My dishwashing routine

One of the things on my 101 in 1001 list is to catch up on the dishes.

I’ve done it: I’ve found the way that works best for me!

I used to follow the rigidity of how non-autistic people did their dishes, but it was never sustainable for me. When I lived with non-autistic people, they would get upset with me because I wouldn’t unload/load the dishwasher the same way they preferred, or within the time frame they expected.

My energy levels don’t allow me to unload and reload the dishwasher and put the clean dishes up. I just don’t have that capability without resorting to dissociation, which isn’t a good habit because I’m not entirely present when I do.

My first apartment didn’t have the counter space, but you know what my spinster flat has? COUNTER SPACE!

My process

1. Unload the dishwasher, put on towel on counter

My clean dishes fit on a towel folded in half, where they dry while I load the dishwasher with the few dishes I have or attend to other life admin-related activities, like cooking dinner or literally whatever else I want to.

Clean dishes on top of tan towel on top of corner counter

Dishwashers don’t have to promise to dry your dishes. It doesn’t bother me that mine doesn’t. This method works best for me because it is sustainable.

2. Load the dishwasher.

In the left half portion of my sink, I keep a white plastic basin. Its original use was to hold toddler clothes or be used for foot baths, but I’ve found it’s dishwasher-safe after risking its life by running it through the dishwasher.

White basin in left sink basin; empty right sink basin

These days, I rinse dishes in the right side of the sink, where there is a mesh strainer for solids that I can dump in the trash, to avoid getting the left side of the sink dirty. I saved my cotton candy containers because they’re dishwasher-safe and make cute storage containers, and I use one to organize the utensils.

Sink cleanup is much easier this way, which is also sustainable for my energy level. I wipe it down with a Lysol disinfectant wipe once a week.

I used to wipe the sink dry every night with a paper towel or cloth, but it low-key overwhelmed me so I stopped prioritizing it.

If the dishwasher is full, I run it.

3. Put away clean dishes.

Something about seeing the clean dishes on the towel makes putting away dishes less daunting than when they are in the dishwasher. The dishwasher can be fully loaded with dishes, but seeing everything on the towel makes it look much smaller.

Mostly empty tan towel under clean dishes on top of corner counter

It takes about seven minutes maximum to put away the clean dishes. If the dishwasher ran the last time I tended to dishes — because I do not do these tasks in one sitting — then I will consider whether to unload the dishes or to let them sit.

Because this is a sustainable routine, I am able to keep up with the dishes without falling too far behind.

Next: catch up on laundry.

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