Having worked in an office for the past decade, I was lucky enough in March to finally get the opportunity to do my thing from home. Obviously, with Clare away for 10-11 hours a day commuting to her job in the city, life can’t be all freelance work all the time. A goodly part of my day is spent in the kitchen, making breakfasts, preparing Ava’s preschool snacks, doing my own lunch, getting dinner ready, and doing a substantial amount of the cleaning that goes along with such foodie things.
Not that I mind most of it. While I’m not Masterchef wannabe, I enjoy preparing ingredients, making my repertoire of dishes and experimenting a little. The cleaning up? That I can take or leave, mostly the latter.
But I can take it more now that the Smart Home has finally converted me to the joys of the dishwashing machine. I grew up in the classic 1970s working-class “do the plates together after dinner” family — with mum or dad washing, my brother or I wielding the tea towel as part of our pocket-money work duties. We didn’t have a dishwasher (I’m not even if they were even invented back in the days when beige was the new black in interior design) and having been brought up without one I was inherently distrustful of them. I thought they were posh, wasteful of water, a dishonest electrical replacement for honest sweat-of-the-brow sudsing. Later, in my twenties, when at the homes of friends whose families owned such contraptions, I’d be amazed that they’d actually argue about who was going to stack and unstack the infernal things. I felt like saying, “Back in my day, we’d spend 26 hour a day, up to our elbows in soapy dishwater…” but realised I’d just come off like that Monty Python skit.
In the various rental abodes Clare and I have shared in the past eight years, we’ve sometimes had a dishwasher, sometimes not. I’ve begrudgingly used them on occasion but just as often have persisted in doing dishes by hand and letting them air dry. Force of habit, I guess, along with subconscious reservations about wasting water and power. And, I admit, just a touch of Grandpa Simpson curmudgeonliness.
In our last rented place, though it was justified because the dishwasher was so old (I believe it was released around the time than tan became the new beige) that it didn’t clean so much as redistribute food muck Pro Hart style so that our plates would end up streaked with coffee while the cups would get an appetising smear of curry sauce. Pre-rinsing and post-washing helped but seemed, well, extra wasteful. You’ve heard how NSW has now almost lifted out of drought? I suspect it’s because that dishwasher’s no longer in use.
The Smart Home kitchen is made for dishwashing. I mean that more literally than you’d think. The food prep island – a big, beautiful hunk of hardwood sourced from a tip – has built into it two deep sinks that, using the low-flow tap, take approximately three months to fill with enough water to wash an eggcup. Nevertheless, I tried, and it seriously took three minutes and 13 litres before I could do a proper wash. If you’ve had a big dinner, or are doing more than a meal’s worth of washing up, then you’re looking at more than one fill, a dangerously cluttered bench space and, in terms of time, there goes the first half of spring.
But! To the right of the sink is the Bosch dishwasher and we’ve gradually made friends. The device holds about a day’s worth of our plates, cups, cutlery and can even be pressed into service on smaller pots and pans. It’s so quiet that you actually have to touch it to believe the “Wash” light is telling the truth. That’s a nice change from our last dishwasher, which sounded like a Hercules C130 lifting off as it did not very much of use.
Efficiency-wise, the Bosch gets everything sparkling clean and usually dry, thanks to a condensation-drying system. The argument against energy and water usage mostly goes out the window, too. The Bosch has a bunch of settings that give you the option to do a quick wash or half-load and also has a built in sensors that detect the degree of dish dirt and the clarity of the water and adjusts temperature and water recycling accordingly. The “ActiveWater” system means this gets something like 4000 litres (!) worth of water power out of a mere 12.3 litres on the “normal” setting, scoring it four and a half stars out of a possible six under the WELS (Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards scheme). Given the number of dishes a single cycle can do, that’s probably two or three of my “honest” if back-breaking sink efforts.
So, I’m converted. But I still get a strange sense of satisfaction from doing the pots and pans. And I do take pleasure in tut-tutting on the rare occasion a plate comes out of the Bosch with a rice grain still attached, even though I concede I could labour until Judgment Day and not get a wine glass as streak-free.
Bosch reliably wins energy efficiency benchtests — our model is rated four out of five stars for its consumption — and usually ranks close to the top in terms of customer satisfaction. They also have a company commitment to reducing their own energy consumption and emissions, which is admirable. This model (the SMU65 M15AU — I know, right? As our reader Magda noted previously, the company also don’t waste energy on devising catchy names. I’d vote for “The Hieronymus Bosch” because “It’s Hell On Dirty Dishes!”) retails at $1800, which would cause me to think twice, even though at some point you’d probably save in bills the difference in price between it and an inferior model.
I have the feeling that after the Smart Home experience, when I’m back at a sink somewhere, I’ll miss this gadget. Until then, I’m just pleased Clare and I have so far not had an argument over who’s going to unstack this marvel. Then again, we’re only a month in…
But what you make up on the straights, you lose on the turns! While I can’t find fault with the dishwasher, some of the time it saves does get eaten up in other new and unusual cleaning tasks. Stay tuned for more frontline reports from the Smart Home man-kitchen, including “Recycled Rubber Floors: Easy On Feet, Hell On Brooms!” and “My Ceramic Cooktop: Did The Monolith From 2001: A Space Odyssey Require As Much Polishing To Retain Its Mystical Dark Glass Look?”