The Great Dishwashing Debate — Is Hand Washing or Using a Dishwasher Better for the Environment?
Using a huge amount of water may not seem like a big deal to some people, but it can really harm the environment and increase utility bills for your home. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to conserve water. If you have a dishwasher at home, you may argue with yourself about whether to wash your dishes in the dishwasher or wash them by hand. It seems like hand-washing uses less water, but in reality, hand washing is not an efficient way to wash dishes. When it comes to your health, the two methods are pretty equal—unless you care very much about over-washing your hands. But when it comes to the environment, dishwashers blow the competition out of the water.
Pros and cons to hand washing dishes
There are some pros to hand washing your dishes. You can be sure to get every little bit of dirt and leftover food off of your dishes and you have the power to scrub each dish until it shines. However, the cons far outweigh the pros. There’s no question that hand washing dishes wastes a lot of water. The amount of water used for large platters and tricky shaped items, like champagne glasses, adds even more to the total amount actually wasted. Plus, there’s the effort of scrubbing, rinsing, and drying each dish that isn’t always the most convenient.
Pros and cons of dishwashers
On the other side of the debate, dishwashers have really stepped up their game. Many are built to be energy efficient, with high Energy Star ratings. If you’re looking to save more energy in your home, washing a full load of dishes in the dishwasher is definitely a viable option. If you have a big family, dishwashers also save you time from washing every single dish that gets dirties—many dishwashers have built-in top racks for knives, baby bottles, and more delicate dishware.
According to Reviewed, hand washing dishes uses five times as much water as an efficient dishwasher, and three and a half times more water than an average dishwasher. There’s such a disparity because “modern dishwashers use an elaborate setup of pumps, filters, and spray jets that reuse water throughout the cleaning process. Clean water is only used at the very beginning and on the final rinse. During the wash, water gets filtered and heated up for maximum cleaning”.
The prevailing wisdom has been that built-in dishwashers beat hand washing dishes, in a runaway. According to one study at the University of Bonn in Germany, a dishwasher uses only half the energy, one-sixth of the water, and less soap.
What to note
Note that you can save water and energy by only running the dishwasher when it’s full. According to House Method, you can save water and energy by running a full load of dishes. If you don’t have enough dishes to run a full load, see if there’s a “rinse and hold” feature which will rinse away particles without going through a complete cycle.
In short, put your dishes in the dishwasher. You’ll save water, time and energy and save the environment as well.
How do you do your dishes? Do you have any suggestions or ideas to help save water when washing dishes? Please leave your comments below.