Simply Sather


This may seem like a totally nit-picky thing to some people, but finding a simple way to answer this question has helped decrease anxiety in our home.

Dishwashers are not a given in every single home in America. But for most of you who read this post, it’s become an appliance you’ve come to count on to help make the upkeep of your home a bit easier.

It’s funny to me though.

Sometimes, the very things that are developed to make our lives more efficient and easy, do not always make life simple (especially when they break or don’t work properly). Over the years since I learned to wash the dishes as a young girl – by hand, even with a working dishwasher in the kitchen – until now in our lovely rental, I’ve probably been asked the same question at least three hundred times…

Are the dishes in the dishwasher dirty or clean?iwujxzfVTEqiIuehZdpJ2w

I’m not busting out all of the people I’ve lived with over the years, because I’m sure there are moments on record of me asking the same question. It is a small stressor really, right? In the grand scheme of things happening in the world and even in our own personal circumstances, the question about dirty or clean dishes in the dishwasher is small; tiny.

Well, until it isn’t.

Oftentimes, the littlest things can trigger negative responses which can spiral into something unintended. And because we look at the trigger and not what is under the surface, stirring + festering in our souls, the trigger (or behavior) can be used to ruin an entire evening or week in some homes. It has in mine.

Something so simple – in this case whether the dishes are clean or dirty – can become a detractor from more important things. Maybe it’s just me. The only one on the planet who has rolled their eyeballs and muttered under their breath about such an easy task being overlooked or being communicated poorly, if at all.

My mind and soul often having so many things bubbling up and inside at different times throughout every single day, the little things can throw me off. It’s a part of how I’m wired. (Intellection is my top strength – it means I enjoy thinking a lot. So when little things like this question interrupt that thinking, I can find myself behaving less like a believer and more like a spoiled child.)

I really don’t mind emptying or filling the dishwasher. It gives me the opportunity to think without having to focus too deeply on what’s in front of me and still have victory in accomplishing a task and doing it correctly.

Having a simple code, a form of communication that is easy for the whole team (read: people who sleep here) helps alleviate the need to waste any moments on communicating about whether the dishes are clean or dirty and instead moves me into other things worth my mental, emotional energy.

I know. I know. There are some of you that may not even be able to believe that this is something I’ve given energy to. There are others who know exactly what I’m talking about and how this question, on repeat, can spark a small fury inside you.

Instead of continuing to be frustrated, consider this question as an opportunity to create a solution that works for you and your people; a solution that brings peace to your space and is something that everyone can do, access and help with.

This was stealing some of the peace in my home, or rather I was allowing it to.

I would mutter under my breath and build up resentment within myself that I seemed to be the only person capable of filling or emptying the dishwasher. That I was the only one who knew when and how to keep the cycle going for the benefit of the whole family. (To be transparent, I’m speaking mostly to my single motherhood days living with a perfectly able-bodied teenager.) It was when I remembered that I had not really expected him to help me and that I didn’t have a low frustration way to solve the problem that included his efforts, that I knew I needed to do something differently.

This solution (below) is the one that we use and that works for us most of the time.

I’m aware that there are cutesy signs on Etsy and Amazon, but because our solution needed to be even more urgent than Prime could get things to me, I took two white magnets that had been on the side of the fridge for years, added two different color washi tapes (green//clean//empty, red//dirty//fill,) with the letters “C” for clean and “D” for dirty.

Dishwasher Magnets

You can see they’re a bit worn, but they have been effective the past two-ish years!

With this low-cost solution, we’ve minimized the stress that comes with expending energy on words that don’t matter as much as what’s happening in our hearts, lives or days. It’s not been perfect, because you have to remember to switch the magnets – which is a habit Mister is much better at than me. But, that’s grace. And an opportunity to practice humility…often.


Keeping the unnecessary magnet as close to the dishwasher as possible helps to increase the chances that we will remember to switch them. We keep ours on the side of the fridge facing the dishwasher, so it’s essentially just a pivot to make the switch.

You just read a whole post about dishwasher magnets, but I hope that you see it as more. Finding new ways to simplify your life in this busy world, can help make margin for you to tend to what’s happening within your soul, beneath the tasks and routine. I find that this simple solution has made space for me to go into the ordinary task with a mind on prayer and reflection. Seriously y’all, during this task and in the shower is where I often do some of my most clear processing.

I just know so many women can feel overwhelmed in all there is to do at home, no matter the season or stage of life you’re experiencing. I hope you will consider this simple tool to help bring more calm into your home like it has in ours.

I’m curious, how does your family answer this question? And how do your people help?