Reduce Kitchen Clutter with The Dishwasher Challenge

Try this exercise to reduce your kitchen clutter to only what you need – and what you can fit in your dishwasher.

Written by Adam on 2018-01-17. Blog, Minimalism, personal, Canonical. 10 comments. Find out how I make money.

Mrs. Minafi has heard this line too many times to count: “Want to try an experiment?”. Following our recent move from a 1,700 square foot house to an apartment, we’ve been on a mission to clear away as much clutter as possible and earn back as much time as we can. After staying in a temporary apartment for a few weeks, there was one thing we learned to appreciate fast – how much easier it was keeping a clean kitchen with a smaller dining set.


Before the move, we would often find ourselves with a dishwasher full of clean dishes, with more in the sink already awaiting their turn. We’d need to stop and spend a lot of time putting away everything, then washing everything. We’re only two people, but with a larger family, this would even more of a time suck. In our temporary apartment, all dishes on the shelves could fit in a single load of dishes. That got us wondering: why do we have so many dishes?

What if you could fit all of your dishes in a single load of your dishwasher?

I called it the Dishwasher Challenge and we decided to try it out – once our belongings were delivered to our new place.

The Dishwasher Challenge

Here’s what you can do to try this out for yourselves:

  1. Take out every dish, glass, and cup you use and put them on the counter. Anything that you’d eat or drink out of.
  2. Split this group into 2 categories – dishwasher safe and non-dishwasher safe.
  3. For anything that’s not dishwasher safe, you’re on your own, but you could group everything together. We opted to thin this group in proportion to the dashwasher safe group after the fact.
  4. Clear out your dishwasher
  5. Begin filling it with your most used dishwasher safe items first.
  6. Once your dishwasher is full, decide if there’s something you could take out to make room for something not in there.

Once you’re done, put away the items in the dishwasher in your most prime locations. For anything that couldn’t fit, choose to either store them on a higher shelf, give them away or sell them.

We went through this process for the following items:

  • Large plates
  • Small plates
  • Even Smaller plates
  • Bowls
  • Pint glasses

Having a set of 8 of each of these didn’t exactly click with having an apartment with a breakfast counter that seats 2. With this exercise, we quickly realized that we could lower this to 4 of each of these, and even down to 2 of some. This meant that by and large we wouldn’t put ourselves in a spot where we had a full dishwasher and a sink full of dishes. Problem (mostly) solved!

Taking it Even Farther

We’re by no means taking this to the extreme. Why would we need 3 plates when there’s only 2 of us living here? If you really want to try minimizing down, you could challenge yourself to only have 1 of each. We decided that would be a little too far for us, and that we’d be happier with the option to not wash dishes everytime we eat. We did decide to pair down a few items to 2 for areas where we won’t likely use more than 2 in any given day:

  • Soup Bowls
  • Champagne glasses
  • Wine Glasses
  • Shot glasses
  • White wine glasses
  • Dessert wine glasses

You’d think from this list that we drink occasionally or something. Well, we do enjoy making cocktails at home, with Tuxedo No.2 and Bevvy being our favorites sites for ideas. Even for these, the number in use at any time was small, and we rarely have company where we’ll be pulling out specific glasses (beer seems much more social). This just meant having 4 glasses on an easily accessible shelf was a big waste of space for us.

In the end, we got rid of quite a few pieces of glassware we just never used. Moscow Mules are tasty, but they’re just as tasty in a pint glass as a copper mug.

Give Yourself a Trigger to Try It

We’d been amassing more and more plates and glassware over the last decade, and since we had the space (and occasionally the use) we had no trigger to reorganize. What we didn’t realize was just how much time we could save in our daily lives by reorganizing this little part of our days. By making this small changes we’ve earned back more time in our days!

Why not try the dishwasher challenge this week and let me know how it goes?


Hi, I'm Adam! I help millennials invest to reach financial independence sooner than they ever thought possible. Want to see what you could do to reach FI sooner? You're in the right place!


Why not add to the conversation below? Your voice is welcome!


January 17, 2018

So how do you have a dinner party? A few minutes ago one of the runners in our group emailed everyone and said come over to their house tonight for supper! That will be 12-15 people all of whom are bringing stuff, plus a pack of little kids. I guess with disposable paper plates and solo cups, etc. it would still work?

Good question! For our new apartment, we don’t have spaces for in our new apartment for that many people to eat off surfaces – which is another good limiting factor. We had a dining room table, counter space and more in our house, but whenever we did have a party we would bring out the disposable plates combined with bottle beer.

When we have a group over here, that’s what we’d lean towards doing again. I’m not a fan of disposable dinnerware, but a small pack can last years – at least at the pace that we have parties. When we moved, we were still going through plates and forks from 8 years back that we picked up for a meetup.

FireBear used to own 3 plates, 2 forks, and 1 spoon. I thought it was super amusing. When we moved in, I got a few dishes and utensils out and we haven’t used the rest of them. We have enough dishes and run the dishwasher once a week. It helps that I probably break 1-2 somethings once a year.

For dinner parties, well, everyone can just eat on mismatched plates. Just cook delicious things and no one will really notice.

Just cook delicious things and no one will really notice.

Too true! I like the idea of only running the dishwasher about once a week. That’s about right. 3 plates, 2 forks and 1 spoon is minimal – even for me!

I need to save this link. Will probably do it next time we move. Right now, I have enough space for everything I have, not disrupting it. For now atleast, I would rather have a clean plate when I need it 🙂

Having the right amount of the space is a good point. As space changes (either furniture or your physical location), that’s a good chances to take another look!

Reminds me of when I lived with my first girlfriend. To be honest – I’m just going to say it – she was quite messy. She left her plates and cups all over the apartment. And I got tired of cleaning them up or finding a moldy cup in an odd corner.

So this prompted us to get rid of most of our dishes. We had 4 plates, 4 bowls, 4 spoons, etc. This forced us to keep things clean.

This will work great in our office kitchen! Some of our attorney’s are mad messy…

I agree here Rusty! Office challenge for the win!

Can I get in this challenge?!

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