If you’re eager to try to be more environmentally conscious when it comes to your water usage, start by considering how you wash your dishes! In the (environmentally-friendly) battle between handwashing and a dishwasher machine, the winner is… the dishwasher!
The dishwasher is the way to go, not just to save water and energy but also to maintain your sanity. Who needs to spend the whole day washing, rinsing, and drying dishes when an efficient machine can do it for them? Modern dishwashers use far less water and energy than their predecessors, allowing you to clean up after meals and snacks fast and guilt-free by just loading the dishwasher and pressing the “start” button.
It’s unsurprising that many of us still believe hand washing is preferable, considering that dishwashers consumed 10-15 gallons of water every previous cycle. However, dishwashers marketed in the United States now are limited to a maximum of five gallons every cycle by the US Department of Energy. Additionally, dishwashers must consume no more than 3.5 gallons of water every cycle to qualify for one of the federal government’s EnergyStar designations indicating particularly efficient appliances.
Meanwhile, according to a study conducted by academics at Germany’s University of Bonn, handwashing the same amount of dishes, pots, and pans that fit in the dishwasher generally “consumes” around 27 gallons of water. (They also discovered that although some individuals can handwash a batch of dishes using as little as 8.7 gallons of water, others may need up to 116 gallons!).
The typical kitchen faucet has a flow rate of 2.2 gallons per minute, which means that it would take just two minutes to wash a full dishwasher’s load of dishes. Unnecessary pre-rinsing also can result in a water waste of around 6,000 gallons per home per year.
So dishwasher it is! Just remember that the environmental perks of using a dishwasher don’t apply if you use it when it’s not fully loaded. Turning your dishwasher on when it only has a half-load just won’t cut it. Be water-wise and pack your dishwasher!