why people don’t pack them properly and what that says about them
Dishwasher wars and the mental load. How it represents your partnership and personality.
In my humble opinion, there are two types of people in this world: people who can pack a dishwasher properly… and everyone else.
I’m not bragging (that’s a lie) and I admit to a slight OCD in this area (I’m a Virgo, enough said), but I reckon I can get an entire dinner party for 10 (three courses) into a normal household dishwasher without blocking the spray arm.
If you don’t know how to stack the cups, glasses, Tupperware and small bowls efficiently in the top rack and get the big plates in a militarised way along the bottom, then don’t mess with my Miele.
If you put the sharp knives in, but don’t know how to assemble the cutlery basket (tines UP!), then don’t bother opening my Bosch.
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There are literally thousands of instructional videos on YouTube, a Pinterest site where they describe dishwasher packing as an art, and there’s even a song about it: “Remember to scrape off lumps of hardened cheese and fat, and always check to make sure that you don’t wash your cat.”
I even found a self-help group on Facebook for long-suffering spouses of people who can’t load a dishwasher. It’s a silent epidemic. And let’s face it, the dishwasher is a metaphor for life.
I discovered a thesis about it on The Modern Scientist. Yes, I have a lot of time on my hands these days.
The mystery of the workings of a dishwasher could be deconstructed (their word) as an analogy for the psychology of humans. Stay with me, people.
Most of us close the door and don’t understand the inner workings of either. Does it show something deeper that needs to be resolved within us? What do we do if our pump malfunctions? Is there an old pea stuck somewhere in our filter? What the hell is that small wire screen under the sprayer arm?
The thesis got a bit heavy after that, so my mind drifted off and I started to watch Netflix with a bowl of chips on the lounge. Then, voila! Dirty plastic bowl had to go in the TOP ROW OF THE DISHWASHER. It’s the circle of life.
Does all this mean I need to get out more? Probably, yes. But when I am out, I’m constantly amazed by how often my husband will ring me – not to say how much he misses me, but to ask where something goes in the kitchen when he’s unpacking the dishwasher.
I interviewed Rugby League legend Steve “Blocker” Roach for my Stellar podcast the other day and he admitted that even though he’s in the Hall of Fame, and after almost four decades of marriage, he has no idea where anything goes once it leaves the dishwasher and calls his wife when she’s out doing chores to ask, too.
I’d love to say it’s a man thing or a front-row-forward thing. But most of the people in the Facebook group are men complaining about their dishwasher-illiterate wives.
It seems in most households, you’re either the packer or the unpacker. And like peace in the Middle East or deciding who’s more at fault – Harry and Meghan or The Palace – we may never achieve harmony on this one.
But we do know that clean dishes equal calm thoughts, so let’s pull together, people. Because even a poorly packed top rack is better than the alternative: washing by hand.
Listen to the latest episode of Something To Talk About with Samantha Armytage here. Follow or subscribe wherever you listen to your podcasts.