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Housecleaning for Your Health--the Joy of Washing Dishes

Updated on September 23, 2015

Make Your Daily Chores Therapuetic

How often have you heard the adage "take time to smell the roses"? If you are juggling family, work, school, bills, shopping, holidays, doctor's appointments, church, commute, etc., you may wonder how you are supposed to have a moment to do this when you can hardly find time to brush your teeth!

No matter how rewarding your busy lifestyle may be, the pace can eventually take a toll on you physically and emotionally.

While this article will not help you find a better way to structure your schedule to give you more time, perhaps it can help you to find small, simple ways to see the beauty in the world in which you live. In other words, to "smell the roses".

Beautiful Hands

Massage your hands with olive oil or your favorite hand cream then pull on a pair of gloves before diving into the dishwater. Now you are also pampering your hands as you clean dishes and relax your mind.

Dirty Dishes

No matter if you are male or female, young or old, dirty dishes are a fact of life. We are, as a species, incapable of surviving without sustenance. Even with the advent of pre-packaged foods and easy access to take-out meals, we still manage to accumulate soiled cups and cutlery.

Many people diligently rinse these items and tuck them out of sight into a dishwasher. How fortunate you are to have one! And how you are missing one of the most satisfying forms of meditation and relaxation...washing dishes by hand! Even people who have dishwashers will sometimes choose to wash by hand.

Sometimes this is it is faster and more eco-friendly to wash a few dishes by hand than it is to run an entire cycle in the dishwasher. Or maybe the items to be washed are too delicate to be placed in the dishwasher. China, melamine, antique glassware, and some cooking appliances are just a few of the things that may not be dishwasher safe

Some Benefits of Meditation

  • Slows heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Helps with anxiety and phobias.
  • Helps calm the mind.
  • Improves mental function.
  • Refreshes the body.
  • Improves concentration skills.
  • Eases muscle tension

Preparing to Meditate

As with most types of meditation, hand-washing dishes should follow a particular form. Since we are transforming the drudgery of dishwashing into a beautiful experience, the first thing to do is to change your mindset concerning the task at hand.

Depending on your individual personality, you may need to establish a routine to help obtain the ideal level of readiness to perform your dishwashing ritual, such as donning an apron or using a particular sponge. Psychologically, following the same preparatory routine every time will help you to go into relaxation mode before you even begin.

Headache Remedy

Placing your hands in hot water can ease many headaches. For really stubborn headaches, place a cool compress on the head or neck, or stand in a basin of hot water while washing dishes.

Step One-Prepare The Sink

Now, wash the side of the sink where the dishwater is to be held. That's right, wash the sink before you begin! Not only does this give you another form of preparation, it allows the water time to reach it's highest temperature.

Give the sink a quick rinse, place the stopper, and begin to run your wash water. This needs to be the hottest temperature you can tolerate with your bare hands! If you have hypertension, sinus problems, or vascular headaches, your body will thank you for this.

Add a generous amount of your favorite liquid dishwashing liquid. Use something with a fragrance that appeals to you, but remember, the scent will be much stronger when added to hot dish water. Warning: do not use automatic dishwasher detergent in the sink!


Step Two--Wash The Dishes In Order

You are now ready to commence washing the dishes. It is important to always wash dishes in a certain order. As in the practice of Tai Chi, we are establishing a set ritual that will become more automatic with repetition.

Therefore, wash cups and glasses first, then plates, saucers and bowls. Cutlery and cooking utensils comes next and, finally, pots and pans. If the water becomes dirty or greasy at anytime, run some fresh water.

Wash each individual piece carefully, taking time to feel the surfaces. Learn to appreciate the tactile sensation of the wet, soapy surfaces. Rinse each piece carefully under running water and place in the rack to dry. You can even use your dishwasher rack for drying, keeping the clutter out the sight!

If you are worried about water usage, you can lay all of the washed items on a clean towel in the empty side of the sink, then rinse them after all the dishes are washed. This prevents the water from running the entire time you are washing, and is easier than turning the faucet on and off for each individual piece.


Step Three--Finishing the Task

Once your dishes are sparkling clean and stacked for drying, drain the water from the sink and conscientiously wipe down the sink and faucets. Appreciate the beauty of the freshly polished sink and taps.

Take the time to wipe down the counters and appliances as well, to add to the pleasure of a clean kitchen. Once you have done this, you may choose to either dry the dishes by hand, or to continue allowing them to air dry. It doesn't matter which you choose as long as you follow the same routine every time.

Use Your Time Wisely

Even if you have a dishwasher, it is beneficial to choose one day a week to wash dishes by hand. Once you have the routine established, this is a particularly good time to allow your mind to wander. If you have a window over the sink, you may enjoy the view as your hands are busy.

You can also use this time to sing or compose rhymes in your head. Whatever you choose to do while performing your little ritual, try to push away any negative thoughts and don't use the time for problem-solving. This time is for clearing your mind so that you can tackle challenges with a refreshed mind later.

Washing dishes gives you the chance to daydream while looking out of the window.
Washing dishes gives you the chance to daydream while looking out of the window. | Source

Thoughts While Washing

Here are some things to ponder while your hands are immersed:

  • What you are thankful for.
  • What your long term goals are.
  • What you would like for your birthday.
  • What you want to write next.
  • What project would be fun to start.
  • What would be a nice surprise for someone else?

Nurture Your Mind

Don't, by all means, think that dishwashing is the only way to practice this relaxation technique. If the thought of playing in soapy dishwater is abhorrent to you, transfer the method to a more enjoyable task such as vacuuming the floor or washing your car.

The main point of this exercise is to give your body some form of action to keep it busy while allowing your mind time to clear and refocus.Completing a household task provides a sense of self-satisfaction.

Consider your task as a mini-vacation from life-as-usual, rather than a dreaded chore. Relax and enjoy the moment.


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    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 

      7 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      What a delightful hub about a fact of life considered drudgery by most people! It's been years since I've had a mechanical dishwasher (as opposed to the two-legged version aka my kids), but even when I did have one I rarely used it except to hide dirty dishes or, in the case of a kitchen with practically no cabinets, to store clean dishes. It never occurred to me that washing dishes by hand could be Zen-ish, but of course it is! When I still had kids at home, doing the dishes was one sure way to be left alone for 15 or 20 minutes, and since the window over the sink overlooked a flower garden next to the back deck, that was 15 or 20 minutes to ponder and dream.

      However, using warm soapy dishwater to relieve a headache is a new one, as is standing in a container of warm water while washing dishes. Thanks!

      btw, I've found the best way to make "dingey" crystal and cut-glass items sparkle again is to run them through the dishwasher every now and then. ;D

    • Sharkye11 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jayme Kinsey 

      8 years ago from Oklahoma

      @Sara--We can! We just can't see them! However, flowers can be a great representation of happy thoughts. try zinnias. They really look like happy thoughts. Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Aww1 so cute! I wish we really could grow happy thoughts!

    • Sharkye11 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jayme Kinsey 

      8 years ago from Oklahoma

      Thanks Denise. I'm stuck on some laundry. I hate it, so its hard to make that enjoyable! I'm trying though! thanks for reading and commenting!

    • Sharkye11 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jayme Kinsey 

      8 years ago from Oklahoma

      @Glimmer--Agreed! Nothing is quite so bad as washing up after a holiday! It is the only time I agree with going mostly disposable, just to save water and sanity! The rest of the time I can enjoy washing by hand. At least I never find food particles stuck on my hand-washed dishes. The dishwasher never seems to get the silverware clean enough! Thanks for commenting! :)

    • Sharkye11 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jayme Kinsey 

      8 years ago from Oklahoma

      @Sarahshuihan--absolutely! You make a good point. Most people take walks for exercise. They are focused on their mileage, how many calories they are burning, etc. Not event taking time to enjoy what they see. Thanks for adding that!

    • Sharkye11 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jayme Kinsey 

      8 years ago from Oklahoma

      @Sarah Christina--I agree. It is much more relaxing to wash them by hand when we don't have to. I too have had to wash by hands for years, so I hate seeing even a single dirty spoon. But they have to be done, so I try to find a way to make the time pleasant and doubly productive. Hope it helps you too!

    • Sharkye11 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jayme Kinsey 

      8 years ago from Oklahoma

      @Jamie--it does feel great, but it looks silly. I recommend trying it only if you are sure that no one will drop by unexpectedly. ;)

    • Sharkye11 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jayme Kinsey 

      8 years ago from Oklahoma

      @Billy--I am not surprised that you understand the joy of washing dishes. :) It is a simple pleasure if we let it be. I personally like to use that time to mentally write more articles. Of course, I forget a lot of what I had "written" by the time I am done, but at least I am not just standing there feeling sorry for myself! Lol! Thank you for your comment and support!

    • Sharkye11 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jayme Kinsey 

      8 years ago from Oklahoma

      @carlajbehr--I completely understand! I grew up without a dishwasher, and then finally got one two years ago. At the moment it is broken, so its back to hand washing. Some days I don't mind...but some days it would be lovely to chunk the dishes in the dishwasher and let it wash them! Thanks for the comment!

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      I agree that the meditation as a daily practice is important. love your idea of it being a series. I'll be watching for your additional parts. :)

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Claudia Mitchell 

      8 years ago

      What a great idea for a hub and right on the money. Once in the rhythm, it really does relax me, unless it is after a holiday meal and the dishes never seem to end. Voted up!

    • sarahshuihan profile image


      8 years ago from USA

      This is great! I agree that we need to slow down and focus on the task at hand, whether it is washing dishes, ironing, or even taking a walk and noticing the beauty around you. I like how you can take anything in life and turn it into a meditation routine. Voted up:)

    • Sarah Christina profile image

      Sarah C Nason 

      8 years ago from Fresno, CA

      I will maybe try this approach, since I don't particularly enjoy washing dishes. I've had to hand wash them most of my life, because I lived in a place that didn't have a dishwasher. Maybe, if a take a more meditative approach, I won't hate doing them so much. I will certainly give it at try to let you know if it works! I do tend to get frequent head aches, so I will try your suggestions to soothe them as well. Thanks for the Hub, very informative. Voted up!

    • Jamie Brock profile image

      Jamie Brock 

      8 years ago from Texas

      I washed my dishes by hand for years up until about 6 months or so ago when we moved into an apt with a dishwasher... I have to admit, I'm super glad we have the dishwasher now but I still find myself wanting to do them by hand... there really is something very relaxing about it. I found the headache tips interesting that you shared as well... I have never even thought about standing in a tub of warm water while doing dishes but I bet that feels great!

    • Sharkye11 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jayme Kinsey 

      8 years ago from Oklahoma

      @Denise! Oops! I didn't see that you had written a similar article. I am seeing this is a two or three article set discussing meditation in daily tasks. I definitely think people miss many opportunities to meditate and relax over the day.

      Thanks for the votes and share!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      8 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I have told people before that I love washing dishes, and they think I'm crazy. LOL Maybe your hub will explain to them why I love it. Great job.

    • carlajbehr profile image

      Carla J Swick 

      8 years ago from NW PA

      I wash by hand because a year ago I moved into a house with a 1950s dishwasher that, of course, doesn't work. I don't mind it - the water is warm and soothing, but some weeks they do pile up. Interesting hub - thanks!

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Sharkye-I was scrolling through the news feed this morning and saw this hub about dishwashing. Great minds think alike-I just wrote one on the same subject 10 days ago! I like your angle here with the meditation. Meditation is encouraged as a daily practice in all aspects of life-dishwashing being one of them.

      You have some very important tips here and I liked the points highlighted in your sidebars. Rated Up/U/I


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