Washing dishes by hand can use less water than a dishwasher

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Dish_washingIt is often being claimed, even by greenies, and green folks thinking themselves experts, that doing dishes by hands is more wasteful as far as water and energy are concerned than using a dishwasher. I, however, would like to dispute that.

A standard load of dishes, including pots and pans, can use around one to two gallons of water, maximum. In comparison, a standard dishwasher uses 15 gallons of water per load and even an energy-efficient dishwasher still uses around 9 gallons per load.

In addition to this you also have to consider that, theoretically, a dishwasher also has to heat the water each and every time during its various wash and rinse cycles.

It is said that using a dishwasher saves more water than doing a similarly sized load of dishes by hand, but that is assuming you fill an entire sink with water before starting and running your faucet to rinse throughout the process. That, however, is not necessary anyway.

My approach is to fill not the sink but a washing-up bowl; I would never use the sink directly for reasons of cultural taboos, and I use washing-up liquid and a dash of vinegar. Any vinegar, even the cheapest, will do here.

The vinegar serves two purposes: one as a sterilizing agent and secondly it has the suds run off the dishes and thus makes rinsing nigh on unnecessary.

If you start with glasses and cups first, followed by plates and such, and then by cutlery. After that put in pots and pans and that way you can do everything, with, basically, the same water, adding every now and then a little more hot. This way you can wash dishes more efficiently by hand than by any dishwasher.

A side benefit of washing by hand is that you never have to rewash food items that a dishwasher was unable to remove.

I have worked in places before where there were dishwashers in use and all plates and such needed to be, basically, rinsed clean before even putting them into the machine. That is something that, in my view, is a total waste of water and time.

© 2011