In the US, we were blessed with a dish washing machine. It was great. Put dirty dishes in, fill with dishwasher detergent, turn on and voila! Clean dishes!
Our first apartment here had a dishwasher. It was tiny, and I was told by several people that it would be really expensive to pay for the energy to run it. Since we don't have running hot water (I've yet to visit a house/apartment here that does), the dishwashers have to have the ability to heat up the water (like the shower heads). This means running the dishwasher gets expensive. So we just never bothered with it. And as a result, we did lots of dishes.
We moved to an apartment without a dishwasher. And I still do lots of dishes. I know that some say that the products here are made so that clean up is a breeze, but I disagree. It takes a lot of scrubbing to get those pots and pans clean. And it does require a lot of soap. But a few months back a Brazilian friend of mine recommended using Ypê bar soap. There are a couple different brands, but
I wouldn't necessarily say this kind of soap has revolutionized my dishwashing, but it is cheaper because the soap lasts for every. You just rub your sponge on the soap, work up a lather and wash away. It's a little less convenient, but it's one area in the household budget where you can save a little money. And that's nothing to sneeze at!