Getting Started: The Pile Of Dishes From H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks

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retrochick.JPGIvy says:

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard from people wondering, “Where do you start when your house is a mess?” Yes, sometimes it is very overwhelming when pretty much everywhere is a disaster. I ask people: “What bothers you the most? Start there.” Now, the answer does differ some, but largely people answer that the worst part is their messy kitchen OR their messy bathroom.

The worst part of a messy kitchen?


We neglect the dishes longer than just overnight and the next thing you know, there's no clean plates in the house, just a huge pile of dirty dishes.

We’ve all had an evening where we’ve looked at the pile of dishes and thought, “I’ll get that in the morning.” Sometimes in periods of high stress, sickness, or just plain laziness (hey! I’ve been there! laziness is a perfectly valid excuse! as my grandmother said, “A poor excuse is better than none.”) we neglect the dishes longer than just overnight and the next thing you know, there’s no clean dishes in the house and you’re wondering if it would just be easier to trash all those dishes and just eat off paper plates from now on.

Sure, it would be easier, but it’s hardly good for the Earth and it’s hard on your pocketbook as well. I have a theory—I try to do a lot of “green” stuff so I can take extra-long showers. (Sorry about that, Mother Earth.) So, let’s skip throwing away all your dishes and let’s just wash them, shall we?

Start by emptying your sink.

Pile all the dishes up on the counter, in a dish pan, wherever, but get them out of your sink entirely. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, you need the sink, even if you’re just going to rinse (or not rinse) them and put them in the dishwasher. Second, it’s a kind of mental trick. You already have one thing clean. Yay, success, have a little dopamine. Now you’ll be a bit more motivated to clean everything else.

Now that you have your sink cleaned out, rinse it nicely and shine it up. (alternate sink shining method right here) Now that you have your sink shining, get to work on the dishes. If you have a dishwasher, load it and run it. If not, go straight to the hand washing.

Whether you have a dishwasher or not, you’re probably going to have to do some hand washing. Anything that you couldn’t fit into the dishwasher, hand wash it. Wash until all your dishes are done AND put away. That includes any in the dishwasher. Let me reiterate.

Wash until all your dishes are done AND put away.

keeping the kitchen clean
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This also means going all through your house and finding any dishes hiding out in places they normally shouldn’t, like your teenager’s bedroom.

Did you check your nightstand?

Now, naturally you might miss a dish or two, but do your best. Once you have accomplished that, it will be much easier to move on to something else that needs to be cleaned.

Tell me, Home Eccers….I know YOUR house never, ever gets out of control, but let’s just pretend for a minute that it did. What would bother you the most?

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22 thoughts on “Getting Started: The Pile Of Dishes From H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks”

  1. Dishes, of course. And we so rarely have them ALL clean at once. In fact, I recently tried and found out that I have too many glasses. They don’t all fit in the cabinet at the same time!

    Next on the list is laundry baskets in the kitchen. I use them to transfer groceries from the car and they never seem to make it back to their home.

  2. lol i live in a tiny apt and my bf hates to do dishes. i cant sleep if there are dirty dishes in the sink or if the shoes are thrown in front of the door.

    one time i lost it and stayed up and cleaned the apt before i went to sleep. i left early for work and when my bf came home that evening he thought that the exterminator that was due to visit cleaned up the place. lol.

    i really hate dirty dishes though. id rather clean them when theyre still freshly dirty than sit and scrub at them.

  3. Right now, for me, it’s got to be DOG HAIR.

    I haven’t had a dog in 15 years (and back then, the dog lived mostly outside). A year ago, we got a puppy, and now there’s Hair Everywhere. Little dust-puppies under the dining room table and in the corners of the room. Hair in the crevasses of the stairs. Matted into the carpet in the living room where the Giant Furball sleeps all day.

    And vacuuming with HIM around is a huge production – though we’re working on it. I can now get the living room vacuumed in about half an hour – and only a handful of treats (rewards for being a good boy and “staying” – not bribes to distract him and reinforce bad behavior!).

    If, you know, it got out of hand, of course. 😉

    • I always thought I must be doing something wrong to have that much hair every stinkin’ day! So I got a Roomba named Rosie to help me. She tries her best but even Rosie can’t keep up with all the fur floating around and sticking in some strange places like behind the feet on the sofa. It’s more noticeable if the house clean so I find that a good excuse to not clean…jj 😂

  4. Two things drive me crazy, a dirty kitchen and the oppressive pile of laundry. It’s nuts but I swear I can feel it in the other room chastising me.

    I tell you, the dog hair is a close third. We currently have two dogs (we’re watching one for some friends) and the amount of hair is driving me batty.

  5. Dishes, yes yes yes! If there are dishes stacked up, the rest of the house feels absolutely worse. Then there is the creeping mess of toddlers’ toys everywhere…

  6. I find that people are willing to forgive a high level of clutter, as long as the kitchen and bathroom(s) are clean. Clutter isn’t filth, you know? But kitchens and bathrooms quickly get filthy.

    When I have a day to clean (hahaha), the first thing I do is start laundry. It kind of does itself, right? Then, on to the kitchen, then do the bathrooms, then I run around with a laundry basket and collect all the toys and dump them off in the playroom. Then I take the same laundry basket and head the opposite way in the house, returning everything upstairs that belongs there. After that I vacuum (downstairs first, upstairs if I have time). If I still have time and am not exhausted, I put away the laundry that should be finished by then, straighten up the toy room, and dust.

    By then I feel pretty good about my house, and pretty tired, so that’s where I generally quit.

    I try to do daily maintenance on the kitchen and baths so they don’t get too grungy – wiping down counters, etc.

  7. Hmm.. I think you’re right about the dishes. Even if there’s a mess other places, the first thing we tackle are kitchen and bathroom. After that it would be floors (sweep/wash/vacuum). However, right now, I have the pile of laundry from h-e-double hockey sticks and I’m right on the brink of LOSING IT! It’s clean laundry that hasn’t gotten folded. When we’re busy, it’s the first thing to go. We wash it, we just don’t fold and put away. And, I’ll tell ya, trying to dress myself and a kid in the morning from a giant pile of clean laundry is time consuming and ANNOYING!

    So, I would say, that next time, it’d be smarter to first tackle the things that are going to ‘cost’ me the most time later on. 10 minutes every morning looking for toddler socks? Perhaps, I should fold the darn laundry and put the socks in the drawer! Tidying-up has some benefits!

  8. dishes are absolutely my bête noire – the scenario you described above with not a clean dish in the house – I have been there more times than I care to remember……..

  9. dishes, and the living room floor – toys, laundry, dog hair — i’ve been down with an inner ear infection for the past week, so getting up to do anything is close to impossible, the world just spins

    the children are past irritated at having to do dishes, laundry, let dogs in and out, make meals, and get stuff for mom – lol

    but they’ve actually been really good about it — so i brought them an ice cream for the ice cream truck 1$ menu

    now it’s time to try to get the house back to livable – sigh

  10. Pet hair, smelly kitchen garbage, and overflowing wastebaskets! Just cleaned the house yesterday, and that was where I started . . .

  11. when i was in grad school, my roommates were pretty bad about doing their dishes. one time the sinks filled up with soaking dishes. i went away on vacation for a couple of weeks, and came back to the same dishes still soaking in the sink underneath a thick layer of gray goo.

    since then i make it a point not to let dishes pile up for very long.

    the bane of my existence now is dog hair. with two labs, it’s an endless supply.

  12. I couldn’t agree more. That is always my starting place. At least unloading and loading the dw and washing and putting away the leftover dishes and then wiping the counters until they shine. THEN tackle the other messes.
    Do you remember one of the first scenes in the movie Apollo 13? After a party Tom Hanks and his wife drop into some lounge chairs. She says, “lets just move and leave the mess here.” I so feel like that sometimes! but after getting the dishes done, the mess doesn’t seem THAT overwhelming.

  13. Dishes I can handle. In fact I insist they are done before I hit the sack….nothing worse than dried on dinner that you have to sandblast off the next morning.

    The bane of my existance is laundry. Even if all the dirty laundry is hidden (hampers, closets, etc.) all those empty hangers in the closets scream to me that laundry has to be done. Load after load to be done. Item after item to be folded or hung back up. I may be lucky enough to have empty hampers and baskets for a few hours….and then it simply piles up again so quickly. Ugh….

    When we had a dog that was pretty gnarly, too. She would lose hair twice a year in amounts that made us wonder if there were high voltage power lines laying around somewhere in our yard (those huge hunks of black lab fur…..yuck!)

    But, mostly……the laundry is what drives me insane. I hate doing it, folding it and watching it pile up again so quickly.

  14. Unmade beds. Yuk; horrible! A few weeks ago my cat brought a bird in and went under the bed with it; I was alone and can’t touch birds. My neighbour was out; the only man; the rest are elderly ladies or out at work. Then I saw the postman, so I asked him to be a hero and he was; crawled right under the bed, retrieved the bird and disposed of it. Off he went with huge thank yous and then I realised; the bed was unmade; not in that artistic, magazine shoot kind of way, but slovenly, really needs to be changed sort of way. Now every time this postman comes around, I hide!!!

  15. Dishes always bother me the most, because they start smelling bad. Full trash cans and cat boxes also bother me, for the same reason. I try to sweep the area around the cat boxes also, to keep the cat litter from tracking all over the house.

  16. Golly, it’s nice to see we’re all so alike!
    I hate dirty dishes in the sink and on the counter ….. even if my kitchen table is piled high with paper and stuff, if my counters and sinks and stove are clean, I’m okay. I’m ecstatic if the trash and recycling bins are empty (and smelling fresh) and the floor is clean!
    For me, it’s kitchens and bathrooms first, then beds made, floors cleaned, coffee table cleared, and then laundry.
    At least I know where to head first when the house is a wreck (like today, since I’ve been home sick for 2 days…..)
    Off to load my dishwasher and handwash/dry/put away the rest!

  17. dishes bother me because if they sit there more than a day or two they get GROSS! but as a mom of a 2 and 4 year old… its gotta be the floors… especially sense the 2 year old has had a fit over the last few weeks about eating in her highchair ( and b4 she found out she had a good arm for throwing food) so there is ALWAYS random grime on my floors.. it drives me nuts… forbid i clean one section… i turn around and the girls have it trailed in the time it took me to turn… to top it off… broken cereal ( from tiny feet and say.. kix) gets inadventantly brushed onto the couch.. now i have to clean that too! gah… and with two children and a husband ( whom doesnt do jack) laundry piles up quickly… i hate folding but cleaning it isnt an issue… tho i HATE cleaning… mainly because as soon as im done with something, another thing is messy again… as a mom of little kids… you just cant get on top of it… talking about infuriation!

  18. the laundry pile that completely takes over my couch (i actually invited a friend over to “come look the laundry pile is gone!”) the dishes, we love to entertain but no one wants food coming from a dirty kitchen, and the white tile floor (damn the white tile!!!)


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