Leave Them All Dirty: Just-in-time logistics applied to washing dishes

The advantage of "Just-in-time" inventory and logistics, I gather from zero research, is that you don't have to keep a bunch of product sitting in a warehouse. You can reduce or eliminate the costs of building, maintaining and staffing warehouses. Some goods have a limited shelf life, so the less time they spend in storage or in transit, the better.

If you wash dishes as soon as possible after dirtying them, they sit in the cupboard waiting to be used again, like products waiting in a warehouse. Washing them takes time, energy and money. There's no way to eliminate washing entirely, except for using paper plates. However you can reduce it slightly.

Someday, you will die. The last time you washed dishes before dying will be a waste, because you'll never reap the benefit of using them again. Maybe your dishes or silverware are fancy enough (or your heirs desperate enough) that someone will inherit and continue to use your dishes after you die. Or while still alive, you may buy new dishes and donate the old ones, or give them away or sell them at a garage sale. Either way, the new owner will probably wash them before eating off them*. Your final washing will be wasted.

Here's another scenario. Let's say you quit drinking coffee because it gave you heartburn or migraines or kidney stones or higher blood pressure or because your doctor recommended it. The only one who still uses your French press is your daughter. She gets hit by a bus. No one in your house will ever use that French press again. No one in your house will benefit from the final time it was washed. Another wasted wash.

Or say your house burns down. Or gets presented on a list of suspected terrorist hide-outs, which the president approves for drone strike. All the time, energy, resources and money you spent on the last washing of all your dishes was wasted. You could have done something more pleasant with those final pennies and final moments before the AGM-114 Hellfire missile hit.

One way to prevent wasting your time is to wash dishes and pots and pans and silverware right before you use them. Leave all of it dirty all of the time until the moment you need it. Then if you die, or for some reason decide never to use those dishes again, you haven't wasted a final washing.

Now that you're convinced, you'll need to make a few changes in the way you prepare food and organize your kitchen. For one thing, you'll need to add the time for washing cookware, dishes and silverware into your food prep time. It doesn't take more time -- you're just scheduling it before the meal instead of after.

Second, this strategy doesn't mean you can drop all dishes and cookware where they lay as soon as you're done cooking or eating. There's still some minimal clean-up needed so vermin won't be attracted. Also some level of mold accumulation could be hazardous to your lungs, even if you always wash them before cooking or eating off them. If you're not saving leftovers, throw them out along with cooking by-products, like bones or used cooking oil. (Or compost them or recycle as appropriate.) That might seem like an aspect of "pre-cleaning" that could be a potential waste of time, but the thing that will make it worth while is not having rats.

Lastly, you will still need to store dirty dishes somewhere, if you have more than enough to fill your sink. They should all fit in your cupboards, the same as they did when you followed the old-fashioned washing strategy. You might consider caulking or sealing the cupboards to make it less likely that vermin will be attracted or able to reach them. And you'll definitely want to warn any of your wasteful-washing visitors about your switch to the improved strategy, to prevent confusion and revulsion and botulism when they take a dirty mug out of the cupboard and pour themselves a glass of sickness.

Go, my children. Spread the word. Enjoy your extra moments of leisure, and the knowledge that you're saving money and resources and making the world more efficient.

* Advice to anyone buying or inheriting dishes or pots or flatware, whether they're new or used: wash it before using. You don't know where it's been. The person who owned those dishes might have read this and taken it seriously.


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