Cage Match

Do You Believe in the Golden Rule of Washing Dishes?

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If you spend any amount of time in the kitchen, cooking, or even just eating, dirty dishes are inevitable. And as a result, so is the chore of washing dishes. Whether you step up to the sink with a smile or dread this task like no other, the dishes have to get done.

In my kitchen, as in others, we live by the golden rule of dishwashing — but I recently discovered that not everyone else does.

Image Credit: Faith Durand

The Golden Rule of Dishwashing

Here it is: Whoever cooks dinner gets a free pass from dirty dishes and cleaning up. While I enthusiastically follow this rule, I recently discovered that some of my fellow Kitchn editors have varying views.

Even when I didn't have a dishwasher, I didn't mind doing the dishes. But somewhere along the line, things changed and washing dishes became my most-loathed chore.

When my fiancé and I moved in together, he suggested a dishwashing rule that made me love him even more. Growing up, his family followed the rule that the person who cooked dinner was exempt from dishes and cleaning up, and he suggested we adopt the same rule. I couldn't say yes fast enough! Since I cook dinner most nights (and enjoy cooking dinner), this rule felt almost too good to be true.

I had a chat with a few of the other Kitchn editors, and was surprised to learn that there were competing viewpoints on this golden rule of dishwashing. As food editors, we wash a lot of dishes and have some strong opinions on this topic.

The Kitchn Editors' Differing Views on Dishwashing

1. I'm thrilled to pass off dishwashing to my partner!

Even on the rare nights I don't feel like cooking dinner, I'll do it anyway because I don't want to be the one washing the dishes afterward. I will admit, as much as I love this rule, sometimes I also feel a little guilty since it feels like I'm reaping all the benefits. I get to do the part I love (cooking), without the cleaning up.

It turns out that Anjali's dishwashing situation is much like my own. And Christine was happy to add that our kitchens sounded very much like her own.

I am always happy about the dishwashing rule when I cook and my husband cleans. But I am really diligent about cleaning as I go and not leaving the kitchen a total disaster for him after the meal. Because he cooks so rarely, he never really learned those skills, so the kitchen is almost always a huge mess and it never quite feels like a fair trade. So basically I'm a hypocrite who hates washing the dishes when it's my turn! - Anjali

Image Credit: Rachel Joy Barehl

2. Dishwashing should be a team effort.

While generally in favor of the golden rule of dishwashing, Ariel sees tackling dirty dishes as a team effort.

I think it's all about helping each other out no matter what. If someone has had a long day and you just sat around, then maybe it'd be cool to cook AND clean. That shouldn't be something that happens on the regular or anything.

I'm generally for the golden rule of whoever cooks doesn't have to clean. Unless, of course, the person who cooks maybe used ALL the things in the kitchen. Then maybe someone washes and someone else dries. - Ariel

3. I actually don't mind washing the dishes.

Emma, on the other hand, is perfectly OK with washing the dishes, even when she's the one cooking dinner. There's no golden rule here, and she's just fine with that.

I honestly don't mind washing dishes, and I even don't mind it when I cooked dinner — though I'd probably feel differently if we didn't have a dishwasher. Company and assistance is always nice, though! It's just the two of us so we don't really make that many dishes, and I'm often cleaning as I go after testing recipes anyway. Also, we're OK with a little clutter, so we usually let the dishes pile up in the sink for a day or two and then do them all at once. - Emma

How do you tackle dishwashing in your home? Do you gladly step up to the sink? Is it a team affair, or is this one chore you're more than happy to pass on to someone else?