The Beginning of a Revolution (in hygiene): a Hand and Dish Washing Station

Wednesday afternoon I packed up my most useful belongings, hitched what didn’t fit to the sides of my camping backpack and set out from Fort Greene in Brooklyn, NY to spend 3 weeks at Factor E Farm in Missouri. I’ve never been to that area of the world, and neither have many of my friends in Brooklyn. I ate my last gelato and started hiking to Newark airport for my direct flight to Kansas City.
I haven’t been so nervous about a trip in a long time. I arrived at Factor E Farm late Wednesday night. My first night was 11 degrees F but I was quite warm in a cordwood hut with my boyfriend and Jeremy. I slept inside 2 winter sleeping bags on an army cot with a yoga mat. We all slept in till 8:30 am and had oatmeal that Jeremy prepared. We wandered around, got a tour of the place from Marcin and then sat down in the cordwood hut to talk strategy.
Mathew and I had discussed the need for Factor E Farm to develop a sanitation and nutrition package before arriving. Upon arriving we were aghast to see that there was no station set up for hand washing or dishwashing that resembled our personal standards of sanitation. It took me a good hour to get over my shock. I had to remind myself that my mother and father didn’t have a well for running water until right before I was born. I’m not sure what they did before the well, my mom mentioned bathing in town.
We had a great planning session with Marcin and Jeremy and got started setting up a makeshift hand and dish washing station. We got the whole thing up and running just in time to cook dinner at 8pm tonight. We now have a 7 gallon jug of water propped up on a shelf above a stainless steel sink which empties into a 5 gallon bucket. For a dish rack we’re using a milk crate on top of a shelf for now. The set up is close to the wood stove so that the water will be a pleasant temperature. The plan is to fetch water every morning so that the 7 gallons of water will be at room temperature for most of the day. MMm . . . the sweet comfort of a clean dish. To celebrate we had some delicious burgers with grilled onions, lettuce, green peppers and melted brie.
For the record though, I strongly believe that FARMER SCIENTISTS DON’T DO DISHES. One day I hope to develop a dish washing machine here at the farm so that we can reclaim the 30 minutes we spend each day washing dishes. So spread the word: dishes are done.


  1. Lucas

    You may want to look into tippy tap which is for hand hygiene but may be adapted for dishes.

    Now if we could find a way to retrofit that into urban settings – I’ve been looking at ways to have a pedal that gives me water for the dishes on strict second-by-second demand.

    Tippy tap

  2. Marcin

    Quick, I must write another blog post to cover up this guts-of-the-story information!

  3. Ama

    Sink station in the CordWood? Yes yes yes!!
    Need ofr a dishwasher.. well,
    No no no, Farmer Scientists need to do their dishes too. Why?
    Real Word Musings: It’s a great method of meditation, and a reclaiming of the worth of Wo/Man’s work, to do your own dishes… humbling, reminder of your mammas and grandmammas who did your dishes when you were a baby – as we age, we come to see the worth of it.. as long as such a dishwashing machine was solar powered and wind dried, I’d use it though. But first pay the dues of the dishes 😉 hee hee hee
    Loving y’all. Missing you. Plant that food garden in that awesome greenhouse, We’ll be back to Factor E Farm!

  4. […] Molly and I built a hand washing station and I put together a shower, sanitation is still a major problem at Factor E Farm.  This post is […]

  5. whelky

    Is there any way to get in touch with Molly? I’m curious to know if she has any plans of importing any of the Factor-E ideas to Brooklyn… which is quite near where I lay my head. I’ve thought about visiting FEF myself, but i’m a bit broke for the travellin’. I’d really love to see open source ecology spring up in the northeast in some form.

  6. mimarob

    Hmm, I just checked out some specs on one of these modern dishwashers…

    Seems they run a dish on 10 liters of water and about one kWh of electricity. (Bit different from the monsters of the 70’s that used about 60 liters and probably just as much times the energy)

    Doin the maths, that corresponds to heating a 10 l bucket of water 84 Kelvin. (such as from 6C/43F degrees to 90C/194F), recirculating the water about 400 times using a filter.

    I doubt I could beat that with a simple brush, remembering how much dirty dishes you can stuff into a thing like that. Not to mention what the water in the bucket would look like 😛

    One kWh of heat is about 200 grams / 7 ounces of dry firewood or about the solar influx of 1 square meter for one hour.