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Jan 22, 2010 09:02 PM

guests not offering to do dishes, is it rude?

Hubby and I were brought up to always offer to do the dishes after dinner at someone's house. We always ask first and if our offer is accepted, we do it gladly. We appreciate the effort the hosts have put into the meal and we are happy that we are not leaving them with a dirty kitchen.

When people come to my house and offer to help me clean up, usually, i will decline unless i am sick, tired, or have to wake up very early to go to work. I am a neat cook so usually, there are very few pots and pans to clean and almost everything else goes in the dishwasher, and i never let anyone wash something that can be washed by the dishwasher. NEVER. Oh, and I always try to give them a way to back out of doing dishes just in case it had been only offered for the sake of politeness.

Yet, i cannot help but feel that -unless it is an extreemly formal dinner- not offering to help do the dishes is rude. I understand that I invited them and that I am the one responsible for the clean up, but for them not to even offer to help is a bit weird.

Having written this, I realised that I did not mention i am talking about people who just sat down for the entire meal and did not help with other aspects of it (prep, getting dishes to table, clearing table......) I certainly wouldn't think it's rude if someone who helped do prep other things did not do dishes.

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  1. Hala,

    My opinion: not rude. Not polite, but not rude.

    2 Replies
      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        I agree absolutely. Offering to help would fall, imo, under "thoughtful and gracious" rather than "necessary for politeness' sake."

      2. A potential girlfriend invited me to her place for dinner. for reference: we were both in out 40s, roughly, and she had been married some years earlier, but had dated extensively on both sides of the marriage.

        After dinner, I offered to help her wash dishes. (why not? Was I supposed to watch TV while she.did "woman's work"? It was easy enough, and would give us more of a chance to talk).

        Imagine my surprise when she told me I was the first guy who'd ever volunteered for KP duty. Even allowing for a bit of flirtatious overstatement, that was a real shocker.

        From that anecdotal experience, I'd say it's not expected, but couldn't hurt. Generally speaking, I always offer, but the host almost never takes me up on it.

        In your case, my first impression is that they're your guests, not your co-workers (here, at least). When they invite you somewhere, let them do all the work. Or, since you seem really offended by this, scratch them from your phone book.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Muskrat

          Brownie points are always good reasons to offer. Same goes for visiting someone else's family, especially if they are potential in-laws. Goes a long way. I used to regularly visit an ex-bf's family, along with another g.f. of his brother, who never offered to help in the kitchen or do dishes. It was needless to say, mentioned once or twice (not by the parents)

          1. re: Muskrat

            About offering to do dishes, I think different rules apply to at least three categories of gatherings: (1) gatherings of family members, (2) gatherings of prospective in-laws with one's family, and (3) meals for houseguests staying overnight or longer.

            The OP seems to say that she expects an offer to do dishes even by guests not well known to her at a simple dinner party, that it's even rude of them not to offer. This idea is completely foreign to me. In my parents' house when I was growing up and now in my house, non-family guests at a simple dinner party are not expected to work, or even to offer to work.

            1. re: browniebaker

              To me it seems rude to expect an offer. Did you bring guests to your house to do work?? I do expect that my guests will not leave dirty dishes lying around all over the place but to actually roll up their sleeves and help with the actual clean up is ridiculous.

              Now, I do expect them to mow my lawn or shovel the driveway!!!!LOL


              1. re: Davwud

                Agreed. This proposition is an affront to the idea of hospitality.

                1. re: Leonardo

                  Absolute agreement. Stay out of my kitchen if you're a guest please.

            2. re: Muskrat

              It is polite znd gentlemanly for a man to offer as its usually the women. I say its a kind gesture but not a requirement.

            3. No, it's not rude. Guests are guests -- they do not work. If they offer to help with the dishes, that's nice, but it's not rude not to offer.

              9 Replies
              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                Agreed. Not rude. In fact, I don't want to think about dishes with guests present. I want to enjoy their company and conversation, and to genuinely connect with them. The dishes can wait.

                1. re: maria lorraine

                  Hear, hear. I do not want to waste time while I have guests over doing the dishes. They can wait until when my guests leave or until tomorrow.

                  1. re: Atahualpa

                    Ditto! There isn't enough room in our tiny little kitchen for two people at the same time anyway... if help is offered they can clear the table and put everything on the counter, but once the leftovers are safely stowed away in the fridge, that's where KP ends. The dishes will still be there when the guests go home.

                  2. re: Ruth Lafler

                    Ruth is right, that's why they're called guests.
                    One time some friends had us over, DAvey was newly married and we were looking forward to getting to know Sussane. She knocked us out with an Indian meal, complete with crystal and china, and put a ton of work into it. The next morning I got up and saw this army of crystalware and china on the counter- she was a Marine's daughter and had the table setting protocol down, and used the right everything for the right course, which to me was a miracle of knowledge, so what could I do but start washing all that crystal? She assured me I didn't have to, but by God I did too- i'm just glad I didn't have to do it the night before.

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      I agree. Only very close family and friends who eat here often are allowed to help - IF they want to.

                      1. re: bayoucook

                        This is basically my policy, as well. But I do appreciate it when a guest or two helps to clear the table.

                        1. re: bayoucook

                          I will say that sometimes very close family needs to do their own dishes. Example: my family hosts Easter and Thanksgiving with my mom's relatives who spend a few nights. We provide most meals but we expect you to eat with us. Family members who sleep in until noon are expected to fend for themselves for breakfast bd clean up after themselves. In recent years my father has gotten sick of the 40 somethings who are still expecting to be waited on by their mother and then just drop the pans etc in the sick still dirty.

                          Otherwise it isn't rude not to offer. Especially at a dinner party.

                        2. re: Ruth Lafler

                          Agreed, I don't think it's rude either. However if you are say at, your girlfriend's parent's house for dinner, it does win you some brownie points.

                          If I am washing things up and someone asks if I need help I always ask them to just keep me company while I wash dishes. And we're like you OP, we are very organized in the kitchen, we clean up as we cook and we always jam as many things into the dishwasher as possible and throw 2 pucks of dishwashing detergent in. Usually the only things left to wash after dinner are serving trays and platters.

                        3. Unless it is very close friends or family, I have never heard of guests being expected to help with the dishes.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Samalicious

                            That is my expectation. Even tho I have a dishwasher, I'm pretty picky about how it is loaded as it's very old and if you don't load it correctly, things won't get clean. It's rare that I offer (except under those circumstances above) and I would never accept help.

                          2. If it were family, I would expect the help or would ask if I could help. If they were friends and it was not a potluck, then I would expect some help, but would offer help if I were a guest.

                            No matter the situation though, there are people that will never help and this includes relatives. I've have relatives show up at potlucks with no food, eat and leave.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: flylice2x

                              Why is it that no one has explained the concept of potluck to the people who continue to show up empty-handed? I would think they would stop being told the time and date!

                              1. re: flylice2x

                                Occasional guests, no. But family who is at your house for every holiday, I do think it is rude not to offer. I would decline or allow them to take a lighter duty than me, but the offer is what is important. I don't know if i 'expect' help, but after a tiring day, it does occur to me that it's unfair, and yes rude, to sit for a meal, not clear your dish, and retire to the living room while the host does all the cleaning up. Guests are not the only ones who should be shown courtesy in this equation.