Consider this a study if you'd like. My sister and I have an ongoing disagreement about the necessity of an automatic dishwasher. She insists it's a "must have" and I don't. So here goes with the comparison.
First her way: THE AUTOMATIC DISHWASHER
You scrape, wipe and stack the dishes. If necessary you rinse them. You bend down several times in order to carefully arrange them in the dishwasher so that they are angled just right. You add detergent and possible a "crystal drying agent", close the door and set it to run. You wipe down the countertops and stove and hand wash anything either too big or two encrusted for the dishwasher. Approximately 2 hours later, you can go and empty the dishwasher, bending down for each dish or so and then placing them in the cupboard--after checking if they're actually clean. [This is an important step when using the only dishwasher I have experience with.]
Okay, now my way: WASH AND DRY THE DISHES BY HAND
You scrape, wipe and stack the dishes. Rinse the juicier ones if necessary. Put detergent in the sink (which is at waist level) and run hot water while washing silverware. Rinse and place in drainer. Then wash the glasses, bowls, plates, serving pieces. Scrub or scour pots and pans. On a typical day this all takes about 10 minutes. With a crowd to clean up after, it has taken up to 30 minutes. Once they're all stacked to dry, wipe down counters and stove. Empty sink and rinse suds down drain. Grab a towel and dry those dishes that haven't sufficiently air dried by this time then place them in the cupboard. Hang up the dishtowel and you're done. Again, on a typical day this entire process takes about 15-20 minutes. And then I'm done--no reason to come back two hours later and finish.
So that's it. The comparison. I do feel that a family of four or more would definitely put a dishwasher to good use. But for my small family of 2 or 3, it's just not necessary. And actually, I like doing dishes--the feel of the hot water is soothing, the work is easy and the finished job is very satisfying.
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