It's a debate as old as time (or at least, as old as dishwashers): is it more eco-friendly to wash dishes by hand or use the dishwasher?
You might be surprised, but modern dishwashers win this argument most of the time.
On average, modern dishwashers use about 4 gallons of water per cycle (older dishwasher models will use more than that), while hand-washing the same load of dishes will use anything from 10 to 27 gallons of water.
In addition, modern dishwashers are able to clean dishes much more effectively than we can by hand, thanks to powerful jets of water and built-in filters that trap food particles.
And, of course, handwashing dishes is inherently more labor-intensive than using the dishwasher.
Dishwashers have come a long way in recent years, and many of them now boast energy-saving features that make them much more eco-friendly than they used to be.
The amount of energy a dishwasher uses will vary. If your dishwasher is connected to your hot water supply it will use less energy. If your dishwasher heats the water itself, it will use more.
In any case, modern dishwashers come with eco-friendly settings that will lower energy consumption.
more eco-friendly dishwashing tips
- dishwashers are more effective when run with a full load, so try to wait until the dishwasher is completely full before running it.
- but don't overfill the dishwasher as this will prevent the water from circulating and washing the dishes effectively.
- pre-washing your dishes before placing them in the dishwasher is mostly unnecessary. Modern dishwashers can tackle a variety of dirty dishes and by pre-washing, you are just doing the same job twice wasting more water in the process.
- once the cycle has completed and while the dishes are still hot, open the door to help accelerate evaporation. This way, you won't have to use nearly as much energy with settings like heated dry.
- regularly clean your dishwasher to prevent the spray arm and filter from clogging with soap scum, lime scale, and food particles.
- upgrade your dishwasher to a new energy-saving model – modern dishwashers have improved their efficiency significantly in recent years.
- use your dishwasher in ECO mode - this will save 20-40% water and energy.
- most of the time, using a dishwasher uses less water than washing by hand, especially if you have a high-efficiency model. But if you only have a few dishes to wash, handwashing may be your best bet.
Modern dishwashers have come a long way and they are not just very efficient at washing dishes but they also save you water and electricity (and time!).
Follow the guidelines for using your appliance sustainably and pair your dishwasher with Plastic-Free Dishwasher Tablets to avoid microplastics getting into the waterways and you will be well set for eco-friendly dish cleaning.