Why A Fancy Washing Machine Might be a Bad Idea

Our elderly dishwasher finally gave up the ghost last week.  It had been warning me for a while that all was not well, so we were prepared for it to go. The new dishwasher is delighting us all with how quiet it is, how clean it gets the dishes, and how neat and tidy it looks.

Some dishwashers are really expensive with lots of extras like timers and screens.  And I was reminded of what happened when we replaced our washing machine a few years ago.  When I was choosing the new washer I was shown a machine that is “intelligent”: it knows what sort of clothes you have put in the machine and washes them accordingly.  This means that you barely need to sort the clothes.  My husband said ‘Oh yes, that means more knowledge lost.” And I knew what he meant.  With the “intelligent” machine you don’t even need to know that that towels can have a hot wash and a fast spin; woollies get washed gently in warm water; and that drip-dry fabrics need to … yes, “drip” dry and not be spun.

Because of our labour-saving devices, we are losing knowledge all the time, unless we make a conscious effort to retain, use and pass on the knowledge.  This applies to what we teach our children; do we teach them everyday skills like how to knit and sew, how to grow food to eat, how to cook without a microwave and how to wash clothes by hand?

We can do these things in small ways – maybe knit a bookmark or a pot holder; grow some carrots or tomatoes, sew a pillow case or needle fold; heat milk on the stove rather than the microwave; write a letter or thank you note by hand rather than by email or text.  We do it, not because we want to make life difficult for everyone, but because we don’t want us to lose the skills.  It keeps us in touch with ‘real life’.

And when we tune in to the simple things in life we start to actually slow down and we discover a gentleness and sweetness in our daily tasks.  Then we discover that we are having a lot fun together too, sharing these things with our young people. Life is enriched.

By the way, I didn’t choose the “intelligent” washer. And we went for a simple dishwasher model which wasn’t too expensive but had good reports for … getting the dishes washed.

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