The day the dishwasher died

If you are old enough, you remember where you were the day of the Kennedy assassination, or when you heard the news that Elvis Presley died.

I’ve added a new date to my list of traumatic events: the day the dishwasher died.

Our Kenmore Elite was 13 years old, so I should have seen it coming. Patrick resuscitated it several times over its faithful years of service, utilizing his engineering skills and collection of Craftsman’s.

Despite its age and a few warning signs, I was still shocked when I walked through the door to this horrifying scene.


Photo by Shallow Reflections™

It plunged me into the stages of losing-a-major-appliance grief.

  1. Denial. Does this mean dishwashing…by hand? NO! Say it isn’t so? Couldn’t I still load it, and hose dishes with the sink sprayer?
  2. Anger. Who is to blame? Is it possible I clogged the motor with broken glass? Should I have scraped paper labels off marinara jars used for my ‘homemade’ sauce? Doesn’t the god of appliances know how much I suck at washing dishes?
  3. Bargaining. After Patrick determined the fix was beyond his skills and there wasn’t a YouTube with anything to offer, he called the repairman. I began a chant about how I would do better. I promised not to break any more dishes, would remove large food particles, and be alert to dental floss curled in the bottom my milk glass. I promised to use name brand detergent instead of generic. I vowed to buy jet dry.
  4. Depression. The repairman rendered his $60 diagnosis. The cost of repair was prohibitive considering the age of the dishwasher. It made more ‘cents’ to buy a new one. Dashed was my dream of a new pump or motor whirring this beauty back into life. I lacked motivation to research Consumer Reports, or go shopping. I cried as I envisioned my next paycheck washed away with the grey water. I made a feeble attempt to keep the dirty dishes from overtaking the kitchen.
  5. Acceptance. A calmness rinsed over me. I accepted the inevitable. We bought a new dishwasher, reinforcing Dave Ramsey’s rule that one should always have a $1000 emergency fund. The old dishwasher is on its way to an unmarked appliance gravesite.

Now that I have endured this ebb and flow of emotions, I find myself in the midst of gratitude.

I am thankful we could afford a new dishwasher. I am happy to live in a world where I don’t have to go to the river, break a hole in the ice and wash dishes on the frigid shore. Or plunge chapped hands into hot, soapy water, to hand wash dishes mostly clean, depending on the dish wiper to finish the job.

As my mother’s life expectancy waned, when she bought a new appliance, she reasoned, “This one should last for the rest of my life.” It reminds me that I outlived this dishwasher, and I will not take life for granted. I’m prepared to celebrate when my new one wears out as a badge of longevity (mine, not the dishwashers). Right after I go through the five stages of grief.

When was the last time you had to replace a major appliance? Did you accept its demise with grace or fight it knife and fork, like I did?

The Day the Dishwasher Died


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31 thoughts on “The day the dishwasher died

  1. 😀 I am so sorry for your loss! I have yet to have a dishwasher. Now I may think twice about having one – I’m not sure I could handle the emotional trauma of losing one after I became attached!

  2. Oh I remember when Elvis died and I remember when my dishwasher died too. I hated having to spend that much cash on a new one but hated the idea of dishes in the sink even more.

  3. I remember where I was when Elvis died, and I do remember when one of my dishwasher died because I hated having to shell out the cash for another one that I ended up not liking as much as the older original one!

  4. Oh, Molly, you have put up such a brave front! I never realized you were carrying such a heavy load (of dishes). I understand, friend, and I’m here, well, not to wash your dishes, or even take them out of the new dishwasher and put them away, but, well, let’s just leave it at I’m here. And you’re there, making it pretty unlikely that I’ll have to do any actual work, other than offer condolences, so there you go.

    PS Your mom’s comment about an appliance lasting the rest of her life reminded me of when I went for my last driver’s license renewal. The woman asked if I wanted a five- or a ten-year license. I said, “I guess five is okay” (ten was getting kind of pricey). and she said, “Well, just so you know, you won’t be eligible for a ten-year license the next time you renew because, well, after a certain age, people don’t live long enough to make it worthwhile!.

    • I feel so much better knowing you are here, er there, Lee. I am appalled at the comment at the BMV. These people must be given lessons on how to be offensive! So nice of them to try to get your money up front in case you aren’t here to come in for the next renewal.

  5. True story back when I was married we lost a dishwasher and the garbage disposal within two days of each other right after our child was born. Since she was off work, and diapers obviously are more important than Cascade we had to go about two months before we got a new disposal and dishwasher. Paper plates were the new bone china in our house!

  6. Love this! When my dishwasher died a few years ago, I’ll never forget a comment my sister in law said to me – “Can’t you just wash the dished yourself?” UM………..NO! I live in rural Michigan where not too many people have dishwashers, but I grew up in California. I LOVE my dishwasher! 🙂

    • As long as I’m not doing the dishes I wouldn’t care if there was a dishwasher either. But watch out if I have to do the dishes because they 1) aren’t clean and 2) risk being broken. Lucky you to have a husband who washes the dishes!

  7. Our dishwasher died years ago. Out of respect for a family friend that served us faithfully for nearly 15 years, we have never gotten round to buying a new one. Not so the washing machine. This interloper died before it was 5 years old, so we promptly got rid of it and bought a new one. No sentimental attachment there.

    • Wow! That’s a lot of loyalty for a dishwasher Margaretha. I don’t think I could make it in the kitchen without a dishwasher. And I know my dishes couldn’t since I have a tendency to break them when I hand wash.

  8. Another great blog, Molly. I can feel your pain, as currently my refrigerator wakes me up in the middle of the night with its clanging and banging, my dishwasher sounds like a tractor and my disposal has stopped disposing. And worse still – my rainy day fund can’t come close!! I guess when you buy new appliances all at once, you can expect them to die at the same time. There must be a built-in switch that goes off after a designated time period and begins the deadly countdown to the grave. If I have to buy replacements, i likely can echo Mom’s mantra. I think her exact words were, “This should do me out!” On the other hand, nothing seems to last very long any more and there is a great deal of longevity in our family!

    • I hope you need to buy new appliances many more times, sis! I’m not sure if appliances die younger, or if time just goes faster at this stage of life. I had forgotten Mum’s exact words and your reminder made me smile.

  9. currently have duct tape on the 19cf freezer in the garage and the small freezer over the fridge. We’re not going gentle into that good night….

    • Good luck, Elise. While your freezers may be in hospice care, I like the way you are using duct tape to hold them together during their final days. May they keep your Ben and Jerry’s frozen for optimal deliciousness!

  10. I love how you put it into terms of life terms which is brilliant. Of course we’re trying to sell our home so some of the appliances are in question. We recently had to get a new dishwasher and agh! Washing dishes again? Boy, are we spoiled!

    • I know what you mean about washing dishes by hand, Cathy. I’m so bad at it, my husband won’t let me do it anymore. And now I don’t load the dishwasher correctly, so apparently I’m banned from that duty too. I would try to improve, but I’m too busy messing up the vacuuming in hopes he will declare me incompetent for that household chore. Good luck keeping your appliances humming until you sell your house and thanks for stopping by.

  11. Before you toss the old one–remove the silverware rack. It can be installed on the pegboard above your workbench as it sits in the dishwasher to hold that bottle of Elmer’s carpenter glue, the odd ratchet wrench, other large garage items that don’t go easily on a hook. Or, and this is my favorite use, turn it sideways and bolt the bottom of the rack to the pegboard. Now, you can put screwdrivers, awls, ice picks on it. Plus, your old friend, Kenmore Elite, will always be a part of your life.

    • George, this is great advice. I did grab save the silverware rack and it has been collecting dust in the basement. Now instead of adding to the clutter it can be a solution to (some) of the mess down there. I didn’t imagine it would be both functional, and a memorial at the same time. Thank you so much for sharing!

  12. Last summer, I purchased a second hand truck with presumably only 62K miles! After buying tires and other serious work, I started using it with pride and glee! The dump body frame broke in half and was replaced after an unbelievable series of attempts with ridiculous failures to do so. It served me with decent dependability throughout the summer. Taking it to the pot holed road heaven of the North Woods, the front end rattled apart. Ratchet straping it, I crippled it back to the settlement for my mechanic magician friend to glome it reasonably back together. Upon going North again, it began running goofy but, at 63K miles, couldn’t possibly be serious!? It managed to get me back to the magician’s shop…………analysis: engine paunched! Kaput! Finished! Dead! Beyond magic! ……….. This week, with fingers crossed and an initial “investment”of twice as much, I am the excited, proud owner of another used dump truck! Ain’t life grand!???

    • Well, I am glad you outlived your dump truck and get to break in another one, Marvin. You might want to have a little more than $1000 in your emergency fund though with your track record. As an aside, after the dishwasher died one of our ancient, heavy wooden garage doors broke. We had been planning to replace but were trying to wait as long as possible. $2400 later we have lovely new doors and openers and I’ve gone into another depression…..

  13. This is an oh-so-timely (not to mention clever) observation at this stage of life, Molly! Who’da thunk we’d be contemplating our life span when buying household appliances? Yet I’ve thought the same thing about getting a kitten…

    • So true, Roxanne. I remember as my father approached the end of his life, he broke his dental bridge, and chose not to get it fixed. He was always practical and could do a cost/benefit analysis in his head like no one else I ever knew. I’m happy to report I’m still getting my teeth fixed, and I have calluses on my butt from hours at the dentist to prove it! and a toothy smile.

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