Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Washing Up Bucket

This was a bid odd.

When we stayed with one of R's sisters in England in June, in both her flat and her caravan in Hexham, there was a plastic bucket in the sink, kind of in the shape of the sink. This was where you washed the dishes, that is you filled the bucket and not the sink itself. When we were in the caravan on our own and I was washing dishes, I found it quite annoying but also helpful. You could put muck down beside the bucket into the sink without making the dishwater dirty, along with rinsing something off without muck going in the sink.

R has three sisters, and the younger two did not use a bucket in the sink, only the older. I have a vague memory of them being used in Australia, or did I just see them on an English tv show?

Eventually, I asked. 'K, why do you use a bucket in the sink?'. She replied that it was kind of an old idea, but she thought it was more hygienic and her mother always used one.

This caused my thought processes to start. Ok, I understand superficially, but why is it more hygienic?

Firstly, it is an old persons thing. Young people in England do not seem to use a bucket in the sink to wash dishes. So, old people's thing. Why?

Generally in England, people don't seem to have separate laundries. The washing machine and clothes dryer are often in the kitchen and they is not a laundry trough. So perhaps you would not want to wash your dishes in the same sink as you wash your smalls or rinse out baby nappies.

In Australia, laundry troughs used to made of concrete and kitchen sinks often of something hard with an enamelled coating, or porcelain. All are pretty unforgiving surfaces should you knock a plate a bit hard against the side of the bowl.

But then plastic has not been around forever, so what was used as a sink insert before plastic? I am sure it wasn't bakelite. Was it enamelled tin? Do I remember a flatish tin dish that might have been used for washing dishes even without a sink?

Did Pants, being of a certain age (ouch Pants, that hurt), adopt the English custom of placing a plastic dish in her sink to wash up?

When Michelle orders Brian to scrub the centuries old mysterious substances from under his nails and to then wash the dishes, does he use the plastic dish?


  1. This post stirred a memory for me of buckets in the sink in Australia when I was young but for the life of me I can't recall the details.

  2. Talk about your odd coincidences, I stumbled across this the other day on teh same subject: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/1056364.stm

    Which I was steered to from here: http://www.shauny.org/pussycat/2008/09/the_plastic_menace.php

    Freaky or what? Oh and please forgive the lack of hyperlinkage... I'm not that frigging clever.

  3. Isn't that where they store the chavs?

  4. "When Michelle orders Brian to scrub the centuries old mysterious substances from under his nails and to then wash the dishes, does he use the plastic dish?"

    Always have done ever since before I can remember...only we call it the washing-up bowl rather than a bucket. (Shows how old I am, doesn't it?)

    Mind you, we had a good reason for the washing up bowl up until recently. The pipe from our sink was leaking for ages, so we just used to carry the bowl into the garden and tip it down the grid.

    Before plastic was invented, of course, and before washing machines etc. the laundry was done in a dolly tub and sinks were made from thick, enamelled stone.

    My grandmother's washing-up bowl always used to be on her draining board, if memory serves, full of peeled spuds.

  5. My mother always uses a plastic tub in the sink, which she calls a "dishpan". The phrase "dishpan hands" springs forth from the practice of washing up strong soaps until one's fingers are cracked and dry.

    I believe she initially started using a dishpan because she was tired of chipping her coffee cups on her old cast-iron enamel sink. She continued to use it later (after the advent of the aluminum sink) to preserve that new-sink shine.

    I, at my incredibly young age (okay, shut up with the laughing already), used a dishpan in an apartment where I could never find a drain stopper to fit.

    My grandmother used one because she only had one long undivided sink, and washing up in the dishpan gave her space to rinse the dishes.

    WOW, you invoked a little trip down memory-lane there for me. I'll be humming the rest of the day.

  6. My nan always had a washing up bowl mainly to conserve water and then she threw it over her fruit trees to kill off the aphids and mealy bugs (she used pure Velvet soap so it killed everything).
    Now we have our own washing up bowl which I tip all over The Spouse.
    Coz I can.

  7. I'll be sure to tell andy b to stop peeing in the sink

  8. I guess the double sink is an extension of the same idea. My house has a double sink, I don't know how people can cope with only one sink. Then there are those 1.5 sinks with one big sink and one small sink. I've never been quite sure what those half sinks are about.

  9. I grew up with my Great Grandmother and my Grandmother living in the same house and I can't for the life of me remember this practice. One strong memory I do have is sitting at the kitchen table shelling peas with them and wrapping them in newspaper for the bin. Does anyone shell peas anymore? I think they are all in plastic and frozen nowadays.

  10. People must shell peas somewhere, otherwise all those seedlings wouldn't be available to grow. Fresh peas, Yum!

    Andrew, I am still somewhat traumatised by the possibility that maybe they rinsed dirty nappies out in the kitchen sink???? Or their smalls?

  11. Victor, I am sure I can just recall seeing them.

    Amazing Kezza. What a co-incidence. Someone should do a thesis.

    Nope Reuben, they go in the bath under the coal.

    Dolly tub......hmm. Would dolly pegs be used to hang clothes to dry that have been washed in a dolly tub? And your grannie had to tip the spuds out to wash the dishes, or did not bother with the washing up bowl?

    So it is all over the world then Daisy. I can see the point when you have a really large sink.

    Lol Jayne. I am sure Palmolive liquid is good for his hair.

    City or country LiD? Maybe it was a more rural practice? I used to hate shelling peas and yes, they were wrapped in newspaper afterwards. Why didn't they go in compost or straight on the garden? Thank god for frozen peas.

    I suppose machines shell peas now Bliss. I bet they don't eat them as the are shelling though. Just my theory about rinsing dirty nappies. They probably used a bucket. Actually I remember my mother had a special bucket with a tight fitting lid for soaking nappies.

  12. And Jayne, I use to make up a soapy spray for aphids on roses.

  13. Missed a couple of comments, as usual. Rob, just make sure it is not your sink he pees into.

    We have that extra half sink Ben, well smaller than half. It is useful and another full sized one would cost bench space.

  14. lid - I occasionally shell peas I have purchased from Harris Farm but more often make do with packets of the frozen stuff from the supermarkets.

    Maybe peas' shelling is a parental versus childless thing? Families with children occupy their kids' time by getting them to shell peas?

    Surely its not just gay versus straight thing!

  15. Noted Victor. We will occupy Little Jo when she is a bit older with shelling peas.

  16. Anonymous5:22 pm

    In Japan the kitchen sinks are pretty big and most people - including me - have a plastic tub/bucket to wash the dishes in.

    Also there usually isn't a seperate laundry sink - washing machines have their own drainage hole set in the floor near the machine. Consequently, hand washing is often done in the kitchen sink but not in the dishes tub!

    I remember shelling peas with Nanna when I was a kid. And we used to wrap all veggie scaps in newspaper before throwing them in the bin. Vik.

  17. Anonymous5:45 pm

    Ah, memory lane - shelling peas and eating them at the kitchen table and yes no one composted in those days - wrapped everything in newspaper for the garbage bin (at least it all broke down at the local tip - not like the plastic bags of today). I can also remember having to do the washing in the old copper boilers and squeezed through the hand wringer attached to the concrete laundry tub. I think you need to do a story on the outdoor dunnies too Andrew.

  18. "Would dolly pegs be used to hang clothes to dry that have been washed in a dolly tub?"

    There the ones, bought from the gypsies.

    "And your grannie had to tip the spuds out to wash the dishes, or did not bother with the washing up bowl?"

    No...she preferred to wash the dishes in the dishwasher.

  19. Can't recall an Australian version of this and our Gran lived with us, early 60s. Sounds okay though. Dishwater does get mucky.

  20. Both of my nanna's did the plakky tub in the sink thing, much like the answer Jayne gave up there. Use of velvet soap, throwing the water on the trees and roses and so forth afterwards. We all grew up with water tanks so it was also another way of conserving water to wash dishes on this manner.
    Now, the only time I was dishes this way is when we camp.
    My nanna's sinks were made of this stone type of material...not nice for the China Cups by any means :(

  21. Well Vik, don't think you'll be sticking a bit of cheap plastic in our smart high rise apartment sink when you are here.

    Gee, how old are you? Are you the hairdresser type Anon person still? Stuff was wrapped up in newspaper so as to not dirty the bin, that in those days did not have a plastic liner. Coppers and wringers are before my time. I think I may have mentioned outdoor dunnies before, but you have inspired a future post.

    Should be a resurgence in them Lad. They save water.

    Just knew you would make a relevant comment Cazzie. It must be a combination of hygiene and broken crockery.

  22. What a sensible grandmother you had Brian.

  23. Anonymous5:35 pm

    Be careful - you might just end up with a bright, shiny Xmas present! Vik.

  24. Anonymous10:08 am

    Just seen on morning tv they are now advertising these plastic wash up buckets for your sink as a water saving device. Also saying when finished you can empty the dirty water onto your garden.

    Seems everything old is new again.....

    There is hope for us yet then eh, Andrew?

  25. Well, we may just put you to work using it for water to scrub floors Vik.

    OMG Anon. I don't believe it.