Many people spend their evenings in very similar ways: getting home from work or daily errands, searching our cabinets and fridges for an easy meal, then finally sitting down to eat.
Cooking dinner after a long day is exhausting for some, but relaxing for others. One thing most people agree on, though, is that doing dishes after eating is not a particularly fun part of the evening.
That being said, there are actually some great benefits to doing your dishes by hand!
For those of us who have to wash our dishes by hand, the task isn’t something we usually look forward to — hands get wrinkly from being in the water, it always takes longer than expected, and one usually gets frustrated for not rinsing the dishes right after using them.
Once in a while, doing dishes doesn’t seem so bad — it can actually feel somewhat relaxing. Plus, once it’s done, you’re usually glad to have clean dishes and to have been productive with housework.
Although most people are ridiculously grateful to have a dishwasher (or desperately want to have one), there are actually a lot of benefits to doing your dishes by hand.
Read on to see seven of the most surprising benefits of hand-washing dishes.
Benefit #1: Lowers Stress
A recent study conducted by researchers at Florida State University found that washing dishes by hand is linked to mindfulness.
According to Psychology Today, “mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present.” Generally, this means that you focus on the actions you’re doing in the present.
Hand-washing dishes takes just enough focus to keep you paying attention to the present.
And Real Simple explains that the mindfulness you can experience while doing dishes “has been linked to improved well being, reduced levels of stress, and even immune-system boosts.”
Benefit #2: Fewer Allergies
In 2015, the journal Pediatrics published a preliminary study that suggests that our immune systems can benefit from getting a little dirty.
They came up with the “hygiene hypothesis,” that claims that kids today have more allergies because their environments are too clean.
Time magazine reports that researchers “discovered that children in homes where the family hand-washed the dishes instead of using a machine were less likely to have allergies.”
Benefit #3: Relaxation
One way people love to relax is by going to the spa.
There’s nothing more calming than getting a massage or facial. Being pampered, listening to nice music, and relaxing in a dark, nice-smelling room, is a surefire way to feel calm.
Psychologist Dr. Aric Sigman found that doing the dishes can have a similar effect on one’s mental health as visiting a spa.
Daily Mail reports, “The soothing, warm, scented suds in the sink induce a relaxed mood, while the completion of the task produces a sense of wellbeing.”
Benefit #4: Heightened Immune System
The “hygiene hypothesis” that was outlined in #5 doesn’t just apply to allergies — it also applies to general health and wellness.
The study’s co-author, Dr. Bill Hesselmar, explained, “If you are exposed to microbes, especially early in life, you stimulate the immune system in various ways and it becomes tolerant.”
Benefit #5: Uses Less Water
Lots of people think that using a dishwasher saves water, and that is often true, but if you focus on conserving water while hand-washing dishes, you can actually use less water than a dishwasher.
In order to save more water than a dishwasher does, you have to make sure to turn off the water while you’re using the sponge on the dishes — only turn on the water to rinse off the plates afterward.
Lifehacker explains that while energy-efficient dishwashers use multiple gallons of water, it’s possible to use around one gallon when hand-washing.
Benefit #6: Better For Delicate Dishes
Even with delicate cycles on dishwashers, it’s almost always safer to wash special dishes by hand.
In a dishwasher, you can’t have perfect control of the temperature or direct the water perfectly, so it’s easier to take care of delicate dishes in the sink.
If you have fancy china, the last thing you want to happen is for it to break, crack, or chip. If you do dishes by hand, you can have complete control over how gently you wash them.
Benefit #7: Teaches Kids Life Skills
Many parents want their children to do the dishes as one of their chores.
While many kids think that doing the dishes means moving them from the sink to the dishwasher, teaching them to hand-wash dishes is a great life skill.
It’s possible that when they grow up, the kids will live somewhere that doesn’t have a dishwasher. More important than that, hand-washing dishes can teach kids that putting in effort pays off in visible ways.
What About Dishwashers?
But don’t worry — if you can’t get away from your dishwasher, there are benefits to using the machine as well! The key to getting the benefits of both? Balance.
Dishwashers are a great option for many families — they cut down on time, and are sure to get your dishes cleaner than you might be able to.
Maybe the best way to do the dishes is to find a happy balance between hand-washing and using a dishwasher.
Do you use a dishwasher or hand-wash your dishes? Let us know in the comments below!