A game I like to play at parties (and, I assure you, I am the only one who enjoys it) is to pose this question to fellow guests: Your dream house contains either a dishwasher or a washing machine, but not both. Which do you pick?
I’m always interested in the responses, especially because everyone has passionate and wildly divergent opinions on the subject. It’s a window into just about everyone’s domestic routine. For the purposes of this hypothetical, the washing machine can still be in your apartment building, say, in the basement—but if you live in a house, it can’t. Essentially, you’re going “off-site” to do your laundry in some fashion, and you’re doing it more or less publicly, rather than in the privacy of your own home. (Go ahead and pretend that the laundry is still free, though—no quarters required.) In the case of the dishwasher, of course, you’re not accessing any sort of outsourced machine whatsoever, but rather washing everything by hand.
So, which do you pick?
I think a lot about my dishwasher, probably too much, and in between bouts of gratitude for its presence, I often find myself irritated by its many shortcomings. Its utensil basket is poorly designed. The spring-loaded detergent door is faulty. The whole thing smells much more often than it should. Yet I think back to my previous apartment with only a shallow, undivided sink, and I know that the dishwasher has saved me hundreds of hours, weeks of my life that I would otherwise spend on scrubbing.
My washing machine doesn’t do me wrong, but it doesn’t do me all that right, either. No matter what combination of detergents and heat settings I try, somehow my clothes and linens never emerge from the wash all soft and fragrant like the ads or my mother’s home would have me believe. Instead, clothes exit the dryer kind of deflated-looking, wrinkled no matter how quickly I whisked them from the drum. (If you manage to keep wrinkles out of a fitted sheet, I’ll go ahead and assume you’re using dark magic.) Somehow, the bigger, more industrial machines of communal laundry rooms actually do the job better than the small stackable I am blessed enough to have in my kitchen. So if I had to choose, I’d go with a dishwasher, which on the whole probably saves me more time than traveling for laundry loses. Because while the laundry trips take more time than one load of dishes, there are more loads of dishes in a given week than dirty clothes.
If we were all at a party together, would you have politely wandered off by now? Or do you have thoughts on the dishwasher/laundry question that you’d like to share?