Easy Hacks To Try When You Feel Overwhelmed By Dishes

You would think someone who writes a cleaning blog would not be overwhelmed by cleaning dishes.

That is not true.

If there is any chore I hate, it's dishes. I would clean and organise in a heartbeat but dishes? I procrastinate every time! 

hacks for cleaning dishes overwhelm

I know you are here because you are facing the exact same issue.

I can't promise that you will never feel overwhelmed by dishes again. What I can promise is that at least one of these cleaning hacks will make cleaning dishes easier. 

Pick a hack that resonates with you and try it out.

I have tested all of them so don't be discouraged if something doesn't work perfectly - keep trying and see what sticks!.

It truly depends on the time, my headspace and how many dishes I have to tackle. 

Without further ado, here are my tried and tested 'cleaning dishes' hacks from a girl who hates doing dishes.

Hack #1: Sit In A High Chair

Who made the rule that we had to stand while doing dishes?

Grab a high chair or a bar stool and sit to do your dishes. 

You will feel so much less stress and maybe finally get to enjoy it. 

Hack #2: Buy Paper Plates

paper plates

Using paper plates can be a massive time saver when it comes to doing the dishes.

With paper plates, you can just toss them in the bin after use, saving yourself from constantly washing and drying dishes.

Imagine the freedom of enjoying your meal without worrying about doing the dishes afterwards! 

This can be such a timesaver especially when you have small children. 

If you are worried that they are bad for the environment, there are many compostable and biodegradable options.

Now I am not advising you to switch all your ceramic plates for paper plates but paper plates can be complimentary to your regular dishes and save you so much time. 

Hack #3: Try a 5 Minute Timer

timer cube

Nothing, I repeat, nothing motivates quite like a timer.

I have shared a few times on the blog why I love zone cleaning

It's because it's such a low entry approach to cleaning. Using a timer creates a sense of urgency, it's also not as overwhelming.

If you say to yourself, "I will only do these dishes for 5 minutes and leave the rest, two things might happen: 

1. You end up finishing the dishes because you already started

2. You are able to psyche yourself into doing it because the 'barrier' is so low. Anyone can spare 5 minutes

If you have been struggling with dishes, maybe the 5 minute timer hack might finally help. 

Hack #4: Use Sponge Gloves

sponge gloves

Here's another fun way to clean dishes when you are overwhelmed.

Sponge gloves are amazing because they offer a two in one solution for protecting your hands and cleaning without a sponge or brush. 

If the thought of getting your hands wet and then having to lather up dish soap on a sponge feels like an overwhelming first step, sponge gloves might help. 

But be careful, they are such slippery things.

Whenever I use them, I have to grip the dishes or glass extra firmly because they slip out of my hands so easily. 

Hack #5: Clean Before You Eat

This actually works. I find that when I make a meal and settle to eat after, my motivation to return to the dirty dishes drop with every bite. 

As simple as it sounds, the key to not feeling overwhelmed by dishes after your meal is to clean whilst you are cooking and make sure all the dishes are done before you eat. 

Better if you have a large family because you can make a rule that everyone has to chip in with the dishes before you all settle to eat. I promise it works.

By the time you are done with your meal, you won't have a mountain of dishes waiting for you, just the plates you used to eat. 

Hack #6: Use Less Dishes While Cooking

One of the easiest ways to feel less overwhelmed when washing dishes is honestly to use less dishes when you cook.

Let me show you how this can work practically.

When you cook, instead of using a separate bowl to portion out each ingredient you chop, try using a cutting board or a large plate that can hold everything together. 

This way, you won't need to wash multiple bowls and cutting boards, and you can simply transfer the ingredients straight into the cooking pot or pan.

You can do the same for your utensils.

Instead of picking up a new spoon or whisk for each step, give them a quick rinse and use them again.

This will save you from having a pile of dirty dishes to wash, after cooking. 

Lastly, think about how you can consolidate your ingredients. For example, instead of using separate measuring cups for each ingredient, try measuring everything in one cup. 

Hack #7: Pile in The Sink

If you are feeling really overwhelmed by your dishes, this hack may not solve it instantly but it will make the process easier.


Photo by Gary Barnes

Pile them all in the sink. This will help in a couple of ways.

First of all, it will make sure you have a less messy kitchen. There will be no dishes lying around as they will all be in the sink. 

Now, let them soak.

Here's what you do: fill the kitchen sink with plain or soapy water, it doesn't matter. You are simply pre-soaking the dishes, making it easier to clean them later.

When you have some spare time, you can quickly wash them all in one go.

Here's something to remember: don't let them sit there for too long.

Don't use this hack as an excuse to allow your dishes soak for days. 

So, the next time you find yourself with a kitchen overwhelmed by dirty dishes try this hack and see if it helps.

Hack #8: Try The 5 Second Rule

If you are familiar with Mel Robbins, you might know about her 5 second rule.

This rule helps you overcome any hesitation and take action on whatever it is you want to do, whether that is getting out of bed or in this case, doing the dishes. 

If you feel overwhelmed by your pile of dirty dishes, countdown from 5 to 1 and start doing it before the 5 seconds are up.

So you say out loud "5-4-3-2-1" and quickly start tackling the dishes.

The core principle is that you have 5 seconds to take action on an impulse before your brain starts generating reasons not to do it.

Robbins claims the 5-second countdown engages the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for decision-making. 

This, she says, gives you a window of opportunity to push yourself towards action.

Hack #9: Make A Playlist

Nothing gets me in the mood like a good playlist.

Let me go off on a little tangent.

I hate running but I run 2-3 times every single week. The only way I can get through my run each week is by listening to a very upbeat playlist. 

I tell my running group that I cannot bear a run without good music. 

Same with doing dishes. A good playlist of songs you love can put you in a very good mood.

That way you are not focused on the the piles of dirty dishes in front of you but on the upbeat music bursting through your speakers.

You can create your own playlist of your favorite songs or find a pre made playlist that fits the mood.

Hack #10: Try A Fancy Gadget

Sometimes, what you need to reduce the overwhelming feeling of tackling dishes may be a fancy new gadget.

I recently discovered one on TikTok called The Scrubbie.

The basic concept is that you attach it to any faucet or tap and use it to clean your dishes.

This gives your dishes a good scrub whilst cutting down cleaning time because you can use very hot water than your hands won't need to touch. 

I have to be honest and let you know that I have not personally used this product.

One thing I do know is that a fancy new gadget can temporarily give you the motivation you need.

I find that to be the case with those dishwashing brushes with a built-in soap dispenser. 

They make cleaning dishes a lot more efficient. Sometimes I'll add some vinegar to it for more cleaning power.

Hack #11: Use Hot Water

When I am about to start doing dishes, I make a bowl of hot soapy water with a little dish soap and hot water.

washing dishes in hot water

The water should be just hot enough for your hands to bear.

When you clean with hot water, it's so much easier to remove any stuck-on food.

This will save you a lot of time when cleaning. 

When you spend less time overall, it registers in your brain and you are more likely to feel motivated to do it next time.

Your brain will likely think "Oh that's an easy task" I am no scientist but it works for me. 

Hack #12: Watch A Show

This happens to be my husband's favourite thing to do.

Watching a show or the game on his tablet motivates him to do household chores. 

I used to wonder how he could concentrate on cooking or cleaning whilst watching a game but it seems to work for him and I hope it works for you too. 

Hack #13: Downsize

If you don't have a lot of dishes, it's more than likely that you'll have less dishes to do overall.

So go through your kitchen cabinets and get rid of any plates, bowls or cups you don't need or are chipped/ broken.

The biggest areas to declutter are usually Tupperware so search through that cabinet first. 

Hack #14: Do A Stacking Batch

If you are someone who gets very overwhelmed, you can do your dishes in batches.

dishes stacked

Photo by: Nathan Dumalo

There is no rule that says you have to wash all your dishes in one go.

You can create separate batches, group like items together and takle them one batch at a time.

Just do the bit you can when you have the motivation to do so.

Hack #15: Ask Someone Else/ Delegate

One thing my husband does that I am immensely grateful for is that when he comes back from a long day at work he helps me do the dishes that I stacked up.

He could very well not do the dishes because he wasn't responsible for using them.

He started doing this more consciously when I mentioned how overwhelmed I am by dishes. 

So if you have any loved one in your life, please let them know this is something you struggle with.

You'll be surprised that some may decide to take it off your plate permanently. 

Hack #16: Get Everyone to Clean After Themselves

If you live in a large house where dishes can tend to pile up quickly, set a rule and get everyone do clean their own dishes.

If everyone cleans up after themselves, there will be no piles of dishes in the sink.

Another layer to this rule is to get every one in your household to do not just their dishes but whatever dishes are in the sink. 

If everyone does this on a daily basis, it will cut down on the dishes significantly and you'll have a less messy house. 

Hack #17: Get A Dish Washer

I was hesitant to add this to the list because it seems pretty obvious.

Just incase this isn't something you have considered, a dishwasher can really cut down on the amount of dishes you have to do by hand. 

Throughout the day, fill it up and when you have a full dishwasher, run a cycle. 

Hack #18: Set a Cleaning Schedule

Creating a cleaning routine or schedule can be the solution to that feeling of overwhelm when you see dishes. 

You can set a time everyday to tackle dishes and even better if you combine it with another task.  

For example you can set to do dishes as your final task for the evening before bed.

The consistency of a home routine can make it easier, depending on how your brain works. 

Hack #19: Reward Yourself

If you set an intention to treat yourself to something you enjoy after washing the dishes, it can trigger the reward centre of your brain. 

Over time, your brain will start associating washing dishes with feelings of pleasure and accomplishment, making the task feel less like a chore.

If I was ever to reward myself after dishes, it has to be with some cinnamon rolls or ice cream.

A reward after an activity you don't enjoy can make the biggest difference. 

Hack #20: Invest In Good Tools

Lastly, one of the best ways to make your dishwashing process to be a lot smoother, is to invest in good tools for cleaning.

Remember that when an activity is pleasurable, you are far more likely to repeat it.

So grab a good quality sponge or dish brush, a drying rack with an easy to remove pool tray, or super absorbent dish towels to dry dishes quicker. 

They may seem like small changes but they'll significantly improve your whole kitchen experience.

I really hope these hacks help. Hit me up on Instagram if these tips helped. 


Hey you, I’m Torera

Hey there! I am Torera, a home care and cleaning enthusiast with a mission to make cleaning as fun and easy as possible for women like you. As someone who had to learn everything from scratch, I have the mindset of a beginner and know exactly how to take you from A to Z. Let us ditch the overwhelm and create a space that is clean, cozy, and totally you!