21 Sep
The Husband Who Can’t Find the Dishwasher

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

What is the best way to drive home the message that dirty dishes go in the dishwasher and not in the sink as a staging area?   Because I’m about to kill my husband and appear on a very special episode of “Snapped.”


Dishpan Hands


Dear Dishpan Hands,

I certainly sympathize with your problem, however I must tell you that you need to let go of your anger immediately. You see, according to the New England Journal of Made-Up Medicine, scientists have recently discovered that the DNA code of male humans does not include the “Clean Up After Your Own Shit” gene. Yep, they can’t help it, the dirty, little darlings. They were just born that way.

In fact, over the past 18 years of my marriage, I have observed this genetic anomaly on a daily basis. To wit: Husband uses bowl. Husband places bowl in sink that’s TEN INCHES away from the shiny dishwasher he himself installed. Husband wanders away to scratch. Twelve hours later, husband opens cabinet and grabs same, exact bowl that’s now magically clean. How’d that happen? he wonders. Osmosis? Fairies? The ghost of Billy Mays? Ah, well, who the f*ck cares? Cereal good.

Now despite his affliction, I’ve still tried a few guerrilla tactics to try to change his behavior over the years. Maybe one of these would do the trick for you:

1) Let the dishes pile up until the kitchen smells like the dumpster behind the Chattanooga Waffle House

2) Invite his parents over for a fancy dinner, then serve filet mignon on disposable paper plates

3) Invite his boss over for a fancy dinner served on your wedding china, then while she’s watching, have the dog lick the plates clean before you put them back in the cabinets

4) Fill the dishwasher with beer, popcorn and Victoria’s Secret catalogs so he forever associates it with “good stuff inside.”

5) Finally, refuse to let him “load your dishwasher” until he “loads the dishwasher.”

Of course, none of those things has actually worked for me. No, I’m still transferring dishes out of the sink and into the dishwasher like the world’s prettiest indentured servant.   But you know what? I’m okay with that because I recently discovered   a genetic anomaly of my own: The inability to not order shoes online when seething with resentment over household chores.

Good luck,

Wendi, TMH

34 Responses to “The Husband Who Can’t Find the Dishwasher”


Comment by Betty Herbert.

My own dear Herbert has taken this practice to a whole new level – rather than simply leaving the dishes for me to put in the dishwasher (& therefore incurring nagging from me), he now claims that he is “soaking” things. This is convincing for, say, roasting tins but it less convincing for water glasses. He tries it on nonetheless.

The problem is, letting the dishes stack up just doesn’t bother him – in fact, he enthusiastically reverts to this as a lifestyle choice the minute my back’s turned. When particularly pushed on the matter, he is capable of arguing that it’s a good thing to use the full extent of the dinner service to reduce wear on the top few plates. It is infuriating.

I would counsel buying a copy of ‘How to Talk so Kids Will Listen, and Listen so Kids Will Talk,’ which works surprisingly well on men too. Following its advice, you won’t bother with lecturing, but just cut to the chase and say, firmly, ‘Dishwasher!’ whenever you need it loaded, perhaps adding a helpful ‘Now!’ in particularly tricky cases.

Marinka, TMH Reply:

I have that book, but I never read it. Like a glass that Herbert leaves in the sink, I’m hoping that I’ll soak up its contents through osmosis. Although perhaps Herbert doesn’t have such lofty goals for the glass.

air force mary Reply:

i have resorted to buying all glass baking and frying pans so they can be put in dishwasher, I have even bought those glass storge that can go from oven to table to freezer to dishwasher..It gets water in it while i am away, So in have resorted to calling 12hour in advance of my arrival and asking for sink counters and dishwasher to be cleamed and all dishes to be cleaned…Sad bot true!


Comment by SaraB.

A good friend of mine had an interesting solution to dealing with this. Her husband was convinced that he did indeed clean up after himself. She wasn’t buying it. So she decided to gather up all his crap that was left around the house and place it in his bathroom sink. He got the message loud and clear. However, I tried this with my own husband and all he did was move his crap from the bathroom sink to the counter.

Plano Mom Reply:

My husband just gets pissed off and yells at the kids instead.

air force mary Reply:

My sister god bless her died but she told me she took all the wet towls and dirty underweaR FOUND ON THERE Bathroon FLOOR and saved it for like three days sje spread it out on plastic on floor next to his side of bed…he wonders in to living room and says uh i found same wet underwear and towels on floor next to bed? She told me yeh Next time they will be in your car this took her like five years god bless her.


Comment by A Mom on Spin.

My husband doesn’t put a thing in the dishwasher for days, but magically appears before I press the “start” button to rearrange things and tell me how I’ve loaded it incorrectly.

Plano Mom Reply:

Oh yeah, baby, that’s mine. So I load about 3 dishes, then call out to him while in front of the TV – “Honey, I can’t get these last dishes and you load it so efficiently…”

air force mary Reply:

My husband is this man but he gets violent and verbally nasty.> Spoke with a psychrisy about couples therapy and his other lying and nasty issues she told me unless he agrees and admits he can and will seek help with you you may have to leave she called his nice guy at work and at his church a very big sign have you encounterd this every or yelling fits and ragges with door slamming jumping in car and driving away he is way over 50 i am the get this fourth wife…

air force mary Reply:

That is so funny it is like a mocking but he actually beleives he is that good you need his help! You are a gem classic reversed psychology!

Mom again Reply:

Sadly for me I play your husbands role. I can get 10x more dishes into the dw ( a skill perfected when my moms rule was anything that didn’t fit had to be handwashed. With five kids there were a lot of dishes). He long ago got tired of my rearranging. My fault. I’ve warned my daughters against this error.


Comment by From Belgium.

When confronted with the dishwasher issue my husband told me ‘he did things gradually, one step at a time’ guess who got that back for an answer when he popped the ‘why are my shirts not ironed’ question.

Desperate Dietwives Reply:

GREAT!!! 😀


Comment by hokgardner.

I used to let the dishes pile up in the sink until my husband noticed and put them in the dishwasher, which could take days. I’d seethe the whole time. Then one of my friends pointed out that I was having a battle of wills that only I knew about.

Now every time I catch him in the act of leaving something in the sink instead of putting it in the dishwasher, I clap my hands really loudly at him like I do to the cat when she misbehaves.

Who knew it would work on husbands, too?

air force mary Reply:

I yes got mad when i got home from my elderly moms house she was sick and need ed help attending sisyers my aunts funeral! need a spoon to eat kitchen was a mess after five days, as i pushed sponge with water kidd you not food came off went flying in eye and hurt me! It hurt because he leaves it so long with not closing door it dryier out and rarely comes clean.Seven year nightmare.


Comment by writingmama04.

I must be the luckiest wife alive – not only does my husband load the dishwasher every morning – he UNLOADS it too so I can start my morning with a clean kitchen. What was the secret to this marriage-saving change of behavior? I told him I would love some domestic help around the house. And since he can’t read my mind or my inner broodings, he was very appreciative of my letting him know. And I am very appreciative too. I know, simple is as simple does – but it sure worked and I’m a much happier woman because of it.

Heather, TMH Reply:

At the risk of receiving tons of hate mail, I too have a husband who not only loads but unloads the dishwasher. !!! While writingmama04 may use the power of her words to make this happen I continue to rely on The Force.

Karin Reply:

My husband and I alternate dishes and bedtime. It’s working a little bit… I still seethe b/c he consistently forgets that pots and pans or the crock pot or the waffle maker or my crystal wine glasses or some hand wash tool (specifically the battery operated meat thermometer) needs to also be washed and put away and that the kids leave sippy cups in the living room (which they then proceed to drink day old – or more since I count cups to hopefully get them all – juice when they come across a cup). He also doesn’t do counters or tables… I’ve told him it bothers me, reminded him that these were part of the dishes, left notes, a checklist and inspected, done even more PA things all to the current venture – leave the crap he forgets for him to wash the next day… if it’s not clean, how can I make dinner for him? he’ll just have to wash it and make dinner for the family instead! well, at least I’m out one chore – I only make dinner the night after I do dishes!


Comment by Alessa.

This post made me (and my colleagues) laugh to tears. Thanks!

And to A MOM ON SPIN, your comment was hilarious. That was my husband!

Presently, though, my hubby does the dishes because I’ve “assigned” chores between us. He used to cook and I’d clean. But now it’s reversed because he got quite lazy with the cooking and made more mess than I could tolerate.

And when he grows lazy with the dishes, I let them pile up until there’s no plates, cups, or cutlery left and his clean-up job takes even longer to complete.

Oh, and on a side, if you put a TV in the kitchen, they’ll be more willing to do the dishes!


Comment by Jennifer June.

Yeeeeeah.. I’d definitely have to fill the dishwasher with poutine and hot dogs to get him in there.
Same problem with the kids and they’re all girls. Maybe I should cram a few cute boys in there with the fries, get everybody in the house doing dishes.


Comment by StephanieG.

You guys are all so lucky. MrG still refers to our kitchen as the room where we keep the food.

Food, by the way, which magically brings itself home from the store, cooks itself, and serves itself. All in the magic room where we keep the food.

I travel on business occasionally and actually never come home to a dirty kitchen.

Why? He either feeds our child from a drive through bag or uses paper plates.

I have debated for years just letting him fend for himself, but I fear if I do that, he’ll end up weighing 600 pounds.


Comment by Kokopuff.

I have totally given up on the dishwasher loading. And the cat litter. And shutting the cupboard doors when you’re done. And the lawn.

My question is: what do you do about a sofa size pile of clothes in the corner of the bedroom? Apparently that’s his closet.


Comment by JubanMama.

We don’t have a dishwasher. I would gladly trade my husband for one.

Since I do most of the cooking, his job is to do this dishes. In his world, this means: looking at the dishes with the best of intentions; washing the plates and maybe one glass; leaving pots and pans on the stove.

And somehow he seems to think that he ONLY has to clean dishes that I’ve used to cook and serve dinner upon. Breakfast? Coffee? Anything else that gets used? My job.

I would sooo trade him for a dishwasher. I don’t even care if he loads or unloads them – I’LL DO IT! I would so much rather load a dishwasher, but have actual clean dishes, than live with the level of baked-on crap that accumulates on all our silverware, plates, pots and pans because hand-washing just doesn’t cut it.

air force mary Reply:

i just wanted to say this is also a problem withhis dirty cloths…so I bought this three bins with wheels that stays in basement he has to walk down basement stairs and up also only exercise he ever gets…This worked so well.


Comment by TeacherMommy.

My True Love hates doing dishes. So do I. Though I don’t mind it so much with a dishwasher. Our solution? Have his 12-year-old son do them. Problem solved.

Fortunately for me, MTL is even neater than I am, in the general run of things, but not to such an extent that he’ll lose it if I drop my pjs on the floor next to the bed. So does he. Other than that, he carries his share of the work and really, it’s never been a point of conflict. Thank God.

I know I’m one of the lucky ones. Trust me.


Comment by Plano Mom.

Love the comments. I’am also very careful to say very loudly to anyone who will listen:

“The sexiest man in the Universe is the one in my kitchen doing dishes.”

Sometimes it works…


Comment by bekah.

Ohmigod…that’s TOTALLY my husband. He will carefully rinse and stack dishes in the sink for a frickin week, but won’t move two feet to put the darn dishes in the dishwasher. Don’t even get me started on emptying the dishwasher. Apparently that violates the Geneva Convention against human torture because he NEVER DOES IT! But he does his own laundry and THAT makes me love him unconditionally.


Comment by Nic.

Break his ankle. Mine broke his ankle and has been laid up which has given him time to notice how much I really do. He has been better ever since. I just hope it keeps up once he’s back to work. Pray for me!


Comment by The Twin Spinner.

Like Nic, my husband realized how much I do when I was on bedrest with our youngest. Only now he refuses to step into the kitchen ever again because those 8 weeks were so traumatizing. But in reality, I hate unloading, he doesn’t mind, he hates loading, and I don’t mind, so we sometimes trade off.

He also picks up toys in the living room after the kids go to bed (which is a whole different post…the room looks clean, but I later notice that he has just dumped everything into various bins so that none of the parts to anything are actually together). If he’s had to go somewhere or has a work issue come up, I do the kitchen, then head into the living room to pick up toys. But if I go somewhere? He does his job, but doesn’t set foot into the kitchen. Do you know how much it sucks, after a loooong day caring for 3 kinds under 3, to come home from a trip to the grocery store at 10 pm, or worse, my rare evening out with friends or just to myself, and have to clean the kitchen since he sat and played games all night? *sigh*

But I also agree with writing mama…the can’t read our minds. Sometimes we have to (gasp!) ask for what we want. 🙂

Wendi Reply:

And if the “asking for what we want” hasn’t worked with the dishwasher issue, maybe it should be a clothing optional conversation…?

air force mary Reply:

when i was incar accident he never did dishes or when i had pneumonia this is my true definition of inconsiderate… i temprarly lost site at one piont so I know he is very cold and uncarring even if this was for a full monute or two it was life channing.. nMy moms qOUTE IS SOME PEOPLE DO NOT GET THE SPOUSE THEY DESERVE!


Comment by Vicki.

I don’t use the dishwasher (I never learned how to use one and I suspect they’re anti-immigrant anyway,) but even though it’s Le Husband’s “job” to do the dishes, I’m beginning to suspect he’s unionized because they only get done a select number of times per week.

During the rest of the week, they pile up, lugubriously taunting me, and I resist with all my might to do them, pleading, begging, several times a day for Le Husband to do them and take care of cleaning the kitchen while I clean the rest of the apartment, plus fold laundry, plus go grocery shopping, plus cook. As someone mentioned above, Le Husband also does not “do counters or floors” and it’s like a suspense movie-will he finish the dishes at all??? Tune in to find out.

At the risk of turning this comment into a Dickensian classic, I’ll wrap it up:we’ve only been married for two years and my mom told me that it took her 15 to take my dad from a fixer-upper to a McMansion in the cleaning department, so I’m in it to win it.


Comment by Sock it to Me, You Lazy Bastard | The Mouthy Housewives.

[…] assuming that your husband has all his faculties and is not a high-functioning chimp, he can pick up his own damn socks. Just remain strong and let […]


Comment by claudia.

At least the dishes make it to the sink!! My husband always has dinner right in front of the tv and the plate never makes it back anywhre near the kitchen unless I pick it up of course. The same happens with cups, bags of chips or any other wraper from his after dinner snacks…

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