturdays checking hourly to see if machines are free yet.
It’s taken me a while to figure out how to better manage my washer-less life rather than just lament it. Here are some things that I’ve found work for me:
- Wash dishes immediately whenever possible so they don’t pile up in the sink or get crusty.
- Have fewer dishes. I have to clean them more often, but it also prevents accidental dish pileup.
- Have the right tools. For me, that’s a stainless steel scrubber for anything baked-on, and a basic sponge with a drizzle of soap to wipe over everything.
- Skip drying dishes. I put them in a rack on the counter to air dry, covering the pile with a tea-towel to keep them from getting dusty (due to being under an often-open window).
- Wear an apron. Water seems to get everywhere when I wash dishes, but with an apron at least I don’t get a soaked shirt from leaning over the sink. Getting rid of little annoyances makes the overall task less burdensome.
- Plan ahead. Block off most of a Saturday to stake out machines. Make sure there’s enough quarters.
- Save every quarter that comes my way for laundry. No exceptions.
- When the weather’s good, run a load through the washer before going to work and hang it on the clotheslines to dry. This may involve bending my laundry room’s hours (Shh! Don’t tell!) but it does save dryer quarters.
- Reevaluate how often things need to be washed. Undies go in the hamper right away; but if I didn’t sweat or stain something, wear it again.
- See if someone will let you use their home machines. My best friend has let me wash my linens while we went out for girls night dinner. Note: use this option sparingly and with caution. Don’t be a mooch, and consider trading something like cookies.
Certainly I’m not the only one out there living the appliance-less life. What tips have you found for managing domestic requirements without labor-saving devices?