How I learned to stop lamenting my life without convenient washers

Guest post by Alissa

One day I dream of having these appliances, but until then I adjust my behavior instead of lament.
One day I dream of having these appliances, but until then I adjust my behavior instead of lament.
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?

Comments on How I learned to stop lamenting my life without convenient washers

  1. I find the convo so interesting as dryers and dishwashers are not the norm in the least bit where I live, its actually a sign of wealth.

    So here is how I deal with wash. Small loads I fill a basin with water and soap and I handwash these items. For heavily soiled items I presoak and that cuts down on my wash time. Bigger washes, washing machine and the clothes line!

    Every one has an outdoor clothes line (if you haven’t picked up, I live in the Tropics) hahaa, so I just hang out my wash there. If it rains then I set up a temporary line in my wash room and wring the clothes out as much as can then hang.

    Dishwashing is a royal pain. SO! I have a soft brush that removes all the gunk first, then just use a sponge to wash the rest. I try to wash them up right after we eat, otherwise early morning around 5 am (yes, I rise early). It actually calms me and lets me organize my thoughts.

  2. I read somewhere to get 2 rolls of quarters every time you go to the bank. Since I go to the bank twice a month this is perfect for me. I usually have some left over which works when my cats suddenly decide to pee on a pile of towels cause my fiance forgot to change their litter “on time”.

  3. When I lived on the 5th floor of a building with no elevator, and the laundry room was in the basement – and there were two washers and two dryers for a building with 40 apartments – I finally just started dropping my laundry off to have it done. $0.75 a pound, so it cost me about $20 and ten minutes. When I moved to another city, and half the machines in the apartment complex’s laundry room were broken, and you HAD to sit there and watch your clothes or they would walk away (not to mention the walk across half the complex to get to the laundry room from my apartment), I did the same thing. I admit it – I’m lazy, I hate sitting in a laundry room waiting for my loads to be done, and the money I spent was well worth the time I saved (which I used to work on sewing projects and crafts for my tiny business).

  4. I can live without a dishwasher but I can’t imagine myself without a washing machine. We are a big family so it is but practical for me to own one. Saturday is laundry day. For dishwashing, my tip is the same as yours. Don’t pile up dirty plates. Seeing piles and piles makes one feel tired even before the actual washing has started.

  5. Okay, a little off topic, but I just had a basket moment here! I get water on myself every. single. time. I do dishes. APRON. *mindblown* My friends use aprons more as cute accessories than anything else but I could totally use them to keep my clothes clean and dry! (I am laughing at myself so hard.)

  6. This may be missing the point of the post but they make countertop and portable dishwashers. When we moved into a house with no dishwasher I told my husband the dishes were his responsibility until we got a new place, which was supposed to be a year. We’re going on 3 years now and I was tired of fighting over dishes, looking at dishes, washing dishes, HAVING dishes. I was ready to get paper plates LOL we got a countertop dishwasher and it has been AMAZING. I love it. My husband is extremely frugal and it took a long time to get him to agree to spend the money, but after the first load he was a believer. It may not be for everyone, but check it out!

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