Six Organizing Systems Everyone Needs — System #2: Doing Dishes

How well are your organizing systems working for you?

In the introduction to this series I shared the following:

What is a system?
What 6 organizing systems do I think everyone needs?
What 5 questions can you ask yourself to see if your systems are still working for you, or if they need tweaking?

Now let’s take a closer look at each system…

What is your system for getting the dishes done? Does it need tweaking? Click To Tweet

System #2:  Doing Dishes

WHO is responsible for dishes — You? Another family member? Is it a rotating chore in your household?

WHAT are the steps involved — clearing the table, washing the dishes or loading the dishwasher, wiping table and counters, drying dishes, and putting them away? Do you have a handy supply of the dishwashing products your family likes to use? Do you need a new dishpan or new dish cloths and towels to make the chore more pleasant?

WHEN and HOW OFTEN? This depends largely on how many dirty dishes you generate. You can wash them after every meal, or stash them in the dishwasher and run it once a week. But if you don’t take care of them at a pace that suits your family they will pile up and become overwhelming.

WHERE? Is your dish storage handy to the sink or dishwasher? Do cupboards and drawers need to be purged and reorganized to make things easier to put away and find again later? Is there enough clear counter space for meal preparation and for processing dishes? Would it help to remove items from the counters that you don’t use daily?

WHY do you need a system for processing dishes? So everyone has clean dishes to eat from. So the kitchen doesn’t smell bad and attract pests. So the table, sink and counters are not always littered with dirty dishes that nag at you whenever you enter the kitchen. So you can have counter space available for meal preparation and other activities. So you can relax, knowing exactly how and when you’ll get the dishes done!

What are your challenges and tips for getting the dishes done?

Please share in the comments below!

Next System: #3 Launch Pad

Previous System: #1 Doing Laundry

If you need help tweaking your systems, or implementing new ones, ask a friend or call a professional organizer.

Copyright 2010-2017 by Hazel Thornton, Organized for Life.
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  1. […] 2. Dishes 3. Launch Pad 4. Flow of Paper 5. Flow of Things 6. Getting Stuff […]

    • Hazel Thornton on November 27, 2017 at 9:47 am

      Thank you for linking to this blog series!

  2. Janet Barclay on December 5, 2017 at 11:44 am

    99% of the time, my husband and I do the dishes together, once a day after dinner. We occasionally do them after lunch in various situations.

  3. Linda Samuels on December 11, 2017 at 3:53 pm

    My mom was pretty obsessed with always leaving the sink dish-free. She wouldn’t go to bed until the dishes were done. And frankly, that held true for how she worked it with every meal (snacks too.) I guess it’s no surprise that she passed that habit on to me. Every once in a while, as a personal rebellion, I let the dishes sit. 🙂 And mainly I do that if the dishwasher needs emptying and I don’t have time to do it at that moment. Or sometimes the dishes will wait if we’ve been entertaining and it’s REALLY late. After a full day of cooking, entertaining, and enjoying our company, there are times I’d rather sleep than empty that sink. But for the most part, I do enjoy a clear sink. Like Janet, my husband and I tag team things.

  4. Hilda Rodgers on December 11, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    Dishes used to be the bane of my existence but after working out a system they’ve become less overwhelming. Teaching my kids to help with them means tweaking our system a bit but also means less washing for me 🙂

  5. Seana Turner on December 11, 2017 at 6:09 pm

    For busy households, I am a “run the dishwasher every night, empty it every morning” kind of person. I have found now that I am alone most of the time, I can get away with running it once a week… and then it is full of small plates and coffee mugs LOL!

  6. Janice Norris on July 10, 2018 at 3:13 pm

    I don’t have this system figured out yet. I run the dish washer about once a week and I hand wash if I find I need to use a particular item before dish washer time. My kitchen is smallish and I know I have too many sentimental items on every surface of my home, kitchen included. I have a bar height counter that I keep decorative (sentimental) things on because I’m afraid it will become a spot for me to dump things on if I don’t keep it adorned with “planned clutter.” I know I’ve rattled on about more than dishes but it’s a Gestalt, right?

  7. Michelle Kunkler on October 5, 2021 at 8:06 pm

    I need a way to not leave the dishes sit. My husband passed away July 19 and he did everything in the kitchen. He called it his relax time. Well, now, it’s anything but relaxing for me. It seems like I’m always behind then I get totally overwhelmed. Help….

    • Hazel Thornton on October 6, 2021 at 5:59 am

      I’m sorry for your loss, Michelle! I guess it depends on what you mean by leaving the dishes sit. Sit where? (Table, counter, sink, dishwasher?) For how long? (A day? Three days? A week?) What is the most distressing part? (Visible dishes look like clutter? Food gets dried on plates? No available counter space for food prep?) If you can figure out what is bothering you the most, and read through the blog post again, answering all the questions, that should bring you closer to a solution. It might be a matter of establishing a new habit for yourself, such as “closing the kitchen” each evening before bedtime. That could look like putting the dishes in the sink or dishwasher (and yes, letting them sit). Or, it could look like actually washing them, or running the dishwasher. You will see in this thread that several of us do, indeed, let them sit in the dishwasher until we have a full load.

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